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OTG: A serious take on popular music

By Thomas Van (articles - email) | May 29, 2014

Musically inclined readers may be interested in a new blog, Critic's Corner, by Dr. Kurt Poterack, a composer who directs the choirs and the Minor in Sacred Music at Christendom College. Poterack worked as an editor on The Adoremus Hymnal and edited the journal Sacred Music for several years, but before entering the world of sacred music, he spent time as a jazz pianist and was trained in modern academic styles of composition. His experience as a composer and performer in a variety of musical styles gives him unique insights into pop music both pre- and post-1960.

Poterack kicked off this new summer project with a fascinating post on the history of the song "Mack the Knife," exploring the unusual combination of upbeat music with sinister lyrics. Another of his posts is a brief yet illuminating musical analysis of Paul McCartney's "Yesterday."

As Catholic jazz critic and historian Ted Gioia (brother of the poet, critic and former NEA chairman Dana Gioia) recently lamented, "Music Criticism Has Degenerated Into Lifestyle Reporting." Indeed, it fits Frank Zappa's famous definition: "Most rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, for people who can't read." It is refreshing, then, to see someone with real musical training critiquing and analyzing popular music in a serious, yet engaging and non-pretentious, manner.

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