‘Mike’Disc-Courses on Hot Jazz

Discursive Strategies in the Writings of Spike Hughes, 1931-33


  • Alf Arvidsson Umeå university




jazz, jazz criticism, cultural capital, music discourse


This article focus on strategies that are used in the struggle to raise the status of a popular music form. By analysing the journalism of British composer/bassist/recording leader ‘Spike’ Hughes in Melody Maker in 1931-32, the shaping of a critical discourse based in jazz music is studied. By establishing a discriminating aesthetics of jazz promulgated by sophisticated experts, Hughes and others contributed to jazz being spoken of with an intellectualised attitude. This attitude was rooted in jazz’s musical style, stressing how jazz contained new qualities not to be found in established art music - qualities that would contribute to the evolution of music in general. However, since jazz in the thirties was still framed within a commercial production system, the expectations put on a named master like Duke Ellington would be almost impossible to fulfil.

Author Biography

Alf Arvidsson, Umeå university



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How to Cite

Arvidsson, A. (2011). ‘Mike’Disc-Courses on Hot Jazz: Discursive Strategies in the Writings of Spike Hughes, 1931-33. Popular Music History, 4(3), 251–269. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.v4i3.251