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Broken Harmony Cover

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Broken Harmony

Shakespeare and the Politics of Music

Music was a subject of considerable debate during the Renaissance. The notion that music could be interpreted in a meaningful way clashed regularly with evidence that music was in fact profoundly promiscuous in its application and effects. Subsequently, much writing in the period reflects a desire to ward off music's illegibility rather than come to terms with its actual effects. In Broken Harmony, Joseph M. Ortiz revises our understanding of music's relationship to language in Renaissance England. In the process he shows the degree to which discussions of music were ideologically and politically charged.

Offering a historically nuanced account of the early modern debate over music, along with close readings of several of Shakespeare's plays (including Titus Andronicus, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, and The Winter's Tale) and Milton's A Maske, Ortiz challenges the consensus that music's affinity with poetry was widely accepted, or even desired, by Renaissance poets. Shakespeare more than any other early modern poet exposed the fault lines in the debate about music's function in art, repeatedly staging disruptive scenes of music that expose an underlying struggle between textual and sensuous authorities. Such musical interventions in textual experiences highlight the significance of sound as an aesthetic and sensory experience independent of any narrative function.

Burst of Breath Cover

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Burst of Breath

Indigenous Ritual Wind Instruments in Lowland South America

Jonathan David Hill

The first in-depth, comparative, and interdisciplinary study of indigenous Amazonian musical cultures, Burst of Breath showcases new research on the dynamic range of ritual power and social significance of various wind instruments—including flutes, trumpets, clarinets, and whistles—played in sacred rituals and ceremonies in Lowland South America.

The editors provide a detailed overview of the historical significance, scientific classification, shamanic and cosmological associations, and changing social meanings of ritual wind instruments within Amazonian cultures. These essays present a wide perspective that goes beyond better-documented areas such as the Upper Xingu and northwest Amazon. Some of the authors explore the ways ritual wind instruments are used to introduce natural sounds into social contexts and to cross boundaries between verbal and nonverbal communication. Others look at how ritual wind instruments and their music enter into local definitions and negotiations of relations between men, women, kin, insiders, and outsiders.

Closely considering these instruments in their many roles and contexts—in curing and purification, negotiating relations, connecting mythic ancestors and humans today—this volume reveals the power and complexity of the music at the heart of collective rituals across lowland South America.

Bytes and Backbeats Cover

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Bytes and Backbeats

Repurposing Music in the Digital Age

Steve Savage

From Attali’s “cold social silence” to Baudrillard’s hallucinatory reality, reproduced music has long been the target of critical attack. Steve Savage, however, deploys an innovative combination of designed recording projects, ethnographic studies of contemporary music practice, and critical analysis to challenge many of these traditional attitudes about the creation and reception of music. Savage adopts the notion of “repurposing” as central to understanding how every aspect of musical activity, from creation to reception, has been transformed, arguing that the tension within production between a naturalizing “art” and a self-conscious “artifice” reflects and feeds into our evolving notions of creativity, authenticity, and community. Three original audio projects form an integral part of the work, drawing from rock & roll, jazz, and traditional African music. Through these projects, Savage is able to target areas of contemporary practice that are particularly significant in the cultural evolution of the musical experience from the perspective of composers, musicians, and listeners. This work stems from Savage’s experience as a professional recording engineer and record producer. “Instead of focusing solely on legal aspects, as many authors have done, Savage takes the time to study not only how technologies have altered the way we make and consume music, but also how technology relates to culture. This balance between ‘empirical’ and ‘critical’ approaches is powerful.” — Serge Lacasse, Université Laval

Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California Cover

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Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California

Modern Pleasures in a Postmodern World

Queen Ida. Danny Poullard. Documentary filmmaker Les Blank. Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records. These are names that are familiar to many fans of Cajun music and zydeco, and they have one other thing in common--longtime residence in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are all part of a vibrant scene of dancing and live Louisiana-French music that has evolved over several decades. Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California traces how this region of California has been able to develop and sustain dances several times a week with more than a dozen bands. Description of this active regional scene opens into a discussion of several historical trends that have affected life and music in Louisiana and the nation. The book portrays the diversity of people who have come together to adopt Cajun and Creole dance music as a way to cope with a globalized, media-saturated world. Ethnomusicologist Mark F. DeWitt innovatively weaves together interviews with musicians and dancers (some from Louisiana, some not), analysis of popular media, participant observation as a musician and dancer, and historical perspectives from wartime black migration patterns, the civil rights movement, American folk and blues revivals, California counterculture, and the rise of cultural tourism in "Cajun Country." In so doing, he reveals the multifaceted appeal of celebrating life on the dance floor, Louisiana-French style.

California Polyphony Cover

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California Polyphony

Ethnic Voices, Musical Crossroads

Mina Yang

What does it mean to be "Californian"? Mina Yang suggests an answer that lies at the intersection of musicology, cultural history, and politics. Consisting of a series of musical case studies of major ethnic groups in California, this book approaches the notion of Californian identity from diverse perspectives, each nuanced by class, gender, and sexuality. This most populous and most affluent state in the Union has been setting musical and cultural trends for decades, and Yang's study thoughtfully illuminates the multiculutral nature of its musics.

Cantonese Love Songs Cover

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Cantonese Love Songs

An English translation of Jiu Ji-yung's Cantonese songs of the early 19th century

Peter Morris

This collection of 97 Cantonese love songs aims to give a wider audience the opportunity of reading these songs in English. The author investigates the language and social background of the songs and provides cross-references to Chinese and Western literature.

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Carl Maria von Weber and the Search for a German Opera

Stephen C. Meyer

Stephen C. Meyer details the intricate relationships between the operas Der Freischütz and Euryanthe, and contemporary discourse on both the "Germany of the imagination" and the new nation itself. In so doing, he presents excerpts from a wide range of philosophical, political, and musical writings, many of which are little known and otherwise unavailable in English. Individual chapters trace the multidimensional concept of German and "foreign" opera through the 19th century. Meyer's study of Der Freischütz places the work within the context of emerging German nationalism, and a chapter on Euryanthe addresses the opera's stylistic and topical shifts in light of changing cultural and aesthetic circumstances. As a result, Meyer argues that the search for a new German opera was not merely an aesthetic movement, but a political and social critique as well.

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Carla Bley

Amy C. Beal

This is the first comprehensive treatment of the remarkable music and influence of Carla Bley, a highly innovative American jazz composer, pianist, organist, band leader, and activist. With fastidious attention to Bley's diverse compositions over the last fifty years spanning critical moments in jazz and experimental music history, Amy C. Beal tenders a long-overdue representation of a major figure in American music._x000B__x000B_Bley is best known for her jazz opera "Escalator over the Hill," her role in the Free Jazz movement of the 1960s, and her collaborations with artists such as Jack Bruce, Don Cherry, Robert Wyatt, and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. She has successfully maneuvered the field of jazz creating works that range from the highly accessible and tradition-based to commercially unviable and avant-garde. Beal details the staggering variety in Bley's work as well as her use of parody, quotations, and contradictions, examining the vocabulary Bley has developed throughout her career and highlighting the compositional and cultural significance of her experimentalism._x000B__x000B_Beal also points to Bley's professional and managerial work as a pioneer in the development of artist-owned record labels, the cofounder and manager of WATT Records, and the cofounder of New Music Distribution Service. Showing her to be not just an artist but an activist who has maintained musical independence and professional control amid the profit-driven, corporation-dominated world of commercial jazz, Beal's straightforward discussion of Bley's life and career will stimulate deeper examinations of her work.

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Carlos Aldama's Life in Batá

Cuba, Diaspora, and the Drum

Umi Vaughan and Carlos Aldama

Batá identifies both the two-headed, hourglass-shaped drum of the Yoruba people and the culture and style of drumming, singing, and dancing associated with it. This book recounts the life story of Carlos Aldama, one of the masters of the batá drum, and through that story traces the history of batá culture as it traveled from Africa to Cuba and then to the United States. For the enslaved Yoruba, batá rhythms helped sustain the religious and cultural practices of a people that had been torn from its roots. Aldama, as guardian of Afro-Cuban music and as a Santería priest, maintains the link with this tradition forged through his mentor Jesus Pérez (Oba Ilu), who was himself the connection to the preserved oral heritage of the older generation. By sharing his stories, Aldama and his student Umi Vaughan bring to light the techniques and principles of batá in all its aspects and document the tensions of maintaining a tradition between generations and worlds, old and new. The book includes rare photographs and access to downloadable audio tracks.

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Celebrating Bird

The Triumph of Charlie Parker

Gary Giddins

Within days of Charlie “Bird” Parker’s death at the age of thirty-four, a scrawled legend began appearing on walls around New York City: Bird Lives. Gone was one of the most outstanding jazz musicians of any era, the troubled genius who brought modernism to jazz and became a defining cultural force for musicians, writers, and artists of every stripe. Arguably the most significant musician in the country at the time of his death, Parker set the standard many musicians strove to reach—though he never enjoyed the same popular success that greeted many of his imitators. Today, the power of Parker’s inventions resonates undiminished; and his influence continues to expand.

Celebrating Bird is the groundbreaking and award-winning account of the life and legend of Charlie Parker from renowned biographer and critic Gary Giddins, whom Esquire called “the best jazz writer in America today.” Richly illustrated and drawing primarily from original sources, Giddins overturns many of the myths that have grown up around Parker. He cuts a fascinating portrait of the period, from Parker’s apprentice days in the 1930s in his hometown of Kansas City to the often difficult years playing clubs in New York and Los Angeles, and reveals how Parker came to embody not only musical innovation and brilliance but the rage and exhilaration of an entire generation.

Fully revised and with a new introduction by the author, Celebrating Bird is a classic of jazz writing that the Village Voice heralded as “a celebration of the highest order”—a portrayal of a jazz virtuoso whose gargantuan talent was haunted by his excesses and a view into the ravishing art of one of jazz’s most commanding and remarkable figures.

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