The Full Wiki

Pop music: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Pop music

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pop music
Stylistic origins Rock and rollJazzDoo-wopFolkDance music
Cultural origins 1950s, United States and United Kingdom
Typical instruments VocalsElectric guitarBass guitarDrumsKeyboardsAcoustic GuitarSynthesizerDrum machineSequencerSampler
Mainstream popularity Continuous worldwide since emergence
Baroque popBubblegum popDance-popElectropopEuropopIndie popOperatic popPower popSophisti-popSpace age popSunshine popTeen pop
Fusion genres
Country popDiscoDream popJangle popPop punkPop rapPop rockPsychedelic popTechnopopUrban pop

Pop music (a term that originally derives from an abbreviation of "popular") is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented towards a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short and simple love songs and utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes. Pop music has absorbed influences from most other forms of popular music, but as a genre is particularly associated with the rock and roll and later rock style.



The term "pop song" is first recorded as being used in 1926 in the sense of a piece of music "having popular appeal".[1] According to Grove Music'Online, the term "pop music" "originated in Britain in the mid-1950s as a description for Rock and roll and the new youth music styles that it influenced..." [2]The Oxford Dictionary of Music states that while pop's "[e]arlier meaning meant concerts appealing to a wide audience...[,] [s]ince the late 1950s, however, pop has had the special meaning of non‐classical mus[ic], usually in the form of songs, perf[ormed] by such artists as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Abba, etc."[3]

Hatch and Millward define pop music as "a body of music which is distinguishable from popular, jazz and folk musics" [4]and they state that the "birth of the pop music industry" was with the "discovery of Jimmie Rodgers in 1927"[5]. Hatch and Millward claim that pop music is distinguished from other popular music, such as Hollywood soundtrack music or Tin Pan Alley music in that pop music relies on an "aural tradition" (learning "by ear" from records or other musicians), whereas other popular music forms were transmitted via sheet music. [6]

Grove Music Online also states that " the early 1960s [the term] ‘pop music’ competed terminologically with Beat music [in England], while in the USA its coverage overlapped (as it still does) with that of ‘rock and roll’."[7] Chambers' Dictionary mentions the contemporary usage of the term "pop art" [8]; Grove Music Online states that the "term pop music...seems to have been a spin-off from the terms pop art and pop culture, coined slightly earlier, and referring to a whole range of new, often American, media-culture products".[9]

From about 1967 the term was increasingly used in opposition to the term rock music, a division that gave generic significance to both terms.[10] Whereas rock aspired to authenticity and an expansion of the possibilities of popular music[11], pop was more commercial, ephemeral and accessible.[12] According to Simon Frith pop music is produced "as a matter of enterprise not art", is "designed to appeal to everyone" and "doesn't come from any particular place or mark off any particular taste." It is "not driven by any significant ambition except profit and commercial reward...and, in musical terms, it is essentially conservative." It is "provided from on high (by record companies, radio programmers and concert promoters) rather than being made from below...Pop is not a do-it-yourself music but is professionally produced and packaged." [13]

Although pop music is often seen as oriented towards the singles charts, as a genre it is not the sum of all chart music, which has always contained songs from a variety of sources, including classical, jazz, rock, and novelty songs, while pop music as a genre is usually seen as existing and developing separately.[14] Thus "pop music" may be used to describe a distinct genre, aimed at a youth market, often characterized as a softer alternative to rock and roll.[15]


Musicologists often identify the following characteristics as typical of the pop music genre:[15][16][12][17]

  • a focus on the individual song or singles, rather than on extended works or albums
  • an aim of appealing to a general audience, rather than to a particular sub-culture or ideology
  • an emphasis on craftsmanship rather than formal "artistic" qualities
  • an emphasis on recording, production, and technology, over live performance
  • a tendency to reflect existing trends rather than progressive developments
  • much pop music is intended to encourage dancing, or it uses dance-oriented beats or rhythms[12]

The main medium of pop music is the song, often between two and a half and three and a half minutes in length, generally marked by a consistent and noticeable rhythmic element, a mainstream style and a simple traditional structure.[18] Common variants include the verse-chorus form and the thirty-two-bar form, with a focus on melodies and catchy hooks, and a chorus that contrasts melodically, rhythmically and harmonically with the verse.[19] The beat and the melodies tend to be simple, with limited harmonic accompaniment.[20] The lyrics of modern pop songs typically focus on simple themes – often love and romantic relationships – although there are notable exceptions.[15]

Harmony in pop music is often "that of classical European tonality, only more simple-minded."[21] Cliches include the barbershop harmony (e.g., moving from a secondary dominant harmony to a dominant harmony, and then to the tonic), blues scale-influenced harmony, and others[22]. "The influence of the circle-of-fifths paradigm has declined since the mid-1950's. The harmonic languages of rock and soul have moved away from the all-encompassing influence of the dominant function. ...There are other tendencies (perhaps also traceable to the use of a guitar as a composing instrument) -- pedal-point harmonies, root motion by diatonic step, modal harmonic and melodic organization -- that point away from functional tonality and toward a tonal sense that is less directional, more free-floating."[23]

Influences and development

Technological developments played an important role in the dissemination of pop music, particularly the 7-inch 45 rpm record (right) and the Compact Disc (above). The 12-inch 33 rpm record (left) was more associated with rock albums than with pop music.

Throughout its development, pop music has absorbed influences from most other genres of popular music. Early pop music drew on the sentimental ballad for its form, gained its use of vocal harmonies from gospel and soul music, instrumentation from jazz and rock music, orchestration from classical music, tempo from dance music, backing from electronic music and has recently appropriated spoken passages from rap.[15]

It has also made use of technological innovation. In the 1940s, the development of inexpensive 45 r.p.m. records for singles " revolutionized the manner in which pop has been disseminated" and helped to move pop music to ‘to a record/radio/film star system’ .[24] The 45s were much more durable than the fragile 78 r.p.m. records, which meant that 45s could be "distributed far more easily". [25] This led to a a "market led by pop singles". Another technological change was the widespread availablility of television in the 1950s; with televised performances, "[p]op stars had to have a visual presence ".[26] In the 1960s, the introduction of inexpensive, portable transistor radios meant that teenagers could listen to music outside of the home.[27] By the early 1980s, the "promotion of pop music had been greatly affected by the rise of Music Television (MTV)", which "favoured those artists such as Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince who had a strong visual appeal".[28]

Other technological innovations that affected pop music were the widespread use of the microphone (in the 1940s) –which allowed a more intimate singing style –[29]; multi-track recording (in the 1960s); and digital sampling as methods for the creation and elaboration of pop music.[15] Pop music was also communicated largely through the mass media, including radio, film, TV and, particularly since the 1980s, video.[15]

Pop music has been dominated by the American (and from the mid-1960s British) music industries, whose influence has made pop music something of an international monoculture, but most regions and countries have their own form of pop music, sometimes producing local versions of wider trends, and lending them local characteristics.[30] Some of these trends (for example Europop) have had a significant impact of the development of the genre.[15]

According to Grove Music Online, "Western-derived pop styles, whether coexisting with or marginalizing distinctively local genres, have spread throughout the world and have come to constitute stylistic common denominators in global commercial music cultures".[31] Some non-Western countries, such as Japan, have developed a thriving pop music indutry. The "output of the Japanese record industry, most of which is devoted to Western-style pop, for several years has surpassed in quantity that of every nation except the USA". [32] The "spread of Western-style pop music has been interpreted variously as representing Americanization, homogenization, modernization, creative appropriation, cultural imperialism, and/or a more general process of globalization" [33].


  1. ^ J. Simpson and E. Weiner, Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), cf pop.
  2. ^ Richard Middleton, et al. "Pop". Grove Music Online. Accessed March 6, 2010.
  3. ^ "Pop", The Oxford Dictionary of Music . Accessed online on March 9, 2010
  4. ^ Hatch, David and Millward, Stephen. From blues to rock: an analytical history of pop music. p.1
  5. ^ Hatch, David and Millward, Stephen. From blues to rock: an analytical history of pop music. p.49
  6. ^ Hatch, David and Millward, Stephen. From blues to rock: an analytical history of pop music. p.vii
  7. ^ Richard Middleton, et al. "Pop". Grove Music Online. Accessed March 7, 2010.
  8. ^ Chambers' Twentieth Century Dictionary, Chambers 1977, pop.
  9. ^ Richard Middleton, et al. "Pop". Grove Music Online. Accessed March 14, 2010.
  10. ^ Kenneth Gloag in The Oxford Companion to Music, OUP, 2001, p.983
  11. ^ Kenneth Gloag in The Oxford Companion to Music, OUP, 2001, p.983
  12. ^ a b c T. Warner, Pop music: technology and creativity: Trevor Horn and the digital revolution (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), p. 3.
  13. ^ Frith (2001), pp. 95–6.
  14. ^ R. Serge Denisoff, and William L. Schurk. Tarnished gold: the record industry revisited (Transaction Publishers, 3rd edn., 1986), pp. 2–3.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g S. Frith, "Pop Music" in S. Frith, W. Stray and J. Street, The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock (Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 93–108.
  16. ^ "Early Pop/Rock". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  17. ^ R. Shuker, Understanding popular music (London: Routledge, 2nd edn., 2001), pp. 8–10.
  18. ^ W. Everett, Expression in Pop-rock Music: A Collection of Critical and Analytical Essays (London: Taylor & Francis, 2000), p. 272.
  19. ^ J. Shepherd, Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: Performance and production (Continuum, 2003), p. 508.
  20. ^ V. Kramarz, The Pop Formulas: Hamonic Tools of the Hit Makers (Mel Bay Publications, 2007), p. 61.
  21. ^ Winkler, Peter (1978). "Toward a theory of pop harmony", In Theory Only, 4, pp. 3-26.
  22. ^ Sargeant, p.198. cited in Winkler (1978), p.4.
  23. ^ Winkler (1978), p.22.
  24. ^ David Buckley. "Pop" "II. Implications of technology". Grove Music Online. Accessed March 15, 2010.
  25. ^ ibid
  26. ^ ibid
  27. ^ ibid
  28. ^ ibid
  29. ^ David Buckley. "Pop" "II. Implications of technology". Grove Music Online. Accessed March 15, 2010.
  30. ^ J. Kun, Audiotopia: music, race, and America (University of California Press, 2005), p. 201.
  31. ^ Peter Manuel. "Pop. Non-Western cultures 1. Global dissemination. ". Grove Music Online. Accessed March 14, 2010
  32. ^ ibid
  33. ^ ibid


  • Adorno, Theodor W., (1942) "On Popular Music", Institute of Social Research.
  • Bell, John L., (2000) The Singing Thing: A Case for Congregational Song, GIA Publications, ISBN 1579991009
  • Bindas, Kenneth J., (1992) America's Musical Pulse: Popular Music in Twentieth-Century Society, Praeger.
  • Clarke, Donald, (1995) The Rise and Fall of Popular Music, St Martin's Press.
  • Dolfsma, Wilfred, (1999) Valuing Pop Music: Institutions, Values and Economics, Eburon.
  • Dolfsma, Wilfred, (2004) Institutional Economics and the Formation of Preferences: The Advent of Pop Music, Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Frith, Simon, Straw, Will, Street, John, eds, (2001), The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521556600.
  • Frith, Simon (2004) Popular Music: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, Routledge.
  • Gillet, Charlie, (1970) The Sound of the City. The Rise of Rock and Roll, Outerbridge & Dienstfrey.
  • Hatch, David and Stephen Millward, (1987), From Blues to Rock: an Analytical History of Pop Music. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0719014891
  • Johnson, Julian, (2002) Who Needs Classical Music?: Cultural Choice and Musical Value, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0195146816.
  • Lonergan, David F., (2004) Hit Records, 1950-1975, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0-8108-5129-6.
  • Maultsby, Portia K., (1996) Intra- and International Identities in American Popular Music, Trading Culture.
  • Middleton, Richard, (1990) Studying Popular Music, Open University Press.
  • Negus, Keith, (1999) Music Genres and Corporate Cultures Routledge, ISBN 041517399X.
  • Pleasants, Henry (1969) Serious Music and All That Jazz, Simon & Schuster.
  • Roxon, Lillian, (1969) Rock Encyclopedia, Grosset & Dunlap.
  • Shuker, Roy, (2002) Popular Music: The Key Concepts, Routledge, (2nd edn.) ISBN 0415284252.
  • Starr, Larry & Waterman, Christopher, (2002) American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MTV, Oxford University Press.
  • Watkins, S. Craig, (2005) Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement, Beacon Press, ISBN 0807009822.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Quotes about Pop music


  • The attitude to sexual love in the "pop" song is so ugly and mechanical as to seem schizoid, and psychopathological. Exposed as they are to such powerful cultural statements, young people are being encouraged to forfeit genuine commitment in love in favour of depersonalised sexual activity, with an undercurrent of violence, and to take false solutions in which they must deny their deepest needs, by hate.
    • David Holbrook, in Pop and Truth, as quoted in The Sociology of Rock (1978) by Simon Frith, ISBN 0094602204
  • Pop music is probably the only art form that is totally dependent for its success on the general public. The more people buy a record, the more successful it is — not only commercially but artistically.
    • Manfred Mann, quoted in The Sociology of Rock (1978) by Simon Frith

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Pop music is commonly defined as popular music listened to, purchased, nominated for special events. Styles of pop music in the 2000s (today) include rock music, hip hop, and pop punk. ano, drums & other.

How does the business of pop music work?

There are also many more people working on pop music who are not seen on the stage or in the video. These people include the studio staff (people who help the musicians to record CDs and music videos in music studios), production staff (people who help make the music recordings sound good), distribution staff (people who help sell the music to stores) and retail staff (people that sell the music to people at CD stores).

Tour staff help the band to travel around the country (or around the world) for their concert tours. Some tour staff help by carrying heavy musical instruments onto the stage. Other tour staff drive buses or cars, so that the band can get to the concert. Some tour staff operate sound equipment, such as the large amplifiers and loudspeakers that are used to amplify (make louder) the band's music for the audience.

Promotional staff help to market or promote the band's music, so that more people will know about the band, and buy the band's CDs. Some promotional staff travel to radio stations and give the band's CD to radio station managers or DJs (disk jockeys: the people who announce songs on the radio). Other promotional staff write press releases (short articles) about the band which are sent to newspapers.

Types of music that became pop music

Pop music came from the Rock and Roll movement of the early 1950s, when record companies recorded songs that they thought that teenagers would like. Pop music usually uses musical from the other types of music that are popular at the time. Many different styles of music have become pop music during different time periods. Often, music companies create pop music styles by taking a style of music that only a small number of people were listening to, and then making that music more popular by marketing it to teenagers and young adults.

In the 1950s, recording companies took blues-influenced rock and roll (for example Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley) and rockabilly (for example Carl Perkins and Buddy Holly) and promoted them as pop music. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, record companies took folk music bands and musicians and helped them to create a new type of music called folk rock or acid rock. Folk rock and acid rock mixed folk music, blues and rock and roll (for example The Byrds and Janis Joplin). In the 1970s, record companies created several harder, louder type of blues called blues rock or heavy metal, which became a type of pop music (for example the bands Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest).

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a type of nightclub dance music called Disco turned into a popular type of pop music. Record companies took an experimental, strange-sounding type of music called New Wave music from the 1980s and turned it into pop music bands such as The Cars. In the 1990s record companies took an underground type of hard rock called Grunge (for example the band Nirvana). Michael Jackson was also a very influencial artist for pop music. His album, Thriller, is the best-selling album of all time! He also wrote some other very influential songs, such as Bad, Give in to Me, Will You Be There, Heal the World, We Are the World, Black or White, and Billie Jean , just to name a few.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address