How Does an Awareness of the Social and Cultural Context of Music Help to Inform Our Understanding of Music History?

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How does an awareness of the social and cultural context of music help to inform our understanding of music history? Understanding the social and cultural factors such as technology, production and politics all play a key role in helping people today understand the history of music. In this case, popular music is a prime example. Popular music is an extremely hard term to explain. Its often tied up to commercialism, however, not all popular music is commercially successful and this can be for a number of reasons. In the 20th century popular music was largely American based but there is a significant British influence during the 1960’s which is sometimes referred to as the ‘British Invasion’. Although it’s hard to pinpoint a starting point Elvis Presley is deemed as the place to being. However, others may argue that Bill Haleys, ‘Rock around the clock’, 1955 is the better starting point of the 2. Popular music has constantly been seen as a vital social impact in various ways. The relationship between popular music and politics is connected along two different dimensions. In the widest sense the first If we stick with the definition that popular music has wide appeal and mass distribution, then the history really begins with the publication of sheet music — this makes pop music another media form that owes its origins to Gutenberg's printing press. Printed sheet music allowed individuals who were not the original composer of a song (or a musician lucky enough to be given a hand-copied version of the original score) to take away the music, and perform it to the audience of their choice. Songs could cross from city to city, country to country, enjoyed and played by large numbers of people at the same time. This really took off in the 19th century, thanks to the increase in performance spaces such as salons and music halls, and touring shows. A popular
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