Music of the Common Tongue: Survival and Celebration in African American Music

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University Press of New England, 1998 - African Americans - 495 pages
Extending the inquiry of his early groundbreaking books, Christopher Small strikes at the heart of traditional studies of Western music by asserting that music is not a thing, but rather an activity. This new work outlines a theory of what Small terms "musicking," a verb that encompasses all musical activity from composing to performing to listening to a Walkman to singing in the shower. Using Gregory Bateson's philosophy of mind and a Geertzian thick description of a typical concert in a typical symphony hall, Small demonstrates how musicking forms a ritual through which all the participants explore and celebrate the relationships that constitute their social identity. This trip through the concert hall will have readers rethinking every aspect of their musical worlds.

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