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A. Tsuker

Mass music and musical critique

Mass music rarely come an object of professional music critique that is mainly interested in academic art. At the same time, considering the place mass music occupies in the modern culture, incredible diversity of its styles and genres, great interest in it among the society, it should not stay in such a neglected position. This creates simplistic one-sided picture of the modern musical culture, where the processes of active diffusion of academic and mass music are not considered. Mass music presents a wide range of issues for professional music criticism to write about and assess, it only needs to define the evaluation criterion, what constitutes the aim of the present article. The author reminds that mass music is a poly-functional phenomenon. Only one side of it is connected with art on its own, the other one is deeply involved into the society and its day-today life. Therefore, the criteria we use to talk about academic music, which includes such parameters as its uniqueness, originality of the creative process and its results, the level of proficiency and even the degree of artistic perfection that is often considered as unimportant quality of mass music, are not quite appropriate. However, being a part of our lifestyle, one of the main criteria for a mass music evaluation is how well does it correspond with its social functions. Besides solely musical and poetical qualities of this music, we should take into account its social and cultural context where it lives and functions. A musical critic should consider these contextual features, conditions and rules of one or the other form of a popular culture and most importantly possess not only a trained ear but a good understanding of society. The author illustrates his ideas with the relevant Russian mass music examples – rock and rap.

Key words

mass music, music critique, evaluation criterion, poly-functionality, socio-cultural phenomenon, Russian rock, rap.

For citation

Tsuker A. Mass music and musical critique // South-Russian Musical Anthology. 2021. No. 4. Pp. 25–33.