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Music of the Common Tongue
Survival and Celebration in African American Music
Christopher Small


1999 • 509 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Music / African-American Studies

$32.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6357-6
$25.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7225-7

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

"A magnificent book about Afro-American music and its impact on western culture." —Race and Class

“A magnificent book about Afro-American music and its impact on western culture. ”—Race and Class

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?"

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

"A real gem: deeply committed, pesuasively argued and imbued throughout with a love and understanding of the music."The Wire

“Essential for anyone interested in obtaining another perspective on the aesthetics of African-American music and hot it relates to culture.”
The Black Perspective in Music

"Christopher Small has written a magnificent book about Afro-American music and its impact on western culture. He totally fulfills his aim of showing that black American music has become of far greater human significance than any superficial assessment of classically-oriented evaluation would allow."Race and Class

"I think this is the best and most comprehensive book about African-American musicking this century. As such, it will continually encourage us to celebrate our liberation from abstract knowledge, competitive individualism and the death dealing industrial state."Charles Keil, SUNY at Buffalo

“This book makes an enormous contribution to our understanding of the complex interweaving of African and European musical and cultural traditions that have brought African-American music and most other American musics in to being. His mastery of both musical traditions-as well as his acute sensitivity to the cultural and political contexts for musical production –sets this book apart. A must read for those of us concerned with the production of twentieth-century music and for those of us who wan to unravel the history of race, racism and cultural hybridity in America.”Tricia Rose, author of Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America

CHRISTOPHER SMALL is also author of Musicking (1998), Music, Society Education (1996), and Schoenberg (1978). Senior Lecturer at Ealing College of Higher Education in London until 1986, he lives in Sitges, Spain

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:00:30 -0500