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Music History & Criticism

Psychedelic Popular Music

A History through Musical Topic Theory

by (author) William Echard

Indiana University Press
Initial publish date
May 2017
History & Criticism, Rock, Individual Composer & Musician
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Recognized for its distinctive musical features and its connection to periods of social innovation and ferment, the genre of psychedelia has exerted long-term influence in many areas of cultural production, including music, visual art, graphic design, film, and literature. William Echard explores the historical development of psychedelic music and its various stylistic incarnations as a genre unique for its fusion of rock, soul, funk, folk, and electronic music. Through the theory of musical topics—highly conventional musical figures that signify broad cultural concepts—and musical meaning, Echard traces the stylistic evolution of psychedelia from its inception in the early 1960s, with the Beatles' Rubber Soul and Revolver and the Kinks and Pink Floyd, to the German experimental bands and psychedelic funk of the 1970s, with a special emphasis on Parliament/Funkadelic. He concludes with a look at the 1980s and early 1990s, touching on the free festival scene, rave culture, and neo–jam bands. Set against the cultural backdrop of these decades, Echard's study of psychedelia lays the groundwork and offers lessons for analyzing the topic of popular music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

About the author

Contributor Notes

William Echard is Associate Professor of Music at Carleton University, Ottawa. He is author of Neil Young and the Poetics of Energy (IUP).

Editorial Reviews


Everyone truly interested in psychedelia or topic theory—or both—will find this book an invaluable addition to their libraries.