Review by Choice Review
This jambalaya of a book takes on nothing less than the full spectrum of US music. Each of its 20 chapters focuses on a single topic, using various methodologies. Starting with Victoria Levine's cogent, fascinating survey of Native American music, Nicholls (Keele Univ., UK) devotes the first half of the book (nine chapters) to music before the 20th century--sacred and secular, vernacular and cultivated, European American, African American. The 11 chapters on the 20th-century treat folk, jazz, rock, film, and stage music; art music is addressed by considering tonal traditions and serialism separately, with a chapter reserved for avant-garde and experimental music. This reviewer was drawn particularly to Jonathan Bernard's "Tonal Traditions in Art Music since 1960," a beautifully written, well-organized look at postmodern US classical music. One significant omission is a chapter devoted to women; although composers such as Amy Cheney Beach and Ellen Taafe Zwilich are discussed in other settings, much remains to be told, perhaps in a future edition. In addition, only four of the 19 contributing scholars are women. With this exception, readers will find something here for almost every interest. Also, a feature many will find useful is the excellent bibliography provided for each chapter. Highly recommended for all collections. E. Gaub; Grinnell College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.