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Overview

Bands were playing, people were dancing, the music business was booming. It was the big-band era, and swing was giving a new shape and sound to American Culture. Swing Changes looks at New Deal America through its music and shows us how the contradictions and tension within swing - over race, politics, its own cultural status, the role of women - mirrored those played out in the larger society.
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Editorial Reviews

London Review of Books

David Stowe is...the first writer to have attempted a systematic history of the relationship between jazz and New Deal America...An interesting book.
— E. J. Hobsbawm

Journal of American History

[An] excellent achievement. [Stowe] has placed swing at center stage in jazz history, linked it to the New Deal, and helped make it worth the attention of historians who have too long ignored America's musical past.
— Lewis A. Erenberg

American Scholar

Swing Changes, with its emphasis on the importance of social elements in the creation of meaning in swing, is an excellent example of how jazz and other arts are being studied now in some quarters of the academy. Stowe writes in a clear style and with a thorough knowledge of swing-era American history.
— John Bostwick

Borderlines: Studies in American Culture

In Swing Changes, Stowe admirably illustrates how swing, an all-American, progressive, leftist and anti-Nazi musical form, initially exemplified an ideal of racial and cultural co-operation. It shows, with a fitting sense of betrayal, how swing was rapidly co-opted by the forces of political conservatism, social divisiveness and militaristic might which it had initially challenged. Drawing upon a wide range of documents, from eyewitness accounts, to photographic and filmic material, radio, press and music magazine features, Stowe thus traces the progressive 'whitening' of an African American cultural form at the hands of a flourishing culture industry. Swing had become the music of white middle-American Republicanism, a transformation which Swing Changes traces with all the seriousness of the scholar and elegizes with the passion of an aficionado. It is an important book, of equal interest to the Americanist, the musicologist and the non-specialist. It swings.
— Linnie Blake

American Studies

David Stowe's contention is that big-band swing, with its emphasis on regimented performances in which soloists made their personal contributions to the collective whole, was analogous to'the notion of a cooperative commonwealth central to Franklin Roosevelt's vision of America'...Swing Changes offers some fresh perspectives on music as 'social practice'—with a wealth of pertinent material...in the accompanying Notes.
— John White

London Review of Books - E. J. Hobsbawm
David Stowe is...the first writer to have attempted a systematic history of the relationship between jazz and New Deal America...An interesting book.
Journal of American History - Lewis A. Erenberg
[An] excellent achievement. [Stowe] has placed swing at center stage in jazz history, linked it to the New Deal, and helped make it worth the attention of historians who have too long ignored America's musical past.
American Scholar - John Bostwick
Swing Changes, with its emphasis on the importance of social elements in the creation of meaning in swing, is an excellent example of how jazz and other arts are being studied now in some quarters of the academy. Stowe writes in a clear style and with a thorough knowledge of swing-era American history.
Borderlines: Studies in American Culture - Linnie Blake
In Swing Changes, Stowe admirably illustrates how swing, an all-American, progressive, leftist and anti-Nazi musical form, initially exemplified an ideal of racial and cultural co-operation. It shows, with a fitting sense of betrayal, how swing was rapidly co-opted by the forces of political conservatism, social divisiveness and militaristic might which it had initially challenged. Drawing upon a wide range of documents, from eyewitness accounts, to photographic and filmic material, radio, press and music magazine features, Stowe thus traces the progressive 'whitening' of an African American cultural form at the hands of a flourishing culture industry. Swing had become the music of white middle-American Republicanism, a transformation which Swing Changes traces with all the seriousness of the scholar and elegizes with the passion of an aficionado. It is an important book, of equal interest to the Americanist, the musicologist and the non-specialist. It swings.
American Studies - John White
David Stowe's contention is that big-band swing, with its emphasis on regimented performances in which soloists made their personal contributions to the collective whole, was analogous to'the notion of a cooperative commonwealth central to Franklin Roosevelt's vision of America'...Swing Changes offers some fresh perspectives on music as 'social practice'--with a wealth of pertinent material...in the accompanying Notes.
London Review of Books
David Stowe is...the first writer to have attempted a systematic history of the relationship between jazz and New Deal America...An interesting book.
— E. J. Hobsbawm
American Studies
David Stowe's contention is that big-band swing, with its emphasis on regimented performances in which soloists made their personal contributions to the collective whole, was analogous to'the notion of a cooperative commonwealth central to Franklin Roosevelt's vision of America'...Swing Changes offers some fresh perspectives on music as 'social practice'--with a wealth of pertinent material...in the accompanying Notes.
— John White
Journal of American History
[An] excellent achievement. [Stowe] has placed swing at center stage in jazz history, linked it to the New Deal, and helped make it worth the attention of historians who have too long ignored America's musical past.
— Lewis A. Erenberg
American Scholar
Swing Changes, with its emphasis on the importance of social elements in the creation of meaning in swing, is an excellent example of how jazz and other arts are being studied now in some quarters of the academy. Stowe writes in a clear style and with a thorough knowledge of swing-era American history.
— John Bostwick
Borderlines: Studies in American Culture
In Swing Changes, Stowe admirably illustrates how swing, an all-American, progressive, leftist and anti-Nazi musical form, initially exemplified an ideal of racial and cultural co-operation. It shows, with a fitting sense of betrayal, how swing was rapidly co-opted by the forces of political conservatism, social divisiveness and militaristic might which it had initially challenged. Drawing upon a wide range of documents, from eyewitness accounts, to photographic and filmic material, radio, press and music magazine features, Stowe thus traces the progressive 'whitening' of an African American cultural form at the hands of a flourishing culture industry. Swing had become the music of white middle-American Republicanism, a transformation which Swing Changes traces with all the seriousness of the scholar and elegizes with the passion of an aficionado. It is an important book, of equal interest to the Americanist, the musicologist and the non-specialist. It swings.
— Linnie Blake
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674858268
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 0.70 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David W. Stowe is Associate Professor of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures and director of American Studies at Michigan State University.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Understanding Swing

1. The Tempo of the Time

Song of the Jitterbug

New Venues, New Audiences

2. Between Conjure and Kapital

The Big Bringdown

As American as Baseball and Hotdogs

We Are All Americans

Just Rich Men's Sons

3. The Incorporation of Swing

Anyone Can Lead a Dance Band

Broadcasting Swing

The Jukes Take Over

Are Colored Bands Doomed?

Passing in Hollywood

4. The Conscription of Swing

Soldiers of Music

The Theater of Race

The Gender Front

5. Swing and Its Discontents

Tension Music and Concertitis

Smothering the Market

Crewcut, Jarb, Swixibop

Swing Redux

6. Cracks in the Coalition

That Modern Malice

Jazz Is America's Own Epilogue: Shall We Dance?

Notes

Index

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