By Taylor Selcke
How is music impacting the environment? What do theories of political economy and the global environment have to do with popular music? Can musicians make the world more sustainable?
These are the questions that Mark Pedelty answers in his new book, Ecomusicology: Rock, Folk, and the Environment.
The book, published in June 2012 by Temple University Press, explores the global, national, regional and historical contexts in which environmental pop music is performed. The book, published in June 2012 by Temple University Press, focuses on the political ecology of rock and covers topics such as the impact of global superstars and how local musicians are making the planet more environmentally friendly through song. Pedelty places the issue of sustainability under a microscope and no band is free from scrutiny. This is made apparent by the book's opening line, "U2 hates the planet." From those words, the reader is drawn in as Pedelty goes on to explain everything from the climate change controversy surrounding U2's 360 Degrees Tour to the message behind lyrics from "Your Next Bold Move" by Ani DiFranco.
An associate professor of mass communications and anthropology at the University of Minnesota, Pedelty jumped into the world of ecomusicology head on through a combination of previous research, teaching courses on environmental performance and producing a film on an environmental community project that prompted him to further study and produce a book on the subject. Working as a resident fellow at the Institute on the Environment (IonE) had an impact on Pedelty as well. "Learning from my fellow fellows at the IonE, most of whom are in the environmental sciences, has been an incredible experience," he said. "As an interdisciplinary field, ecomusicology has brought together scientists, musicologists, musicians and social researchers in very productive ways."
In order to fully immerse himself in the research, Pedelty even started the Hypoxic Punks, an Americana rock band with an environmental emphasis. The Minneapolis group, whose name is derived from the word 'hypoxia,'--a process where oxygen supply is restricted--performs at clubs around the Twin Cities. "Choosing to perform music, or rather learning to perform music as part of the research, provided valuable access to ideas and information that might have been difficult to do via experiment," he said.
Now that publication has wrapped on Ecomusicology, Pedelty is moving forward with analysis of aural communication, specifically quantitative content analysis of voice in environmental advertising and advertising music. He also hopes to conduct research in state and national parks that will aid park staff in setting policy guidelines concerning noise.
As for the Hypoxic Punks, you can catch them at their Rock of Raingardens II concert in December.
For more information, visit Ecomusicology.net.