"What to Listen For in Rock" by Ken Stephenson

What to Listen For in Rock A Stylistic Analysis Ken Stephenson

Publication date:
11 Jul 2002
Yale University Press
272 pages: 235 x 156mm
160 b-w illus. + 125 musical examples
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In this concise and engaging analysis of rock music, music theorist Ken Stephenson explores the features that make this internationally popular music distinct from earlier music styles. The author offers a guided tour of rock music from the 1950s to the present, emphasizing the theoretical underpinnings of the style and, for the first time, systematically focusing not on rock music’s history or sociology, but on the structural aspects of the music itself.

What structures normally happen in rock music? What theoretical systems or models might best explain them? The book addresses these questions and more in chapters devoted to phrase rhythm, scales, key determination, cadences, harmonic palette and succession, and form. Each chapter provides richly detailed analyses of individual rock pieces from groups including Chicago; the Beatles; Emerson, Lake, and Palmer; Kansas; and others. Stephenson shows how rock music is stylistically unique, and he demonstrates how the features that make it distinct have tended to remain constant throughout the past half-century and within most substyles. For music students at the college level and for practicing rock musicians who desire a deeper understanding of their music, this book is an essential resource.

?Ken Stephenson?s comprehensive survey of the musical materials of rock music constitutes an impressive contribution to the literature on this repertory.??James Grier, University of Western Ontario

"The impact of Ken Stephenson's What to Listen for in Rock should not be underestimated. . . . What to Listen for in Rock is designed for both academics and rock musicians, though it seems best suited as an upper-division undergraduate music-theory textbook."?John S. Cotner, American Music