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"I write what I hear" : subtitle genre in selected songs by Jane Siberry Fledderus, France


This dissertation explores the use of genre in various songs by Toronto singer-songwriter Jane Siberry. Siberry (b. 1955) is an innovative rock musician whose oeuvre draws on a variety of popular music genres. Selected songs are analyzed in light of their relationship to the genres of folk revival, electro pop, country-pop, cool jazz, and funk. The analysis focuses on the consonances and dissonances a song has with a particular genre. The social meanings evoked by genre adherence and subversion are also addressed. It is argued that while Siberry works within contrasting genres, her approach toward those genres is more or less consistent. In particular, Siberry treats various musical parameters (form, metre, and instrumentation) in more complex ways than found in conventional approaches to these genres. As such, Siberry subverts the expectations associated with a genre in a manner that can be conceived of as that of the rock auteur. The rock auteur is a singer-songwriter or producer (in Siberry's case both) who, like the director in film theory, uses continuous themes or technical approaches to create a recognizable personal style that can be found throughout his or her oeuvre. Such a distinct personal style appears in both Siberry's music and lyrics. The analytical methodology employed in this study consists of three parts. First, an analysis of a genre prototype will reveal both the parameters most characteristic of that genre and the social meanings commonly associated with it. Next, a Siberry song (both the lyrics and the music) will be analyzed from a transcription of the recording in terms of both its consonances and dissonances with the conventions of the relevant genre. Special attention will be paid to the additional levels of complexity Siberry consistently employs in her approach to genre. Finally, conclusions will be drawn as to how Siberry's departure from certain generic conventions affects the social meanings associated with a given genre.

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