Blog Music: A Subversive History by Ted Gioia

Music: A Subversive History by Ted Gioia

Posted Feb. 18, 2021, 5:23 p.m. by T

KFAI - Undead

Music: A Subversive History

Ted Gioia

Basic Books / Hachette Publishing


Now, summarizing the “history of music” in a little under 500 pages would be a fairly ambitious undertaking at best. However, that is not exactly what Ted Gioia has set out to do, au contraire, as his main objective is to showcase that existing histories of music have missed essential elements that make music intriguing due to their controversial character, e.g. sex, violence, murder, magic, et cetera. Given Gioia’s aim, it should not come as a surprise that a good share of the tome is polemical.

Gioia sets out to prove that music is inextricably rooted in atavistic behaviour such as procreating, battles and hunting by shedding light on the evolution of primordial sounds to the sounds we enjoy today and given his fascination with innovators who were first ostracised by society to then be eventually revered, gives his arguments credence: One of his main points is that established conservative histories of music serve to canonize artists and oeuvres that serve public interest and the maintenance of the status quo, whereas he comes to the conclusion that the truth is that music and its history has never been respectable and, at its core, has always challenged authority.

Summa summarum, academic scholars might not be particularly taken by this exercise in outsider criticism but it is definitely a commendable resource for anyone who is enthusiastic about music no matter the genre as it challenges established viewpoints.

However, what one should not forget is that “subversion” can be interpreted differently and what we are presented with is Gioia’s idiosyncratic sociocultural take on it and his passionate attempt at iconoclasm.

Leave a comment
Share this content

Other recent blogs

Anselm Kiefer – Schirmer / Mosel

Posted by T
Feb. 23, 2021, 7:41 p.m.

Anselm Kiefer – Schirmer / Mosel Given my art related emissions, it should not come as a surprise that I harbour a bit more than a weak spot for Anselm ... read more

Water of Life – Spirit Thief

Posted by T
Feb. 22, 2021, 5:46 p.m.

Water of Life – Spirit Thief   Now this one has been a while in the making… There have been quite a few independent bottlers we have covered as part ... read more

Dirimart and Hermann Nitsch review

Posted by T
Feb. 21, 2021, 4:41 p.m.

Dirimart and Hermann Nitsch   I have to admit that Turkey has not necessarily been on my map of art destinations. As a matter of fact, Turkey is one of ... read more

The Monocle Book of Gentle Living review

Posted by T
Feb. 21, 2021, 10:43 a.m.

The Monocle Book of Gentle Living: A Guide to Slowing Down, Enjoying More and Being Happy Thames & Hudson   For anyone remotely into the cosmos that is Monocle, its ... read more

Water of Life – 5Nines

Posted by T
Feb. 20, 2021, 9:53 a.m.

Water of Life – 5Nines   With its vastly diverse climate and geography, the state of South Australia not only produces about half of all wine on terra australis but ... read more

KFAI - Root Of All Evil


Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:

Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.