American Popular Music: Readings from the Popular Press - Vol. 1

American Popular Music: Readings from the Popular Press - Vol. 1

American Popular Music: Readings from the Popular Press - Vol. 1

American Popular Music: Readings from the Popular Press - Vol. 1

Synopsis

Beginning with the emergence of commercial American music in the nineteenth century, Volume 1 includes essays on the major performers, composers, media, and movements that shaped our musical culture before rock and roll. Articles explore the theoretical dimensions of popular music studies; the music of the nineteenth century; and the role of black Americans in the evolution of popular music. Also included-the music of Tin Pan Alley, ragtime, swing, the blues, the influences of W. S. Gilbert and Rodgers and Hammerstein, and changes in lyric writing styles from the nineteenth century to the rock era.

Excerpt

When we think about the role of music in our American culture, our minds might fancifully go back to the Pilgrims arriving on our shore. As they peered into the darkened thicket of the New World, as William Bradford described it, did they perhaps have a hymn to sustain them and make the passage easier? We know that music in worship would play important roles in the lives of succeeding generations of New England settlers in their efforts to create the New Eden. We know as well that music was important to the slaves in the south, and we know it is so today as we listen to drive-time radio to get us to and from work, and as we listen to either radios or Muzak playing in our work environment. Walk through a new neighborhood subdivision currently under construction and you will hear music coming from inside of houses, from vehicles parked out front, music helping subcontractors in their work. As you take this walk you get a sense of what it must have been like to walk down 28th street in New York circa 1910 when Tin Pan Alley was in its heyday. On a hot summer's day the windows would have been flung open to stave off the stifling heat, and the sounds of dozens of pluggers working in buildings along the street would have drifted out on to the steamy New York street in a cacophony of creativity and commerce.

Music has been, is, and will continue to be an integral part of our daily lives. It is vital to our beliefs, our rituals, our work and our play. It is both a reflection of and a formative part of the fabric and needlepoint of our culture and history. These volumes will examine the stitchery of that fabric and popular music's place in the design. the two volumes that constitute American Popular Music feature essays covering a wide variety of subjects of interest to students and scholars of popular music. Extending from the time of Stephen Foster up to our present day and the music of Bruce Springsteen, these essays will look at popular music in the cultural context, exploring the events, the people, and the media that have shaped our popular musical heritage over the last two hundred years. the essays in both volumes are arranged, moreover, to provide not only an historical perspective to the subject but to provide a cross‐ section of the complex of factors (creative and media oriented) that go into the creation of popular music. It is a rich tapestry, part Bayeux tapestry and part day-glo art, that has much to tell us about our values and history.

One of the major goals of these two volumes, and central to our understanding of the importance and impact of popular music on our values and history, is that mercurial concept of popularity. What does popularity mean? What makes something popular, and what does that tell us about . . .

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