Academic journal article Journal of American Folklore

The Music of Multicultural America: Performance, Identity, and Community in the United States, 2nd edition/Country Boys and Redneck Women: New Essays in Gender and Country Music/Sing Me Back Home: Southern Roots and Country Music

Academic journal article Journal of American Folklore

The Music of Multicultural America: Performance, Identity, and Community in the United States, 2nd edition/Country Boys and Redneck Women: New Essays in Gender and Country Music/Sing Me Back Home: Southern Roots and Country Music

Article excerpt

Recent Music Scholarship

The Music of Multicultural America: Performance, Identity, and Community in the United States, 2nd edition. Ed. Kip Lornell and Anne K. Rasmussen. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2016. Pp. 425, website and acknowledgments, introduction, notes, references cited, additional sources, audiographies, videographies, index.)

Country Boys and Redneck Women: New Essays in Gender and Country Music. Ed. Diane Pecknold and Kristine M. McCusker. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2016. Pp. xviii + 280, introduction, notes, index.)

Sing Me Back Home: Southern Roots and Country Music. By Bill C. Malone. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017. Pp. x + 355, credits and acknowledgments, introduction, notes, index.)

These three collections of essays offer different approaches to surveying and interpreting American music. Eminent country music scholar Bill Malone reinforces his focus on the importance of Southern music and "plain white folk," drawing on personal history in essays that serve as an intellectual memoir. Diane Pecknold and Kristine McCusker, while addressing country music, focus on gender using a critical framework that puts it in a global context. Kip Lornell and Anne Rasmussen weave a critical edge into their collection, continuing their project (begun in the first edition of their book) of highlighting the diversity of community- and identity-based music-making in the United States.

Apart from their content differences, these books also provide examples of strategies for experiencing, understanding, and teaching American music that will be useful for folklorists. The Malone collection allows readers deeper insight into the motivations and personal history of an influential scholar of a certain field of American culture, informing students and teachers as they use his work in their own efforts. Pecknold and McCusker cover similar terrain in their collection; they aim not only to re-examine previous scholarship but also to reevaluate it and to prompt new approaches to scholarship of country music. Lornell and Rasmussen reveal a similarly ideological goal, with a similar wide-ranging eye to advocacy, transparency, and reflexivity in research and writing, and so on-but with the added goal of bringing previously marginal communities and practices to the attention of readers.

Lornell and Rasmussen establish a strong vision for their book in their introduction, clearly positioning it for use in the undergraduate- or graduate-level classroom. In expanding this collection from the original form (12 essays) of the 1997 edition of this book, the editors have added chapters but continue to avoid some of the most written-about forms of communitybased vernacular music in the United States; there is not a chapter on Southern old-time string band music, for example (and the index doesn't include "banjo" or "bluegrass," iconic elements of community music making in some areas of the country). Exceptions to the rule of "marginal only" are perhaps Ron Pen's essay on shape-note singing and Ann Spinney's chapter on traditional Irish music in Boston. The inclusion of essays discussing Native American traditions, Arab culture, and Latino musical traditions is a strong move toward including a true diversity of sounds and cultures in a course on American music.

Each chapter begins with a preface from the editors, continuing their commentary on music making and on the diversity of American cultures. Authors include a variety of elements after their chapters, such as lists of recommended media, a glossary of terms, additional resources, and so on. The glossy photo section between pages 362-3 is a bit of an anachronism; the online website presents more engaging media (http://www.atmuse.org/), referenced indepth by many of the contributing authors. Most of the chapters include musical analysis in ways that are accessible to a general audience. Some include Western notation (as in Rasmussen's explanation of modes and rhythmic patterns), while other authors make use of a simplified system, for instance, Christopher Scales and Gabriel Desrosiers' sketches of song form. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.