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Music and History

Music and History: Bridging the Disciplines

Jeffrey H. Jackson
Stanley C. Pelkey
Michael A. Antonucci
James A. Davis
Charles Freeman
Helen Marsh Jeffries
Michael J. Kramer
Lawrence W. Levine
Sandra Lyne
Laura Mason
Stanley C. Pelkey
Burton W. Peretti
Dorothy Potter
William Weber
Donald Burrows
Copyright Date: 2005
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  • Book Info
    Music and History
    Book Description:

    This book begins with a simple question: Why haven't historians and musicologists been talking to one another?

    Historians frequently look to all aspects of human activity, including music, in order to better understand the past. Musicologists inquire into the social, cultural, and historical contexts of musical works and musical practices to develop theories about the meanings of compositions and the significance of musical creation. Both disciplines examine how people represent their experiences. This collection of original essays, the first of its kind, argues that the conversation between scholars in the two fields can become richer and more mutually informing.

    The volume features an eloquent personal essay by historian Lawrence W. Levine, whose work has inspired a whole generation of scholars working on African American music in American history. The first six essays address widely different aspects of musical culture and history ranging from women and popular song during the French Revolution to nineteenth-century music publishing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two additional essays by scholars outside of musicology and history represent a new kind of disciplinary bridging by using the methods of cultural studies to look at cross-dressing in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century opera and blues responses to lynching in the New South. The last four essays offer models for collaborative, multidisciplinary research with a special emphasis on popular music.

    Jeffrey H. Jackson, Memphis, Tennessee, is assistant professor of history at Rhodes College. He is the author ofMaking Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris. Stanley C. Pelkey, Portage, Michigan, is assistant professor of music at Western Michigan University. He is a member of the College Music Society, and his work has appeared in music-related periodicals.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-521-5
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xviii)
    Jeffrey H. Jackson and Stanley C. Pelkey

    This book begins with a simple question: Why haven’t historians and musicologists been talking to one another? Such a query will hopefully provoke some thought among both sets of scholars, especially when each group begins to realize that there are many important similarities between their two disciplines. Historians, for example, frequently look to all aspects of human activity, including music, in order to better understand the past. Musicologists inquire into the social, cultural, and historical contexts of musical works and musical practices to develop theories about the meanings of compositions and the significance of musical behavior. In other words, both...


    • The Musical Odyssey of an American Historian
      (pp. 3-20)
      Lawrence W. Levine

      Over three decades ago I wrote an article entitled: “The Historian and the Culture Gap.” It was concerned with the charge, which began to surface with particular force in the 1960s, that certain historians from particular cultures could not really understand and do historical justice to people from certain other cultures. In his Presidential address to the American Historical Association in December, 1962, Carl Bridenbaugh told those young American historians who were “products of lower middle-class or foreign origins” that they were “outsiders on our past and . . . have no experience to assist them,” which “will make it...


    • “But a Musician”—The Importance of the Underdog in Musico-Historical Research Music Professionalism in a Small Sixteenth-Century Oxford College
      (pp. 23-43)
      Helen Marsh Jeffries

      The study of early Tudor music is dominated by the great institutions—the royal household chapel, the noble chapels, cathedrals, and great collegiate institutions. Historians and musicologists alike have tended to ignore not only each other’s work but also the smaller, less obviously interesting institutions. The tendency to focus on large, progressive centers of activity has led to a false picture of the development of music professionalism in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century England.

      For many, the story of the fifteenth century in English music is one of movement from the use of amateur to professional musicians to sing the liturgy:


    • Angels and Furies Women and Popular Song during the French Revolution
      (pp. 44-60)
      Laura Mason

      The traditional view of the relationship between music and the French Revolution was that it was hardly worth acknowledging. Generations of music scholars dismissed the revolutionary decade as a creative wasteland that failed to produce operas, symphonies, or chamber music of lasting significance. Complaining that revolutionary France did not produce a Beethoven or a Mozart or, more positively, that the musical world did not generate talent equal to that of revolutionary painter Jacques-Louis David, and dismayed by the visible impact of politics on the arts, historians of music elided the revolutionary years as they skipped from the operas and musical...

    • Music, Memory, and the People in Selected British Periodicals of the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
      (pp. 61-83)
      Stanley C. Pelkey

      My primary professional training has been as a historical musicologist, but while in residence at the University of Rochester, I also completed course work in the Department of History. As I was exposed to the methods of cultural history, the ideas of Clifford Geertz, and the New Historicism of Stephen Greenblatt, I moved away from my initial interest as a musicologist—seeing the musical work as a sonic redaction of a text—toward a commitment to studying music as part of a matrix of mutually-informing sociocultural systems that can include literature, art, theology, or any other type of cultural document...

    • Music by the “Celebrated Mozart” A Philadelphia Publishing Tradition, 1794–1861
      (pp. 84-98)
      Dorothy Potter

      Around 1795 George Willig, a German immigrant music publisher who the year before had begun work in Philadelphia, issued “The Fowler,” a piece with piano or guitar accompaniment, subtitled “A Favorite Song by the celebrated Mr. Mozart.” Based on Papageno’s Act One aria inDie Zauberflöte, in which the bird-catcher explains himself to Prince Tamino, this lively three verse song with both English and German words could appeal to many potential customers. Adapted for the average parlor pianist or guitarist, accessible to Philadelphia’s large German community as well as English speakers, the work bore the nameMozart. That one word...

    • Republican Jazz? Symbolism, Arts Policy, and the New Right
      (pp. 99-114)
      Burton W. Peretti

      American political history seems to be curiously devoid of musical sub-currents. The resolute practicality and legalistic nature of the U.S. political tradition seems to drive out any clear association with the nation’s expressive culture. Ulysses S. Grant’s alleged comment, “I know only two tunes—one is ‘Yankee Doodle’ and the other isn’t,” epitomizes the general situation. Upon closer inspection, of course, one can detect scattered evidence of interaction between the two fields. Among presidents, for example, Thomas Jefferson played the violin, Harry Truman and Richard Nixon the piano; young Warren Harding dabbled in all of the brass instruments in the...

    • Progressive Ideals for the Opera Stage? George W. Chadwick’s The Padrone and Frederick S. Converse’s The Immigrants
      (pp. 115-140)
      Charles Freeman

      Music scholarship has often treated American art music of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a poor stepchild to later, more overtly “American” classical idioms, such as the populist style of Aaron Copland, the jazz-inflected idiom of George Gershwin, or modernist styles of composers such as John Cage. Comments such as those found in the fourth edition ofA History ofWestern Music, long a standard text for the teaching of music history, are typical. The body of composers active in the United States in the late nineteenth century is first faulted for not participating in the wave of nationalist...


    • Fictions of Alien Identities Cultural Cross-Dressing in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Opera
      (pp. 143-162)
      Sandra Lyne

      In 1996, the State Opera of South Australia’s ladies’ chorus was dressing for a performance of Puccini’sTurandot.² This opera was first performed in 1926, one of many European operas of the “long nineteenth century” to be set in Asia.³ Covering skins that varied from pink to olive with white-yellow face make-up, elongating Caucasian eyes with black eyeliner, and scooping individuality into formal hats and identical white robes, Australians of European background metamorphosed into ‘ancient’ Chinese Imperial court women. Moving with small steps in formations that characterised Asians as indistinguishable clones and members of a populous “herd,” we sang Italian...

    • Judge Harsh Blues Lynching, Law, and Order in the New South
      (pp. 163-178)
      Michael A. Antonucci

      The blues emerged as a form of American popular music during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. With its layered African polyrhythms, syncopated call-and-response patterns, and distinctive I-V-IV chord progression, the blues catalogues a range of experiences shaping African American life during the rise of the New South. In this way the music enters into a conversation with the climate of terror and racialized violence that enveloped the United States from the end of slavery through the renewal and consolidation of white Southern political and economic power. The blues, therein, exhibits a singular capacity for recording what novelist and...


    • Henry Purcell and The Universal Journal The Building of Musical Canon in the 1720s
      (pp. 181-199)
      William Weber and Donald Burrows

      Surprising though it may be, England can be credited with having been the first country where a canon ofmusical classics emerged. Music had little such tradition until the eighteenth century. While the names of some of the most highly renowned musicians remained in memory, little of their music was actually performed. The main places in the early modern period where old music was honored in canonic fashion were the Sistine Chapel, where Palestrina’s works remained in the repertory regularly after his death, and a few English cathedrals and chapels, where service settings and anthems by Byrd, Tallis, and other sixteenth-century...

    • Hearing History “Dixie,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and Civil War Music in the History Classroom
      (pp. 200-219)
      James A. Davis

      In recent decades history teachers from all levels have begun to use primary sources as effective tools in classroom assignments and presentations. These sources vary a great deal depending on the subject and time period under investigation and may include letters, diaries, periodicals, photographs, art works, and more. The benefits of introducing such materials are numerous and often self-evident. At a basic level the use of authentic materials enlivens classroom presentations, offering engaging and entertaining stimuli to what might otherwise be dry or pedantic lectures. Original materials are usually popular with students as working with such objects allows them to...

    • The Multitrack Model Cultural History and the Interdisciplinary Study of Popular Music
      (pp. 220-255)
      Michael J. Kramer

      Among scholars, popular music studies continues to grow as an interdisciplinary project. A cacophony of approaches now exists, perhaps because, as the critic Greil Marcus has written, “Music is fundamentally ambiguous.”³ The challenge remains to make sense of this ambiguity without narrowing the study of music. How might we organize popular music studies as a field in order to further our collective understanding of pop? Taking the investigation of 1960s rock as a case study while mapping out similarities and differences among academic disciplines, this essay suggests that the metaphor of the multitrack might serve as one way to conceptualize...

    • Response
      (pp. 256-261)
      Jeffrey H. Jackson and Stanley C. Pelkey

      As practitioners of two different academic disciplines, whenever we have come together and shared stories and conversations about our teaching or our research, each of us has come away having gained something. Talking about what we do has often pointed us to ways in which we can cooperate because we have seen that although we ask different questions and seek different answers, much of what we do as scholars is ultimately quite similar. But talking about our own fields of study in light of the other has sometimes been uncomfortable, even painful. Doing so can make us wonder about why...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 262-264)
  9. Index
    (pp. 265-268)