Here is an illustrated guide to the rich music of Brazil—its history, styles, performers, instruments, and impact on musicians around the globe. From the boisterous rhythms of samba to the cool elegance of bossa nova to the hot percussion of Bahian axé music, The Brazilian Sound celebrates a world music phenomenon. This revised and expanded edition includes discussions of developments in samba and other key genres, the rise of female singer-songwriters in recent years, new works by established artists like Milton Nascimento and Marisa Monte, and the mixing of bossa with electronica. This clearly written and lavishly illustrated encyclopedic survey features new entries and photographs, an extensive glossary of Brazilian music terms and more.
This edition of The Brazilian Sound contains new discussions of:
· música sertaneja and música caipira
· Brazilian funk, rap/hip-hop, and electronic dance music
· important new samba and MPB artists
· Plus! An updated bibliography and glossary, and a list of Web resources
In Cassette Culture, Peter Manuel tells how a new mass medium—the portable cassette player—caused a major upheaval in popular culture in the world's second-largest country. The advent of cassette technology in the 1980s transformed India's popular music industry from the virtual monopoly of a single multinational LP manufacturer to a free-for-all among hundreds of local cassette producers. The result was a revolution in the quantity, quality, and variety of Indian popular music and its patterns of dissemination and consumption.
Manuel shows that the cassette revolution, however, has brought new contradictions and problems to Indian culture. While inexpensive cassettes revitalized local subcultures and community values throughout the subcontinent, they were also a vehicle for regional and political factionalism, new forms of commercial vulgarity, and, disturbingly, the most provocative sorts of hate-mongering and religious chauvinism.
Cassette Culture is the first scholarly account of Indian popular music and the first case study of a technological revolution now occurring throughout the world. It will be an essential resource for anyone interested in modern India, communications theory, world popular music, or contemporary global culture.
In the wake of intense globalisation and commercialisation in the 1990s, China saw the emergence of a vibrant popular culture. Drawing on sixteen years of research, Jeroen de Kloet explores the popular music industry in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, providing a fascinating history of its emergence and extensive audience analysis, while also exploring the effect of censorship on the music scene in China.China with a Cut pays particular attention to the dakou culture: so named after a cut nicked into the edge to render them unsellable, these illegally imported Western CDs still play most of the tracks. They also played a crucial role in the emergence of the new music and youth culture. De Kloet’s impressive study demonstrates how the young Chinese cope with the rapid economic and social changes in a period of intense globalisation, and offers a unique insight into the socio-cultural and political transformations of a rising global power.
The history of Haiti throughout the twentieth century has been marked by oppression at the hands of colonial and dictatorial overlords. But set against this "day for the hunter" has been a "day for the prey," a history of resistance, and sometimes of triumph. With keen cultural and historical awareness, Gage Averill shows that Haiti's vibrant and expressive music has been one of the most highly charged instruments in this struggle—one in which power, politics, and resistance are inextricably fused.
Averill explores such diverse genres as Haitian jazz, troubadour traditions, Vodou-jazz, konpa, mini-djaz, new generation, and roots music. He examines the complex interaction of music with power in contexts such as honorific rituals, sponsored street celebrations, Carnival, and social movements that span the political spectrum.
With firsthand accounts by musicians, photos, song texts, and ethnographic descriptions, this book explores the profound manifestations of power and song in the day-to-day efforts of ordinary Haitians to rise above political repression.
Most pop songs are short-lived. They appear suddenly and, if they catch on, seem to be everywhere at once before disappearing again into obscurity. Yet some songs resonate more deeply—often in ways that reflect broader historical and cultural changes.
In Footsteps in the Dark, George Lipsitz illuminates these secret meanings, offering imaginative interpretations of a wide range of popular music genres from jazz to salsa to rock. Sweeping changes that only remotely register in official narratives, Lipsitz argues, can appear in vivid relief within popular music, especially when these changes occur outside mainstream white culture. Using a wealth of revealing examples, he discusses such topics as the emergence of an African American techno music subculture in Detroit as a contradictory case of digital capitalism and the prominence of banda, merengue, and salsa music in the 1990s as an expression of changing Mexican, Dominican, and Puerto Rican nationalisms. Approaching race and popular music from another direction, he analyzes the Ken Burns PBS series Jazz as a largely uncritical celebration of American nationalism that obscures the civil rights era’s challenge to racial inequality, and he takes on the infamous campaigns to censor hip-hop and the radical black voice in the early 1990s.
Teeming with astute observations and brilliant insights about race and racism, deindustrialization, and urban renewal and their connections to music, Footsteps in the Dark puts forth an alternate history of post–cold war America and shows why in an era given to easy answers and clichéd versions of history, pop songs matter more than ever.
George Lipsitz is professor of black studies and sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Among his many books are Life in the Struggle, Dangerous Crossroads, and American Studies in a Moment of Danger (Minnesota, 2001).
Genre in Popular Music
Fabian Holt University of Chicago Press, 2007 Library of Congress ML3477.H65 2007 | Dewey Decimal 781.64
The popularity of the motion picture soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou? brought an extraordinary amount of attention to bluegrass, but it also drew its share of criticism from some aficionados who felt the album’s inclusion of more modern tracks misrepresented the genre. This soundtrack, these purists argued, wasn’t bluegrass, but “roots music,” a new and, indeed, more overarching category concocted by journalists and marketers. Why is it that popular music genres like these and others are so passionately contested? And how is it that these genres emerge, coalesce, change, and die out?
In Genre in Popular Music, Fabian Holt provides new understanding as to why we debate music categories, and why those terms are unstable and always shifting. To tackle the full complexity of genres in popular music, Holt embarks on a wide-ranging and ambitious collection of case studies. Here he examines not only the different reactions to O Brother, but also the impact of rock and roll’s explosion in the 1950s and 1960s on country music and jazz, and how the jazz and indie music scenes in Chicago have intermingled to expand the borders of their respective genres. Throughout, Holt finds that genres are an integral part of musical culture—fundamental both to musical practice and experience and to the social organization of musical life.
“Hello, hello Brazil” was the standard greeting Brazilian radio announcers of the 1930s used to welcome their audience into an expanding cultural marketplace. New genres like samba and repackaged older ones like choro served as the currency in this marketplace, minted in the capital in Rio de Janeiro and circulated nationally by the burgeoning recording and broadcasting industries. Bryan McCann chronicles the flourishing of Brazilian popular music between the 1920s and the 1950s. Through analysis of the competing projects of composers, producers, bureaucrats, and fans, he shows that Brazilians alternately envisioned popular music as the foundation for a unified national culture and used it as a tool to probe racial and regional divisions.
McCann explores the links between the growth of the culture industry, rapid industrialization, and the rise and fall of Getúlio Vargas’s Estado Novo dictatorship. He argues that these processes opened a window of opportunity for the creation of enduring cultural patterns and demonstrates that the understandings of popular music cemented in the mid–twentieth century continue to structure Brazilian cultural life in the early twenty-first.
It has long been assumed that people who prefer Led Zeppelin to Mozart live aesthetically impoverished lives. But why? In Listening to Popular Music, award-winning popular music scholar Theodore Gracyk argues that aesthetic value is just as important in popular listening as it is with “serious” music. And we don’t have to treat popular music as art in order to recognize its worth. Aesthetic values are realized differently in different musical styles, and each requires listening skills that people must learn.
Boldly merging insights from popular music studies, aesthetic theory, cognitive science, psychology, identity theory, and cultural studies, Gracyk crafts an innovative study that argues that understanding aesthetic value is crucial to the enjoyment of all forms of music. Listening to Popular Music thusoffers a new, general framework for understanding what it means to appreciate music, showing that an informed preference for popular music is a response to real values of the music, including aesthetic values.
"Finally, a book on aesthetics that's philosophically grounded, anti-elitist, and tailored to popular music. Much needed and deftly achieved."
—William Echard, Department of Music, and Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art, and Culture, Carleton University
"A sophisticated account of aesthetic value in popular music that revealingly challenges orthodoxies of cultural studies and traditional aesthetics."
—Stephen Davies, Department of Philosophy, University of Auckland, and author of The Philosophy of Art
"Gracyk's arguments are thoughtful, clear, and persuasive, and it's refreshing to see him expose the flaws in commonly repeated critiques of popular music. This book will challenge open-minded doubters to take popular music seriously."
—Mark Katz, Assistant Professor of Music, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music
Theodore Gracyk is Department Chair and Professor of Philosophy at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He is the author of Rhythm and Noise: An Aesthetics of Rock and I Wanna Be Me: Rock Music and the Politics of Identity, which won the 2002 IASPM-US Woody Guthrie Book Award.
Stretching from the years during the Second World War when young couples jitterbugged across the dance floor at the Zenda Ballroom, through the early 1950s when honking tenor saxophones could be heard at the Angelus Hall, to the Spanish-language cosmopolitanism of the late 1950s and 1960s, Mexican American Mojo is a lively account of Mexican American urban culture in wartime and postwar Los Angeles as seen through the evolution of dance styles, nightlife, and, above all, popular music. Revealing the links between a vibrant Chicano music culture and postwar social and geographic mobility, Anthony Macías shows how by participating in jazz, the zoot suit phenomenon, car culture, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and Latin music, Mexican Americans not only rejected second-class citizenship and demeaning stereotypes, but also transformed Los Angeles.
Macías conducted numerous interviews for Mexican American Mojo, and the voices of little-known artists and fans fill its pages. In addition, more famous musicians such as Ritchie Valens and Lalo Guerrero are considered anew in relation to their contemporaries and the city. Macías examines language, fashion, and subcultures to trace the history of hip and cool in Los Angeles as well as the Chicano influence on urban culture. He argues that a grass-roots “multicultural urban civility” that challenged the attempted containment of Mexican Americans and African Americans emerged in the neighborhoods, schools, nightclubs, dance halls, and auditoriums of mid-twentieth-century Los Angeles. So take a little trip with Macías, via streetcar or freeway, to a time when Los Angeles had advanced public high school music programs, segregated musicians’ union locals, a highbrow municipal Bureau of Music, independent R & B labels, and robust rock and roll and Latin music scenes.
What happens to “local” sound when globalization exposes musicians and audiences to cultural influences from around the world? Jeremy Wallach explores this question as it plays out in the eclectic, evolving world of Indonesian music after the fall of the repressive Soeharto regime. Against the backdrop of Indonesia’s chaotic and momentous transition to democracy, Wallach takes us to recording studios, music stores, concert venues, university campuses, video shoots, and urban neighborhoods.
Integrating ground-level ethnographic research with insights drawn from contemporary cultural theory, he shows that access to globally circulating music and technologies has neither extinguished nor homogenized local music-making in Indonesia. Instead, it has provided young Indonesians with creative possibilities for exploring their identity in a diverse nation undergoing dramatic changes in an increasingly interconnected world. Ultimately, he finds, the unofficial, multicultural nationalism of Indonesian popular music provides a viable alternative to the religious, ethnic, regional, and class-based extremism that continues to threaten unity and democracy in that country.
In Musicians in Transit Matthew B. Karush examines the transnational careers of seven of the most influential Argentine musicians of the twentieth century: Afro-Argentine swing guitarist Oscar Alemán, jazz saxophonist Gato Barbieri, composer Lalo Schifrin, tango innovator Astor Piazzolla, balada singer Sandro, folksinger Mercedes Sosa, and rock musician Gustavo Santaolalla. As active participants in the globalized music business, these artists interacted with musicians and audiences in the United States, Europe, and Latin America and contended with genre distinctions, marketing conventions, and ethnic stereotypes. By responding creatively to these constraints, they made innovative music that provided Argentines with new ways of understanding their nation’s place in the world. Eventually, these musicians produced expressions of Latin identity that reverberated beyond Argentina, including a novel form of pop ballad; an anti-imperialist, revolutionary folk genre; and a style of rock built on a pastiche of Latin American and global genres. A website with links to recordings by each musician accompanies the book.
Hailed as a national hero and musical revolutionary, Thomas Mapfumo, along with other Zimbabwean artists, burst onto the music scene in the 1980s with a unique style that combined electric guitar with indigenous Shona music and instruments. The development of this music from its roots in the early Rhodesian era to the present and the ways this and other styles articulated with Zimbabwean nationalism is the focus of Thomas Turino's new study. Turino examines the emergence of cosmopolitan culture among the black middle class and how this gave rise to a variety of urban-popular styles modeled on influences ranging from the Mills Brothers to Elvis. He also shows how cosmopolitanism gave rise to the nationalist movement itself, explaining the combination of "foreign" and indigenous elements that so often define nationalist art and cultural projects. The first book-length look at the role of music in African nationalism, Turino's work delves deeper than most books about popular music and challenges the reader to think about the lives and struggles of the people behind the surface appeal of world music.
A rich portrait of the community that is Arkansas manifested in song, Our Own Sweet Sounds celebrates the diversity of musical forms and music makers that have graced the state since territorial times. Beginning with the earliest references to Quapaw and Caddo music as first reported by seventeenth-century European explorers and continuing forward to the “bizarrely named grunge bands” who will be stars tomorrow, Robert Cochran traces the music and voices that have enriched the life of the Natural State. Arkansas, many are starting to realize, was caught in a cultural crossfire of music. There were the nearby western swing influence of Tulsa, the blues of Memphis, the Louisiana Hayride of Shreveport, and the influence of Ozark music from Missouri. All of this resulted in the Arkansas cross-culture of blues, country, folk, and rock music, creating a broad spectrum of musical styles and musicians that has left an indelible impression on the Arkansas cultural scene. This new edition includes approximately seventy new artists, some of whom became famous after 1996, when the first edition was published, such as Joe Nichols, and some of whom were left out of the original edition, such as Little Willie John. The valuable “Featured Performers” section—lengthy discussions of individual artists with their photographs—is now one-third larger. This new edition, heavily illustrated, is a loving tribute to the common music that has filled local airwaves, lifted community gatherings to the level of joyous festivities, and enlivened the spirit of music lovers everywhere.
When it first appeared in the early 1970s, glam rock not only caused a stir among audiences and performers, it also stood counterculture and psychedelic rock on their heads. Glam rock was outrageous and overtly theatrical, and its unforgettable characters-adorned with flamboyant costumes and heavy makeup and accompanied by elaborately constructed sets-were personified by performers such as Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, and Suzi Quatro. A sea change in rock performance had occurred.
Yet glam was as much about substance as style, and Performing Glam Rock delves into the many ways glam paved the way for new explorations of identity in terms of gender, sexuality, and performance. Philip Auslander positions glam historically and examines it as a set of performance strategies, exploring the ways in which glam rock-while celebrating the showmanship of 1950s rock and roll-began to undermine rock's adherence to the ideology of authenticity in the late 1960s.
In this important study of a too-often-overlooked phenomenon, Auslander takes a fresh look at the genius of the glam movement and introduces glam to a new generation of performance enthusiasts and scholars alike.
Philip Auslander is Professor in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology and author of numerous books, including Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture and Presence and Resistance: Postmodernism and Cultural Politics in Contemporary American Performance. He is editor of the major reference work Performance: Critical Concepts and coeditor, with Carrie Sandahl, of Bodies in Commotion: Disability and Performance.
An influential writer on popular music asks what we talk about when we talk about music. Instead of dismissing emotional response and personal taste as inaccessible to academic critics, Frith takes these forms of engagement as his subject—and discloses their place at the center of the aesthetics that structure our culture and color our lives.
Phonographic Memories is the first book to perform a sustained analysis of the narrative and thematic influence of Caribbean popular music on the Caribbean novel. Tracing a region-wide attention to the deep connections between music and memory in the work of Lawrence Scott, Oscar Hijuelos, Colin Channer, Daniel Maximin, and Ramabai Espinet, Njelle Hamilton tunes in to each novel’s soundtrack while considering the broader listening cultures that sustain collective memory and situate Caribbean subjects in specific localities. These “musical fictions” depict Caribbean people turning to calypso, bolero, reggae, gwoka, and dub to record, retrieve, and replay personal and cultural memories. Offering a fresh perspective on musical nationalism and nostalgic memory in the era of globalization, Phonographic Memories affirms the continued importance of Caribbean music in providing contemporary novelists ethical narrative models for sounding marginalized memories and voices.
From the 1920s on, popular music in Southeast Asia was a mass-audience phenomenon that drew new connections between indigenous musical styles and contemporary genres from elsewhere to create new, hybrid forms. This book presents a cultural history of modern Southeast Asia from the vantage point of popular music, considering not just singers and musicians but their fans as well, showing how the music was intrinsically bound up with modern life and the societal changes that came with it. Reaching new audiences across national borders, popular music of the period helped push social change, and at times served as a medium for expressions of social or political discontent.
Given the explosion in recent years of scholarship exploring the ways in which disability is manifested and performed in numerous cultural spaces, it’s surprising that until now there has never been a single monograph study covering the important intersection of popular music and disability. George McKay’s Shakin’ All Over is a cross-disciplinary examination of the ways in which popular music performers have addressed disability: in their songs, in their live performances, and in various media presentations.
By looking closely into the work of artists such as Johnny Rotten, Neil Young, Johnnie Ray, Ian Dury, Teddy Pendergrass, Curtis Mayfield, and Joni Mitchell, McKay investigates such questions as how popular music works to obscure and accommodate the presence of people with disabilities in its cultural practice. He also examines how popular musicians have articulated the experiences of disability (or sought to pass), or have used their cultural arena for disability advocacy purposes.
From its 1939 “Nickel, Nickel” jingle to pathbreaking collaborations with Michael Jackson and Madonna to its pair of X Factor commercials in 2011 and 2012, Pepsi-Cola has played a leading role in drawing the American pop music industry into a synergetic relationship with advertising. This idea has been copied successfully by countless other brands over the years, and such commercial collaboration is commonplace today—but how did we get here? How and why have pop music aesthetics been co-opted to benefit corporate branding? What effect have Pepsi’s music marketing practices in particular had on other brands, the advertising industry, and popular music itself?
Soda Goes Pop investigates these and other vital questions around the evolving relationships between popular music and corporate advertising. Joanna K. Love joins musical analysis, historical research, and cultural theory to trace parallel shifts in these industries over eight decades. In addition to scholarly and industry resources, she draws on first-hand accounts, pop culture magazines, trade press journals, and other archival materials. Pepsi’s longevity as an influential American brand, its legendary commercials, and its pioneering, relentless pursuit of alliances with American musical stars makes the brand a particularly instructive point of focus. Several of the company’s most famous ad campaigns are prime examples of the practice of redaction, whereby marketers select, censor, and restructure musical texts to fit commercial contexts in ways that revise their aesthetic meanings and serve corporate aims. Ultimately, Love demonstrates how Pepsi’s marketing has historically appropriated and altered images of pop icons and the meanings of hit songs, and how these commercials shaped relationships between the American music business, the advertising industry, and corporate brands.
Soda Goes Pop is a rich resource for scholars and students of American studies, popular culture, advertising, broadcast media, and musicology. It is also an accessible and informative book for the general reader, as Love’s musical and theoretical analyses are clearly presented for non-specialist audiences and readers with varying degrees of musical knowledge.
In Sound Alignments, a transnational group of scholars explore the myriad forms of popular music that circulated across Asia during the Cold War. Challenging the conventional alignments and periodizations of Western cultural histories of the Cold War, they trace the routes of popular music, examining how it took on new meanings and significance as it traveled across Asia, from India to Indonesia, Hong Kong to South Korea, China to Japan. From studies of how popular musical styles from the Americas and Europe were adapted to meet local exigencies to how socialist-bloc and nonaligned Cold War organizations facilitated the circulation of popular music throughout the region, the contributors outline how popular music forged and challenged alliances, revolutions, and countercultures They also show how the Cold War's legacy shapes contemporary culture, particularly in the ways 1990s and 2000s J-pop and K-pop are rooted in American attempts to foster economic exchange in East Asia in the 1960s.Throughout, Sound Alignments demonstrates that the experiences of the Cold War in Asia were as diverse and dynamic as the music heard and performed in it.
Contributors. Marié Abe, Michael K. Bourdaghs, Paola Iovene, Nisha Kommattam, Jennifer Lindsay, Kaley Mason, Anna Schultz, Hyunjoon Shin, C. J. W.-L. Wee, Hon-Lun (Helan) Yang, Christine R. Yano, Qian Zhang
"A variety of approaches are brought to bear on fascinating repertoire, but with the underlying aim of better understanding some brilliant music. There’s nothing more exciting in music writing than something which entices you to listen to what’s familiar to you in a new way, and this collection brings such excitement in abundance."
---Allan Moore, author of Jethro Tull: Aqualung and Rock: The Primary Text
"These essays bring together a remarkable range of tools and perspectives to such diverse topics and contexts as the behind-the-scenes collaborations of composers, performers, arrangers, producers and engineers; pop culture; narratology; and race, politics and gender. The reader continuously benefits from a complementary lineup of sensitive ears that discover novelty in the familiar, exposing the heart of many rock and pop classics through imaginative and authoritative prose."
---Walter Everett, author of The Foundations of Rock and The Beatles as Musicians
The nine essays in Sounding Out Pop work together to map the myriad styles and genres of the pop-rock universe through detailed case studies that confront the music from a variety of engaging, thought-provoking perspectives---from historical to music-analytic, aesthetic to ethnographic, with several authors drawing liberally from ideas in other disciplines. The range of bands and artists covered is as vast and varied as the more than fifty-year history of pop and rock music, from the Coasters and Roy Orbison to Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Beck, Genesis, Tori Amos, and the Police. Together these diverse essays cover a broad spectrum of studies ideally suited for classroom use and for other readers interested in gaining a deeper knowledge of the way popular music works.
Mark Spicer is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Music at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His writings have appeared in Contemporary Music Review, Gamut, Music Theory Online, twentieth-century music, and other scholarly journals and essay collections.
John Covach is Professor of Music at the University of Rochester and Professor of Theory at the Eastman School of Music. He is the author of the college textbook What's That Sound? An Introduction to Rock and Its History and the coeditor of Understanding Rock, American Rock and the Classical Music Tradition, and Traditions, Institutions, and American Popular Music.
From the silent era to the present day, popular music has been a key component of the film experience. Yet there has been little serious writing on film soundtracks that feature popular music. Soundtrack Available fills this gap, as its contributors provide detailed analyses of individual films as well as historical overviews of genres, styles of music, and approaches to film scoring. With a cross-cultural emphasis, the contributors focus on movies that use popular songs from a variety of genres, including country, bubble-gum pop, disco, classical, jazz, swing, French cabaret, and showtunes. The films discussed range from silents to musicals, from dramatic and avant-garde films to documentaries in India, France, England, Australia, and the United States. The essays examine both “nondiegetic” music in film—the score playing outside the story space, unheard by the characters, but no less a part of the scene from the perspective of the audience—and “diegetic” music—music incorporated into the shared reality of the story and the audience. They include analyses of music written and performed for films, as well as the now common practice of scoring a film with pre-existing songs. By exploring in detail how musical patterns and structures relate to filmic patterns of narration, character, editing, framing, and mise-en-scene, this volume demonstrates that pop music is a crucial element in the film experience. It also analyzes the life of the soundtrack apart from the film, tracing how popular music circulates and acquires new meanings when it becomes an official soundtrack. Contributors. Rick Altman, Priscilla Barlow, Barbara Ching, Kelley Conway, Corey Creekmur, Krin Gabbard, Jonathan Gill, Andrew Killick, Arthur Knight, Adam Knee, Jill Leeper, Neepa Majumdar, Allison McCracken, Murray Pomerance, Paul Ramaeker, Jeff Smith, Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Nabeel Zuberi
During the German Occupation from 1940 to 1944, Resistance fighters, Parisian youth, and French prisoners of war mined a vast repertoire from a long national musical tradition and a burgeoning international entertainment industry, embracing music as a rhetorical resource with which to destabilize Nazi ideology and contest collaborationist Vichy propaganda. After the Liberation of 1944, popular music continued to mediate French political life, helping citizens to challenge American hegemony and recuperate their nation’s lost international standing. Ultimately, through song, French dissidents rejected Nazi subordination, the politics of collaboration, and American intervention and insisted upon a return to that trinity of traditional French values, liberté, egalité, fraternité. Strains of Dissent recovers the significance of music as a rhetorical means of survival, subversion, and national identity construction and illuminates the creative and cunning ways that individual citizens defied the Occupation outside of formal resistance networks and movements.
Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants brought a rich heritage of musical expression to the United States. On Manhattan's Lower East Side, a thriving Yiddish theater scene developed, and a new, distinctly Jewish American songcraft began to emerge. Mark Slobin's ethnographic study of the music and culture of the time traces the development of Yiddish popular song in America, delving into melodies, sheet music, and printers' iconography to bring alive a time and place that, while almost forgotten, still exercises an enormous effect on American popular culture.
The widespread perception of singers and musicians as free individuals doing enjoyable and fulfilling work obscures the realities of their occupation. In Unfree Masters Matt Stahl examines recording artists' labor in the music industry as a form of creative work. He begins by considering the television show American Idol and the 2004 rockumentary Dig!, tracing the ways that popular music making is narrativized in contemporary America and showing how such narratives highlight musicians' negotiations of the limits of freedom and autonomy in creative cultural-industrial work. Turning to struggles between recording artists and record companies over laws that govern their working and contractual relationships, he reveals further tensions and contradictions in this form of work. Stahl argues that media narratives of music making, as well as contract and copyright disputes between musicians and music industry executives, contribute to American socioeconomic discourse and expose a foundational tension between democratic principles of individual autonomy and responsibility and the power of employers to control labor and appropriate its products. Stahl asserts that the labor issues that he discloses in music can stimulate insights about the political-economic and imaginative challenges currently facing working people of all kinds.