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Traces of the Spirit: The Religious Dimensions of Popular Music [Paperback]

Robin Sylvan

Price: CDN$ 26.62 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

July 2002
Most studies of the religious significance of popular music focus on music lyrics, offering little insight into the religious aspects of the music itself. Traces of the Spirit examines the religious dimensions of popular music subcultures, charting the influence and religious aspects of popular music in mainstream culture today and analyzing the religious significance of the audience's experiences, rituals, and worldviews. Sylvan contends that popular music subcultures serve the function of religious communities and represent a new and significant religious phenomenon.

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork using interviews and participant observation, Sylvan examines such subcultures as the Deadheads, raves and their participants, metalheads, and Hip Hop culture. Based on these case studies, he offers a comprehensive theoretical framework in which to study music and popular culture. In addition, he traces the history of West African possession religion from Africa to the diaspora to its integration into American popular music in such genres as the blues, rock and roll, and contemporary musical youth subcultures.


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Review

"Taking us on a journey from West Africa to San Francisco, Robin Sylvan reminds us that being moved by the music means much more than simply understanding the lyrics. From rock to rap, disco to heavy metal, Sylvan takes the whole music experience seriously, exploring how its very performanceand its subsequent affect on the audiencetouches the entirety of what makes us human, in what can only be considered a religious experience of sound, beat, dance, ritual, and world view... Will challenge your presumptions about the significance of music in general, these genres in particular, and the way we understand religion to work in the lives of ordinary people." , - Eric Michael Mazur, coeditor of God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture "Sylvan's thesis furnishes far more of the same valued experiences than is usually realized: ritual activity, communal ceremony, a philosophy and worldview, a code for living one's life, a cultural identity, a social structure, a sense of belonging, and crucially, Sylvan argues encounters with the numinous." --Journal of Religion

About the Author

Robin Sylvan is Assistant Professor of Religion and the Arts at the College of Wooster in Ohio.

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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, great read! March 18 2014
By Sarah Janfeshan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is required reading for a Religion class I am currently in & its truly a gem. Great for music, history, and philosophy lovers. This book has a permanent spot on my book shelf for life!
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading Aug. 6 2012
By Jendmt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was required to read the book for a course I was taking. It was one of the most interesting books by far! It contains philosophical depth and is easy to read.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for Music, Sociology & Religions students!!! March 8 2006
By Amanda Hartley-laborde - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
We read selections of this book in my Religion & Popular Culture class. It was excellent. The author carries the theme of African music and it's influence on the rest of our modern music through the whole book and I dig that. It's time all people realized the positive impact our African brothers and sisters have had on music and spirituality. Rap & Hip Hop aren't all about gang violence, and Rave culture isn't all about drugs. This book explores how people relate to music as more than just a good time, but as religion. Music shapes so much of our world today and there is so much negative feedback about the subcultures Sylvan writes about in this book, it's awesome to see new, positive light shed on them .
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 17 2014
By Beatrise F. Mason - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Thank you.

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