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Identifying music as a vital site of cultural debate, Struggling to Define a Nation captures the dynamic, contested nature of musical life in the United States.
In an engaging blend of music analysis and cultural critique, Charles Hiroshi Garrett examines a dazzling array of genres—including art music, jazz, popular song, ragtime, and Hawaiian music—and numerous well-known musicians, such as Charles Ives, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Irving Berlin. Garrett argues that rather than a single, unified vision, an exploration of the past century reveals a contested array of musical perspectives on the nation, each one advancing a different facet of American identity through sound.
List of Illustrations ix
1. Charles Ives’s Four Ragtime Dances and “True American Music” 17
2. Jelly Roll Morton and the Spanish Tinge 48
3. Louis Armstrong and the Great Migration 83
4. Chinatown, Whose Chinatown? Defining America’s Borders with Musical Orientalism 121
5. Sounds of Paradise: Hawai’i and the American Musical Imagination 165
Conclusion: American Music at the Turn of a New Century 215