The Guitar in America offers a history of the instrument from America's late Victorian period to the Jazz Age. The narrative traces America's BMG (banjo, mandolin, and guitar) community, a late 19th-century musical and commercial movement dedicated to introducing these instruments into America's elite musical establishments.
Using surviving BMG magazines, the author details an almost unknown history of the guitar during the movement's heyday, tracing the guitar's transformation from a refined parlor instrument to a mainstay in jazz and popular music. In the process, he not only introduces musicians (including numerous women guitarists) who led the movement, but also examines new techniques and instruments.
Chapters consider the BMG movement's impact on jazz and popular music, the use of the guitar to promote attitudes toward women and minorities, and the challenges foreign guitarists such as Miguel Llobet and Andres Segovia presented to America's musicians.
This volume opens a new chapter on the guitar in America, considering its cultivated past and documenting how banjoists and mandolinists aligned their instruments to it in an effort to raise social and cultural standing. At the same time, the audiobook considers the BMG community within America's larger musical scene, examining its efforts as manifestations of this country's uneasy coupling of musical art and commerce.
As is to be expected of anything published by a University Press, this is a well-researched, scholarly work. It covers primarily the mid-nineteenth century to the 1920's. The author designated this as the prehistory of the role of the guitar in musical form. It also only alludes to the physical changes made to the instrument as time and usage progressed. It was interesting to learn that the essential difference between English and Spanish guitars was not so much design as whether the strings were of wire or gut. Much referencing is based upon the periodicals of the early twentieth century promoting the mandolin and banjo, with the guitar taking least place. These periodicals were not only biased, but vested in promoting a given manufacturer. In the later years, these publications also lauded and promoted well-known performers of the day.
Once again, Jack Chekijian uses his professional expertise to keep the narrative from becoming boring, yet pacing the work so as to allow ease of note-taking.
This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review
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