Sounds of the New Deal

Sounds of the New Deal : The Federal Music Project in the West

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Description

At its peak, the Federal Music Project (FMP) employed nearly 16,000 people who reached millions of Americans through performances, composing, teaching, and folksong collection and transcription. In Sounds of the New Deal , Peter Gough explores how the FMP's activities in the West shaped a new national appreciation for the diversity of American musical expression. From the onset, administrators and artists debated whether to represent highbrow, popular, or folk music in FMP activities. Though the administration privileged using "good" music to educate the public, in the West local preferences regularly trumped national priorities and allowed diverse vernacular musics to be heard. African American and Hispanic music found unprecedented popularity while the cultural mosaic illuminated by American folksong exemplified the spirit of the Popular Front movement. These new musical expressions combined the radical sensibilities of an invigorated Left with nationalistic impulses. At the same time, they blended traditional patriotic themes with an awareness of the country's varied ethnic musical heritage and vast--but endangered--store of grassroots music.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 22.86mm | 657.71g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252039041
  • 9780252039041

Review quote

"Sounds of the New Deal is not only an important contribution to the cultural history of the Great Depression, but it promises to transform the way in which historians connect culture with politics when studying the era. Gough's keen attention to intra-a "This book changes the lens on the New Deal music programs. By taking a long view (1935-43) and a regional focus (eight western states), Gough shows these projects to be more politically left, more culturally diverse, more subject to the influence of women, and more productive of performance treasures than previously suspected."--Christine Bold, author of The Frontier Club "Reading Gough's book has given me an understanding of that extraordinary decade during which the music of the United States was discovered (much as the Europeans 'discovered' North America). Just as important, I have learned what my parents were doing at that time, for they never told us, literally, what their roles were in the projects."--Peggy Seeger, from the foreword
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About Peter Gough

Peter Gough is an assistant professor of history at California State University, Sacramento.
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