The music of motors: means of a transport

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2015, Vol. 1. №1(1)

The music of motors: means of a transport

Author: David Cocksey

About the author:

David Cocksey,
Dr. Philol. Sci., Head of English Language Institute, Jean-Francois Champollion University Centre, Albi (France)


As one of the means by which transportation is experienced, the sound of vehicles is a constitutive element of numerous works in English and American popular music of the late 20th century. Through either reproduction or various forms of imitation, the sonic evocation of vehicles is as much a creative process in itself as a component in more complex semiotic structures: it functions concomitantly with verbal and/or visual discourse to augment narrative or the expression of emotional states, notably the exhilaration associated with speed. The representation of vehicles in popular music thus appears as a modern example of Edmund Burke’s aesthetic of the Sublime.


1. URL: Accessed 12.03.13. Trans. by D.C.

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7. Guillaume Apollinaire, Apollinaire, Guillaume. “The New Spirit and the Poets”, Poetry in Theory: An Anthology 1900-2000. Ed. Jon Cook. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. Pp. 75-82.

8. Ibid.

9. The Rambler, Columbia, 1977.

10. The Beatles, Apple, 1968.

11. Ministry, Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs, Sire/Warner Bros.,1992.

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13. Johnny Cash, Orange Blossom Special, Columbia, 1965.

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17. Bill Gavin (prod.), The Exciting Racing Sounds Of Grand Prix, Music for Pleasure, MFP 1205, 1967.

18. George Jones, Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes, Epic, 1985.

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27. Burke, Edmund, The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, T. I, A Philosophical enquiry into the origin of our ideas on the sublime and the beautiful, London, John C. Nimmo, 1887, “The Sublime and Beautiful Compared”, p. 206.

28. Ibid., “The Effects of Sympathy in the Distresses of Others”, p. 119.

29. Ibid., “Power”, p. 145.

30. Hoskins, B., “Where History Happened: The Birth of the Railways”, History Extra, (accessed 12.03.13).

31. “It will shake the windows, rattle your teeth – and bring tears of remembrance to your eyes” (History of Aviation Series, Volume 1: Thunder in the Skies, Captain records, Cs-6306, 1969).

32. Marot, Patrick (dir.), La Littérature et le Sublime, Presses Universitaires du Mirail, “Cribles”, 2007, p. 30. Trans. by D.C.