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Title: Urban musical modernism in 'broken Britain'
Author: Vellianitis, Alexi
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 360X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Since the widely acknowledged death of postmodernism, debates about the ongoing importance of musical modernism have raged. But scholars have found it difficult to square this efflorescence of contemporary modernist thought with the ongoing sense that modernism should be more plural, encompassing music from the low side of the great divide. Focusing on Britain, this study looks at the cross-currents between contemporary classical and 'urban' popular musics that seek to make a statement about the cultural diversity of a British national identity, while at the same time securing prestige through institutional support. The thesis balances issues of intention against matters of reception, considered through texts aimed at a broad audience - newspaper and magazine sources, radio and television broadcasts, publicly available musical scores, and websites - which it reads critically alongside primarily historical musicological literature, with the addition of some work on urban geography, and sociological work on artistic consumption. Modernist and urban popular music prove to have found common ground in a strand of vernacular modernism that has often been concerned with popular or folk influences, and anxieties surrounding the machine-age; composers of contemporary modernist music appropriate rap, dance, and electronic musical styles in an attempt to resist cultural superiority, with a view to achieving the cultural superiority associated with modes of resistance. The thesis charts a broad trajectory over six chapters, from the interaction between urban popular and avant-garde styles at the BBC Proms in Chapter One, to the material effects of bringing an urban modernism to new audiences and urban spaces in Chapter Six. By painting a detailed picture of the complex and often contradictory ways in which these urban popular styles support or undermine the avant-garde, the thesis concludes by supporting ongoing critical work into the nature of innovation through resistance that has been central to definitions of modernism.
Supervisor: Franklin, Peter Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available