The Sideburns 1976 fanzine page displayed to the left, found in the British Library’s so called punk exhibit, speaks volumes about not only Punk music, but other forms of music as well. One of my favorite genres of music is Indie. Seeing this fanzine page incited in me the belief that Punk is not much different than the music I listen to. It is evident that Punk shares a parallel to Indie music through both its lack of musical complexity and anti-establishment ideologies.
Punk is not intended to be a display of musical complexity, but rather a display of emotion. Juliane Brauer writes in her analysis of Punk Music as a subculture that, “They praised musical simplicity and self-made dilettantism as the new authenticity”. Indie embraces this attitude with this music as well. Indie is simple musically while still trying to invoke strong feelings or emotions, conveyed through the lyrics and the simple musical characteristics that back them up. These simple musical characteristics are that of repeating rifts and non-variety in chord progression, often composing their sounds out of basic major chords or repetitive chord structures. While having this minimalist approach, most of the emotion is projected through the lyrics provided by the singer, much like punk music. A good example of this is a band called Neutral Milk Hotel. The majority of the band's songs are all composed of basic major chords and are for the most part not talented musically or even vocally. The same can be said for The Sex Pistols. Although the music isn’t complex, these bands convey serious emotion, intense lyrics, and tonally fit the story they are trying to tell. Whether it be John Lydon’s lyrical harshness and ”overtly vulgar aggression”, as said by Brauer, or Jeff Mangum’s strained and shallow voice with intricate lyrics, both singers capture exactly what they intend for their audience even without being great musicians and are good representations of the music of their subculture.
Punk and Indie are not only defined by their music, but by their counter-culture agendas. While Indie music is not against the authority of government much like Punk music seems to display, Indie is instead against the sense of authority when it comes to major labels. Indie is a shortening of the word ‘Independent’, and as said by Craig Thompson and Arsel, “refers to artistic creations produced outside the auspices of media conglomerates and distributed through small-scale and often localized channels”. Similar to Punk’s often anti-authority slant, Indie in parallel is anti-authority towards labels. It is worth nothing that are both are fighting ‘the man’ but are each fighting a different version of him.
Although separated decades apart, both of these genres seem to parallel one another. Its listeners do not listen to them because they are big labels or musically talented, but because they tell a story that they want to hear that is presented in the vocals. It isn’t heard to be amazed by the musical quality, but is heard to be amazed by the passion invoked. To put a twist on a John Green quote, “Music, it demands to be felt”.
Arsel, Zeynep, and Thompson Craig J. "Demythologizing Consumption Practices: How Consumers Protect Their Field-Dependent Identity Investments from Devaluing Marketplace Myths." Journal of Consumer Research 37.5 (2011): 791-806. Web.
Brauer, Juliane. "Clashes of Emotions: Punk Music, Youth Subculture, and Authority in the GDR (1978-1983)."Social Justice 38.4 (126) (2012): 53-70. Web.
*Listen to one of my favorite albums here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wabrnt1MVVQ