Response to Mark Clague, “This is America: Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” Journey as Psychedelic Citizenship”

Congratulations to Mark Clague for his excellent article “This is America: Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” Journey as Psychedelic Citizenship,” his study, in the Journal of the Society for American Music (vol. 8, no. 4; Nov. 2014), of the evolution of Hendrix’s performances of the SSB, and how his evolving political consciousness is reflected therein.

Clague stresses, as do many others, how the Woodstock version of the SSB references and critiques the Vietnam war. However, Hendrix’s two violent improvisations, I believe, also rewrite the narrative arc of U.S. history. The first improvisation, giving an “up close and personal” invocation of a platoon-level firefight, or an urban riot of the era, may also be imaginatively understood to stand for any violent, strife-torn episode in U.S. history.

The second improvisation, with its bird’s eye view, invoking a B52 bomber repeatedly raining down waves of destruction on Vietnam, may also be imaginatively understood to stand in for the various consecutive waves of struggles for justice which have shaped the narrative arc of U.S. history, from the Civil War, to the labor movement struggles of the Gilded Age and New Deal, to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s–60s, the birth of, and resistance to, the youth counterculture, and so forth.

As an African American, and one-quarter Cherokee Indian, Hendrix would have been more sensitive to these historical themes than the average white rock musician. Again, I do not claim that Hendrix consciously set out to rewrite U.S. history, but that, like many great works of art, his performance of the Star Spangled Banner can support multiple readings.

Without this most radical and imaginative reading, we miss the full power and significance of Hendrix’s achievement at Woodstock. His perfectly balanced, three-episode version (euphoric beginning, strife-torn middle, and triumphant ending), conveys both a radical understanding of U.S. history, and hopes for a better future.

Peter Meyer Filardo, New York, NY,

Response from Mark Clague

Dear Editor,

I appreciate the generous letter from Peter Meyer Filardo as well as your invitation to respond to his comments. I find his reading of Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock Banner quite compelling and certainly agree with his assessment that “like many great works of art, [Hendrix’s Woodstock] performance of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ can support multiple readings.”

As the writer notes, my primary goal in exploring Hendrix’s more than sixty documented performances of Francis Scott Key’s song was to demonstrate Hendrix’s “evolving political consciousness”—not only the sheer variety of his renditions over a two-year period, but to argue that these musical differences could be understood as articulating a shifting but coherent social criticism. Although I cited a range of eloquent writing by others interpreting Hendrix’s anthem arrangements, especially of the Woodstock performance, I generally tried to connect my own readings to particular circumstances around specific performances. I did this for two reasons: first, bootleg audience tapes often preserve the guitarist’s stage banter which deeply informs the understanding of Hendrix’s art, and, second, I was arguing against certain commentators who write either that Hendrix’s Banners were completely negative and anti-American or they are intellectually vacuous and contain no political content. Both of these interpretations are implausible in light of Hendrix’s stage banter.

By sticking closely to Hendrix’s commentary, I hoped to limit the possibility of a reductive reading of Hendrix’s anthems and thus show that the guitarist’s musical rhetoric paralleled his political comments such that his anthem performances are deliberately and specifically politicized. That said, others can certainly hear Hendrix’s anthem performance as having even more potential as social commentary. Hendrix’s expansive comments on the political potential of music support Meyer Filardo’s more general, if speculative, reading. When Dick Cavett asked “Do you think music has meaning?” as part of a nationally televised interview on 7 July 1969 (just before Woodstock), Hendrix replied: “Oh, yeah, definitely.... I believe that they’re going to have to rely on music to... get some kind of... direction actually—more so than politics.... [Politics] is the art of words, which means nothing.... So therefore you have to rely on more of a earthier substance, like music or the arts, theatre, acting, painting, whatever.”

Mark Clague, University of Michigan

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Copland and Bernstein at the Quarter-Century Mark

Daniel E. Mathers

Bernstein and Copland
Bernstein and Copland

Twenty-five years ago American music lost two of its most renowned figures: Aaron Copland (1900–1990) and his protégé of sorts, Leonard Bernstein (1918–90). The men died weeks apart, on 2 December and 14 October, at the ages of 90 and 72, respectively. Their legacies, each richly diverse and multifaceted as composers, conductors, writers, performing artists and intellectuals, continue to survive the world over as sources of enjoyment and—as tradition grants to all great artistic creation—spiritual communion.

Two decades previously, when the middle-aged Bernstein attended the premiere of what many have come to regard as his most significant concert work, Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers, to open the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (on 8 September 1971), none other than his longtime friend and mentor Copland sat among those by his side.1 Equally iconic American figures, they viewed each other uniquely as artists in a relationship extending back to a chance meeting on Copland’s birthday in 1937, six years before Bernstein’s legendary—and career-making—appearance as a very young fill-in for guest conductor Bruno Walter, at a moment’s notice and unrehearsed, for a concert in Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic. That fateful day also fell on Copland’s forty-third birthday, 14 November 1943.2

Bernstein saw in Copland “the closest thing to a composition teacher” he ever had, guiding spirit, and also the patriarch of American serious music—as the proverbial “High Priest of American music,” as if a kindly, affable “Moses in Aaron’s garb.”3 The universally recognized “Dean of American Composers,” in return, admired Bernstein’s greatness mostly as conductor.4 Indeed, Copland often sought out his interpretive genius. Further, as a pianist, Bernstein gave Copland one of the all-time best recordings of his Piano Sonata (1939–41), which Bernstein deemed one of his own favorite compositions.5 In addition, Copland relied on Bernstein not only for many orchestral premieres, recordings and major performances as conductor, but also consulted him—or followed his advice—on several occasions when composing or revising such significant works as Rodeo (1942), Short Symphony (Symphony no. 2) (1932–33) and Third Symphony (1944–46), which famously self-quotes the brilliant Fanfare for the Common Man (1942).6 Finally, both men owed much of their success not only to each other but to a common artistic paternity: the conductor Serge Koussevitzky (1874–1951), who had conducted various Copland premieres, trained Bernstein, and long employed both artists at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, in Lenox, Massachusetts, as teachers/administrators/advisors.7

Still today, Copland remains best known for his accessible, modern style of concert music aiming to be both recognizably American and suitable for a wide audience. His reputation for writing such populist works, including many intended for a variety of functional or practical contexts, dates back to the mid-1930s. This style originated in such orchestral scores as El Salón Mexico (1932–36) and An Outdoor Overture (1938), and the first of three major ballets on American subject matter Billy the Kid (1938) for Eugene Loring, followed by Rodeo (1942) for Agnes de Mille, and Appalachian Spring (1943–44) for Martha Graham. By the 1950s, many other works in this vein had secured Copland’s unrivaled standing internationally as the foremost American composer of his generation, at which point he already did far more compositionally than merely retain his populist style, as evidenced by his two early serial ventures, Quartet for Piano and Strings (1950) and Piano Fantasy (1955–57).8

Perhaps paradoxically, Copland attained the culmination of this populist style and aesthetic amid that same decade’s political chaos, especially in his opera The Tender Land (1952–54; rev. 1955). As heard most eloquently in “The Promise of Living” (arr. for mixed chorus and piano duet, 1954; arr. as finale of “The Tender Land”: Orchestral Suite, 1958), and in another number from the opera similarly arranged, titled “Stomp Your Foot!” (two choral arrangements with piano duet, 1954; absorbed into mvt. II of suite, titled “Party Scene”), Copland bows in the direction of folk opera, writing music suggestive of hymnody in “Promise” and of square dance in “Stomp.”9 By the 1950s, however, such turning to folk sources by a serious composer was largely becoming a thing of the past. Perhaps the movement away from folk quotations at the time owed to the prior nationalist excesses and horrors of World War II, if not to America’s new status as an undisputed superpower and to the new global awareness and responsibility that position necessitated.


This essay originated as a program note for performances of “A Memorial Tribute: Leonard Bernstein & Aaron Copland,” given by the Opera Workshop of Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD, 24–26 April 2015.

1 Humphrey Burton, Leonard Bernstein (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 406.
2 See Bernstein’s personal recollections of his history with Copland in Aaron Copland and Vivian Perlis, The Complete Copland, Pendragon Press Musicological Series (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2013), 141–43; and Leonard Bernstein, Findings: Fifty Years of Meditations on Music (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982; Anchor Books, [1993]), 286–93.
3 Bernstein, Findings, 288, 317, 319, 338, 340.
4 Vivian Perlis refers to Bernstein as “Copland’s most eloquent interpreter,” quoting Copland as follows: “Lenny’s conducting of my pieces comes closest to how I originally thought they should sound.” Perlis, “A Farewell to Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein,” The Sonneck Society Bulletin 17/1 (Spring 1991): 3–4.
5 Bernstein recorded what some consider the definitive recording of Copland’s Piano Sonata in 1947 (for RCA Victor, 78-rpm recording). At least one reissue onto compact disc is found in Leonard Bernstein: The Early Years, liner notes by Steven Ledbetter, BMG Classics 09026-60915-2, 1992. Copland and Perlis, The Complete Copland, 141, quotes Bernstein: “The Piano Sonata is my favorite piece of Aaron’s. I adore it.”
6 This relationship has yet to be sufficiently documented and awaits further research. One useful study to date has been Vivian Perlis, “Dear Aaron, Dear Lenny: A Friendship in Letters,” in Aaron Copland and His World, ed. Carol J. Oja and Judith Tick (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 151–78.
7 On Tanglewood’s history, see Peggy Daniel, Tanglewood: A Group Memoir (New York: Amadeus Press, 2008).
8 That Copland had solidified his reputation as composer by the 1950s, one by which he is still widely remembered today, could be argued especially using F. R. Blanks, “Aaron Copland: A Vital Force in American Music,” Australian Music Journal 12 (August 1958): 413 (“The composer who had done more in this century towards putting American music on the harmonic map of the world than any other”); and Olin Downes, “Copland at 50,” The New York Times, 29 October 1950, 103 (“the spearpoint [spearhead] of the development of the modern American school”). Of course, today one no longer dares reduce all noteworthy “American music” to its concert manifestations. Within that cultivated tradition, though, views of Copland’s historical position have yet to change significantly.
9 Sources are identified in Howard Pollack, Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1999), 649n19.
10 Copland and Perlis, The Complete Copland, 233–42. Two crucial related studies of Copland during this period are Emily Abrams Ansari, “Aaron Copland and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy,” Journal of the Society for American Music 5/3 (August 2011): 335–64; and Jennifer DeLapp-Birkett, “Aaron Copland and the Politics of Twelve-Tone Composition in the Early Cold War United States,” Journal of Musicological Research 27/1 (January 2008): 31–62.
11 The first two Copland biographies appeared around this same time, both emphasizing his roles of leadership within American concert music at home and abroad: Arthur Berger, Aaron Copland (New York: Oxford University Press, 1953); Julia Smith, Aaron Copland: His Work and Contribution to American Music (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1955). The first to discuss Copland’s late illness openly was Pollack, Aaron Copland, 543–47.
12 See Copland and Perlis, The Complete Copland, 337, 339.
13 See the selection of writings in Aaron Copland, Aaron Copland: A Reader; Selected Writings, 1923–1972, ed. Richard Kostelanetz (New York: Routledge, 2004).
14 Aaron Copland, “The New ‘School’ of American Composers,” The New York Times Magazine, 14 March 1948, 53; reprinted in Copland, Aaron Copland: A Reader, 187. Copland correctly predicted (ibid.) that “some form of stage music will prove to be Bernstein’s finest achievement.”
15 Though this point may be original to this essay, others have addressed the religious and/or spiritual dimensions of Bernstein’s oeuvre in a number of sources. See especially Alexandra Scheibler, “Ich glaube an den Menschen”: Leonard Bernsteins religiöse Haltung im Spiegel seiner Werke [I believe in man: Leonard Bernstein’s religious attitude in light of his music], Studien und Materialien zur Musikwissenschaft, no. 22 (Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms, 2001); and David M. Schiller, Bloch, Schoenberg, and Bernstein: Assimilating Jewish Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). Also see Jack Gottlieb, “Symbols of Faith in the Music of Leonard Bernstein,” The Musical Quarterly 66/2 (April 1980): 287–95; reprinted in Gottlieb, Funny, It Doesn’t Sound Jewish: How Yiddish Songs and Synagogue Melodies Influenced Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood ([Albany, NY]: State University of New York in association with the Library of Congress, 2004), 178–85. On Mass particularly, see Jack Gottlieb, Working with Bernstein: A Memoir (New York: Amadeus Press, 2010), 133–37, 140–43; W. Anthony Sheppard, “Bitter Rituals for a Lost Nation: Partch’s Revelation in the Courthouse Park and Bernstein’s Mass,” The Musical Quarterly 80/3 (Autumn 1996): 470–77, 481–86; and Helen Smith, There’s a Place for Us: The Musical Theatre Works of Leonard Bernstein (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2011), 171–205.
16 Some attention to Bernstein’s borrowings from Copland in Mass appears in John W. Wright, “Confronting the Celebrant of Bernstein’s Mass: A Study of Musical Borrowing” (D.M.A. diss., University of Cincinnati, 2014), 18–26, with whose author I shared this and related findings.
17 On the influence of Copland and eclecticism in Bernstein’s music, see Paul Robert Laird, “The Influence of Aaron Copland on Leonard Bernstein” (Master’s thesis, Ohio State University, 1982); and Paul R. Laird, “Leonard Bernstein and Eclecticism: A Preliminary Consideration,” in Res Musicae: Essays in Honor of James W. Pruett, ed. Paul R. Laird and Craig H. Russell, Detroit Monographs in Musicology/Studies in Music, no. 33 (Warren, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 2001), 187–203. On pertinent political issues, see Frank Gannon, “Mass Appeal,” in The New Nixon: News and Commentary about the President, His Times, and His Legacy, (accessed 13 August 2015); and Barry Seldes, Leonard Bernstein: The Political Life of an American Musician (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009). One write-up Bernstein received during the gestation of Mass had to have wreaked as much personal havoc on him as did the personal encounter with McCarthy did for Copland. See Tom Wolfe, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1970).
18 See Wright, 20–22.

Ironically, Copland also chose this very period of heightened internationalism and the accompanying rise of the new avant-garde, exploring multiple serialism, indeterminacy, and electronics, to issue two sets of five adapted American folk songs for solo piano and voice, later transcribing them for solo voice and orchestra, titled Old American Songs, Sets I (1950) and II (1952). None of these songs seem troubled, anxious or in any way alienated; yet, they in fact emerged at a terribly difficult time for him politically. The very populist alliances and leftist political leanings that had first inspired him in the fervent 1930s, and which had fueled some of his best loved “Americana,” strangely set a trap for him amid the frenzied anti-communism of the late 1940s and ’50s. Copland himself was summoned before the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy on 26 May 1953, in a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Government Operations, a counterpart of the House Committee on Un-American Activities.10 Undaunted, Copland clung to his beliefs and hard-won reputation among American composers, for whom he continued working tirelessly as advocate, organizer, mentor and spokesman until slowed by the apparent onset of Alzheimer’s in the 1970s.11 Long after the political storm blew over, the government finally made good on its horrendous blunder, awarding Copland the Congressional Gold Medal in 1986.12

As a prolific writer, Copland addressed the cultural importance of concert music in the United States.13 His pronouncements capture the historical significance of his professional aims and attest to the vitality of a legacy in many ways still undiminished. Within his lifetime, no other composer of his generation—not even George Gershwin (1898–1937) or, to go back further, Charles Ives (1874–1954)—was hailed as having contributed so unequivocally to the creation of an “American sound” within the concert hall. Today, that standing probably holds as strongly as ever, though now his influence has exerted itself equally outside the concert venue. Rarely, for example, does a movie score hoping to evoke the American West escape his model.

Among the next generation of composers influenced by Copland, Bernstein stands out for the success of his stage and Broadway scores, especially West Side Story (1957). Copland himself recognized, in essence, the theatricality of Bernstein’s music as its chief asset, and commented to this effect: “The most striking feature of Bernstein’s music is its immediacy of emotional appeal. Melodically and harmonically it has a spontaneity and warmth that speak directly to an audience... [A]t its best it is music of vibrant rhythmic invention, of irresistible élan often carrying with it a terrific dramatic punch.”14 He left others to notice, however, that many times Bernstein called directly on Copland’s own “American” style as a principal theatrical agent. Bernstein appropriated Copland’s style, for example, to affirm a prevailing optimism in the film score On the Waterfront (1954); to symbolize “the best of all possible worlds” at the end of Candide (original version 1956); and to clinch the utopian dream world of his The Age of Anxiety: Symphony no. 2 (1949). In his Kaddish: Symphony no. 3 (1963), Bernstein resorted to the Copland style once again to express the peace of God and man’s covenant with the Almighty. These present but some of the instances in which Bernstein used the language of Copland’s trademark Americana while idealizing it to represent humanity in its most exalted or noble condition.15

Unsurprisingly, Copland’s influence has a tangible presence in Bernstein’s Mass (1971), again occupying a locus of divine confrontation. Bernstein often described Mass as expressing a “crisis of faith.” At the end of that work, Bernstein asks us to believe, not with words, but through a return to that same aesthetic of divine, communal, and ultimately wordless state he apparently found in Copland’s musical language. Near the close of the work, variations on a motive from the Celebrant’s “Simple Song”—itself replete with Copland influence—enact this affirmative resolution.16 While Copland himself never quite drew as literal a connection to the spiritual or to the Hereafter regarding his own music, that Bernstein could do so in the turbulent context of the early 1970s bears out that even by then, the American style Copland had achieved already inhabited a much, much larger place than the particularities of Depression-era America or of the country during a particular wartime. Like no other work since, postmodern or otherwise, Bernstein’s Mass thus asserts the continuing relevance of Copland’s style as an enduring aspect of American musical culture. Arguably, the work also reflects Copland as the most profound force among the extraordinarily eclectic mix of influences shaping Bernstein’s musical language—itself no stranger to Bernstein’s own political turmoil and difficulties.17

Many who came of age during the waning years of these two icons will forever see both men larger than life, without the physical frailties that ultimately beset them. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their passing—a number no amount of rationalization can make plausible to anyone still awed to have shared the planet with them very long—one pauses to pay renewed homage. One can repeat once more—hopefully not futilely, but with the semi-scat spin Bernstein endearingly put in Mass on a beloved motive taken from Copland’s Our Town—the Celebrant’s closing words: “Lauda, Lauda, Laudē!”18

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Minutes from the 41st Annual Conference Business Meeting

SAM 41st Annual Conference
The SAM Brass Band performs at SAM’s 41st annual conference.

Camellia Ballroom, Sheraton Grand Sacramento, 7 March 2015

Presiding over her final SAM meeting as President, Judy Tsou began the Annual Business Meeting of the Sacramento conference at 4:39 p.m. Tsou shared several pieces of good news, beginning with our all-time high in membership (963), up from 711 a year earlier, which she attributed largely to a recent policy change that requires SAM membership in order to submit a conference proposal or be considered for a fellowship. The Board has been frugal and vigilant with the budget, and we have created several new fellowships in connection to the SAM/2.0 campaign: the John and Roberta Graziano Fellowship, the Judith Tick Fellowship, the Paul Charosh Independent Scholar Fellowship, and the Vivian Perlis Performance Endowment Fund. With the assistance of an NEH matching grant, the Board established a fund for the Cultural Diversity Committee to use in connection to our Society’s goals of inclusivity. She announced that the Long Range Planning Committee would be going dormant for a few years, and also that we have added the digital conveniences of Guidebook (an app for managing conference schedules) and an exclusively-online Directory. An ad-hoc committee will be working on the Society website, with goals including the addition of a members-only section. Tsou concluded her report by declaring it an exciting time in the life of the Society; the Society is in excellent health as she passes the torch on to the next president.

The brief report from Secretary Neil Lerner required the approval of the minutes from the last Business Meeting, which appeared in volume 20, number 2 of the Bulletin. Glenn Pillsbury, with a second from Karen Ahlquist, moved to accept the minutes, and the assembly approved the motion. Treasurer Sabine Feisst’s report highlighted the Society’s strong financial health, a welcome change from previous years of austerity and a condition aided in small part through the collective work going into the SAM/2.0 campaign.

Speaking as the new editor of the Journal for the Society of American Music, Karen Ahlquist first complimented and thanked previous Mark Katz for exceptional work. Ahlquist thanked the outgoing members of the JSAM editorial board (Sally Bick, William Brooks, Mark Clague, Robert Fink, Eric Porter, and Portia Maultsby) and welcomed new members Naomi André, David Grammit, and Robynn Stilwell. She welcomed self-recommendations for potential reviewers from those with terminal degrees. Ryan Bañagale spoke on behalf of Bulletin editor Laura Moore Pruett; he announced that she would be continuing for another year as editor and also that there would be faculty mentored book reviews by graduate students in upcoming issues.

Development Committee chair bruce mcclung explained that much of his committee’s work in the past year had been focused on the completion of a grant from the NEH (just under $22,000 remains to be raised for this matching grant). He directed our attention to the raffle tickets that could still be purchased, and he concluded by announcing the total (at that moment) in the SAM/2.0 campaign was $827,306 so we still have some work left to achieve our goal of raising one million dollars. Christina Baade, chair of the Nominating Committee, announced the results of our most recent election in which Renee Lapp Norris and Steven Swayne were elected as Members at Large while Kay Norton and Sabine Feisst were re-elected as Vice President and Treasurer, respectively.

John Spilker spoke on behalf of the Public Relations committee and announced a new project: Hats Off, a recognition on our website of an individual or group doing exceptional work that intersects with American music within their community. Spilker asked members to nominate potential stories here be explaining their community engagement; stories that have accompanying photographs or videos are especially welcome. Spilker also reported on the Forum for Early Career Professionals, telling us of a project his group was undertaking that would revise the research interest codes in our Directory. The Student Forum was represented by Megan MacDonald and Megan Murph, who spoke of their panel about planning research trips. They concluded by reminding us of the various treats awaiting us at the silent auction, the proceeds of which support student conference travel support.

The Local Arrangements Chair for the Sacramento meeting, Beth Levy, took a few moments to thank the many institutions and individuals who assisted her in putting together such a successful conference, just as the Program Committee chair for this meeting, Leta Miller, expressed her deep appreciation to her committee. Miller explained that there had been a high number of proposals for this conference and so her committee had experimented with adding extra sessions and evening sessions. She also reported that a rules change in the submission process had inadvertently resulted in almost no proposals for posters, and so the few that had been submitted were abandoned; she revealed that the Board had voted to reverse that change and so she expected to see posters returning for next year. Both Beth and Leta were presented with certificates and warm rounds of applause for their service.

Looking ahead to next year’s conference, Ann Sears and Paula Bishop represented the Boston Local Arrangements Committee and described the many virtues and attractions of our next conference site. They pointed to the need for faith when thinking ahead to the weather for next March, reminding us of Twain’s quip about New England weather (“if you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes”). Next Lydia Hamessley, the Program Committee chair for 2016, announced that the call for papers for Boston would be on the SAM website by April 1, with a June 1 deadline, and she invited proposals. Finally, Conference Site Selection Committee chair James Leve listed the upcoming conference sites after Boston: Montreal in 2017, Kansas City in 2018, and possibly somewhere in Minnesota in 2019. The committee hopes to find a more southerly (and warmer?) city for the 2020 conference.

President Tsou next turned the meeting over to remembrances for members who had passed away in the past year. John Graziano, with some input from Douglas Bomberger, offered a lovely tribute for Margery Lowens and Laurie Matheson spoke about Judith McCulloh. Matheson asked those assembled to hum a different solfege syllable depending on what sort of connections people would have had with Judith, and after the resulting euphonious chord rang out in the hall, Tsou then had us take a moment of silence in memory of both of these individuals.

42nd Annual Conference, Boston, Massachusetts,
9–13 March 2016

Please come to Boston in...the winter? That’s right—March in Boston! What could be more enticing? Start psyching yourself up for an opportunity to visit Our Fair City. We have some wicked good concerts, excursions, food, and musicking lined up. To get you in the mood, check out the LAC’s website of All Things Boston: More to come in the next Bulletin!

At your service, The LAC Committee
- Sandy Graham and Paula Bishop, co-chairs; Carolyn Brunelle, Emmett Price, Laura Moore Pruett, Ann Sears, Sally Sommers Smith, and Paul Wells

Tsou thanked the many committee members and chairs who had completed their terms of service: Service and Achievement Awards: Susan Cook (chair), George Ferencz; Lowens Book Award: Rob Haskin (chair); Lowens Article Award: Jennifer DeLapp Birkett, Robert Walser (chair); Housewright Dissertation Award: Theo Cateforis (chair); Adrienne Fried Block Award: Mark McKnight (chair); Mark Tucker Award: Sally Bick (chair); Cambridge Press University Award: Linda Pohly (chair); Johnson Book Subvention: Emily Abrams Ansari, Beth Levy (chair); Sight and Sound Subvention: Brian Thompson (chair); Virgil Thomson Fellowship: Carol Oja (chair), Vivian Perlis; Hampsong Fellowship: Deane Root (chair), Barbara Tischler; Judith Tick Fellowship: Gillian Rodger (chair); Conference Site Selection Committee: Andrew Granade (chair); Committee on the Conference: Douglas Bomberger (chair); Membership Committee: Trudi Wright (co-chair), John Spilker, Sara Nodine; Public Relations: John Spilker (chair), Jeffrey Wright; Cultural Diversity: Lisa Barg (chair); Education: Dianna Eiland (chair), Stephen Shearon; Forum for Early Career Professionals: John Spilker (co-chair); Student Forum: Megan Macdonald (co-chair); and the Publication Council: Katherine Preston (chair). Tsou thanked the two Members at Large who were completing their three-year terms on the Board (David Brackett and Mark Clague) and the JSAM editors who were finishing their terms: William Robin (Assistant Editor), John Koegel (Book Review Editor), Juanita Karp (Recording Review Editor), Jessica Sternfeld (Multimedia Review Editor), and Mark Katz (Editor-in-Chief). All were greeted with warm rounds of applause.

Next came the formal announcements for the growing list of awards, fellowships, and honors bestowed by the Society. These have been recorded already on the SAM website and elsewhere in the Bulletin. Having completed our business and announcements, Tsou invited new business from the floor, but there was none. She expressed the gratitude shared by all of us for all the work done by Associate Convention Manager Joice Gibson and Executive Director Mariana Whitmer, and finally came to the point in the meeting where she would pass the gavel to her successor. Yet it seems that our gavel is long lost, and so she instead handed over a wee pencil gavel to our new president, Charles Hiroshi Garrett. Garrett immediately thanked Judy for being amazing and extremely generous and there was a heart-felt standing ovation from the crowd. He then entertained a motion for adjournment, and one came from Deane Root with a second from Denise Von Glahn. After a resounding vote of affirmation, the meeting was adjourned at 6:08 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Neil Lerner, SAM Secretary

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From the President

Charles Hiroshi Garrett, President of SAM
Charles Hiroshi Garrett, SAM President

Dear Colleagues:

The four-year SAM/2.0 campaign is poised to reach an extremely successful conclusion at our 42nd Annual Conference in Boston in March 2016. Our $1-million goal is close at hand, and with your help over the next six months the Society has the opportunity to surpass this goal. Recent successes in the campaign by our sterling Development Committee are documented in the column by its indefatigable chair, bruce mcclung. In recent months, we secured a $50,000 award from the Edward T. Cone Foundation that will support a new research fellowship on American concert music (to be introduced at our 2017 annual conference). If you have yet to make a donation or pledge, please take a moment and visit, where you will be able to help complete research funds that honor, among many luminaries of American music studies, Anne Dhu McLucas, Richard Crawford, and Eileen Southern. Thank you for your support of SAM!

Our next annual meeting, which will be held in Boston, Massachusetts, 9–13 March 2016, is rounding into fine shape. The Program Committee—chaired by Lydia Hamessley, with members Dale Chapman, James Deaville, Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, Nancy Newman, and Steve Swayne—evaluated 399 (!) individual submissions for the conference, an 11% increase in proposals over last year’s meeting in Sacramento. Together, they have constructed a very rich and interesting program, comprising papers/panels, (the return of) posters, lecture-recitals, and three seminars. The local arrangements committee is also hard at work arranging a number of events and tours, under the leadership of co-chairs Sandy Graham and Paula Bishop, with members Ann Sears, Laura Moore Pruett, Emmett Price, Paul Wells, Sally Sommers-Smith, and Carolyn Brunelle. The committee has created a website dedicated to local arrangements activity (, which will complement the conference information found on the SAM website ( Look for updates to both sites in the months to come. We look forward to celebrating our newest honorary member, Terri Lyne Carrington, and to the inaugural Vivian Perlis Concert, co-sponsored by the Aaron Copland Fund and the Virgil Thomson Foundation. The Boston 2016 conference will also inaugurate two new fellowships: the Paul Charosh Fellowship for Independent Scholars and the Judith McCulloh Fellowship, which supports short-term research residencies at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

An organization as large as SAM requires a tremendous amount of volunteer service. If you are interested in serving on a SAM committee or in another capacity in the future (most appointments are made in December or January), please contact the chair of the Committee on Committee Governance (Gayle Sherwood Magee). It would be helpful if you would include a list of your interests and a copy of your CV.

On a final note, we owe a huge round of thanks to Laura Moore Pruett (general editor), Ryan Bañagale (book review editor), and Ryan Ebright (layout editor) for their tireless work over the last several years on the SAM Bulletin. As they approach the completion of their time with our society’s newsletter, we have begun to search for the next group of editors to fill their shoes. The new team will include a fourth compatriot, since the Bulletin will be adding a media editor to handle reviews on recorded sound and other media. For more information, please see the separate announcement for SAM Bulletin editorial opportunities. We encourage your applications!

Enjoy the fall, and I look forward to seeing you in Boston.

Charles Hiroshi Garrett

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Society for American Music Bulletin: Editorial Job Openings

The Society for American Music Bulletin seeks to fill four editorial positions – including General Editor, Book Review Editor, Media Editor (a new position!), and Layout Editor. The Bulletin, which began publication in 1975, is the newsletter of the Society for American Music, now published online each Winter, Spring, and Fall. All four positions, which are described in detail below, offer terrific opportunities for any Society members who wish to gain editorial experience and to contribute to an especially vital SAM publication. Desired qualifications for Bulletin editors include strong organizational, editing, and written communication skills; attentiveness to detail; and the ability to meet deadlines.

Applicants: Please provide a letter of application and a current full CV (including full contact information for three references). At minimum, your letter should identify the position(s) for which you are applying, address your professional background, and describe any relevant professional experience. All material should be emailed to Review of applications will begin on October 1, 2015.

All applicants must be members in good standing of the Society. Students are welcome to apply for the position of Layout Editor; a PhD or the equivalent is required for the other three editorial positions. Members of the search committee include Charles Hiroshi Garrett, Kay Norton, and Judy Tsou.

General Editor (3-year position, starting in Spring 2016)
The General Editor is primarily responsible for soliciting, collecting, curating, and editing the content of the Bulletin, which is published online at the society’s website three times each year. The editor coordinates with the Public Relations chair to publicize announcements for content; collects submissions via e-mail; solicits specific submissions by society members and/or Committees and Interest Groups; edits all submissions for content, length, and syntax; approves and incorporates the book reviews edited by the Book Review Editor; and sends the final content to the Layout Editor for .html coding and layout. The position entails about 15–20 hours of work on each of the three yearly issues; each issue is completed within about a three-week span. The newly appointed general editor will hold the position for three years and have editorial responsibility for three Bulletin volumes (2017–2019). This editorial position starts in Spring 2016, giving the new editor the opportunity to shadow the current editor for at least one issue.

Book Review Editor (3-year position, starting in Spring 2016)
The Book Review Editor is responsible for soliciting and commissioning reviews for all books submitted to the society that are not selected for inclusion in JSAM. The Bulletin includes an average of 5 reviews per issue, ranging from 4-7 in recent issues. Reviews are commissioned with faculty and graduate students (often as “mentored reviews” with their respective advisors) at least six months ahead of the deadline for each issue. The editor is responsible for mailing out review material to the reviewers. Once the review is completed, the editor provides feedback, revisions, and copyedits to the author. On average each review receives 1–2 hours of attention before it is returned to the author. Once the final review is submitted, the editor proofs the final review in preparation for submission to the Bulletin General Editor. The estimated time commitment (including commissioning process, correspondence, editing, etc.) approaches approximately 60 total hours for the three issues published each year. The newly appointed book review editor will hold the position for three years and have responsibility for three Bulletin volumes (2017–2019) of book reviews. This editorial position starts in Spring 2016, giving the new book review editor the opportunity to shadow the current book review editor and begin commissioning reviews for the Winter 2017 issue.

Media Editor (3-year position, starting in Spring 2016)
The media editor is responsible for soliciting and commissioning reviews of recorded sound and multimedia products that are not selected for inclusion in JSAM. The Bulletin expects to include an average of 3 reviews per issue. Reviews are commissioned with faculty and graduate students (often as “mentored reviews” with their respective advisors) at least six months ahead of the deadline for each issue. The editor is responsible for mailing out review material to the reviewers. Once the review is completed, the editor provides feedback, revisions, and copyedits to the author. On average each review receives 1-2 hours of attention before it is returned to the author. Once the final review is submitted, the editor does another round of proofing in preparation for submission to the Bulletin General Editor. We anticipate that the time commitment (including commissioning process, correspondence, editing, etc.) will approach approximately 35 total hours for the three issues published each year. The newly appointed media editor will hold the position for three years and have responsibility for three Bulletin volumes (2017–2019) of media reviews. This editorial position starts in Spring 2016, giving the media editor the opportunity to begin commissioning reviews for the Winter 2017 issue. Please note that this is a brand new position for the Bulletin.

Layout Editor (three-year position, starting in January 2016)
The layout editor is responsible for the .html formatting and visual layout of each issue of the Bulletin. The layout editor collaborates with the General Editor, Book Review editor, and SAM webmaster to ensure that the Bulletin’s contents are accessible and engaging across multiple browsing platforms. The ideal candidate should possess experience with both .html coding and image editing, and express an interest in exploring new possibilities in the online presentation of the Bulletin. The position entails approximately 10-15 hours of work on each of the three yearly issues, usually with a rapid turnaround within one or two weeks. The layout editor holds the position for three years (2016–2018). This position starts in January 2016, giving the new layout editor the opportunity to shadow the current layout editor for an issue. Students are encouraged to apply for this position.

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SAM/2.0 Crosses $950,000 Mark and Nears Finish Line!

The SAM/2.0 Campaign, a four-year effort to enhance the Society’s ability to fund, promote, and reward new scholarship in music of the Americas, is set to conclude at the 42nd Annual Conference in March. With an exciting new grant and recent contributions from members, the campaign has crossed the $950,000 mark. This means that we are now within striking distance of our $1-million goal!

With just six months left in the campaign, time is running out to become part of this exciting chapter in the Society’s history. Please review the donor list at and consider your own legacy to this endowment campaign. Pledge payments with an automatic monthly charge on a credit or debit card can extend beyond the campaign’s official end date and will help us cross the finish line together.

The SAM/2.0 Campaign To Date:
Total bequests, donations, and pledges: $956,478
Members who are donors: 331
Total membership: 922
Percentage of total represented: 36%

Society Receives $50,000 from Edward T. Cone Foundation
In April the Society learned that the Edward T. Cone Foundation had awarded $50,000 to the Society to fund a new research fellowship that will focus on American concert music—ranging from symphonic works to solo or chamber music. As a result, the Edward T. Cone Fellowship will honor not only the late professor’s passions as a composer but also his scholarly interests. This fellowship will be available annually to any scholar in the Society, from graduate students working on dissertation research to senior scholars, and the inaugural award will be presented at the 2017 annual conference in Montréal.

The Fellowship recognizes Edward Cone’s contributions to American music as a composer, musicologist, and theorist. A member of Princeton University’s faculty from 1946 to 1985, Cone’s numerous compositions include a symphony and works for chorus, piano, voice, orchestra, and chamber ensembles. From 1979 to 1985 he also held the position of the Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. Cone authored two of the twentieth-century’s most influential books on Western music: Music Form and Musical Performance (1968) and The Composer’s Voice (1974)

Second Year of NEH Challenge Grant Wraps Up
In June Mariana Whitmer, the Society’s Executive Director, submitted a list of $150,000 in contributions to the National Endowment for the Humanities for the second year of the Challenge Grant. Once the donations were validated as nonfederal in nature, the NEH matched them at a rate of one-to-three and mailed the Society a check for $50,000 in July. Together with the initial check received last year, the Society has received $100,000 of the $175,000 NEH Challenge Grant. With the assistance this grant—the result of a highly competitive program—we are well on the way to completing the Campaign. But we are not there yet! We still need to raise an additional $43,522 to reach our goal of $1 million, and your help is vital as we approach the finish line.

McLucas Fund Nears Completion
Members and friends of the Society have been responding to a special June 30 e-mail blast to complete the McLucas Fund. When endowed at $25,000, the Anne Dhu McLucas Fellowship will support graduate students pursuing research for fieldwork in traditional or Native American/First Nation music, two areas of scholarship that were near and dear to Anne’s heart; the fellowship also recognizes her incomparable strength as a mentor to young scholars.

We hope to be able to announce the endowment of the McLucas Fellowship at our annual conference in March in Boston, in part because Anne spent so many years of her life in that city. She was a Harvard graduate and faculty member, a scholar who delved into the Harvard Theatre Collection for her research on melodrama, and was also a member of Boston College’s faculty. If you would be interested in helping complete the McLucas Fund, go to

Eileen Southern Matching Funds Still Available
When endowed the Eileen Southern Fellowship will support research on music of the African diaspora. An anonymous donor is matching donations or pledges to the Southern Fund dollar-for-dollar and still has $1,620 to give. As a result of this match and the NEH Challenge Grant, a contribution of $100 to the Southern Fund will result in a total donation of $267; a $500 contribution would net $1,333! If you are interested in this important area of scholarship and would like to maximize your donation, then please take advantage of this opportunity and contribute now.

This fund recognizes Eileen’s pioneering career and groundbreaking scholarship. The first black female professor to be awarded tenure at Harvard University, she published several seminal publications on African American music, and cofounded The Black Perspective in Music, the first musicological journal devoted to African and African American music. In 2001 Southern received a National Humanities Medal for having “helped transform the study and understanding of American music.”

SAM/2.0 Campaign Enters Final Months
With the spate of summer donations, the SAM/2.0 Campaign has reached $956,478. Despite nearing our $1-million goal, we still have funds—such as those for McLucas and Southern—that need to be completed. If you have yet to make a donation or pledge, please take a moment and go to SAM/2.0 supports you and the scholarship that you deem important: help to make it happen!

bruce d. mcclung
Chair, Development Committee

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Student Forum

The Student Forum has great things in the works for Boston 2016!

Our annual silent auction is shaping up nicely, but we need YOUR donation! Cleaning off your bookshelf? Donate them to the silent auction! Have an extra copy of your book that just happens to have your autograph? These are some of our best sellers! Other items and services are certainly welcome as well! Please bring donations with you to Boston or email Jamie Blake ( for information on sending donations directly. All donations are tax deductible and sales support student travel to the SAM conference. Please direct questions to Jamie Blake or SAM Executive Director Mariana Whitmer.

We are currently planning several conference events for Boston 2016 and invite all of our SAM student members to participate! We will host our annual business meeting to discuss the purpose and projects of the student forum, to solicit ideas for future events and projects, and to elect a new co-chair to replace our outgoing representative, Megan Murph. We will host our annual student dinner, which is always a great way to get to know fellow SAM student members. As per last year’s meeting, we are working on several projects suggested by student members to enhance their conference experience. Stay tuned to the Facebook page and listserv for more information! If you haven’t joined our facebook page or the Student Forum listserv, please do so here:

Students who will be presenting a paper at the conference are eligible to compete for the Mark Tucker Award. For information on where and when to submit applications, please check the society website: 2016 submissions are due January 15, 2016.

You can also help stretch your travel budget and get to know a fellow SAM student member by participating in the Student Forum roommate search. We will post information regarding conference roommates to the Student Forum Facebook page and listserv as we get closer to the conference. Please contact the Student Forum co-chairs with questions.

If you are a student member of SAM you are part of the student forum and we want to hear from you! Please send questions, comments, and suggestions to Megan Murph ( and/or Jamie Blake (

We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

Megan Murph and Jamie Blake, Student Forum Co-Chairs

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Journal of the Society for American Music

Volume 9, Number 3 (August 2015)


Who Plays the Tune in “Body and Soul”? A Performance History Using Recorded Sources
   José Antonio Bowen

A Series on the Edge: Social Tension in Star Trek’s Title Cue
   Jessica L. Getman

New Riffs on the Old Mind-Body Blues: “Black Rhythm,” “White Logic,” and Music Theory in the Twenty-First Century
   Tom Perchard


Mark Katz, Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ
   Loren Kajikawa

Music American Made: Essays in Honor of John Graziano. Edited by John Koegel
   John Spitzer

Blackness in Opera. Edited by Naomi André, Karen M. Bryan, and Eric Saylor
   John Graziano

Charles E. Ives: Symphony No. 4. James B. Sinclair, executive editor
   Christopher Bruhn

Michael Broyles, Beethoven in America
   John McCluskey

Joel Sachs, Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music
   Nancy Yunhwa Rao

Pa’s Fiddle Recordings, The Arkansas Traveler: Music from Little House on the Prairie; Pa’s Fiddle Recordings, Happy Land: Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder; The Ingalls Wilder Family Songbook. Edited by Dale Cockrell; The Making of Pa’s Fiddle: The Music of America. Directed by Samuel Ryan Wiley; Pa’s Fiddle Recordings, Pa’s Fiddle; Pa’s Fiddle: The Music of America. Directed by Ryan Polito
   Ellyn Washburne

Kevin Deas, Benjamin Pasternack, PostClassical Ensemble, Angel Gil-Ordóñez, conductor, et al., Dvoř´ and America
   Beth E. Levy

   Gregory Camp

Banjo Romantika: American Bluegrass and the Czech Imagination. Shara K. Lange, director; Lee Bidgood and Shara K. Lange, producers
   Benjamin Krakauer

Coming in November: a special review section on the Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd edition. Eleven authors weigh in on this enormous undertaking.

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JSAM and SAM Bulletin Reviewers Needed

The Journal of the Society for American Music and the SAM Bulletin are always seeking reviewers for books, recordings, and multimedia publications. If you are interested in serving as a reviewer for either publication, please send your name, email address, and areas of expertise to Judy Tsou, Chair of the SAM Publications Committee, at

Calling All Multi-Media Reviewers!
Do you use any scholarly databases, websites, DVDs or other multi-media items in your research or teaching that would be of interest to our SAM community? Please share your findings in a multi-media review for JSAM! Also, if you are interested in writing a review, but do not have a particular multi-media item in mind, we have opportunities for you too! Please contact JSAM’s multi-media editor, Trudi Wright, at for more information.

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New Members

The Society for American Music is pleased to welcome these new members:

Jim Blackman, San Francisco, CA

Julian Saporiti, Nashville, TN

Torrey Laws-Nicola, San Marcos, TX

Frank Ferrel, Bath, ME

Nathan Fleshner, Nacogdoches, TX

Victoria Aschheim, Princeton, NJ

Michael D'Errico, Los Angeles, CA

Darren LaCour, St. Louis, MO

Martin Guerpin, Paris, , FRANCE

Steven Cahn, Cincinnati, OH

Ewelina Boczkowska, Youngstown, OH

Stephan Hammel, Playa Vista, CA

Brooke McCorkle, Philadelphia, PA

Timothy Smolko, Athens, GA

Emily Petermann, Gottingen, GERMANY

Benjamin J. Jackson, College Park, MD

Stephen Stacks, Durham, NC

Paul Sommerfeld, Durham, NC

Diane Oliva, Cambridge, MA

Julia Hamilton, New York, NY

Alanna Ropchock, Osceola Mills, PA

Danielle Stein, Los Angeles, CA

Brian J. Lefresne, Guelph, ON, CANADA

Joseph Maurer, Holden, MA

Louis Epstein, Northfield, MN

Melvin Backstrom, Montreal, QC, CANADA

Catherine Hall, Tallahassee, FL

Emily MacGregor, Spetisbury, Dorset, UNITED KINGDOM

Lei Bryant, Saratoga Springs, NY

Matthew DelCiampo, Tallahassee, FL

Eric Lubarsky, Rochester, NY

William Lang, Memphis, TN

Jeremy Grall, Appleton, WI

John Green, Baldwinsville, NY

Amy Coddington, Charlottesville, VA

Kunio Hara, Columbia, SC

Baron Tymas, Durham, NC

Jeremy Strachan, Toronto, ON, CANADA

Paula Harper, Brooklyn, NY

Matthew Ferrandino, New Britain, CT

Charles Kennedy, Concord, NH

Clara Latham, Boston, MA

Laura Shearing, Chicago, IL

Kerry Brunson, Los Angeles, CA

Danielle Ward-Griffin, Norfolk, VA

Emily Lane, Chicago, IL

Adam Tinkle, Saratoga Springs, NY

Marc Peloquin, Astoria, NY

Adriana Martinez Figueroa, Gilbert, AZ

S. Andrea Moore, Los Angeles, CA

Garth Paine, Tempe, AZ

Roberto Avant-Mier, El Paso, TX

Rose Bridges, Austin, TX

Ralph Whyte, New York, NY

Kenneth DeLong, Calgary, AB, CANADA

J. Cole Ritchie, Denton, TX

Katherine Lee, Sacramento, CA

Sara Gulgas, Pittsburgh, PA

Byrd McDaniel, Tuscaloosa, AL

Jonathan Lee, Oakland, CA

Silvio dos Santos, Gainesville, FL

Thomas Peattie, Somerville, MA

Jerod Reetz, Madison, WI

Maryann McCabe, Bronx, NY

Miki Kaneda, Boston, MA

Tim Murray, Gainesville, FL

Micah Salkind, Providence, RI

William Palmer, Auburn, AL

Beth Keyes, Brightwaters, NY

Christina Reitz, Sylva, NC

Minnita Daniel-Cox, Dayton, OH

HJM Langenkamp, Utrecht, BC, NETHERLANDS

Karen Uslin, Cape May Court House, NJ

Rami Stucky, Saint Simons Island, GA

Whitney Slaten, Yonkers, NY

David VanderHamm, Durham, NC

Ross Fenimore, Davidson, NC

Terry Dean, West Terre Haute, IN

Ofer Gazit, Brooklyn, NY

Mark Durrand, Cleveland, OH

Micaela Baranello, Swarthmore, PA

Alexandra Apolloni, Culver City, CA

Susan McClary, Cleveland Heights, OH

Tyshawn Sorey, Brooklyn, NY

Daniel O'Meara, New York, NY

Steven Wilcer, Lombard, IL

Bradley Shope, Corpus Christi, TX

Jerome Stanley, Oxford, OH

Alexander Stalarow, Davis, CA

Aaron West, Frisco, TX

Yavet Boyadjiev, Khen Yannawa, Bangkok, THAILAND

Emma Levine, Santa Barbara, CA

Arianne Johnson Quinn, Tallahassee, FL

Ryan Malone, Lewisburg, PA

Jacob Arthur, Leicester, MA

Patrick MacDevitt, Brunswick, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

Abby Lloyd, Jefferson City, MO

Sara Ballance, Pasadena, CA

Jacquelyn Sholes, Milton, MA

Teresa Neff, Hyde Park, MA

Catherine Tackley, Manchester, Lancashire, UNITED KINGDOM

Joanna Das, Philadelphia, PA

David Mesple, Lubbock, TX

Derek Strykowski, Cambridge, MA

Maile Graham-Laidlaw, Calgary, AB, CANADA

Alessandra Jones, Berkeley, CA

Jonathan Wynn, Northampton, MA

Timothy Booth, Otamatea, Whanganui, NEW ZEALAND

Jonathan Chenoweth, Cedar Falls, IA

Alice Rogers, Riverdale Park, MD

Daniel Neely, Sunnyside, NY

Amanda Ruppenthal Stein, Glendale, WI

Deborah Justice, Syracuse, NY

Jennifer Psujek, Belleville, IL

Robert Groves, Fargo, ND

Donna Coleman, Santa Fe, NM

Konstantine Vlasis, Chattanooga, TN

Gretchen Carlson, Frederick, MD

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This issue celebrates the anniversary of our first “mentored” graduate-student book review with seven such appraisals all supervised by a single academic advisor: Professor Leta Miller at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Are you a graduate advisor with the perfect student (or group of students) to review selections from our list of currently available titles? The “mentored” book review process offers an opportunity for faculty to incorporate the book review experience into coursework for graduate students, transforming a typical book-review assignment into an authentic publishing opportunity. Interested advisor/advisee duos, as well as those with an interest but without a pairing (such as faculty at undergraduate-only institutions), are encouraged to contact the Bulletin Reviews Editor Ryan Bañagale ( for a list of currently available books.

Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century, Alex Sayf Cummings, Oxford University Press, 2013. 257pp. ISBN: 978-0-19-985822-4. Hardcover.
   Mark A. Davidson

   University of California, Santa Cruz

On 10 March of this year, a grand jury for the United States District Court for the Central District of California found Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams guilty of copyright infringement for their song “Blurred Lines,” one of the biggest hits of the summer of 2013. At issue were the similarities between the backing tracks of Thicke and Williams’s song and Marvin Gaye’s 1977 Billboard Top 100 hit “Got to Give It Up.” Forensic musicologists Ingrid Monson and Judith Finell took the stand as expert witnesses to help prove the Gaye family’s case. Their testimonies worked: the songwriters were forced to pay a $7.4 million settlement—$4 million in damages, and approximately $3.3 million of the profits the song had earned to date.1 Although music copyright infringement lawsuits have made headlines in the past, it seems that in the age of social media nearly everyone with a blog or Twitter account had something to say about the case. As Robert Fink noted in his own post for the American Musicological Society’s Musicology Now blog, “Nothing puts musicology in the headlines like a big, juicy verdict in a musical copyright case.”2

Alex Sayf Cummings, the author of Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century, also blogged about the lawsuit. “As is so often the case with copyright,” Cummings noted, “the lines between right and wrong are no more clear-cut than those between original and unoriginal—a distinction that no higher power has ever sufficiently explained to us mere mortals.”3 Cummings’s statement about right and wrong, original and copy, could serve well as a central thesis to his monograph on sound recordings, technology, U.S. copyright legislation, and the people who operate within, and outside of, the law. With Democracy of Sound, Cummings, an assistant professor of history at Georgia State University, joins the interdisciplinary ranks of scholars who have written on the complex intersection of music and the law, including James Boyle, Tim Brooks, Joanna Demers, Kembrew McLeod, Anthony Seeger, and Siva Vaidhyanathan.4 But Cummings’s book stands out as the first monograph to tackle the history of U.S. copyright law as it pertains to sound recordings as a “hot” commodity, both in terms of their popularity and their status as coveted, and often-pirated, goods.

Democracy of Sound is a relatively faithful reproduction of Cummings’s dissertation, “Music Piracy and the Value of Sound, 1909–1998” (Columbia University, 2009), although the author has made some revisions to the overall structure and prose, and he published some of the chapters prior to this Oxford release.5 As Cummings noted in an interview published shortly after his book was released, he re-titled his study Democracy of Sound because “democracy involves a lot of friction, a lot of sharp elbows and contention. The fact that there has been a fight at all is a source of hope.”6 Over the course of a little more than two hundred pages, Cummings outlines the nearly century-long battles among numerous competing interests, including music publishers and record labels; legislators, judges, and lawyers; artists and music unions; and bootleggers, pirates, con men, and other unseemly characters. To pack that much into a relatively thin volume is a tall order, but Cummings largely succeeds in his endeavor, and his lively writing style makes the book a pleasure to read.

Cummings divides his book into two large sections. Part 1, titled “The Birth and Growth of Piracy, 1877–1955,” spans the time period between the invention of sound recording technology and the beginnings of congressional copyright law reforms in the postwar era. Part 2, “The Legal Backlash, 1945–1998,” runs from the beginning of the postwar era until two major copyright reforms under the Clinton administration in 1998: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the “Sonny Bono” Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA). These large-scale structural divisions, which are perhaps a bit arbitrary, were not included in the dissertation. It seems that the year 1948 might have been a better starting point for the second section, as it was the year that the long-playing record was introduced to the commercial market, that the Ampex Corporation produced the first tape machine in the United States, and that the city of Los Angeles passed the first anti-piracy law aimed at bootleggers. Such neat, large-scale divisions in a study as ambitious as Democracy of Sound are bound to come up short, however, and Cummings finds a way to delineate topics neatly within the chapters themselves.

The first part of Democracy of Sound offers a much-needed history of U.S. copyright law as regards music. For example, Cummings also gives a wonderful account of the controversial and far-reaching U.S. Supreme Court case White-Smith v. Apollo (1908), which stipulated that mechanical carriers of sound could not be afforded federal copyright protection (chapter 1). “The Supreme Court in 1908 could not accept the notion that a pattern of holes in a piano roll qualified for copyright for copyright,” Cummings explains, “since the mechanical inscription was not a human expression that could be understood with the naked eye, unlike all previous drama, fiction, music, photography, and poetry had been” (88–89). (As musicologist Anatole Leikin has shown, these piano rolls indeed can be “read,” or at least interpreted visually as indications of performance practice techniques.)7 The ramifications of the White-Smith case are still felt to this day, as sound recordings would not receive federal protection until 1972 (by way of the Sound Recording Act of 1971), leaving the fate of these recordings—and royalty payments associated with them—in a confusing morass of state and common laws regarding rights of privacy and publicity. From there, Cummings explores the emergence of collecting culture with regard to popular and jazz recordings, the rise of bootlegging after World War II, and states’ attempts to stem the tide of illegal manufacturing (chapter 2); the advent of tape recording technology after the war and the beginnings of the “‘high-fidelity’ hobby by middle-class consumers in the postwar era” (70, chapter 3); and the “bootleg boom” associated with rock ’n’ roll from the mid-1950s through the early 1970s, including discussions of the music of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis, and Neil Young (chapter 4).

Cummings devotes the second part of Democracy of Sound to “the legal backlash” to sound recording legislation in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. In chapter 5, he examines various legislative reforms aimed at combatting piracy and clarifying a confusing system of laws, which resulted in the Sound Recording Act of 1971. His exploration is not limited to the laws enacted during this time period, however. The author also explores the roots of the “free culture” movement, as currently espoused by Lawrence Lessig and the Creative Commons movement, through the Grateful Dead’s encouragement of bootleg tape trading, and the distribution of hip-hop mixtapes beginning in the late 1970s. Cummings also weaves his discussion of the history of U.S. copyright legislation into the larger “global war on piracy” and globalization movement in chapter 7, which is by far the most ambitious section of the book. Over the course of twenty-five pages, the author discusses decades of contentious discussions among various nations and multinational corporations, and provides an overview of the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the General Agreement on Trades and Tariffs (GATT) treaty, and the Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Unfortunately, the U.S.-centric thrust of the book at times leads to the painting of non-Western nations as a sort of Third World “Wild West.” For instance, Cummings summarizes broadly: “In an age of globalization, criminality progressed by degrees, from the criminal mischief of Nigerian e-mail scams to violent operations like human smuggling, from Union Carbide to Pablo Escobar and back again” (186). The chapter is not without nuance, however, and Cummings acknowledges Iranian revolutionaries’ use of cassette recorders to “circumvent mass media and disseminate their radical message to the people” (172). He also notes that “piracy often disadvantaged local music companies at least as much as their Western competitors, if not more so” while citing Peter Manuel’s Cassette Culture (177).8

Cummings ends Democracy of Sound with a brief, eighteen-page conclusion titled “Piracy as Social Media,” which covers copyright law in the digital age, from the late twentieth century onward. In it, he examines Napster, Limewire, Spotify, and other file-sharing and music-distribution websites; the effects of multinational corporations on copyright term extensions; sampling and musical borrowing in hip-hop music; the aesthetics and economics of piracy; and counter-reactions to the “War on Piracy.” It’s a lot to try to cover in a very short span of pages, though, to be fair, Cummings largely confines his study to the twentieth century.

Despite its temporal boundaries, Democracy of Sound is timely. The intersection of music and copyright law in the United States has become an increasingly important issue for music scholars, cultural heritage institution workers, and legislators in recent years. In April 2015, Maria Pallente, head of the U.S. Copyright Office, gave a statement before the House Committee on the Judiciary titled “The Register’s Perspective on Copyright Review,” and members of Congress, in association with the copyright office, artists, archivists and librarians, and sound recording rights advocates, have had numerous recent meetings on the state of pre-1972 sound recordings, streaming music licenses, and “orphan works” (works that are under copyright, but for which the rights holders cannot be located).9 Perhaps most significant moment of the last year was James H. Billington’s announcement on 10 June that he was stepping down as Librarian of Congress, which could have profound implications for the future copyright law and the digitization movement going forward.10 Moreover, this year’s Society for Ethnomusicology meeting in Austin, Texas features a pre-conference symposium titled “Music, Property, and Law.” Cummings concludes his book with the statement, “Piracy might not kill music, but history may record that it killed the music business” (218). For those of us charged with writing such histories, then, Democracy of Sound is a must read.

1 At the time, this award exceeded the previous largest music infringement settlement of $5.4 million, awarded to the Isley Brothers in 2001 in their case against Michael Bolton and Sony. On 14 July 2015 U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt reduced the settlement to $5.3 million, and added Clifford “T. I.” Harris Jr., to the list of infringers. According to Hollywood Reporter legal news writer Eriq Gardner’s article on the new developments in the case, “The $2 million trimming comprises a reduction in actual damages from $4 million to just under $3.2 million and a cutting of the profits that Williams has to turn over from about $1.6 million to about $358,000.” The case is currently under appeal. See Eriq Gardner, “Judge Rejects New ‘Blurred Lines’ Trial, Trims Damages to $5.3 Million,” Hollywood Reporter, 14 July 2015,
2 The American Musicological Society’s Musicology Now blog featured two articles on the topic. See Robert Fink, “Blurred Lines, Ur-Lines, and Color Lines,” Musicology Now (blog), 15 March 2015,; and Joanna Demers, “Blurry,” Musicology Now (blog), 27 March 2015,
3 Alex Sayf Cummings, “The ‘Blurred Lines’ of Music and Copyright: Part One,” OUPblog, 28 April 2015,
4 See, for example, James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008); Tim Brooks, “Only in America: The Unique Status of Sound Recordings under U.S. Copyright Law and How It Threatens Our Audio Heritage,” American Music vol. 27, no. 2 (2009): 125–37; Joanna Demers, Steal This Music: How Intellectual Property Law Affects Musical Creativity (Athens, University of Georgia Press, 2006); Kembrew McLeod, Owning Culture: Authorship, Ownership and Intellectual Property Law (New York: P. Lang, 2001); Anthony Seeger, “Ethnomusicology and Music Law,” Ethnomusicology vol. 36, no. 3 (1992): 345–59; and Siva Vaidhyanathan, Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and how it Threatens Creativity (New York: New York University Press, 2001).
5 Alex Cummings, “Music Piracy and the Value of Sound, 1909–1998,” Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 2009. Cummings published parts of chapters 1 and 5 in an article for the Journal of American History, and chapter 2 in the edited collection Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. These chapters were later revised and reinserted into the book under review. See Alex S. Cummings, “From Monopoly to Intellectual Property: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright, 1909–1971,” Journal of American History vol. 97, no. 3 (December 2010): 659–81; and Alex Cummings, “Collectors, Bootleggers, and the Value of Jazz, 1930–1952,” in Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, ed. David Suisman and Susan Strasser, 95–114 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.
6 Clinton Sandvick, “The History of Music Piracy: Interview with Alex Sayf Cummings,”, 14 August 2014,
7 See Anatole Leikin, The Performing Style of Alexander Scriabin (London: Ashgate, 2011); Leikin, “Piano-Roll Recordings of Enrique Granados: A Study of a Transcription of the Composer’s Performance,” Journal of Musicological Research, vol. 21 nos. 1–2 (2002): 3–19; and Leikin, “The Performance of Scriabin’s Piano Music: Evidence from the Piano Rolls,” Performance Practice Review vol. 9, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 97–113.
8 Peter Manuel, Cassette Culture: Popular Music and Technology in Northern India (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).
9 Maria Pallente, “The Register’s Perspective on Copyright Review,” 29 April 2015,
10 See, Siva Vaidhyanathan, “Checked Out: The Library of Congress Has Become Obsolete. It Needs a New Leader Who Can Steer It into the Digital Age,” Slate 28 July, 2015,; and Robert Darnton, “Great New Possibilities for the Library of Congress!” New York Review of Books, 13 August 2015,

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Political Rock, Mark Pedelty and Kristine Weglarz, eds., Ashgate, 2013. 248pp. ISBN: 978-1-40944-622-4. Hardback.
   Jessica Loranger

   University of California, Santa Cruz

Musicological considerations of rock music frequently favor the “politics of music” over the “music of politics” (177). Acknowledging that the majority of rock focuses on “romance, intoxication, and revelry,” the authors in Mark Pedelty and Kristine Weglarz’s edited collection Political Rock shift the focus to artists who have maintained political commitments, both in and out of music (xii). With eleven chapters covering twelve popular musicians and bands, Political Rock reaches widely. Each author profiles a different artist (or two): Fugazi and The Clash, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Bruce Cockburn, Billy Bragg, Sinead O’Connor, Steve Earle, Kim Gordon, Ani DiFranco, Pearl Jam, and Rage Against the Machine. More than half of the contributors specialize in communications studies with research interests in popular and political music; others are scholars of political science, performance studies, and ecomusicology. Despite their varied backgrounds, many of the authors relate to their musicological subjects as what the editors term “scholar-critic-fans of political rock” (xiv). As a whole, the book covers an impressive array of (leftist) political topics including corporal punishment, war, child abuse, ageism, environmentalism, human rights, racism, Occupy Wall Street, voter awareness, apartheid, feminism, poverty, and worker’s rights.

Most of the authors divulge what led them to become fans, lending credibility—and a bit of personal charm—to their writing. In general, they outline biographical information of the musicians and acquaint readers with the artists’ political efforts and how these efforts have affected their careers. Reaching across musical genres and subcultures of punk, folk, indie, noise, grunge, and mainstream rock, authors tackle important questions about popular music. Where do musicians land along a continuum of political involvement? Is this position different for the artist and the audience? Do discrepancies between the artist intention and listener reception matter? How do musicians work within and against a corporate structure to make political statements? Can political music truly lead to change?

Acknowledging that the book certainly cannot include every political rock musician, the editors devote a large part of the introduction to “filling in some of the inevitable gaps in the narrative” (xv). In this context, they address the lack of racial diversity in the musician profiles, noting the white male bias of rock. The overview also provides an especially helpful historical background for anyone not versed in popular music from the 1960s to the early 2000s. Thankfully, Pedelty and Weglarz do not lean too heavily on the mythologized 1960s, and leave enough space for a summary of important shifts in 1990s punk, hip-hop, and alternative or grunge. In this way, the collection succeeds at the editors’ fundamental mission: to bring attention to the spectrum of explicitly political rock.

But despite (or because of) this comprehensive approach, the editors perhaps missed the opportunity to attune readers to some overarching theoretical concepts that weave a thread through multiple chapters: distinctions (if any) between lyrics and poetry; shifting and conflicting performative personae; and clashes between political commitment and capitalism, between industry and artistry. An editorial overview drawing out these broad connections would strengthen the impact of this important collection. On the other hand, an instructor using the book as a political or popular music text can encourage students to independently discover these relationships.

As several authors reveal, the entanglement of political ideology and capitalism confronts many of the musicians in this volume. Some recording artists (Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam, and Peter Gabriel) felt the need to balance their level of commitment between politics and music so as not to alienate fans, and to keep music as the priority. Others, such as Fugazi and Ani DiFranco stand out as examples of musicians who started their own record labels to avoid such conflicts. They have maintained, for decades, politically committed musical careers, in addition to recording and producing their own albums as well those by others. Like the continuum of political engagement, the ways in which individual musicians navigate this challenge vary from person to person, and Political Rock succeeds at presenting this spectrum.

Multiple chapters provide insightful portraits of the musicians as performers, activists, and ordinary people. Most notable are Douglas McLeod’s “Billy Bragg: Mixing Pop and Politics,” Mark Mattern’s “Steve Earle: The Politics of Empathy,” Michael LeVan’s “Rage Against the Machine: Militant Poetics,” and Norma Coates’s “Kim Gordon: Ordinary, Feminist, Musician.” Mark Andersen’s chapter, “The Clash and Fugazi: Punk Paths Toward Revolution,” stands out for the author’s own involvement, and offers a glimpse into politics and a particular punk ethos, as well as a brief ethnography of punk activism in Washington D.C. during the 1980s and 1990s. Bridging music and political action, Andersen collaborated with Fugazi in his work with a social justice group he co-founded, Positive Force. Along with journalist Mark Jenkins, Anderson has also written a book, Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capitol.1 The exceptional readability of Andersen’s chapter bears the mark of his personal commitment to social causes and punk, as well as his previous story-telling experience. With a smooth flow and pleasant prose, Andersen’s narrative captures what others in the volume touch upon repeatedly, if only briefly: the “capitalist consumption” of pop music versus its “potentially revolutionary” power (17).

A certain level of familiarity in otherwise dry, academic prose can be either unsettling or refreshing. When I started reading Marcy Chvasta’s chapter on Sinead O’Connor, I was at first taken aback by her seemingly informal writing style. She begins with a first-person narrative voice, as do many of the other authors. But she uses a slightly conversational style that I’ve grown unaccustomed to in musicological texts. As I kept reading, however, her personal tone endeared the author and O’Connor to me. More importantly, the theoretical underpinning derived from performance studies clarified the arguments put forth in previous chapters, particularly those on Bob Dylan and Peter Gabriel.

In Chvasta’s view, controversy arises when artists enact a “collision of bodies” (109). Her research centers on “the moments when a person performs roles that may appear to be in conflict with each other and in conflict with others’ roles” (111). Chvasta employs David Graver’s ideas about the actor’s (read performer’s) seven bodies: character, performer, commentator, personage, representative of socio-historical groups, physical flesh, and loci of private sensations. Simon Frith and Philip Auslander have developed similar, yet more pared down, analytical models, but Chvasta shows that Graver can also offer a nuanced tool for examining musical performances.

Like Bob Dylan, Sinead O’Connor has attempted to “control and remediate the ways in which the mass media present her to the public” (114). Arguably, Dylan did not need to do so in the same way that O’Connor did: he was venerated as a protest rock icon despite his own objections to the designation. O’Connor, in contrast, was vilified for a 1992 Saturday Night Live performance in which she tore up a photograph of the Pope as an outcry against child abuse within the Catholic Church. Backlash was immediate and fierce. The media, celebrities, and Catholic officials portrayed O’Connor as both crazy and as a liar. Chvasta provides us with an analytical tool with which to describe, beyond a simple narrative, the many ways in which performance is political. When O’Connor made her statement against the Catholic Church, her “performer” body collided with her “commentator” body, affecting her “personage” as an artist (112). She sustained not only insults as a “representative of socio-historical groups” (female, mentally ill, Irish, abused) but also physical threats against her “locus of private sensations” (111, 119). With this “multi-bodied collision,” it is no wonder, Chvasta argues, that controversy ensued (119). Because political art tends to embody controversy, if not spark it, uncovering these performative layers can help us make sense of contentious performances (109).

A thorough examination of the tradition of political rock links multiple generations of musicians—from Woody Guthrie to Bruce Springsteen to Eddie Vedder. Perhaps one reason musicologists have not sufficiently attended to political rock, the editors suggest, is because we hesitate to give lyrics too much attention. On the other hand, the artists featured in Political Rock illustrate that, although lyrics may carry a message, performance and extra-musical actions are at times even more significant. As Mark Mattern observes in his chapter on Steve Earle, this musician has engaged in anti-death-sentence politics. At the same time, Earle’s lyrics do not outwardly protest capital punishment. Instead, the songs paint a bleak portrait of people “propelled by desperate circumstances beyond [their] control” (144). Rather than being didactic, Earle invites us to empathize with individuals “whose stories do not match those found in the promises of the American Dream” (146). If nonspecific lyrics leave any doubt, Earle’s extra-musical activities make clear his opposition to the death penalty.

Political Rock offers individualized, descriptive profiles of musicians who demonstrate an extensive range of political engagements. Overall, the collection maintains a refreshing readability. More attentive copy-editing and proof-reading, however, would have resolved a handful of oversights that emerged throughout the text, such as misspelled words (25, 78), an unnecessary apostrophe (156), missing words (179, 185), and mistaken repetitions (8, 157, 177, 182). Musicologists might notice an absence of musical analysis, but the valuable analytical work here is social, lyrical, and performative. Through a socio-political lens, Pedelty and Weglarz open a line of inquiry that reaches beyond the idea that rock music is political in and of itself. Political Rock examines the kind of rock music that intends to be political, illustrating a continuum of social commitment, from Fugazi’s antiwar concert in front of the White House to Kim Gordon’s defiance of gender, age, and stay-at-home-mom norms to Ani DiFranco’s struggle to artfully sing the words “abortion” and “patriarchy.”

1 Mark Andersen and Mark Jenkins, Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capital (Brooklyn, NY: Akashic Books, 2009).

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And We’re All Brothers: Singing in Yiddish in Contemporary North America, Abigail Wood, Ashgate, 2013. 205pp. ISBN: 978-1-40944-533-3. Hardback.
   Ben Negley

   University of California, Santa Cruz

Abraham Idelsohn, in his magisterial 1929 Jewish Music: Its Historical Development, writes that Jewish folk-song, “like Jewish life in the last two thousand years, nestles in the shadow of religion and ethics.”1 Writing before the two defining events for Jews in the twentieth century—the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel—Idelsohn considered Jewish folk music to be a synthesis of both religious and ethical identities because he believed that Jewish ethics were tied directly to religious practice.

By contrast, in Abigail Wood’s wonderful new monograph And We’re All Brothers: Singing in Yiddish in Contemporary North America, the divergent ethical and religious streams of Yiddish folk music are examined. Wood highlights the deepening schisms growing between the most religiously orthodox Jewish participants, for whom the Yiddish language is still a vernacular, and secular Yiddishists, for whom Yiddish language and culture align with progressive ethics and radical politics. This contrast, between religiously ordained ethics and ethically ordained religion, forms the fundamental conflict of modern Yiddishism.

Based on urban ethnographies conducted in North America and Western Europe in the early 2000s, Wood’s research developed from her study at a Yiddish summer course at Columbia University, her membership in Yiddish choral ensembles in New York, many visits to Yiddish music festivals in Montreal and Europe, and her personal encounters with musicians of the Yiddish and Klezmer revivalist scenes. From these various threads, Wood successfully weaves informative and episodic encounters into a multi-faceted tapestry embodying the variety of contemporary Yiddish practices.

One of the difficulties in discussing Yiddish culture is the fact that, unlike national cultures, Yiddish speakers have no geographical space inscribed on the map. Nonetheless, like their more clearly circumscribed cultural counterparts, Yiddishists have been greatly affected by various factors related to the locales where Yiddish has been spoken. To assign Yiddish a theoretical location, Wood creates what she calls ‘Yiddishland’: “a virtual locus constructed in terms of the use of the Yiddish language, especially, though not exclusively, in its spoken form” (4–5). Yiddishland’s leaky borders create cultural interactions and possibilities for expansion; it can exist anywhere, at any time, with anybody.

After her introductory definition of Yiddishland, Wood divides her text into two main parts. The first, “Contemporary Frameworks for Yiddish Song,” encompasses the centrality of song to Yiddishland and contemporary Yiddish culture, as well as the importance of folksong to Yiddish identity and historical consciousness. In the second chapter Wood discusses the importance of the creation of the State of Israel as a symbolic ‘endpoint’ to Yiddish life:

The founding of the state of Israel shortly after the end of the war further emphasized this endpoint, concretizing the rapid ascendance of an alternative normative Jewish culture, itself directly negating the Yiddish world through ongoing delegitimization of Yiddish in favor of Hebrew, now codified as state policy (37).

Wood highlights the defining linguistic shift from Yiddish to Hebrew that accompanied Zionism. By abandoning Yiddish and its symbolism as the language of decimated Eastern European Jewry, Zionists attempted to distance themselves from their marginalized European peers. The Hebrew language allowed for Zionists to both disconnect from embattled European Jewry and reconnect with the romanticized linguistic past of their Hebrew ancestors.

The contemporary Jewish interest in Yiddish, unlike the revival of Hebrew, which focused on an archaic linguistic past, is derived at least in part from the idealized concepts of community embodied by Eastern European Yiddish life. As Wood says, the Yiddish revival makes sense in “contemporary Jewish culture, where authenticity lies in the recreation of community narratives, rather than in abstract textual, musical or historical accuracy” (79).

In Part 2, “Yiddish Song and the ‘Klezmer Revival,’” Wood contextualizes the resurgence of the Yiddish language and culture within the larger revived interest in Klezmer music and focuses on key Yiddish and Klezmer musicians such as Adrienne Cooper and her band Mikveh, Lorin Sklamberg and the Klezmatics, Michael Alpert, Sruli Dresdner, Frank London, Sophie Solomon, and Josh Dolgin. Using these artists and others, Wood emphasizes the renewed interest in Klezmer music that began in the 1960s and continued in the 1990s. Artists like Giora Feidman, The Klezmorim, and Kapelye, and more recent bands such as the Klezmer Conservatory Band, The Klezmatics, and Brave Old World have sparked renewed inquiry into questions of Jewish/Yiddish identity in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Central to this interest is the question of whether Klezmer, and by extension Yiddish, music is a living or dead tradition. Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimlett writes in Mark Slobin’s American Klezmer that the term “heritage music” is used “to distinguish between music that is part and parcel of a way of life and music that has been singled out for preservation, enshrinement.... Heritage music...verges on necromancy—literally a conjuring up of the dead.”2 Wood’s text, published fifteen years after Kirschenblatt-Gimlett’s essay, seeks to situate Yiddish song as a living tradition, and as a way of life for North American Yiddishists.

In the four chapters that comprise the second part of the text, Wood considers the explicitly progressive politics of many contemporary Yiddish acts, the difficult re-integration of Yiddish culture and music in Europe, and the contemporary interactions between new technologies and Yiddish cultural construction. Wood does an excellent job of treating these contributing factors in episodic fashion, with the voices of many creators clearly articulated.

More problematic, however, is Wood’s treatment of Hasidism and Yiddishism in Chapter 5: “Encountering the Yiddish Other: Hasidic Music in Today’s Yiddish Canon.” Here, the conflict between religious and ethical practice arises. As Wood states, although Hasidic Jews are the largest body of Yiddish-speakers today, and many live in close physical proximity to Manhattan, the ideological capitol of Yiddishland, they function in ethical opposition to the progressive politics espoused by Wood’s most lionized Yiddishlanders. Wood identifies this key incongruity: “It is perhaps ironic that today the two American Jewish groups most committed to the preservation of the Yiddish language stand as opposite poles of the modern Jewish spectrum: leftist, secularist, Yiddishism versus strict ultra-Orthodoxy” (135).

Wood’s informants from the former, leftist group are emic in that they operate within the culture for which they are serving as informants. Unfortunately, Wood’s ultra-Orthodox informants cannot claim the same insider status; the first is Sruli Desdner, a clarinetist and singer who grew up in a religious neighborhood in Queens but now serves as the rabbi of an egalitarian Jewish congregation in Maine. The second is Frank London, the virtuosic trumpet improviser of the Klezmatics, who is also one of Wood’s secularist informers; he thus has little claim to insider status within Hasidic communities. Both performers incorporate musical elements from Hasidic music, but without living the insular Hasidic lifestyles that delineate Hasidic Jews from less outwardly observant Jews.

Missing from Wood’s study are the emic assertions of practicing Hasidic Jews themselves. Wood gives little indication as to why these voices are missing, and in fact disempowers Hasidic practitioners by silencing their voices. In her discussion of recordings made by the Hasidic music industry, Wood writes:

To an outsider to the Hasidic world, they sound kitschy at best, far from the historicist or contemporary musical aesthetics which have largely been adopted by world music artists including klezmer revivalists. As listening material, therefore, they are largely unappealing to those outside the strictly Orthodox community (146).

Wood continues with a disparaging quote from Frank London, in which he describes most recent Hasidic recordings as “horrible,” with instrumental accompaniments that “don’t feel Jewish” (146).

Nonetheless, Wood does succeed in highlighting the appropriative nature of Dresdner and London’s encounters with Hasidism. Both artists incorporate images and symbols of Hasidim in their promotional materials intended for consumption by secular Jews; as the title of Wood’s fifth chapter suggests, for non-Hasidic Jews, music is seen as an effective, non-threatening means to encounter the fetishized Hasidic Jewish ‘Other.’ By contrast, engaging with ultra-Orthodox religious practice, insular exclusivity, and anachronistic political stances would be a much less comfortable exercise for secular Jewish audiences.

Despite the lack of emic Hasidic voices, Wood’s text does an admirable job of connecting the various dots of Yiddish culture in the twenty-first century. Although her focus is clearly on New York City, she also manages to engage with the historical frameworks of Yiddishism, as well as the re-emergence of Yiddishist and Klezmer music in Europe. In addition, she mentions musicians such as Josh Dolgin and Daniel Kahn, who are on the forefront of Yiddish culture, albeit with different approaches. For both, Yiddish is imagined not as the anachronistic lost vernacular of Jewish Europe, but instead as the lingua franca of marginalized peoples around the world.

Wood’s text serves as an excellent example of urban ethnography and participant observation within a musical culture that is simultaneously geographically and ideologically fragmented. For the most part, Wood succeeds in presenting the contrast between religiously focused and ethically focused practice in contemporary Yiddish and Jewish cultures. Relevant to both specialists and non-specialists, Wood’s text is a helpful contribution to the growing body of literature on Jewish music and identity in the twenty-first century.

1 Abraham Z. Idelosohn, Jewish Music: Its Historical Development (New York: Dover, 1929), 358.
2 Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimlett, “Sounds of Sensibility” in Mark Slobin, ed., American Klezmer: Its Roots and Offshoots (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 135.

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The Music of William Schuman, Vincent Persichetti, and Peter Mennin: Voices of Stone and Steel, Walter Simmons, Scarecrow Press, 2011. 438pp. ISBN: 978-0-81085-748-3. Hardback.
   Cameron Harrison

   University of California, Santa Cruz

Narratives of American music often rely on the rhetoric of binary opposition: conservative or experimental, serious or popular, Eurocentric or “authentically American.” These conceptual dualities sometimes clarify relationships between different facets of our musical world, but they also obscure connections and conceal important differences. In Voices of Stone and Steel, Walter Simmons challenges overly reductive understandings of the history of twentieth-century American concert music. Simmons’s concern is a large group of composers he terms Twentieth-Century Traditionalists. Broadly understood, these composers did not reject tonality and their works—when they are discussed at all—are generally considered in opposition to both serialism and experimentalism.

Believing that too little effort has been made to discern important differences among these traditionalist composers, Simmons proposes a number of subgroups, such as American Neo-Romantics, American Neo-Classicists, American National Populists, and Modern Traditionalists. Simmons’s previous book, Voices in the Wilderness, focused on six composers he considers American Neo-Romantics: Samuel Barber, Ernest Bloch, Paul Creston, Nicolas Flagello, Vittorio Giannini, and Howard Hanson.1 Voices of Stone and Steel spotlights three Modern Traditionalists: William Schuman (1910–92), Vincent Persichetti (1915–87), and Peter Mennin (1923–83). Juilliard forms the obvious connection among these individuals: Schuman brought Persichetti and Mennin to the school, and Mennin succeeded Schuman as its leader after the latter took on the presidency of Lincoln Center. However, it is a musical connection—their shared status as Modern Traditionalists—that most strongly informs Simmons’s decision to consider these three composers as a group.

What makes a Modern Traditionalist? As proposed by Simmons, composers of this group were not primarily concerned with the expression of personal moods and feelings, in contrast to the Neo-Romantics. They did not seek a return to eighteenth-century musical values such as simplicity and expressive restraint, as typical of the Neo-Classicists. Nor did they rely on folk, jazz, and popular idioms to create their sound, as did the National Populists. Rather, they made use of traditional musical forms, procedures, and techniques (e.g., symphony, concerto, counterpoint, motivic development) while employing an expanded, flexible conception of tonality (including polytonality and pandiatonicism) that frequently resulted in high levels of dissonance. The role that tonality plays in their works differs from the music of past centuries: it is often deemphasized or even rejected as a fundamental structural principle in favor of localized effects of tension and resolution. Once freed from a piece’s macrostructure, Simmons argues, tonality is free to function in subtle, highly expressive ways.

After an introductory chapter that explores the ideas outlined above, the three remaining chapters of Voices of Stone and Steel consider, in turn, the life and music of Schuman, Persichetti, and Mennin. The chapter on Mennin is roughly half the length of those on Schuman and Persichetti, largely owing to his death at the young age of sixty and the limited number of works he produced (approximately thirty, compared to Schuman’s eighty and Persichetti’s output of more than 160). Each chapter opens with a biography of the composer, ranging in length from Mennin’s eight pages to Schuman’s twenty-seven. Certainly, a fair amount has been written about Schuman’s life, including Orpheus in Manhattan, Steve Swayne’s masterful work of scholarship and a must-read book for anyone interested in the composer.2 However, there are few easily accessible biographical sources of significant length on Persichetti or Mennin, and therefore this new contribution is most welcome. Following each biography is a brief but vigorous general overview of the composer’s musical style; finally, the majority of each composer-focused chapter is allotted to a systematic exploration of his major works—chronologically for Schuman and Mennin, and by genre for the prolific Persichetti.

In Voices of Stone and Steel, Simmons has attempted to appeal both to general readers and to specialists. As the author himself acknowledges, this attempt to split the difference between the general and the specific results in a work that might be tedious for some readers and insufficiently detailed for others. In the systematic overviews of important works, Simmons adopts a quasi-encyclopedic writing style; the resulting prose is more utilitarian than compelling. For example, consecutive paragraphs often have near-identical structures, including directly replicated opening or closing sentences. Yet in a bid for accessibility, the book includes no musical notation and avoids specialized terminology. Though perhaps rendering the text more approachable, these restrictions limit the potential for analytical detail; Simmons’s straightforward prose reads essentially as a series of liner notes. It must be acknowledged, however, that the large number of works examined precludes extensive analysis of every piece.

In keeping with his conception of the book as a reference work, Simmons includes several useful resources. Those unfamiliar with the musical output of any of the composers will appreciate the chronological lists of each composer’s “Most Representative, Fully Realized Works.” The lists represent Simmons’s subjective selections, of course, but his choices are educated and hard to dispute. Other supplements include a selected bibliography and essential discography for each composer, and a compact disc featuring four representative works (three in their entirety). Simmons’s research is well documented, with more than 900 references.

Simmons relies heavily on excerpts of critical reviews to fill out Voices of Stone and Steel, compiling quotations from hundreds of concert, broadcast, and album reviews, both from the past and from our own time (including many reviews from internet sources). The sheer number of reviewers quoted is impressive, and readers interested in the reception history of this music will find much to value here. However, those looking for original insights may feel that that Simmons leans too heavily on these reviews to make his musical points for him. For example, his four-page overview of Mennin’s Symphony No. 5 includes critical responses from eight different sources including Arthur Berger, Howard Taubman, and Henry Cowell; a lengthy five-paragraph excerpt from the latter’s Musical Quarterly review of the symphony is insightful, but nearly as long as Simmons's own original observations. Perhaps a separate, compact section in each chapter could have covered critical responses, leaving more room for Simmons’s own analysis or other content.

Despite these quibbles, there is still much to be gained from these musical examinations. Here we begin to perceive not only the similarities, but also important differences among the three composers—for example, Schuman and Mennin were often at their most successful in large-scale forms, but much of Persichetti’s best work was written for smaller forces (though he is also rightfully considered one of history’s finest composers for concert band). The constant, nervous kinetic energy in Schuman’s music contrasts with Persichetti’s sense of humor and fondness for understatement, which in turn is quite distinctive from the heady turbulence of Mennin. Among the strongest messages in Voices of Stone and Steel is that each composer had his own expressive aims; even though all three are classified together as Modern Traditionalists, Simmons reminds us that their individual voices should also be heard and considered on their own terms.

Each of these composers held a significant place in the midcentury American musical scene. Yet even today many significant works of Schuman, Persichetti, and Mennin are either unrecorded or out of print. Some works received only a single performance (e.g., The Sibyl, Persichetti's only opera). At the time these pieces were premiered, audiences were sometimes less than entranced by music that was often highly dissonant; critics generally afforded restrained respect, but rarely out-and-out enthusiasm or deep understanding. Only a few compositions—Schuman’s New England Triptych, several of Persichetti's band works, and a handful of other pieces—have achieved a solid standing in the repertoire. What remains is a body of music ripe for rediscovery.

Especially in the case of Persichetti, it is perplexing that a composer of such seriousness, skill, and appeal is not more widely represented on record or discussed in the literature. Perhaps one reason may lie in the reductive label of “band composer” often applied by those unfamiliar with his broader output, and the fact that two of his finest large-scale works are symphonies for nontraditional forces (No. 5 is scored for string orchestra, No. 6 for concert band). In addition, his musical facility and prolific output may be misconstrued as signs of superficiality or workmanlike effort rather than inspiration and originality. Critical responses documented by Simmons suggest that just as the reputations of Schuman and Mennin as administrators often overshadowed their work as composers, so Persichetti’s immense standing as an educator colored the reception of his music. (At Juilliard, Persichetti taught students as diverse as Leonardo Balada, Leo Brouwer, Kenneth Fuchs, Philip Glass, Lowell Liebermann, and Peter Schickele; he also penned the classic pedagogical text Twentieth Century Harmony.)3 Simmons points out that Persichetti’s music is so diverse that limited engagement with only a few more-or-less randomly encountered pieces is unlikely to bring about a true appreciation of his skill, his personal voice, and his musical language. Whatever causes have limited the recognition of these composers, Simmons makes the case for a reevaluation of all three; but it is Persichetti in particular for whom his enthusiasm shines through most strongly.

In the book’s final chapter, Simmons quotes a 29–30 July 1981 interview with David Owens that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, in which Peter Mennin expressed a wish “that concertgoers, musicians, everybody, would not be concerned with what is ahead of the times, behind the times, or anything like that. They should listen in music for that which arouses them viscerally, as well as intellectually” (348). Certainly, the music of Schuman, Persichetti, and Mennin has the potential to viscerally arouse as well as intellectually stimulate. As to the question of lasting influence, Simmons suggests that several important contemporary composers such as John Harbison, Christopher Rouse, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich represent a continuation of Modern Traditionalism. Yet even if one does not embrace Simmons’s particular taxonomic approach to American music history, Voices of Stone and Steel is still a valuable entryway into a varied, compelling, and satisfying body of music.

1 Walter Simmons, Voices in the Wilderness: Six American Neo-Romantic Composers (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004).
2 Steve Swayne, Orpheus in Manhattan: William Schuman and the Shaping of America’s Musical Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
3 Vincent Persichetti, Twentieth Century Harmony: Creative Aspects and Practice (New York: W.W. Norton, 1961).

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Robert Ashley, Kyle Gann, University of Illinois Press, 2012. 184pp. ISBN: 978-0-25207-887-3. Paperback.
   Charissa Noble

   University of California, Santa Cruz

Since the death of Robert Ashley in March 2014, there has been a budding revival of interest in this innovative auteur, provocateur, and visionary in American opera. However, Kyle Gann’s interest in Ashley started many years earlier (he cites his first encounter with Ashley’s music during his adolescence) and his book is the result of sustained association with his subject. Part of the American Composers series published by the University of Illinois Press, Gann’s book provides an accessible, engaging, “behind-the-scenes” glance into Ashley’s life and works. Gann bases his study primarily on interviews and personal conversations with Ashley, which lends the work an intimate tone and reflects Gann’s devoted critical attention, fandom, and friendship. Ashley’s influence in the community of American experimentalism and his radically imaginative approach to musical activity warrants further scholarly investigation, for which Gann’s book serves as a critical starting point. This work is essentially divisible into two sections: a biographic narrative followed by several musical analyses of Ashley’s major operas, including Perfect Lives, Dust, and Celestial Excursions.

Gann’s perspective as a composer and critic (rather than as a musicologist) gives him license to make bold assertions that, while not empirically verifiable, often reveal keen insight. This stylistic feature, displayed in the book’s introduction, echoes Gann’s long term engagement as music critic for the Village Voice from 1986 to 1997. In fact, reference to one of Gann’s most famous articles, “Waiting for Monteverdi” (in which he predicts the eventual arrival of postminimalism’s creative messiah), finds its way into the introduction and neatly summarizes the author’s agenda: “Ashley is not only an opera composer but the greatest opera composer of the last half-century, and the most innovative opera composer since at least Harry Partch, if not Monteverdi” (2). Gann’s 1992 article foreshadows the thesis of this book: Ashley is the awaited “Monteverdi” of postminimalism and re-inventor of American opera. Gann continues his eschatological painting of Ashley’s historical importance a few paragraphs later: “He has blazed an independent path, devoid of models. The classical music world has no idea what to do with him. Experts on conventional opera frequently don’t even recognize his name.... Yet...he is the postmodern opera composer” (3). Gann employs these statements to clearly mark the path intended for his readers: Ashley as the archetypal outsider, the misunderstood genius, and the true American maverick.

Gann weaves an intricate social-historical tapestry of celebrities, academic monoliths, artists, and patrons throughout his narrative. He also pauses frequently to note similarities between events in Ashley’s life and those in his operas. Although at times this strategy disrupts the linear flow, Gann’s cache of pop-culture links to Ashley—ranging from Frank Sinatra to Iggy Pop—appeals to a broad audience. Moreover, the connections Gann draws between Ashley’s life and work help streamline the larger-scale continuity of the book, tying together the work’s biographical and analytical portions.

Gann sets up his maverick theme in the biographical section of the book through his emphasis on Ashley’s upbringing outside America’s vibrant cultural centers. By emphasizing this campestral background, Gann portrays Ashley as a self-made composer largely free of musical hegemony. He reinforces this point by emphasizing that Ashley’s early musical interest emerged from listening to the radio and records rather than formal musical training. Ashley recalls that he “didn’t see a person play the piano live” until he was fifteen and that his only piano teacher was “horrible” (10). Ashley’s anecdote about his unsuccessful piano lessons prefigures the friction he frequently experienced between his intuitive musicianship and established musical practice.

Ashley’s idiosyncratic approach to music continued to generate tension throughout his college years. Gann details Ashley’s aesthetic and ideological differences with the University of Michigan’s music department and particularly his struggles with composition professor Ross Lee Finney, who dismissed Ashley’s interest in “music being about the people who make it” (11). Gann follows discussions of Ashley’s nonconformist-streak with a description of his crucial role in the ONCE festival (1961–1966) and in the festival’s loosely-associated theater collective, the ONCE group, whose provocative activities challenged contemporary musical and social values.

Nevertheless, Gann points out the serendipity of Ashley’s thwarted attempts to gain recognition through the traditional university path, showing how these academic disappointments directed Ashley toward alternative communities. Gann contrasts Ashley’s rejection by Finney with the support offered by Gordon Peterson, director of the university’s Speech Research Institute. Peterson offered Ashley a special position at the lab that sparked a lifelong interest in the musicality of speech. Additionally, the dissolution of ONCE untethered Ashley from Ann Arbor through what seemed like the loss of a promising musical collective. Gann connects the disbanding of ONCE to Ashley’s later acceptance of a position at Mills College in the 1970s.

The stability of a faculty position at Mills liberated Ashley to begin his first major television opera project, Music with Roots in the Aether. In this work, Ashley explored techniques that would characterize his later television opera, Perfect Lives. Gann identifies these techniques as separating sound from image, framing speech as music, and composing collectively and spontaneously around a given theme. Once again, Ashley’s provocative musical views chafe against the conservative views of support institutions. At the advice of Howard Klein (director of the Rockefeller Foundation), Ashley’s funding proposal for Music with Roots in the Aether identified the opera as a “documentary.” By adopting this alternative framework, Ashley could realize his innovative vision of American opera. The citation of this event reinforces Gann’s maverick narrative and serves as well to emphasize Ashley’s inventive ways of turning obstacles into opportunities.

Once the narrative reaches Perfect Lives, Gann concludes the biographical section and launches into the second portion of the book: his analyses of Ashley’s operas. The level of musical detail in these original analyses is as of yet unparalleled in the literature on Ashley’s work, save for Kevin Holm-Hudson’s 1992 dissertation on Perfect Lives (which Gann cites). Since Ashley’s operas often border on the hermetic, Gann’s extensive concrete descriptions of Ashley’s compositional process and musical structures highlight features of the operas that can be studied empirically. Copious charts trace Ashley’s metrical templates, syllabic distribution within his opera’s durational segments, and reciting tones around which singers and instrumentalists improvise modally. Gann’s close attention to the structural features of Ashley’s operas provides a fresh perspective to the musical rigor of Ashley’s compositional process, which is sometimes obscured by his theatricality. These analyses pave the way for future scholarship on Ashley. At the same time, however, the reader unacquainted with Ashley’s work may have difficulty grasping the sounds and essential visual components of the operas. In the case of Perfect Lives, for instance, Gann gives little description of the work’s surface features, such as its timbral and textural elements; nor is there much discussion of how the visual and sonic elements interact to create the opera’s disjunct, music-video-like aesthetic. Considering its place in the introductory, reader-friendly American Composers series, this book’s musical specificity and detailed analyses—extremely useful to specialists such as this reader—can at times obscure a more general and holistic comprehension of Ashley’s work.

Ashley’s works are often literary; they generally involve a self-conscious acknowledgment of the performance space, and they are often communally-constituted through the rehearsal process. Like John Cage—a strong influence on him—Ashley was deeply engaged with cultural theory and philosophy. However, since books in the American Composers series are designed to be 200 pages or fewer, Gann’s choice to tip the balance in his work toward detailed accounts of Ashley’s musical structures precluded discussion of these other factors. Nonetheless, Gann contributes a much-needed empirical account of Ashley’s compositional processes. Although this reader would have welcomed more discussion of Ashley’s interviews and expository writing, Gann’s formalist analytical approach demonstrates that Ashley’s operas have far more complexity than has been previously acknowledged, balancing the common view of Ashley as primarily a conceptual composer or performance artist.

Gann has not attempted to write a dispassionate account of Ashley. As he plainly admits in his introduction, he has a specific agenda and adopts a revisionist approach in order to shed light on the little-known impact of Ashley’s contribution to American opera. To Gann’s credit, he makes no attempt to hide his biases and successfully mounts a convincing argument in defense of his explicit thesis that Ashley “is the greatest composer of American opera” (11). Through his intricately woven tapestry of biographical and musical details, Gann demonstrates Ashley’s virtuosic reforms to opera on every level, from its large-scale concept down to its finest musical details. Gann’s account of Ashley’s life and compositional activity on the fringes of the establishment deftly traces the emergence of Ashley’s radically new form of opera. Through this insightful and devoted book, we have a more complete picture of who Ashley was: innovator, visionary, and (as Gann reveals) true American maverick.

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Christian Wolff, Michael Hicks and Christian Asplund, University of Illinois Press, 2012. 118pp. ISBN: 978-0-252-07895-5. Paperback.
   Madison Heying

   University of California, Santa Cruz

Christian Wolff, co-authored by Michael Hicks and Christian Asplund of Brigham Young University, is part of University of Illinois Press’s American Composer series. This series presents concise, practical introductions of important, yet underrepresented composers. Christian Wolff fits well in it, providing the first biographical study of Wolff’s life and work with clear, succinct analysis that is accessible to a general audience. Wolff is best known as the youngest member of the New York School. Although he was active in John Cage’s circle as a teenager in the 1950s, he diverged from the group by serving in the army, studying classics at Harvard, and later by pursuing an academic career as a professor of classics and music at Dartmouth College. His pieces stem from fundamental questions about what it means for a group of people to make music, and how music-makers coordinate with one another. Thus, much of his career has been dedicated to developing compositional methods and notations that indicate how players are to interact, rather than the specific sounds they make, and gravitate towards heterophony and sparse textures.

While chronologically organized, the strategic inclusion of salient biographical information throughout the text places each work in the immediate context of Wolff’s familial, professional, ideological, political, and musical circumstances. Hicks and Asplund seamlessly interweave discussions of specific pieces with Wolff’s life events. The advantage of this approach is that the authors are able to fluently demonstrate stylistic traits that were present or developed over the course of Wolff’s career. A case in point is the discussion of Duet I (1960), in which Wolff explored the use of graphic, neume notation, an elaborate scheme of coded symbols that indicate cues and extended techniques. The authors assert: “Wolff continued to develop style traits he had shown as early as his teenage violin duo [Duo for Violins (1951)], where different relationships of starting and ending interact with the compulsive restriction of pitch” (32). Hicks and Asplund are careful to point out how aspects of Wolff’s biography influenced his music. For instance, after his children were born, Wolff adopted a compositional practice akin to “quilting”; it consisted of patching together fragments of previously used procedures, which allowed for frequent, unanticipated interruptions. According to the authors, Wolff’s time as an instructor and administrative assistant in the “team-oriented” army during the early-1960s motivated him to refine his ratio-neume notation to facilitate greater interaction and cooperation among the players.

The values of discipline, experimentation, and an egalitarian relationship among sounds, silence, and noise, undergird all of Wolff’s music. However, his work remains elusive of classification; as Hicks and Asplund stress: “If Wolff has a method of composing it is to overturn methods from piece to piece” (1). The difficulty of characterizing Wolff’s work also stems from his refusal to reject aspects of musical styles that were shunned by other New York School composers—such as improvisation and melody—as well as methods taken up by contemporaries such as Cardew, who embraced those musical qualities but spurned the compositional rigor and sterile procedural indeterminacy of the avant-garde as elitist. Thus, Wolff lies outside the established stylistic categories of mid-century experimental music. Hicks and Asplund deftly place Wolff’s work into rough stylistic periods based on his preferred compositional methods while at the same time maintaining the awareness that their framework is subjective, imposed to provide Wolff’s music with a sense of direction and order.

Although Wolff’s work resists sweeping generalizations, Hicks and Asplund emphasize a characteristic that is present in almost all of his compositions: the music is relational. Wolff considers his scores tools for making up a community through the act of making sound. He explains that his music is “not so much an expression of the player (or composer) as a way of connecting, making a community...sometimes involving internally fluid and precise, and transparent, lines of projections of connection” (2). For example, the indeterminate score for the previously mentioned Duet I consists of “coordination neumes” and written instructions that indicate not only how to select the pitch material but more importantly, how the players are to interact (32). As Wolff suggests: in this work, “strategies of listening and reacting trump pitch and rhythm as the fundamental structuring principles of the work” (32). This quotation also indicates that Wolff, like other members of the New York School, values music that encourages heightened listening and awareness. However, Wolff’s approach is distinctive in that his “pieces [are] about music making, not ‘music.’” His works shed light on how the practices of composing, performing, and listening relate to sound and human interaction (25).

Throughout the book Hicks and Asplund also highlight important personal relationships that served as formative influences on his life and work. Wolff’s friendship with John Cage plays a prominent role, as does his connection to other members of the New York School, including Cornelius Cardew, Frederic Rzewski, and Larry Polansky. The downside to this approach is that, Wolff tends to be overshadowed by his colorful friends and influences, which to some extent undermines the authors’ attempts to distinguish Wolff from the New York School. However, the attention paid to Wolff’s colleagues, mentors, and friends points to his place in a community of composers as well as humility—he is more apt to cite the work and influence of others than to tout his own originality or creative prowess.

One aspect of Wolff’s work that distinguishes him from his New York School peers is that in the late 1960s and 1970s his political convictions—primarily regarding the civil rights, anti-war movements, and communist sympathies—led him to become proactive. He began writing music that communicated political ideals and modeled an alternative structuring of society. This extra-musical influence prompted Wolff to employ melody and incorporate folk tunes (often altered) such as “Bread and Roses” and “There Once was a Union Maid” into his pieces. He also wrote many vocal works with text settings of folk songs or other political poetry such as I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman (1984). Wolff’s turn to heterophonic textures during this period was also influenced by his desire to let his music serve as a metaphor for self-reliant individuals working together towards a common goal.

In a discussion of Wolff’s political leanings, Hicks and Asplund highlight a tension between the aesthetic values of virtuosity and rigor on the one hand, and accessibility, simplicity, and flexibility on the other. This tension is apparent in Burdocks (1970–71), a multi-movement work for “orchestra” (five or more players). The score of this work consists of elaborate schemes of sonic material and instructions indicating how performers are to interact. The authors explain that “an elective political process undergirded the piece: players were to ‘gather and decide’ or ‘choose one or more representatives to decide’ which sections to play and in what order” (46). Although Burdocks has a flexible structure, which is determined by a democratic process, Wolff employed a different compositional and notational method for each of the ten sections; most are difficult to play because they require intense focus and interpretive discipline.

The authors tactfully convey the ways in which Wolff’s musical-political agenda placed him in a precarious position in the conflict between Cage and Cardew that escalated after Cardew published “John Cage: Ghost or Monster” in the early 1970s.1 Cardew’s article mocked Cage’s work and lambasted him as an imperialist for writing music without content that ignored “the people’s” struggles (49). Cardew sent a copy to Wolff. The authors subtly capture Wolff’s diplomacy and grace in handling the situation: Wolff crafted a carefully worded letter to Cardew affirming that he disliked Cage’s separation of his pacifist politics from his life and works, but he also gently chastised Cardew’s harshness and his over-simplified analysis of Cage. Wolff emphasized that above all, he desired “‘freedom’—including individual freedom—as an ideal that music could portray without text or vernacular affectations” (49).

The biographical information and details regarding Wolff’s compositions rely heavily on emails and unpublished interviews conducted by Hicks and Asplund with Wolff and his colleagues. The authors also cite Wolff’s personal correspondence with John Cage, Frederic Rzewski, Cornelius Cardew, John Tilbury, and others taken from Wolff’s home archive and the John Cage Collection. For example, the authors include quotations from Wolff’s correspondence with Rzewski that include letters dated as early as 1959 to emails sent in 2007; referring to this decades-long thread of communication lends a consistency of narrative to the work and also acts as a testament to the importance of Wolff’s long-lasting friendships.

In this slim, well-crafted introduction to Wolff’s life and music, Hicks and Asplund provide definition to Wolff’s body of work. They offer analytical tools that may aid scholars and performers by clarifying Wolff’s notational practices and instructions.

Ultimately the reader is left with a sense of how much Wolff valued freedom, individuality, discipline, and relationships, and how these values play out in his music and his roles as a father, friend, classicist, and composer. Hicks and Asplund sum up Wolff’s steadfast character and dedication to his career and community by referring to his 1963 PhD dissertation in classics, in which he studied the notion of survival in Euripides’s plays: “‘Private survival conflicts with efforts to save a community....’ But, Euripides suggests, life is still ‘a form of exile which is resolved only among friends, in a private world’” (87).

1 Cornelius Cardew, “John Cage: Ghost or Monster?” Listener, BBC Publications, May 4, 1972.

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Grateful Dead and the Art of Rock Improvisation, David Malvinni, Scarecrow Press, 2013. 296pp. ISBN: 978-0-81088-255-3. Hardback.
   Elisse C. La Barre

   University of California, Santa Cruz

Rock promoter Bill Graham once noted that the Grateful Dead are “not the best at what they do, they’re the only ones that do what they do” (5). David Malvinni’s book, Grateful Dead and the Art of Rock Improvisation analyzes this uniqueness and explores two ways the Grateful Dead can be distinguished from other rock bands of their era: first, the band’s approach to jam-based performances through group improvisation, and second, their unique relationship to audiences, which enhanced and propelled those innovative improvisational techniques (5). In the book’s seven chapters, Malvinni investigates the Dead’s hybrid musical style and instrumental improvisation development from the early years (1965–1975) to the death of Jerry Garcia (1995).

Malvinni teases out the intricate layers that weave through a topic steeped in bohemianism, the counterculture movement of the 1960s, and American vernacular musics. However, members of the Grateful Dead did not want to be identified as counterculture leaders nor did they (or the mainstream media) consider themselves “popular.” Thus the label “popular music” is in essence problematic although the band did achieve mainstream notoriety with a Top 10 album In the Dark and the single “Touch of Grey,” both from 1987. Instead of being weighed down by methodology and very aware of the knotty territory a musical analysis and study of the Grateful Dead would entail, Malvinni attempts to navigate the reader through the historical, musical, and social context of the band while simultaneously forming a parallel narrative on the history of rock improvisation.

Commentary on improvisation brings up complex issues involved with non-notated music, and Malvinni attempts to find a compromise between analyzing transcriptions of performances and the phenomenology behind the Dead’s style; because the Dead’s work is steeped in their interactions with psychedelic drugs and bohemianism, Malvinni would have been remiss if he only focused on specific performance transcriptions. Malvinni draws on some topics and themes from his essay, “‘Mr. Charlie Told Me So”: Heidegger and the Dead’s Early Assimilation to the Technology of the Blues” that appeared in The Grateful Dead in Concert: Essays on Live Improvisation, edited by Jim Tuedio and Stan Spector (2010), but expands the topic of Dead improvisation into a monograph that applies a postmodern perspective and commentary on how to listen and respond to the Dead’s innovative improvisational style. Malvinni’s methodological technique examines the Dead’s compositional output through a variety of approaches, including (but not limited to) harmonic analysis, set and tour charts, philosophic discourse, transcriptions, and interviews. The author widely references Graeme M. Boone’s work on the Dead as well as other studies of improvisation by Derek Bailey and Bennet Hogg.

By situating the Dead within the birth and development of counterculture, Malvinni concurrently provides a historical account of the Dead’s development along with the socio-cultural context of simultaneous movements in western classical music and jazz during the 1960s and 1970s. Malvinni constructs an argument that highlights the Dead’s innovative improvisational material in specific case studies while giving readers reference points steeped in modal jazz, rock, R&B, and western classical traditions.

Particularly useful are the two chapters dedicated to the Dead’s most famous jam-based song, “Dark Star” (1968). Malvinni not only uses the song as a case study for musicological analysis, but also includes commentary on what he calls the “Dead Experience” in an aesthetic and spiritual context: “‘Dark Star’ gets at the essence of what the Grateful Dead experience is supposed to be, namely, the transformation of the mundane, the commonplace, into a higher (literally and figuratively) consciousness” (75). Malvinni claims “Dark Star” cannot be “reduced to a template that follows the motions of another style and in fact starts to refer to itself and its own historical unfolding” (99).

Chapter 3, devoted to “Dark Star,” focuses on the aesthetics, spirituality, and historical aspects of the song. The Dead were hesitant about “Dark Star” being analyzed, believing the song to be an ineffable musical experience that exceeded any traditional concept of a rock song. Acknowledging the band’s reticence to have this song crystalized in a static discourse, Malvinni navigates the reader through the aesthetic aspects of the improvisational sections of “Dark Star.” Drawing on Graeme Boone’s tonal analysis of the “Dark Star Progression,” the author includes a detailed chronology of the evolution of the song and a historiography of the musical source materials the band derived from their interest in Charles Ives’s work (free polyphony and unmetered barring) and bass ostinatos from Miles Davis’s “So What” (87).

Utilizing “Dark Star” as the paramount example of the Dead’s improvisational development and expansion of modal jam songs, Malvinni theorizes, in chapter 4, that the Dead achieved an unprecedented level of new improvisational episodes in live performances of “Dark Star” that surpassed any other contemporary popular rock band’s improvisations, including Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive” from 1966 (99). Distilled to two types of the Dead-stylized improvisation: Type 1 and Type 2, “Dark Star” is an example of Type 2 (two verses with jam sections on either side and vocals that emerge organically from the oscillating harmonic areas). In chapter 5, Malvinni introduces the song, “Playing in the Band” (1974) as an example of the Dead’s departure in the mid 1970s from the “Dark Star’” modal jazz-based “spacy” jam style. An example of Type 1 improvisation, “Playing in the Band” is based on a jazz tune with a traditional melodic introduction (head) followed by solo and group improvisation before a restatement.

In essence, the book represents Malvinni’s attempt to employ complex analytical concepts to elucidate popular music. As in any investigation, the results are mixed. In his enthusiasm for his argument that the Dead were essentially a genre-bending band, Malvinni at times indulges in generalizations that fail to hold up under scrutiny and he occasionally omits evidence that would appear to undermine his theory. For example, Malvinni illustrates the importance of the Dead’s initial participation in the 1960s folk revival by presenting a broad history of folk song collecting and the issues of authenticity. This topic, of course, could constitute an entire chapter in itself, and its brief coverage here leads the author to omit several key historical concepts and figures. As a case in point, his brief overview of 1920s and 1930s folk-commercial distribution fails to provide a needed explanation of the recording equipment or music collecting techniques by early ethnomusicologists. (Bartók is introduced as a composer and folk song collector, but Alan Lomax is simply a “folklorist.”) Malvinni frames his argument for authenticity in folk music studies by claiming that the music chosen for Harry Smith’s 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music (used by the Dead as source material) only included recordings from 1927 to 1932 because they “still retained some of the regional qualities” before technology changed the sonic landscape of the United States (21). The author erroneously claims that “authentic” field recordings ended in 1932 because of the Great Depression, sweeping casually past any mention of the exhaustive collecting work in the 1930s and 1940s undertaken under the auspices of various federally funded programs, mostly within the WPA.

The author’s intensive research could have been tailored more effectively so as to focus less on philosophical theories (Deleuze, Heidegger, Derrida, et al.) and broader musical concepts and more on the Dead’s approach to improvisation, the music, and unique relationship with their fans. An expansion of the introduction to incorporate the presentation and definition of key concepts and terms for the non-specialist reader (i.e., “Deadness,” “Tiger Moment,” “X Factor”) would have helped frame the book more effectively. For example, Malvinni uses the term “Tiger Moment” in the second chapter without a definition; only in chapter 4 do we learn that it means a “total descent into chaotic dissonance” (128). Finally, in chapter 5, a detailed definition is given: “‘Tiger Jam’ is not really a chord progression so much as a meltdown section, which came to assume descending riffs (often four descending chromatic notes in stepwise motion) usually with distortion from Garcia but, more important, as a rhythmic release from the entire band” (151). The work would have also benefitted from more efficient copyediting, with special attention directed towards numerous typo corrections.

Although Malvinni’s arguments are difficult to follow at times, his detailed charts, transcriptions, and tables will prove very useful to both instructors and performers. Of particular note is the lengthy table 1.1, “Songs by and for African American Artists Covered by the Grateful Dead” (30–33). As opposed to other bands that covered songs to make instant hits, the Dead used them to generate source material for their live shows. Malvinni presents each song title, number of performances, dates, and original songwriters and performers for more than a hundred cover songs. Scholars and researchers will find this meticulous detail helpful.

The recent flood of books and articles about the Dead, including the Rolling Stone report, “The Dead After Jerry,” accompanying the 2015 farewell concert tour of the surviving Dead band members (Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, and Bob Weir), is likely to stimulate a new generation of listeners and a revival of interest in the band’s works. Band members Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart have already authored several books and drummer Bill Kreutzmann recently published an autobiography in May 2015. Malvinni’s book serves as a useful guide through the intricacies of the Dead’s improvisational acumen and achievement for interested rock musicians and scholars.

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Bulletin Board

Mark Clague
Mark Clague

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced in July $1.7 million in grants to enable the publication of 36 nonfiction books that will bring important humanities scholarship into book clubs and onto best-seller lists. These are the first awards made under NEH’s new Public Scholar grant program, which was created in December 2014 as part of The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square, an agency-wide initiative that seeks to bring humanities into the public square and foster innovative ways to make scholarship relevant to contemporary life. SAM member Mark Clague received a $50,400 grant for his project O Say Can You Hear?: A Tuneful Cultural History of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The book will share the forgotten and misunderstood musical history of Francis Scott Key’s song and reveal how the song's story presents a surprising social history of the United States.

In connection with Mark’s project, the Star Spangled Music Foundation is delighted to announce the publication of the Star Spangled Songbook has just been published. Released on September 1, it includes 73 sheet music editions connected to the history of the anthem and American patriotic song, in performance-ready scores. Mark attributes much of the project’s success to the support of Susan Key, executive director of the Star Spangled Music Foundation, and its social media channels on Youtube and at He continues, “I’m honored by the NEH award but even more thrilled by the new Public Scholar program that encourages all academics to write for a broad public audience. The story of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” like America's music history as a whole, has much to say about the nation's ongoing experiment in participatory democracy as both politics and music require that we make our voices heard.”

Brian Thompson has published the first English-language biography of Calixa Lavalláe, the composer of “O Canada.” Although born in Canada, Lavalláe spent much of his professional life in the US, first as musical director of minstrel troupes, and later as a composer and performer of American music. When he died, he was hailed as the “Lafayette of American music.” The book is titled Anthems and Minstrel Shows: The Life and Times of Calixa Lavallée, 1842–1891 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015; ISBN 9780773545557). For further information see

Joe Horowitz received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from DePauw University on May 17. The Degree cited Horowitz as “a defining voice in reshaping how we think about and perform classical music in the United States and around the world.” Horowitz has been a key player in DePauw’s effort to rethink the template for music education at the undergraduate level; he curated a “Dvorak and America” festival at Depauw this past fall in which the entire student body of the School of Music participated. Meanwhile, he continues to direct “Music Unwound,” a national orchestral consortium supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The members of the consortium produce cross-disciplinary festivals in collaboration with universities and schools of music. The topics in play are “Dvorak and America,” “Copland and Mexico,” and “Charles Ives’s America.” A third cycle of funding, if secured, would additionally support “Kurt Weill’s America.” The participating scholars include Michael Beckerman, Roberto Kolb, Kim Kowalke, Lorenzo Candelaria, Peter Burkholzer, Tim Carter, and art historian Tim Barringer. The participating orchestras and schools, past and pending, are the Buffalo Philharmonic, the North Carolina Symphony, the Pacific Symphony, the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Brevard Music Festival, the New Hampshire Music Festival, the Las Vegas Philharmonic, the Louisville Orchestra, the El Paso Symphony, and the South Dakota Symphony (which brings Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony to two Indian reservations). The projects generate scripts and visual materials that have been made available to additional orchestras and music schools.

In addition, Joe’s PostClassical Ensemble (based in Washington, DC) undertakes an all-American season in 2015–16, including a multi-week Bernard Herrmann festival (culminating with a conference and concerts April 15 to 17), a March 12 Lou Harrison program (which PCE will record for Naxos), and a Daniel Schnyder weekend (including the world premiere of a concerto for pipa and orchestra on May 1). The participating scholars will include Neil Lerner, Christopher Husted, and Bill Alves. Finally, Joe is just completing his eleventh book—an apologia for Wagner.

Flutist Peter H. Bloom served as artist-in-residence at the Snow Pond Composers Workshop (June 2015), where he gave premieres of 11 new works written for the occasion, including music by faculty members Elliott Schwartz, Richard Nelson and Edward Jacobs, as well as compositions by workshop participants. Also in June, Bloom gave a lecture/demonstration for the National Meeting of the American Musical Instrument Society at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, featuring flutes by the illustrious 19th century American maker Alfred G. Badger. Contact Peter at

David and Ginger Hildebrand at Decatur House
David and Ginger Hildebrand at Decatur House

A special Bicentenary Essay by David K. Hildebrand was published in American Music (32:3, Fall 2014), “Two National Anthems? Some Reflections on the Two Hundredth Anniversary of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and its forgotten partner, ‘The Battle of Baltimore.’” This article breaks new ground through an examination of two songs appearing one after the other in National Songster, or A Collection of the Most Admired Patriotic Songs (Hagers-Town [Maryland]: John Gruber and Daniel May, 1814). One, Francis Scott Key’s “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” would eventually (in 1931) become our national anthem, and the other, a “Yankee Doodle” parody entitled “The Battle of Baltimore,” would enjoy some popularity but fall into obscurity. While dealing with the same critical historical event, the highly differing texts are compared in both content and style, and also connected to the symbolic choice of their respective melodies.

In addition, David and Ginger Hildebrand will perform in Fredericksburg, VA, Saturday October 03, 2015. Their program focuses on James Monroe and the music surrounding his important moments in American history. Based upon period sources entirely, the program will include spoken commentary and involve use of appropriate instruments including violin, Spanish guitar, English and German flutes, spinet, hammered dulcimer, and voices. Sponsored by the James Monroe Museum, in Fredericksburg, VA, details on the program are posted at Selections will include “The President’s March,” composed by a Hessian musician captured when Monroe fought at the Battle of Trenton in 1776, and the 1817 hit song “Monroe is the Man!”

Arthur Bird
Arthur Bird

Artis Wodehouse is set to record a full CD of Arthur Bird’s (1856–1923) music for the American Harmonium in September at the Dumbarton Methodist Church in Georgetown, Washington D.C., to be released by Raven Records. Bird’s harmonium music has never before been recorded, but its breadth and quality set a benchmark for music written for the American reed organ. Bird was an ex-pat American whose music, though successfully published and performed in Europe, never achieved traction in the United States. Conservative, but a born melodist, a brilliant orchestrator and a master of compositional craft, Bird was ideally suited to write for the reed organ.

Conference News
SAM members are encouraged to periodically check the Golden Pages website ( for updated information about additional forthcoming conferences in musicology.

The Society for Ethnomusicology 2015 Annual Meeting will be held on December 3–6 in Austin, Texas, with the University of Texas at Austin serving as the host institution. In conjunction with this event, the University of Texas will hold a pre-conference symposium, titled “Music, Property and Law,” on December 2.

Proposals for papers or lecture-performances are invited for the 22nd conference on wind music of the International Society for the Promotion and Research of Wind Music (IGEB) to be held in Oberwölz, Austria, July 21–26, 2016. The deadline for proposals is January 29, 2016. Papers focusing on the theme of the conference, “Wind Music in Society,” are especially invited, but papers on any aspect of wind music and research in progress are welcome. The lectures can represent the entire field of humanities in relation to wind music: musicology, ethnology, philosophy, sociology, and educational sciences. Papers will be considered for future publication in the Alta Musica series. Researchers are encouraged to submit abstracts of works in progress. Send a one-page abstract to Bernhard Habla ( and Doris Schweinzer ( Registration materials and further information may be found at In addition, IGEB invites nominations for the 2016 IGEB Research Award (formerly the Thelen Prize). Nominations, including self-nominations, are invited for dissertations in the field of wind music research completed between 2011 and December 2015. Dissertations may be on any subject concerning wind music, in any language, from any country, worldwide. In addition to a plaque, the winner will be invited to present a paper at the 2016 meeting. For further information see:

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The Bulletin of the Society for American Music

The Bulletin is published in the Winter (January), Spring (May), and Summer (September) by the Society for American Music. Copyright 2015 by the Society for American Music, ISSN 0196-7967.

Editorial Board
Editor: Laura Moore Pruett (
Reviews Editor: Ryan Bañagale (
Design and Layout: Ryan Ebright (

Items for submission should be submitted to Laura Moore Pruett as an attachment to e-mail. Photographs or other graphic materials should be accompanied by captions and desired location in the text. Deadlines for submission of materials are 15 December, 15 April, and 15 August.

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Awards, Fellowships, and Subventions of the Society

Further information is available at the website ( or by contacting the SAM office [].

Student Travel Grants
Available for student members who wish to attend the annual conference of the Society for American Music and intended to help with the cost of travel. Students receiving funds must be members of the Society and enrolled at a college or university.

Mark Tucker Award
Awarded at the annual SAM conference recognizing a student who has written an outstanding paper for presentation at that conference.

Cambridge University Press Award
This award is presented to an international scholar (not a student) for an outstanding paper presented at the annual conference.

Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award
The Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award annually recognizes a single dissertation on American music for its exceptional depth, clarity, significance, and overall contribution to the field.

H. Earle Johnson Bequest for Book Publication Subvention
The Johnson Subvention is given to support the costs of the publication of a significant monograph on an important topic in American Music. Two subventions of up to $2,500 may be awarded annually.

Sight and Sound Subvention
The Sight and Sound Subvention provides financial assistance to facilitate the publication of non-print material concerning American music. Such material may include film, DVD, CD and other audio/visual formats, radio programs, website development, or other projects that further the Society’s mission and goals. One subvention of up to $900 is awarded annually.

Irving Lowens Memorial Book and Article Awards
The Lowens Award is presented annually for an exceptional book and article that make important contributions to the study of American music or music in America.

Adrienne Fried Block Fellowship
The Block Fellowship supports scholarly research leading to publication on topics that illuminate musical life in large urban communities, focusing on the interconnections and the wide range of genres present in these metropolitan settings.

Paul Charosh Independent Scholar Fellowship
The Paul Charosh Independent Scholar Fellowship is intended to foster research by independent scholars, and to encourage their participation in Society conferences. For purposes of this award, an “independent scholar” is someone who does not teach at an institution of higher learning, or who does so with a non-renewable contract of one year or less.

John and Roberta Graziano Fellowship
This fellowship shall be given to support scholarly research in all genres of music that originated in the United States in the nineteenth century, as well as other music performed in North America during that historical period.

Hampsong Education Fellowship in American Song
The Hampsong Fellowship supports projects developed by educators who wish to explore the repertory of American classic song as a means to understand the broader narrative of American history and culture.

Judith McCulloh Fellowship
The fellowship is given annually to support a short-term research residency at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Awarded competitively to scholars at any phase of their careers, the fellowship may be used to support expenses associated with the residency, such as travel expenses, lodging, and duplication expenses at the center.

Virgil Thomson Fellowship
The Virgil Thomson Fellowship is awarded competitively to scholars at any phase of their careers whose interest is focused on the history, creation, and analysis of American music on stage and screen, including opera.

Judith Tick Fellowship
This fellowship, endowed in honor of Judith Tick, is awarded competitively to scholars at any phase of their careers to support scholarly research leading to publication on topics that have been the focus of Prof. Tick’s distinguished career: women’s music-making across time and musical genres, musical biography, and source studies in American music.

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