In this Book

Music of the Common Tongue
summary
In clear and elegant prose, Music of the Common Tongue, first published in 1987, argues that by any reasonable reckoning of the function of music in human life the African American tradition, that which stems from the collision between African and European ways of doing music which occurred in the Americas and the Caribbean during and after slavery, is the major western music of the twentieth century. In showing why this is so, the author presents not only an account of African American music from its origins but also a more general consideration of the nature of the music act and of its function in human life. The two streams of discussion occupy alternate chapters so that each casts light on the other. The author offers also an answer to what the Musical Times called the "seldom posed though glaringly obtrusive" question: "why is it that the music of an alienated, oppressed, often persecuted black minority should have made so powerful an impact on the entire industrialized world, whatever the color of its skin or economic status?"In clear and elegant prose, Music of the Common Tongue, first published in 1987, argues that by any reasonable reckoning of the function of music in human life the African American tradition, that which stems from the collision between African and European ways of doing music which occurred in the Americas and the Caribbean during and after slavery, is the major western music of the twentieth century. In showing why this is so, the author presents not only an account of African American music from its origins but also a more general consideration of the nature of the music act and of its function in human life. The two streams of discussion occupy alternate chapters so that each casts light on the other. The author offers also an answer to what the Musical Times called the "seldom posed though glaringly obtrusive" question: "why is it that the music of an alienated, oppressed, often persecuted black minority should have made so powerful an impact on the entire industrialized world, whatever the color of its skin or economic status?"

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Contents
  2. p. vii
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  1. Preface to the 1998 Edition
  2. pp. ix-xi
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-15
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  1. 1 Africans, Europeans and the Making of Music
  2. pp. 17-48
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  1. 2 On the Ritual Performance
  2. pp. 49-79
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  1. 3 Rituals for Survival I: An Extatic Delight in Psalmody
  2. pp. 81-116
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  1. 4 On Cultures and Their Fusion
  2. pp. 117-135
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  1. 5 Styles of Encounter I: A Need in White Culture
  2. pp. 137-162
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  1. 6 On Value and Values
  2. pp. 163-189
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  1. 7 Rituals for Survival II: The Sheer Power of Song
  2. pp. 191-222
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  1. 8 On Literacy and Nonliteracy
  2. pp. 223-245
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  1. 9 Styles of Encounter II: Adjusting to White Culture
  2. pp. 247-280
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  1. 10 On Improvisation
  2. pp. 281-310
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  1. 11 Styles of Encounter III: A Lot of Loving Going On
  2. pp. 311-340
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  1. 12 On the Decline of a Music
  2. pp. 341-368
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  1. 13 Styles and Rituals: Wanting to be Part of That Music
  2. pp. 369-393
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  1. 14 On Records and Rewards
  2. pp. 395-423
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  1. 15 Styles of Encounter IV: A Very Satisfactory Black-Music Circle
  2. pp. 425-459
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  1. 16 Confronting the Rational God
  2. pp. 461-483
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 485-495
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