Adaptation or Innovation?

Extracts from the History of Hungarian Popular Music

In their introduction to thematic session entitled Popular Music in the Kádár Era, the editors Sára Wagner and Ádám Havas attempt to contextualize the three articles within popular music scholarship. Th ey argue that the main conceptual link between the articles is their strong emphasis on the construction of autonomous meanings instead of a passive reception of mechanically imported (Western) styles and genres. Specifi cally, we elaborate on the capability of alternative cultural practices in the state-socialist political context, where similarly to other art forms, popular music was controlled by the state apparatus that prioritized system-legitimizing practices and simultaneously undermined open criticism. Th is tension lends a particular dynamics to the strategies developed by musicians in the course of negotiating between “commercial” success and counter-cultural identities. By exposing topics such as the adaptation of Western genres, the questionable status of the “concept album” and the cultural meanings of Hungarian space rock, the articles serve to demonstrate the relevance of popular music studies in Hungary, in addition to providing innovative heuristic tools for scholars researching this relatively unexplored period of Hungarian popular culture.

Released: Replika 115–116, 143–149.
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