GLENDA GOODMAN Viewing American music from a transatlantic perspective is nothing new. Take Josiah Flagg, who adopted just such a perspective in 1764 when he preemptively apologized to readers of his new collection of sacred music. Fretting that anyone with nascent patriotic leanings would take umbrage at the number of British tunes in his Collection of the Best Psalm Tunes (Boston, 1764), Flagg was quick to point out that "however we are oblig'd to the other Side of the Atlantick chiefly, for our Tunes, the Paper on which they are printed is the Manufacture of our own Country." The tunes were imported, but at least the paper was locally sourced. In fact, Flagg's concern was unfounded (and perhaps exaggerated). Although on the doorstep of the American Revolution, most colonists blithely purchased as many imported goods as they could afford. But his decorous handwringing speaks to an underlying issue: when it comes to so-called American music, how do local and transatlantic elements interact? And what do those interactions tell us about the nature, significance, and history of American music? Today scholars of American music--whether conceived of hemispherically or narrowed to a nation-specific definition--are taking up such questions with gusto.
American Music – University of Illinois Press
Published: Jan 14, 2015