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Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop

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This powerful book covers the vast and various terrain of African American music, from bebop to hip-hop. Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., begins with an absorbing account of his own musical experiences with family and friends on the South Side of Chicago, evoking Sunday-morning worship services, family gatherings with food and dancing, and jam sessions at local nightclubs. This lay This powerful book covers the vast and various terrain of African American music, from bebop to hip-hop. Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., begins with an absorbing account of his own musical experiences with family and friends on the South Side of Chicago, evoking Sunday-morning worship services, family gatherings with food and dancing, and jam sessions at local nightclubs. This lays the foundation for a brilliant discussion of how musical meaning emerges in the private and communal realms of lived experience and how African American music has shaped and reflected identities in the black community. Deeply informed by Ramsey's experience as an accomplished musician, a sophisticated cultural theorist, and an enthusiast brought up in the community he discusses, Race Music explores the global influence and popularity of African American music, its social relevance, and key questions regarding its interpretation and criticism. Beginning with jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel, this book demonstrates that while each genre of music is distinct—possessing its own conventions, performance practices, and formal qualities—each is also grounded in similar techniques and conceptual frameworks identified with African American musical traditions. Ramsey provides vivid glimpses of the careers of Dinah Washington, Louis Jordan, Dizzy Gillespie, Cootie Williams, and Mahalia Jackson, among others, to show how the social changes of the 1940s elicited an Afro-modernism that inspired much of the music and culture that followed. Race Music illustrates how, by transcending the boundaries between genres, black communities bridged generational divides and passed down knowledge of musical forms and styles. It also considers how the discourse of soul music contributed to the vibrant social climate of the Black Power Era. Multilayered and masterfully written, Race Music provides a dynamic framework for rethinking the many facets of African American music and the ethnocentric energy that infused its creation.


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This powerful book covers the vast and various terrain of African American music, from bebop to hip-hop. Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., begins with an absorbing account of his own musical experiences with family and friends on the South Side of Chicago, evoking Sunday-morning worship services, family gatherings with food and dancing, and jam sessions at local nightclubs. This lay This powerful book covers the vast and various terrain of African American music, from bebop to hip-hop. Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., begins with an absorbing account of his own musical experiences with family and friends on the South Side of Chicago, evoking Sunday-morning worship services, family gatherings with food and dancing, and jam sessions at local nightclubs. This lays the foundation for a brilliant discussion of how musical meaning emerges in the private and communal realms of lived experience and how African American music has shaped and reflected identities in the black community. Deeply informed by Ramsey's experience as an accomplished musician, a sophisticated cultural theorist, and an enthusiast brought up in the community he discusses, Race Music explores the global influence and popularity of African American music, its social relevance, and key questions regarding its interpretation and criticism. Beginning with jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel, this book demonstrates that while each genre of music is distinct—possessing its own conventions, performance practices, and formal qualities—each is also grounded in similar techniques and conceptual frameworks identified with African American musical traditions. Ramsey provides vivid glimpses of the careers of Dinah Washington, Louis Jordan, Dizzy Gillespie, Cootie Williams, and Mahalia Jackson, among others, to show how the social changes of the 1940s elicited an Afro-modernism that inspired much of the music and culture that followed. Race Music illustrates how, by transcending the boundaries between genres, black communities bridged generational divides and passed down knowledge of musical forms and styles. It also considers how the discourse of soul music contributed to the vibrant social climate of the Black Power Era. Multilayered and masterfully written, Race Music provides a dynamic framework for rethinking the many facets of African American music and the ethnocentric energy that infused its creation.

30 review for Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop

  1. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I enjoyed nearly everything about this book, including its essay-type structure and reliance upon personal stories, anecdotes, and interviews. Writing about music critically must contain some subjectivity because it's the most personal and social of all major art forms. I was kinda frustrated by the the last two chapters, one about hip-hop as seen through film and the other about contemporary gospel. Those two lost some of the personal charm of the first 6, as they dove headlong into critical the I enjoyed nearly everything about this book, including its essay-type structure and reliance upon personal stories, anecdotes, and interviews. Writing about music critically must contain some subjectivity because it's the most personal and social of all major art forms. I was kinda frustrated by the the last two chapters, one about hip-hop as seen through film and the other about contemporary gospel. Those two lost some of the personal charm of the first 6, as they dove headlong into critical theory (which I love) and technical composition (which I can appreciate). While I can appreciate the author's willingness to bridge the generational divide between the blues and jazz of the first 3/4 of the book, I feel he should have spent time with the jazz, R&B, and funk of the '60s and '70s before immediately moving into the '80s and '90s. The jump in tone, focus, and substance was too jarring for my tastes, especially if your intention is to cover the terrain from Bebop to Hip-Hop.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Starbubbles

    the book is disjointed due to the fact that it's a complation of articles, essays, and parts of other books. but it's well written. there is some intellectual theory that gets in the way, but that's what makes it a scholary work. i'm not exactly sure he defined "ethnomusicology" correctly. but, he defined it for his own purposes, so i guess it works. there is also a personal dialog as well as discussion of collective memory bue to his belief that music is a memory site. there is also discussion the book is disjointed due to the fact that it's a complation of articles, essays, and parts of other books. but it's well written. there is some intellectual theory that gets in the way, but that's what makes it a scholary work. i'm not exactly sure he defined "ethnomusicology" correctly. but, he defined it for his own purposes, so i guess it works. there is also a personal dialog as well as discussion of collective memory bue to his belief that music is a memory site. there is also discussion of cultural spaces which was interesting. people behave differently due to the cultural space they are currently occuping. like you behave differently when you're at church than when you're at the bar. of course there was discussion of music history as well as the black power movement. but the social movement really took a back seat to the personal experiences. which is i guess okay. he took for granted about people remembering that music connects with the movements b/c the artists themselves were affected by it. it would have been nice to see it better spelled out and how it related back to the african american cultural identity.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Callie

    I love the way this author alternates between his personal experience and scholarly research. I learned a lot and was engaged through the whole book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marxist Monkey

    Music is personal. The personal is social. The social is historical. History is often best learned through music. This book tells all those stories. It will learn you.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jonah Francese

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Baber

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jane

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ole-Martin Ihle

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wylie

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alex Henrie

  11. 5 out of 5

    Abe Musselman

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Dailey

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey W.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dianna

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rayanzehn

  17. 4 out of 5

    Denby Gardiner

  18. 4 out of 5

    Allie Scott

  19. 4 out of 5

    Denise DeFelice

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Sherman

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jess

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bob Cat

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Lyssy

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Swanston

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aaliyah

  28. 5 out of 5

    Soulstar

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aatqa Arham

  30. 5 out of 5

    James Rosenberg

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