Musical Rhetoric: Sources

Suzanne Langer has described music as virtual emotion. While the connection between music and rhetorical forms is as ancient as rhetoric, this bibliography may include selected general works on music of interest to rhetoricians, aims to be comprehensive on rhetorical criticism of musical texts, and is especially interested in the role music has played in American public discourse. For sources on Music and Protest see


Beghin, Tom and Sander M. Goldberg. Haydn and the Performance of Rhetoric. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Brigance, Linda C. "Persuasion And Protest Music." Communication Teacher 16/3 (2002): 7-9.

Clark, Gregory. Clark, Gregory. Civic Jazz: American Music and Kenneth Burke on the Art of Getting Along. The University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Danuser, Hermann. "Was bedeutet in der Musik rhetorische Form?" Archiv Für Musikwissenschaft 69, no. 1 (2012): 13-29. [].

Graves, Michael P. More than precious memories : the rhetoric of Southern gospel music. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2004.

Keller, Hermann. Phrasing and articulation : a contribution to a rhetoric of music, with 152 musical examples. New York: Norton, 1973.

Knupp, Ralph E. "A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven: Rhetorical Dimensions Of Protest Music." Southern Speech Communication Journal 46 (1981): 377-389.

Langer, Suzanne K. Feeling and Form. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1953.

LeCoat, Gerard G. "Music and the Three Appeals of Classical Rhetoric." Quarterly Journal of Speech 62 (1976): 157-166.

McClelland, John. "Music with Words: Semiotic / Rhetoric." Rhetorica 8/3 (1990): 187-211.

McClendon, Aaron D. "Sounds of Sympathy: William Wells Brown's "Anti-Slavery Harp", Abolition, and the Culture of Early and Antebellum American Song." African American Review 47, no. 1 (2014): 83-100. [].

Palmer, David L. "Virtuosity as Rhetoric: Agency and Transformation in Paganini's Mastery of the Violin." Quarterly Journal of Speech 84 (1998): 341-357.

Vickers, Brian. "Figures of Rhetoric / Figures of Music?" Rhetorica 2/1 (1984): 1-44.

Way, Lyndon C. S. "Protest Music, Populism,Politics And Authenticity." Journal of Language & Politics 15/4 (2016): 422-445.
Rhetorical Criticism of Musical TextsEdit

Beebee, Thomas O. "Ballad of the Apocalypse: Another Look at Bob Dylan's 'Hard Rain'." Text & Performance Quarterly 11 (1991): 18-34.

Brown, Matthew P. "Funk Music as Genre: Black Aesthetics, Apocalyptic Thinking and Urban Protest in Post-1965 African-American Pop." Cultural Studies 8 (1994): 484- .

Carter, David A. "The Industrial Workers of the World and the Rhetoric of Song." Quarterly Journal of Speech 66 (1980): 365-375.

Cummings, Melbourne S., and Abhik Roy. "Manifestations of Afrocentricity in Rap Music." Howard Journal of Communications 13 (2002) 59-76.

Denisoff, R. Serge. Sing a Sing of Social Significance. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State UP, 1983.

Denisoff, R. Serge, and Mark H. Levine. "The Popular Protest Song: The Case of 'Eve Of Destruction'" Public Opinion Quarterly 35 (1971): 117-122.

Francesconi, Robert. "Free Jazz and Black Nationalism: A Rhetoric of Musical Style." Critical Studies in Mass Communication 3 (1986): 36-49.

Gonzalez, Alberto, and John J. Makay. "Rhetorical Ascription and the Gospel According To Dylan." Quarterly Journal of Speech 69 (1983): 1- .

Gregg, Richard B. "The Ego-Function of the Rhetoric of Protest." Philosophy & Rhetoric 4 (1971): 71-91.

Holmberg, Carl Bryan. "Toward the Rhetoric of Music: Dixie." Southern Speech Communication Journal 51 (1985):

Hallmark, Rufus. “The Literary and Musical Rhetoric of Apostrophe in Winterreise.” 19th Century Music, vol. 35, no. 1, University of California Press, July 2011, pp. 3–90.

Irvine, James R., and Walter G. Kirkpatrick. "The Musical Form in Rhetorical Exchange: Theoretical Considerations." Quarterly Journal of Speech 58 (1972): 272- .

Jakes, Kelly. "La France en Chantant: The Rhetorical Construction of French Identity in Songs of the Resistance Movement." Quarterly Journal of Speech 99/3 (2013): 317-340.

Knupp, Ralph E. "A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven: Rhetorical Dimensions of Protest Music." Southern Speech Communication Journal 46 ( 1981): 377–389.

King, Stephen A. "The Co-optation of a 'Revolution': Rastafari, Reggae, and the Rhetoric of Social Control." Howard Journal of Communications 10 (1999): .

Kosokoff, Stephen, and Carl W. Carmichael. "The Rhetoric of Protest: Song, Speech, and Attitude Change." Southern Speech Communication Journal 35 (1970): 295-302.

Lynch, Christopher. "Ritual Transformation Through Michael Jackson's Music Video." Journal of Communication Inquiry 25 (2001): .

Makay, John J., and Alberto Gonzalez. "Dylan's Biographical Rhetoric and the Myth of the Outlaw Hero." Southern Speech Communication Journal 52 (1987): .

Matula, Theodore. "Contextualizing Musical Rhetoric: A Critical Reading Of The Pixies' 'Rock Music'." Communication Studies 51 (2000): 218-237.

Mohrmann, G. P, and F. Eugene Scott. "Popular Music and World War II: The Rhetoric of Continuation." Quarterly Journal of Speech 62 (1976): 145-156.

Sanger, Kerran L. "Functions of Freedom Singing in the Civil Rights Movement: The Activists' Implicit Rhetorical Theory." Howard Journal of Communications 8 (1997): 179-195.

Sellnow, Deanna D. "Music as Persuasion: Refuting Hegemonic Masculinity in 'He Thinks He'll Keep Her'." Women's Studies in Communication 22 (1999): 66-84.

Sellnow, Deanna, and Timothy Sellnow. "The 'Illusion of Life' Rhetorical Perspective: An Integrated Approach to the Study of Music as Communication." Critical Studies in Media Communication 18 (2001): 395-415.

Vatri, A. "Between Song and Prose: The Meaning(s) of Harmonia in Aristotle's Rhetoric and Poetics." Rhetorica, vol. 34, no. 4, 2016, pp. 372-392.

Wolff, William I. Bruce Springsteen and popular music : rhetoric, social consciousness, and contemporary culture. Routledge, 2018.

Zolten, J. Jerome. "Media-Driven Evolution of the African American Hard Gospel Style as a Rhetorical Response to Hard Times." Howard Journal of Communications 7 (1996): 185- .

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