The Smiths, CWM, and Gender Ambiguity

Ah, the glory days of Post-Modernism

About 15 years ago, when I was still in the academic world, I heard a presentation discussing the relationship between Morrissey's personality (of "The Smiths") and certain elements of music. The correlation hinged upon the association between his personality (in the form of gender ambiguity) and his wandering, noncommittal melodic structures in his music.

The presentation was thoroughly post-modern and expansive, including diverse fields such as politics, music theory, gender studies, and cultural criticism. Even with the powers of the Internet, I've had great difficulty locating the paper. (Perhaps academe has moved on from such discussions, but back in the heyday of PoMo, this kind of thing seemed fairly common.)

I wonder how such a study could be repurposed to study the similarly 'noncommittal' structures so prevalent in CWM? The same harmonic and melodic devices employed in this paper (e.g. nondirectional & nonfunctional harmony, "circular," stepwise melodic lines) are startlingly similar to the ones so common in CCM.

If there's a causal relationship--that gender ambiguity can be expressed in the form of objectively identifiable musical structures, can the equation be "worked backwards" to imply that the presence of these musical structures communicates similar ambiguities?

What, So CCM is Gay Now?

I'm not sure I'd suggest that, but on the other hand, even the most die-hard postmodernist (even author of the Morrissey paper) would concede that areas of overlap in the musical narrative would be worthy of further exploration.

The most compelling avenue of approach might be to explore the relationship between the musical vagueness in CCM with the equally vague and dismissive ecumenicism associated with such groups. Might meandering, vague, and noncommittal melody lines be strongly associated with similarly wishy-washy Theology?

Perhaps this is the very crux of the entire CWM/CCM controversy (unfortunately, it's not a "controversy" much longer, as the trained musicians have mostly capitulated or forgotten their training): those who understand the musical language will instinctively strain against a type of musical discourse that's fundamentally at odds with the sharp contours of Scriptural Christianity, while those who don't happily--if aggressively--embrace the languid style.

I don't believe I have the time to write such a document, but I'd wager it would be a fantastic read!

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