Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Lynn Schofield Clark, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rodney Buxton

Third Advisor

Trace Reddell

Fourth Advisor

Mary Sansbury

Fifth Advisor

Jack Sheinbaum


Cultural studies, Media ecology, Phenomenology, Popular music, Practice theory, Walter Ong


This thesis explores changes that occurred in popular music during the 1960s and early 1970s through case studies involving three significant albums released in 1971 and 1972: Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On, and Stevie Wonder's Talking Book. These albums deserve attention particularly because, as this thesis argues, existing research on the cultural significance of popular music has focused largely on the periods before or after the 1970s and research on music-making technologies has focused largely on white artists or groups from the late 1960s. Addressing this blind spot, the thesis seeks to illuminate this time period and its place as a significant bridge to the digital era that followed. Moreover, by employing media ecology and practice theory as a framework, the thesis argues that these albums exemplify a cleavage of the recorded musical text from live performance, akin to that of the written text from oral-styled manuscripts to closed literary works. Drawing upon the tradition of the history and phenomenology of recorded sound, this thesis therefore aims to contribute to media ecological understandings of how human agency, industry structures, and technological affordances worked together to redefine the structures and the relationships with which they were associated.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Arthur J. Bamford


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

146 p.


Mass communication, Music