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Listening for America

Listening for America

Inside the Great American Songbook From Gershwin to Sondheim

Book - 2019
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"Few people in recent memory have dedicated themselves as devotedly to the story of twentieth-century American music as Rob Kapilow, the composer, conductor, and host of the hit NPR music radio program, What makes it great? Now, ...he turns his keen ear to the Great American Songbook, bringing many of our favorite classics to life through the songs and stories of eight of the twentieth century's most treasured American composers--Kern, Porter, Gershwin, Arlen, Berlin, Rodgers, Bernstein, and Sondheim. Hardly confining himself to celebrating what makes these catchy melodies so unforgettable, Kapilow delves deeply into how issues of race, immigration, sexuality, and appropriation intertwine in masterpieces like Show boat and West Side story. A book not just about musical theater but about America itself, ...equally for the devotee, the singer, the music student, or for anyone intrigued by how popular music has shaped the larger culture"--
Publisher: New York : Liveright Publishing Corporation, [2019]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781631490293
Branch Call Number: 782.42164 K1411L 2019
Characteristics: xvii, 460 pages : music ; 25 cm


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Nov 07, 2020

Intense discussion of 16 songs from Broadway and movie musicals, with context (often wider than the original – Kern at least hated songwriting book musicals because he had to fit in context rather than doing whatever he wanted) and examples -- which are both printed in the book and hearable online (with markers tracking the piano-vocal scores as they're performed) -- a huge benefit for anyone (i.e., most of us) who can't immediately hear in their mind what they see in sheet music. All but the last one (“Finishing the Hat”) also show what an ordinary composer might have done to contrast with what the expert did. Some of his conclusions about context are arguable (by other writers, both of our times and closer to the originals) but this is overall a fascinating and worthwhile work for anyone with any interest in popular song (of which show music was a huge part in the period mostly covered).


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