David Blake

Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2006

Capstone Advisor

Prof. Theo Cateforis

Honors Reader

Not Listed

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Visual and Performing Arts

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories


Subject Categories

Music | Musicology | Other Music


This thesis seeks to analyze the similarities between the electronic music and serialist movement in art music, and the folk revival, both of which peaked during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Each of these movements contained within them an avant-garde that positioned itself on the university setting to gain cultural terrain to combat what they perceived to be commercialized “kitsch.” The avant-gardes within each culture felt the ideologies they promoted were justified because they were authentic. Electronic music composers and serialists viewed themselves as aligned with the modernist tradition of art music, which promoted the progression of music through generations of innovative composers from Beethoven to Schoenberg. Folksong enthusiasts on college campuses promoted music, usually field recordings by an authority such as Alan Lomax, a collector from the Library of Congress, which they perceived to be true to actual folk tradition. The beginning of the thesis discusses the idea of authenticity, especially its formation as a social construct and its transmission into objects which are not genuine to the tradition, such as machines, recordings, and ideologies. Next, the histories of each musical society are analyzed to show how the avant-gardes within them utilized the university to develop their respective constructions of authenticity, and how major events created debate between the “authentic” and the “kitsch.” Finally, a brief comparative note shows the parallel ideological formations within each movement. Parallels between art music movements and folk music movements are rarely discussed in musicological circles, and this thesis aims to bring these parallels out, rather than restate clichéd musicological schisms.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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