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Surfing about Music

Surfing about Music

Timothy J. Cooley
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Surfing about Music
    Book Description:

    This first major examination the interrelationships of music and surfing explores different ways that surfers combine surfing with making and listening to music. Tim Cooley uses his knowledge and experience as a practicing musician and avid surfer to consider the musical practices of surfers in locations around the world, taking into account ideas about surfing as a global affinity group and the real-life stories of surfers and musicians he encounters. In doing so, he expands ethnomusicological thinking about the many ways musical practices are integral to human socializing, creativity, and the condition of being human. Cooley discusses the origins of surfing in Hawai'i, its central role in Hawaiian society, and the mele (chants) and hula (dance or visual poetry) about surfing. He covers instrumental rock from groups like Dick Dale and the Del Tones and many others, and songs about surfing performed by the Beach Boys. As he traces trends globally, three broad styles emerge: surf music, punk rock, and acoustic singer-songwriter music. Cooley also examines surfing contests and music festivals as well as the music used in a selection surf movies that were particularly influential in shaping the musical practices of significant groups of surfers. Engaging, informative, and enlightening, this book is a fascinating exploration of surfing as a cultural practice with accompanying rituals, habits, and conceptions about who surfs and why, and of how musical ideas and practices are key to the many things that surfing is and aspires to be.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95721-3
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Online Examples
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    Riding a wave—surfing—is a cultural practice. Surfing is a deeply experiential act of playing with the power of wind that has been transferred to water to form ocean swells. Sliding down the face of a moving aqueous mound that is forced upward as it approaches shore, a surfer engages with the forces of gravity and water tension. Using techniques handed down through countless generations of coastal dwellers, the surfer harnesses the wave’s energy to move over water in a dance across that liminal zone between open ocean and wave-lapped land. Surfing is a balancing act on a watery...

  7. CHAPTER 1 Trouble in Paradise: The History and Reinvention of Surfing
    (pp. 20-43)

    These are the opening lines of the third part of an extensive nineteenth-century mele (Hawaiian chant) catalogued in Honolulu’s Bishop Museum as “He inoa no Naihe” (Name Chant for Naihe), which also bears the evocative titles “Deification of Canoe for Naihe” and “A Surfing Song” (audio example 1). Naihe was a chief associated with the Hawaiian royalty, and an accomplished surfer. He was born toward the end of the eighteenth century and died in 1831. Thus this is a late-eighteenth- or, more likely, early-nineteenth-century mele. The mele was later adopted for King Kalākaua,² the last reigning Hawaiian king, who died...

  8. CHAPTER 2 “Surf Music” and the California Surfing Boom: New Surfing Gets a New Sound
    (pp. 44-61)

    Mention the phrase surf music, and one of two iconic sounds usually comes to mind: the vocal harmonies of the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean, or the instrumental, guitar-driven rock championed by Dick Dale, the Bel-Airs, and a long list of other bands. These two subgenres of what was dubbed “surf music” in 1961 emerged in the Los Angeles area, and each illustrates a different myth about New Surfing. Though the named popular genre Surf Music is not the first, most important, or necessarily best music associated with surfing, it did mark a key moment in the history of...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Music in Surf Movies
    (pp. 62-93)

    In the beginning, surfing was silent … or at least it was on film. Film footage of surfing very rarely has live synchronous sound.¹ The sounds a surfer hears while surfing can be intense, beautiful, and even musical—the hiss of water receding over sand and pebbles at the ocean’s edge, the rhythmic dip of your arms in and out of the water while paddling, the roaring crash of waves, the slip of the board down the face of a swell, the whistle of wind, the sudden modulation from loud and high frequencies to muffled and low as you dive...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Two Festivals and Three Genres of Music
    (pp. 94-122)

    Every year dozens of surf-related festivals are held where we might expect: Hawai‘i; the West, East, and Gulf Coasts of the United States; Australia; and South Africa. There are too many festivals to list here, and almost all of them feature live music. While it might have made sense to focus on festivals close to my home in California (there are plenty), I have instead decided to present two case studies from Europe: the first in Italy, near Livorno, on the Mediterranean, where surfing waves only occasionally grace the otherwise pleasant beaches; and the second in the surf-crazed town of...

  11. CHAPTER 5 The Pro Surfer Sings
    (pp. 123-142)

    Any member of the Hawaiian ali‘i (royalty) with real stature would have been accompanied by a chanter who sang his or her praises. One such chanter was an old woman who accompanied Naihe, the chief from the turn of the eighteenth to nineteenth century introduced in chapter 1. We know of this chanter from a historical legend in which Naihe was challenged to a surfing match in Hilo, some distance from his Ka‘u home on the island of Hawai‘i.¹ After the long journey, Naihe let his chanter go off and rest while he paddled out for the contest, only to...

  12. CHAPTER 6 The Soul Surfer Sings
    (pp. 143-162)

    There is something about the pro surfer who becomes a pro musician, or at least extends his or her brand through music, that grabs one’s attention. Multinational capitalism, especially entertainment industries, know this and have long exploited the singing, dancing, acting, modeling athletic body.¹ But what about the rest of the surfers? Does their strumming a ukulele on the beach count for much in this story about music and surfing? I certainly hope so. While professional surfers and musicians capture something of the ideals of the communities they represent, they also tend to be exaggerations (and this, of course, excites...

  13. CHAPTER 7 Playing Together and Solitary Play: Why Surfers Need Music
    (pp. 163-174)

    In this concluding chapter I draw out key themes from examples of how surfers talk about musicking in an effort to understand something of significance about surfers as an affinity group. I offer some of the words of surfers gleaned from my own interviews as well as from interviews in surfing magazines, films, newspapers, and books. My focus is on the New Surfing era, and most of these surfers and some of their words were introduced in previous chapters. My goal in this final chapter is to show why some surfers may need to be actively involved in musicking, and...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 175-194)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 195-200)
  16. Discography
    (pp. 201-202)
  17. Filmography
    (pp. 203-206)
  18. Index
    (pp. 207-218)