By Peter Van der Merwe
Here, for the first time, is a book which analyses popular music from a musical, as opposed to a sociological, biographical, or political point of view. Peter van der Merwe has made an extensive survey of Western popular music in all its forms - blues, ragtime, music hall, waltzes, marches, parlour ballads, folk music - uncovering the common musical language which unites these disparate styles. The book examines the split between `classical' and `popular' Western music in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, shedding light, in the process, on the `serious' music of the time. With a wealth of musical illustrations ranging from Strauss waltzes to Mississippi blues and from the Middle Ages to the 1920s, the author lays bare the tangled roots of the popular music of today in a book which is often provocative, always readable, and outstandingly comprehensive in its scope.