Imagining Native America in Music

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Yale University Press, Oct 1, 2008 - Music - 448 pages
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This book offers a comprehensive look at musical representations of native America from the pre colonial past through the American West and up to the present. The discussion covers a wide range of topics, from the ballets of Lully in the court of Louis XIV to popular ballads of the nineteenth century; from eighteenth-century British-American theater to the musical theater of Irving Berlin; from chamber music by Dvoˆrák to film music for Apaches in Hollywood Westerns.Michael Pisani demonstrates how European colonists and their descendants were fascinated by the idea of race and ethnicity in music, and he examines how music contributed to the complex process of cultural mediation. Pisani reveals how certain themes and metaphors changed over the centuries and shows how much of this “Indian music,” which was and continues to be largely imagined, alternately idealized and vilified the peoples of native America.
 

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This type of book suggests, on the most part, information that is not common knowledge to just any musician...or, perhaps, just a listener of Irving Berlin's works. A good writer would not suggest terminology through a reader's eyes that are not culturally specific when referring to "Indianism" in this book. As such, for the writer to suggest that all "Indian Music" -- phrasing it as such, though imagined, his verbiage would, therefore, not recognize the cultural significance by suggesting all "Indian music" through only one's imagination reflected something other than tribal specific "Indianism." How ludicrous can a writer even begin when the reader is shortchanged immediately by a societal term that is not even recognized in today's language. As well, any good theorist could determine who wrote the scores of Berlin's work -- not enough study was examined to sway one's imagination in a direction that is counterproductive to the book's overall purpose. Was it Berlin who wrote the scores only through his imagination of what Native American music sounded like to him? There's no record that indicates whether it was from Berlin's imagination or sensory skills from his own path in life. 

Contents

A Language for Imagining Native America
1
I New World Americans
15
II Exotic Peoples Exotic Sounds
77
III Nostalgia for a Native Land
159
III Americans Again
241
Conclusion
330
Appendix 1 Fortynine Parlor Indian Songs and Ten Parlor Instrumental Works 1802 1860s Arranged Chronologically
333
Appendix 2 Selected List of Instrumental Character Pieces Musical Tribal Portraits
336
Notes
341
Bibliography
383
Index
415
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About the author (2008)

Michael V. Pisani is associate professor of music at Vassar College.

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