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The cultural study of Brazilian popular music: two problems and a contribution

At the current state of popular music studies in Brazil, it is crucial to discuss the definition of "popular music", and the theoretical approaches employed to ground its analysis. Both issues are examined here through a critical articulation involving musical structures, society and culture. Thus, what I propose is a theoretical contribution to Brazilian popular music studies, not an analysis of the content of such studies. Starting with a discussion of the principal classes of definitions of popular music usually employed, a defense is made of a dynamic, relational conception of popular music as currently practiced in complex, contemporary, contradictory societies. Methodologically, I discuss different approaches for the cultural study of the singular contributions of popular music, which are irreducible to the analytical methods developed for art and traditional music. The essay concludes with a defense of a musicology renovated by the debates held in cultural studies circles, for an adequate investigation of popular music in its specificity.

popular music; cultural studies; methodology; definition; culture and society

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