Monday, December 8, 2008

50BC08 #24: America's Musical Life

America's Musical Life: A HistoryAmerica's Musical Life: A History by Richard Crawford

rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I took a chance and used this book as a course text for an American music course for non-majors. Crawford's writing is engaging and geared toward a more general audience, but informed by top-notch scholarship. His three-sphere model of American music (cultivated, vernacular and traditional spheres) made a useful and multi-dimensional lens through which to trace the development of musical styles and genres. I appreciated the performer-based approach rather than the standard "a history of dead white men" approach so prevalent in the literature. He substantiates this model for American music history in his introduction.
Some of my students, accustomed to "textbooks" may have found the book too verbose for test preparation purposes, I hope that the prose engaged them enough to look beyond the grades and into the rich and diverse musical landscape cultivated in this country.

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