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“Rockin’ all over the world”: The Assimilation of Rock Music in Five European Countries (a comparative study)

KOUVAROU, MARIA (2014) “Rockin’ all over the world”: The Assimilation of Rock Music in Five European Countries (a comparative study). Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This dissertation examines the historical process of assimilation of rock musical idioms in five European countries: Britain, France, Germany (East and West), Greece, and Italy in the period between 1955 and 1985. Taking a comparative approach, it is argued that the process of assimilation unfolds in a number of distinct stages that can be clearly identified in each of these five countries, albeit with differences due to the particularities of each country’s pre-existing popular music culture, political conditions, and media structure. I propose that there are four main stages that can be identified: (1) a period of reception when rock’n’roll was largely enjoyed and copied as a fad of foreign origin; (2) a period of more creative imitation where an imitative rock idiom arose within each country, partly in response to media efforts to institutionalize and domesticate it, and partly in response to the influence of the ‘British Invasion’; (3) a period of development characterized by a self-conscious blending of indigenous elements with rock idioms; and finally, (4) a point where the assimilation of rock music finally becomes more intuitive, rock idioms freely interacting with distinctive national/indigenous features to produce new hybrids.
By taking an overarching socio-cultural approach to popular music and its development which emphasizes both top-down (i.e., institutionalized) as well as bottom-up (e.g., underground) musical activities, this study examines the factors that led to the full assimilation of what was initially American rock’n’roll through tracing the changes that occurred in the popular music contexts of each of these five European countries during these four phases. It is argued that the full assimilation of rock idioms led to the creation of new hybrid musical languages that, despite the features they have in common, nevertheless also carry the particularities of their specific national contexts in which socio-political situations, nation-state policies, economic conditions, and the everyday activities of the people exist with and in relation to an ever-present, shared and, most importantly, imagined historical and cultural past.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Music, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:28 Aug 2014 16:47

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