Theo Cateforis’s 1993 JPMS essay “‘Total Trash’: Analysis and Post Punk Music” used the sound and the critical reception of a Sonic Youth song to envision a new approach to popular music analysis. Just as the present series reconsiders this journal’s early issues, Cateforis opened his piece retrospectively. Its epigraph comes from a moment in a 1983 Popular Music article, where Paul Clarke critiqued the rock analyst’s habit of reducing recordings to written texts. Either transcribed lyrics are subjected to literary analysis, or a transcribed score becomes the object of musical analysis. Such approaches necessarily fixate on aspects of popular song that can be most precisely...

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