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Bach’s Cycle, Mozart’s Arrow

An Essay on the Origins of Musical Modernity

Karol Berger

In this erudite and elegantly composed argument, Karol Berger uses the works of Monteverdi, Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven to support two groundbreaking claims: first, that it was only in the later eighteenth century that music began to take the flow of time from the past to the future seriously; second, that this change in the structure of musical time was an aspect of a larger transformation in the way educated Europeans began to imagine and think about time with the onset of modernity, a part of a shift from the premodern Christian outlook to the modern post-Christian worldview. Until this historical moment, as Berger illustrates in his analysis of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, music was simply "in time." Its successive events unfolded one after another, but the distinction between past and future, earlier and later, was not central to the way the music was experienced and understood. But after the shift, as he finds in looking at Mozart's Don Giovanni, the experience of linear time is transformed into music's essential subject matter; the cycle of time unbends and becomes an arrow. Berger complements these musical case studies with a rich survey of the philosophical, theological, and literary trends influencing artists during this period.

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The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles

John Jacob Niles. introduction by Ron Pen

A legend in the folk music community, John Jacob Niles enjoyed a lengthy career as a balladeer, folk collector, and songwriter. Ever close to his Kentucky roots, he spent much of his adulthood searching for the most well-loved songs of the southern Appalachia. The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles brings together a wealth of songs with the stories that inspired them, arranged by a gifted performer. This new edition includes all of the melodies, text, commentary, and illustrations of the 1961 original and features a new introduction by Ron Pen, director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music at the University of Kentucky.

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Ballads of the Lords of New Spain

The Codex Romances de los Señores de la Nueva España

Transcribed and translated from the Nahuatl by John Bierhorst

Compiled in 1582, Ballads of the Lords of New Spain is one of the two principal sources of Nahuatl song, as well as a poetical window into the mindset of the Aztec people some sixty years after the conquest of Mexico. Presented as a cancionero, or anthology, in the mode of New Spain, the ballads show a reordering—but not an abandonment—of classic Aztec values. In the careful reading of John Bierhorst, the ballads reveal in no uncertain terms the pre-conquest Aztec belief in the warrior’s paradise and in the virtue of sacrifice. This volume contains an exact transcription of the thirty-six Nahuatl song texts, accompanied by authoritative English translations. Bierhorst includes all the numerals (which give interpretive clues) in the Nahuatl texts and also differentiates the text from scribal glosses. His translations are thoroughly annotated to help readers understand the imagery and allusions in the texts. The volume also includes a helpful introduction and a larger essay, “On the Translation of Aztec Poetry,” that discusses many relevant historical and literary issues. In Bierhorst’s expert translation and interpretation, Ballads of the Lords of New Spain emerges as a song of resistance by a conquered people and the recollection of a glorious past.

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Ballet and Opera in the Age of "Giselle"

Marian Smith

Marian Smith recaptures a rich period in French musical theater when ballet and opera were intimately connected. Focusing on the age of Giselle at the Paris Opéra (from the 1830s through the 1840s), Smith offers an unprecedented look at the structural and thematic relationship between the two genres. She argues that a deeper understanding of both ballet and opera--and of nineteenth-century theater-going culture in general--may be gained by examining them within the same framework instead of following the usual practice of telling their histories separately. This handsomely illustrated book ultimately provides a new portrait of the Opéra during a period long celebrated for its box-office successes in both genres.

Smith begins by showing how gestures were encoded in the musical language that composers used in ballet and in opera. She moves on to a wide range of topics, including the relationship between the gestures of the singers and the movements of the dancers, and the distinction between dance that represents dancing (entertainment staged within the story of the opera) and dance that represents action. Smith maintains that ballet-pantomime and opera continued to rely on each other well into the nineteenth century, even as they thrived independently. The "divorce" between the two arts occurred little by little, and may be traced through unlikely sources: controversies in the press about the changing nature of ballet-pantomime music, shifting ideas about originality, complaints about the ridiculousness of pantomime, and a little-known rehearsal score for Giselle.

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Bamako Sounds

The Afropolitan Ethics of Malian Music

Ryan Thomas Skinner

Bamako Sounds tells the story of an African city, its people, their values, and their music. Centered on the music and musicians of Bamako, Mali’s booming capital city, this book reveals a community of artists whose lives and works evince a complex world shaped by urban culture, postcolonialism, musical expression, religious identity, and intellectual property.

Drawing on years of ethnographic research with classically trained players of the kora (a twenty-one-string West African harp) as well as more contemporary, hip-hop influenced musicians and producers, Ryan Thomas Skinner analyzes how Bamako artists balance social imperatives with personal interests and global imaginations. Whether performed live on stage, broadcast on the radio, or shared over the Internet, music is a privileged mode of expression that suffuses Bamako’s urban soundscape. It animates professional projects, communicates cultural values, pronounces public piety, resounds in the marketplace, and quite literally performs the nation. Music, the artists who make it, and the audiences who interpret it thus represent a crucial means of articulating and disseminating the ethics and aesthetics of a varied and vital Afropolitanism, in Bamako and beyond.

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Banjo on the Mountain

Wade Mainer's First Hundred Years

Wade Mainer (b. 1907) is believed to be the longest-lived country entertainer ever. His banjo lessons began in childhood and he played informally into his adult years, when he joined his brother, fiddler J. E. Mainer (1898-1971), in Mainer's Mountaineers. Music became their ticket out of the cotton mills in 1934. At the time, country styles were swiftly evolving from community-based performance into mass-market broadcast via radio, records, and the silver screen. Mainer's Mountaineers attracted radio sponsors and touring opportunities, allowing the brothers to become full-time musicians.Eventually Wade Mainer formed his own band, the Sons of the Mountaineers. His success secured a permanent place for the fiddle and banjo sound in country music, sustained that sound's popularity throughout the 1930s, and created the foundation upon which Bill Monroe and his disciples would spread bluegrass music in the 1940s. Banjo on the Mountain features Wade's own words and recollections from a lifetime in music and an exciting career that included a command performance at the White House for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a key role in The Old Chisholm Trail , a 1944 BBC-sponsored radio play for American troops and embattled English civilians. The volume is rich in photographs and documents, thanks to Wade and Julia Mainer's careful custodianship of letters, professional photos and family snapshots, posters, songbooks, flyers, and other priceless curios.

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Barrelhouse Words

A Blues Dialect Dictionary

Stephen Calt

This fascinating compendium explains the most unusual, obscure, and curious words and expressions from vintage blues music. Utilizing both documentary evidence and invaluable interviews with a number of now-deceased musicians from the 1920s and '30s, blues scholar Stephen Calt unravels the nuances of more than twelve hundred idioms and proper or place names found on oft-overlooked "race records" recorded between 1923 and 1949. From "aggravatin' papa" to "yas-yas-yas" and everything in between, this truly unique, racy, and compelling resource decodes a neglected speech for general readers and researchers alike, offering invaluable information about black language and American slang.

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Bartók, Hungary, and the Renewal of Tradition

Case Studies in the Intersection of Modernity and Nationality

David E. Schneider

It is well known that Béla Bartók had an extraordinary ability to synthesize Western art music with the folk music of Eastern Europe. What this rich and beautifully written study makes clear is that, contrary to much prevailing thought about the great twentieth-century Hungarian composer, Bartók was also strongly influenced by the art-music traditions of his native country. Drawing from a wide array of material including contemporary reviews and little known Hungarian documents, David Schneider presents a new approach to Bartók that acknowledges the composer’s debt to a variety of Hungarian music traditions as well as to influential contemporaries such as Igor Stravinsky. Putting representative works from each decade beginning with Bartók’s graduation from the Music Academy in 1903 until his departure for the United States in 1940 under critical lens, Schneider reads the composer’s artistic output as both a continuation and a profound transformation of the very national tradition he repeatedly rejected in public. By clarifying why Bartók felt compelled to obscure his ties to the past and by illuminating what that past actually was, Schneider dispels myths about Bartók’s relationship to nineteenth-century traditions and at the same time provides a new perspective on the relationship between nationalism and modernism in early-twentieth century music.

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Bassoon Reed Making

A Pedagogic History

Christin Schillinger

Withheld by leading pedagogues in an effort to control competition, the art of reed making in the early 20th century has been shrouded in secrecy, producing a generation of performers without reed making fluency. While tenets of past decades remain in modern pedagogy, Christin Schillinger details the historical pedagogical trends of bassoon reed making to examine the impact different methods have had on the practice of reed making and performance today. Schillinger traces the pedagogy of reed making from the earliest known publication addressing bassoon pedagogy in 1687 through the publication of Julius Weissenborn’s Praktische Fagott-Schule and concludes with an in-depth look at contemporary methodologies developed by Louis Skinner, Don Christlieb, Norman Herzberg, and Lewis Hugh Cooper. Aimed at practitioners and pedagogues of the bassoon, this book provides a deeper understanding of the history and technique surrounding reed-making craft and instruction.

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Battle Hymns

Music and the American Civil War

Christian McWhirter

In “Liberty’s Great Auxiliary,” Christian McWhirter explores the role of music in Civil War America. McWhirter explains that although music was a significant part of American culture in the antebellum period, the explosion of amateur and professional music during the Civil War was unparalleled, and its popularization during the war had a lasting impact throughout the decades that followed. Drawing on an extensive array of published and archival resources, McWhirter examines how music influenced the popular culture surrounding and supporting the war and makes broad statements about the place Civil War music in American society, north and south (and with attention to the music of African Americans). Finally, McWhirter goes on to examine a resurgence of popularity of Civil War songs during the late nineteenth century and discusses the implications of their continued resonance in the twentieth century.

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