- Editor's Introduction
This issue of American Music expands a process that has been at work for several decades, namely, the questioning, problematizing, and redrawing of borders within the field of music studies at large and within American music studies more specifically.1 The boundaries between what is and is not "American"—and indeed, what constitutes "music"—continue to be challenged in ways that are productive and exhilarating, reflecting the changing values of a field characterized by greater interdisciplinarity and methodological diversity. The articles and reviews in this issue embody these tendencies by addressing the issue of border crossings across a wide range of topics, eras, repertoires, media, locales, and personnel.
In her article "Breaking Silence, Breaching Censorship," Danielle Sofer explores the electronic opera Apocalypse (1993) by composer Alice Shields (b. 1943) against the backdrop of the charged debates over women's reproductive rights within the United States in the post-Reagan era. Using the concept of "ongoing interculturality" and drawing on interviews with Shields alongside analyses of the work, Sofer posits that Shields uses elements of the Indian dance drama bharatanatyam as a means of bringing disparate traditions into dialogue concerning power, colonialism, and censorship.
Benjamin Krakauer explores the boundaries of mainstream bluegrass music in New York City during the early to mid-1970s in his article "A 'Traditional' Music Scene and Its Fringes." Using the music and reception of the eclectic band Breakfast Special as a case study, Krakauer places the experimental bluegrass scene within the decade's larger debates over genre, identity, and "Otherness," specifically, the borders of "traditional" bluegrass, as well as contemporary subgenres such as progressive bluegrass, newgrass, and Dawg music. [End Page 133]
In his article, "'Every Evening at 8': The Rise of the Promenade Concerts in Late Nineteenth-Century Boston," Kenneth H. Marcus considers the founding of the Promenade Concerts in Boston in the late nineteenth century. His study of repertoire, audiences, and management strategies illuminates the process by which the series—eventually famous as the Boston Pops—crossed then-entrenched institutional and cultural barriers of gender and class to become a popular phenomenon with a lasting impact on American orchestral programming.
The final contribution, by John O'Flynn, brings together an iconic Irish writer, a legendary Irish American director, and a well-known Hollywood film composer in "Alex North's Adapted Score for The Dead (John Huston, 1987)." Based on the James Joyce short story of the same title, The Dead was Huston's final film and featured an original score by North, perhaps best known for his unused score for 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968).2 O'Flynn examines how North and Huston realize the "musicality" inherent in Joyce's text while negotiating the considerable challenge of exemplifying "authentic Irish" music for a mainstream audience.
A robust selection of reviews of sound and video recordings, books, and internet databases completes this issue while further expanding on the theme of crossing borders. From the Chicano movement to British Columbian environmental activism, from melodrama to stalwarts of the musical stage, these reviews address a rich array of methods, media, and topics that characterize the shifting landscape and varied fields that comprise American Music.
1. For a fairly recent discussion of this topic from several viewpoints, see Tamara Levitz, convenor, "Musicology beyond Borders?," Journal of the American Musicological Society 65, no. 3 (Fall 2012): 821–61.
2. See David W. Patterson, "Music, Structure and Metaphor in Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey,'" American Music 22, no. 3 (Autumn 2004): 444–74; and Kate McQuiston, "Strains of Transcendence in 2001: A Space Odyssey," in We'll Meet Again: Musical Design in the Films of Stanley Kubrick (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 128–62.