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Analysing Popular Music

Analysing Popular Music
Image, Sound and Text

March 2010 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Popular music is far more than just songs we listen to; its meanings are also in album covers, lyrics, subcultures, voices and video soundscapes. Like language these elements can be used to communicate complex cultural ideas, values, concepts and identities.

Analysing Popular Music is a lively look at the semiotic resources found in the sounds, visuals and words that comprise the 'code book' of popular music. It explains exactly how popular music comes to mean so much. Packed with examples, exercises and a glossary, this book provides the reader with the knowledge and skills they need to carry out their own analyses of songs, soundtracks, lyrics and album covers.

Written for students with no prior musical knowledge, Analysing Popular Music is the perfect toolkit for students in sociology, media and communication studies to analyze, understand,and celebrate, popular music.


Discourses of Popular Music
Album Iconography: Postures, Objects, Settings
Visual Composition: Typeface and Colour
Analyzing Lyrics: Values, Participants, Agency
Semiotic Resources in Sound: Pitch, Melody and Phrasing
Sound Qualities: Arrangement and Rhythm
Analyzing Genre: The Sounds of Britpop
Analyzing Music in Film
Analyzing Music in Video and Television

This book presents an extremely interesting model for a multimodal analysis of music as a complex text. Machin's examination of the many layers of meanings generated by musical products is original and effective. This will be a very useful resource for students of media and cultural studies, particularly those who are not familiar with the topic. The book will also provide a starting point for reflecting on popular music from a different angle.

Dr Chiara Minestrelli
my department is not listed, University of the Arts London
October 6, 2019

Very good, well written, clear and as close to 'relevant' as any printed book can be nowadays!

Mr Alex Germains
Popular Music Studies, Liverpool John Moores University
June 27, 2014

I found this book an excellent stimulus for the cross-curricular teaching of popular music. The analysis of the artwork on album covers connected popular music to art, advertising, literacy and different cultures. The analysis of the music itself was clear and accessible, particularly to those who may not have a background in musical theory.

Gillian Jack
Education, University of Aberdeen
April 21, 2014

This book will definitely be added to the bibliography of the module.

Dr Magali Peyrefitte
Departmemnt of sociology and criminology, Middlesex Univ.
April 2, 2014

Good starting pint for students trying to understand how to analyse popular music.

Ms Illydea Ishak
School of Film and Media Studies, Ngee Ann Polytechnic
February 26, 2013

Excellent source for students who elect to work on popular music within the course of Cultural Studies, or for those who want to specialize in popular music for their thesis.

Professor Mathieu De Wasseige
Language, H.E.G./I.H.E.C.S.
September 26, 2012

Analysing Popular Music: Image, Sound and Text is a book the methods of which is tried at tested with the students who inspired in at the University of Leicester. If you are teaching music to students who have no formal training in musicology but who love the sounds and sights of music, this is the one to have!

Dr. E. Anna Claydon
University of Leicester

Dr E Claydon
Dept of Media and Communication, University of Leicester
September 14, 2010

The course is structured around three major visual communication domains: political campaigning, conflict reporting, and advertising/PR. "Analysing Popular Music" is an essential reading for the sessions dedicated to analyzing music videos as well as viral videos distributed online. It is also most students' first encounter with multimodal analysis.

Mr Ognyan Seizov
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jacobs University Bremen
September 14, 2010

This book is engaging and informative, and should provide students with an analytical 'tool-kit' to improve their understanding of the complexities of popular music.

Dr Lyvinia Elleschild
School of Sociology and Law, university of plymouth
August 16, 2010

Recommended for the following modules:

BA - 2nd year Marcoms
BA - 3rd year Advertising
BA - 3rd year Branding

MA - Marcoms, Branding and Advertising

An interesting and insightful book, which will help students to consider the role of music in depth. Of particular use to dissertation students

Dr Jonathan Wilson
Marketing, Greenwich University
August 10, 2010

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter One



For instructors

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