Smooth jazz and other forms of easy listening have long been a subject of debate within the world of music, specifically in regards to their classification as either highbrow or lowbrow. In order to determine whether these genres can be considered as high or lowbrow, it is important to first define what each of these terms means.
Highbrow is a term used to describe cultural products that are typically associated with intellectualism, sophistication, and refinement. Examples of highbrow art include classical music, literature, and visual arts. Conversely, lowbrow is a term used to describe cultural products that are seen as lacking in sophistication, taste, or intellectualism. Examples of lowbrow art include comic books, cartoons, and certain types of popular music.
When it comes to smooth jazz and other forms of easy listening, it can be argued that they do not fit neatly into either category. Some proponents of these genres might argue that they are highbrow due to their technical complexity and musical sophistication. For example, smooth jazz often features intricate chord progressions and advanced improvisation techniques that require a great deal of skill and training to execute.
On the other hand, critics might argue that smooth jazz and other forms of easy listening are lowbrow due to their perceived lack of creativity and originality. Some might argue that these genres are simply a watered-down version of more complex and innovative genres such as jazz or classical music.
Ultimately, whether smooth jazz and other forms of easy listening can be considered highbrow or lowbrow is a matter of subjective interpretation. While some listeners might view these genres as sophisticated and intellectually stimulating, others might see them as simplistic and lacking in artistic merit. As with any cultural product, the value of smooth jazz and other forms of easy listening ultimately lies in the eye of the beholder.
- Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Cook, N. (2018). Beyond the Score: Music as Performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Gendron, B. (2002). Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.