Philip Auslander on “rock ideology” and authenticity

Auslander, Philip (1999): Liveness. Performance in a mediatized culture
Routledge, London/New York

70: “The concept of rock authenticity is linked with the romantic bent of rock culture, in which rock music is imagined to be truly expressive of the artists’ souls and psyches, and as necessarily politically and culturally oppositional. /…/
the fact that the criteria for rock authenticity are imaginary has never prevented them from functioning in a very real way for rock fans.”

95: “As I have argued, rock authenticity resides in a dialectical relationship between recording and live performance.”
83: “rock ideology, itself a product of the age of mechanical reproduction, is a form of contemporary perception that allows its adherents to experience mass-produced objects as auratic through the process of authentication.”
76-77: “Live performance contributes to the process of authentication in two crucial ways. First, to be considered an authentic rocker, a musician must have a history as a live performer, as someone who has paid those dues and whose current visibility is the result of earlier popularity with a local following. Pursuing rock’s traditional career path, musicians must first establish themselves and find an audience through live performance; musicians are chosen to record by industry scouts on the basis of live performances.”
82: “Listeners steeped in rock ideology are tolerant of studio manipulation only to the extent that they know or believe that the resulting sound can be reproduced on stage by the same performers.”

71: “rock ideology is conservative: authenticity is often located in current music’s relationship to an earlier, ‘purer’ moment in a mythic history of the music.”
67-68: “The name most frequently used for rock’s Other is ‘pop’.”

84-85: “In the case of rock ideology, the aura must be seen as existing between the recording and the live performance. The aura is located in a dialectical relation between two cultural objects – the recording and the live performance – rather than perceived as a property inherent in a single object, and it is from this relation of mutuality that both objects derive their authenticity.”

72: “Synthesizers, once seen not as musical instruments but as machines that had no place in rock, have come to be seen as just another form of keyboard instrument. The computer keyboard has yet to be assimilated in quite the same way, though that process has begun.”

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