Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow


Product Details

Duke University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.25 X 1.0 inches | 1.12 pounds

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About the Author

Karl Hagstrom Miller is an Assistant Professor who teaches in the History Department and the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music at the University of Texas, Austin.


"[T]he most thorough achievement thus far in a growing body of scholarship and criticism demystifying and dissecting the roots of American music, and by extension the American music industry. . . . Miller goes several steps further than prior bodies of research, tracing back the artificial distinction to a confluence of marketing, scholarship, and music classification decisions, each driven to some degree by the prevailing racial attitudes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries." - Mark Reynolds, PopMatters
"In this head-banging, eye-opening study, Karl Hagstrom Miller examines with stunning clarity the historical and material grounding of the music industry's three main revenue streams: live performance, recording, and publishing. Along the way, he demonstrates how the notion of authenticity in folklore discourse, systemic Jim Crow, and minstrelsy legacies worked together to calcify our contemporary--and quite naturalized--perceptions about music and racialized bodies.If you ever wondered where MTV, CMT, VH1, and BET got their marketing logic, look no further. In fact, you'll never experience a Billboard chart, nor the words 'keep it real' in the same way after reading this book!"--Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr., author of Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop
"In this fascinating study of the nature of music, those who study music, and the music business, Miller explains how musicologists and folklorists tried drawing hard lines during the late 19th and early 20th centuries between what they considered music of the folk (poor black and, sometimes, white, Southern musicians) and more worldly pop music. [T]he author displays an incredible depth of knowledge and presents an important history of music."--Library Journal
"Scrupulously researched, engagingly written, and bursting with ideas, Segregating Sound asks readers to reengage with the origins of folk and pop music in a manner that offers a roadmap to the future, rather than simply a dismantling of the past."--John Dougan "Journal of Southern History "
"[A] marvelous reappraisal of early 20th century American musical culture. . . . [Miller's] book is rich with examples of folklorists or academics heading south in search of something 'elemental' and pure, and editing out anything that didn't fit. And there was a lot." - Hua Hsu,
"Segregating Sound provides a convincing and far-reaching argument that the duality within southern music developed out of three factors in the latter part of the nineteenth century: the rise of political and economic segregation, the academic professionalization of folklore, and the modernization of the music industry. . . . Segregating Sound is a valuable and interesting work that anyone working in cultural studies should consult."--Kenneth J. Bindas "Register of the Kentucky Historical Society "
"[B]rilliant . . . . Miller is the first scholar to take the overwhelming presence of popular music in the South seriously and to weave the story of changing ideas about what makes music 'authentic' into the history of what musicians from the South were actually playing and what people were actually listening to. Segregating Sound tells the stories of the varied cast of characters who invented the category of southern music, a significant part of what is called 'folk' or 'Americana' or 'roots' music today and understood as part of the American musical canon."--Grace Hale "Southern Spaces "
"Miller . . . provides a fascinating exploration of the segregation of commercial music in the US during the course of the 20th century. . . . Supported by extensive notes, this study adds considerably to the already extensive literature on the blues and country music."--R. D. Cohen "Choice "
"Ultimately Miller's study succeeds because it questions many assumptions about folk and pop music, and about the commercial music business and the academic folklore world."--Rory Crutchfield "Popular Music "
"A cultural exploration and, in part, a polemic, Segregating Sound is at once a social history, musical history, business history and an intellectual history. . . . Miller is an engaging writer who regularly turns memorable phrases. Thickly researched and cogently argued, Segregating Sound makes a thought-provoking, very likely lasting contribution to how we think about and relate to American musical genres."--Barry Mazor "American Songwriter "