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Recorded Music in American Life : The Phonograph and Popular Memory, 1890-1945 - William Howland Kenney

Recorded Music in American Life

The Phonograph and Popular Memory, 1890-1945

Hardcover Published: 1st May 1999
ISBN: 9780195100464
Number Of Pages: 288

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Have records, compact discs, and other sound reproduction equipment merely provided American listeners with pleasant diversions, or have more important historical and cultural influences flowed through them? Do recording machines simply capture what's already out there, or is the music somehow transformed in the dual process of documentation and dissemination? How would our lives be different without these machines? Such are the questions that arise when we stop taking for granted the phenomenon of recorded music and the phonograph itself.
Now comes an in-depth cultural history of the phonograph in the United States from 1890 to 1945. William Howland Kenney offers a full account of what he calls "the 78 r.p.m. era"--from the formative early decades in which the giants of the record industry reigned supreme in the absence of radio, to the postwar proliferation of independent labels, disk jockeys, and changes in popular taste and opinion. By examining the interplay between recorded music and the key social, political, and economic forces in America during the phonograph's rise and fall as the dominant medium of popular recorded sound, he addresses such vital issues as the place of multiculturalism in the phonograph's history, the roles of women as record-player listeners and performers, the belated commercial legitimacy of rhythm-and-blues recordings, the "hit record" phenomenon in the wake of the Great Depression, the origins of the rock-and-roll revolution, and the shifting place of popular recorded music in America's personal and cultural memories.
Throughout the book, Kenney argues that the phonograph and the recording industry served neither to impose a preference for high culture nor a degraded popular taste, but rather expressed a diverse set of sensibilities in which various sorts of people found a new kind of pleasure. To this end, Recorded Music in American Life effectively illustrates how recorded music provided the focus for active recorded sound cultures, in which listeners shared what they heard, and expressed crucial dimensions of their private lives, by way of their involvement with records and record-players.
Students and scholars of American music, culture, commerce, and history--as well as fans and collectors interested in this phase of our rich artistic past--will find a great deal of thorough research and fresh scholarship to enjoy in these pages.

"Recorded Music in American Life is thoroughly and thoughtfully documented. General readers will be impressed with the wide range of biographical information (Louis Armstrong, "Fiddlin' John" Carson, Enrico Caruso, W.C. Handy, Billy Murray, Bessie Smith, John Philip Sousa); musicology and historians will marvel at the breadth of sociological, psychological, and popular-culture resources Kenney brings to bear on this fascinating topic. Sound-recording archivists will applaud the author's research approach." Notes "Detailed studies of the phonograph and recorded music are seriously lacking. A book such as this is long overdue, and Kenney's work will open the field of study in a most appropriate and scholarly manner. This is a valuable and useful contribution to the study of American life."--Sam Brylawski; Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division; Library of Congress "At last someone has attempted to place the phonograph industry in the context of America's cultural life. This book provides the first systematic attempt at integrating the entertainment medium broadly into twentieth-century American life . . . makes claims that have been in need of debate for some time now."--Victor Greene, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee "Recorded Music in American Life is thoroughly and thoughtfully documented. General readers will be impressed with the wide range of biographical information (Louis Armstrong, "Fiddlin' John" Carson, Enrico Caruso, W.C. Handy, Billy Murray, Bessie Smith, John Philip Sousa); musicology and historians will marvel at the breadth of sociological, psychological, and popular-culture resources Kenney brings to bear on this fascinating topic. Sound-recording archivists will applaud the author's research approach." Notes "Kenney captures the imagination as he weaves together detail and insight, chronicling strains of elitism within the various recording companies and the adoption of jazz tunes and other popular music....This book is a must read for those interested in the recording industry or the history of popular music. It also sets a high standard for graduate students seeking to read works that incorporate excellent research technique and understanding with superb writing."--Journal of History "Detailed studies of the phonograph and recorded music are seriously lacking. A book such as this is long overdue, and Kenney's work will open the field of study in a most appropriate and scholarly manner. This is a valuable and useful contribution to the study of American life."--Sam Brylawski; Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division; Library of Congress "At last someone has attempted to place the phonograph industry in the context of America's cultural life. This book provides the first systematic attempt at integrating the entertainment medium broadly into twentieth-century American life . . . makes claims that have been in need of debate for some time now."--Victor Greene, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee "A fascinating exploration of the topic and addition to the literature; highly recommended for all libraries."--Choice "In this comprehensive study, Kenney provides a long-overdue update of histories such as Roland Gelatt's The Fabulous Phonograph: From Tin Foil to High Fidelity...[he] asks innovative theoretical questions."--American Historical Review

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introduction Recorded Music and Collective Memoryp. xi
Two """"Circles of Resonance"""" Audience Uses of Recorded Musicp. 3
The Coney Island Crowdp. 23
His Master's Voicep. 44
The Phonograph and the Evolution of """"Foreign"""" and """"Ethnic"""" Recordsp. 65
The Gendered Phonographp. 88
African American Blues and the Phonograph from Race Records to Rhythm and Bluesp. 109
Economics and the Invention of Hillbilly Records in the Southp. 135
A Renewed Flow of Memoriesp. 158
Popular Recorded Music Within the Context of National Lifep. 182
Notesp. 203
Indexp. 234
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195100464
ISBN-10: 0195100468
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 1st May 1999
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.28 x 16.56  x 2.24
Weight (kg): 0.58