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

Water of Life – Launceston Distillery

Posted by T
May 3, 2021, 8:52 p.m.

Water of Life – Launceston Distillery   Our coverage of the Tasmanian whiskey landscape have mainly been focussed on Hobart and its surroundings, which could be perceived as one of ... read more

High Adventures in the Great Outdoors – Lonely Pla

Posted by T
May 2, 2021, 11:30 a.m.

High Adventures in the Great Outdoors – Lonely Planet   It has been almost fifty years since Lonely Planet was incepted, following Maureen and Tony Wheeler’s trip across Europe, Asia ... read more

We Have Always Been Minimalist book review

Posted by T
May 1, 2021, 8:06 p.m.

We Have Always Been Minimalist The Construction and Triumph of a Musical Style Christophe Levaux   Minimalism has always intrigued me – specifically in the realm of music. Having emerged ... read more

Water of Life – Martini

Posted by T
April 29, 2021, 6:11 p.m.

Water of Life Martini (Applewood Coral Gin and Regal Rogue) There are a myriad of cocktails but only few reliable ones that I’d confidently order in the more remote corners ... read more

Search/Play/Repeat - April 2021

Posted by Loren
April 28, 2021, 9:10 p.m.

Welcome to Search/Play/Repeat, a playlist blog here at SPB. Aaron normally posts these, but he’s working on some other fun stuff so I figured I’d take a stab at it. ... 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.