American Traditional Music

MET IS 419

Traditional American music is a dynamic cultural medium that defines identity and community. It is transmitted by long-practiced modes of observation and imitation, and it engages talented musicians who are part of a long-lived cultural continuum. It is based upon a collective understanding of what tradition is, but it is necessarily altered in each generation as new musicians bring their training, insights, talents, and instruments to the process. The result- never entirely harmonious, always uneasy- holds a continuing power to speak to adherents and new listeners alike. It is not merely the tune that us transmitted in the traditional process, but also a portion of the social fabric that bound the tune as it was played in the past. How traditional music has evolved into the current popular American musical forms, and the history of the creation of a hybrid, but distinctively national, music will be explored in lectures, musical examples, and readings from some of the leading scholars of American traditional music.

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