I Wanna Be Literated! 117

I Wanna Be Literated! 117

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Monday, 04 July 2016
COLUMN

A critical evaluation of Noise Uprising: The Audiopolitics of a World Musical Revolution by Michael Denning.

A blurb on the back of Noise Uprising states “Any future attempt to analyze the sounds and politics of international music industry will need to reckon with this powerful book.” I think that such a claim might be a fantastic over-estimation.

There is no doubt that Noise Uprising deals with some interesting and important aspects regarding the birth of recorded music, but it’s almost like Denning is daring us to make sense of this book, or figure out exactly what direction it’s taking at the same time. Even though it says it deals with “audiopolitics” and “musical revolution,” very little of Noise Uprising actually does that. Instead, it reads like fragmented excerpts of music being recorded for the first time around the world. As a music fan, this is very exciting stuff and there is tremendous value in this knowledge, certainly. Also, there is the occasional discussion of how cultures were affected by music’s ability to migrate across ports, and how music was used as a political weapon to instigate dissent, but these exciting bits are few and far in between.

Also, there’s no discussion of punk rock. So there’s that.

Not helping this book is just how damn academic and awkward Denning has made it. It’s just so hard to read, often with long dry and dull sentences. And I can’t help but roll my eyes at his insistence on using the term “vernacular phonograph musics.” He means pop records, folks.

I can see the value of what’s inside Noise Uprising, but you have to look hard for it. Whether it was intentional or not is unclear, but it’s almost like Denning is trying to hide it from us. [OLLIE OTTOMAN]

Novel:
Noise Uprising: The Audiopolitics of a World Musical Revolution is available now. Buy it here on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Noise-Uprising-Audiopolitics-Musical-Revolution/dp/1781688567/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467642680&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+denning+noise+uprising

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