University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

The persona in instrumental rock.

Sora, Andrei (2018) The persona in instrumental rock. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey.

Andrei Sora - PhD manuscript FINAL 18.10.2018.pdf - Version of Record
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.

Download (1MB) | Preview


There seems to be agreement, in both academic and lay thought, that music is a medium where artists express themselves (Karl and Robinson 1995, Cochrane 2008, Robinson and Hatten 2012). However, there is no agreement on how this is done. The starting question of the thesis is how one analyses the expressivity of music, particularly of the instrumental variety. I propose that the best-suited analytic tool for tackling this question is the notion of persona. Regardless of how close to the real person, this persona is never coextensive with the artists that we listen to. The notion has been heavily problematised in the context of vocal music (Cone 1974, Frith 1996, Auslander, 2009, Moore 2012), and I argue that, even in the absence of lyrics, valuable lessons can be learned by making the assumption that popular music reception is intimately tied in with the notion of musical persona. This thesis proposes a model for the (de)construction of the persona in instrumental rock, by focusing on the music of four of the most renowned and technically accomplished contemporary rock guitarists: Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Guthrie Govan. I review established models of persona deconstruction and argue that a fractured persona is a more lucrative perspective from which to analyse instrumental rock. I develop a protagonist/environment approach that draws on parallels with film in order to go beyond the main persona of the composer/lead performer and also analyse the distinct personae of the various instruments/musicians heard on a recording, building upon notions of vocality and musical prosody. In the latter part, I capture the tension between the artists’ own image as musicmakers (discourses on self-expression, uniqueness, vocality) and the findings illustrated in the first part, focusing on whether these guitarists see their music as self-expressive or as involving constructed personae. Contradictions are addressed in the conclusion, which also offers potential avenues for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
Sora, Andrei
Date : 30 November 2018
Funders : Not applicable
DOI : 10.15126/thesis.00849771
Contributors :
Depositing User : Andrei Sora
Date Deposited : 06 Dec 2018 09:05
Last Modified : 06 Dec 2018 09:05

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800