Popular or not Popular? The Late 1960s, Counterculture and the Avant-garde in “Rock Music”. The Example of Pink Floyd’s «Ummagumma»
From the USA (Frank Zappa, The Velvet Underground, The Grateful Dead) to the UK (AMM, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Soft Machine), experimentation seemed to be one of the preoccupations of the pop “avant-garde” that arose in Anglo-American popular music at the end of the 1960s, under labels as diverse as progressive, art or psychedelic rock. In regard to the linguistic resources of experimental music, two major kinds of approaches (“symphonic temptation” and “experimental temptation”) can be distinguished. This contribution aims at showing how in some examples from the late 1960s the boundaries between popular music and free jazz, experimental music and art music were weakened, if not completely overcome. It will focus on three main arguments: starting from a general survey to a more specific example of this combination between avant-garde, experimentation and a more popular way of composing songs: experimentation in rock music in the late 1960s, some aspects of experimentation in the music of the Pink Floyd, a case study on their studio album published on Ummagumma.