Book Review

Review—Speak it Louder: Asian Americans Making Music

Wong's book takes an ethnographic approach in exploring the social and political construction of Asian American identities through music. Case studies include Laotian song, Cambodian music drama, karaoke, Vietnamese pop, Japanese American taiko, Asian American hip hop, Asian American listeners, and Asian American improvisational music. Wong draws on feminist theories of performativity, viewing musical performance is a form of cultural work with the potential to articulate and affect identity politics, especially with regard to interethnic contact.

Review—Rhythm Science


Stewart remarks that Paul D. Miller-better known as DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid-has created "a manifesto of sorts for the digital age." Stewart believes that Rhythm Science belongs in the first rank of theories of improvisation, because it views DJ culture in terms of improvisatory musical traditions associated with the African diaspora, and because Miller's writing style itself is improvisatory,"like the improvised freestyle of a hip hop MC."

Review—Prinzip Improvisation


To Duval, German jazz vibraphonist Christopher Dell approached writing Prinzip Improvisation ("The Improvisation Principle") as he approaches performing music, preferring improvisation to premeditated structure. The book is therefore an attempt to grapple with the problem of using language to describe jazz' fluid musical processes, and a nonlinear text which an active reader may choose to interpret in his or her own way.

Review—Playing Ad Lib: Improvisatory Music in Australia 1836-1970


In Playing Ad Lib, musicologist John Whiteoak explores improvisation in music that was never recorded. His evidence consists of print sources and anecdotes from throughout Australia. These include incomplete scores, published execution "methods" (e.g., for playing ragtime), snippets of advertisements, and published stories.

Review—Minute Particulars: Meanings in Music-Making in the Wake of Hierarchical Realignments and Other Essays


To Scott Thompson, Prévost "nail[s] to the mast" the idea that musical practice can help to foster communitarianism. For Prévost, music at its root is comprised of the social relationships between those involved in its creation. By championing communitarian social relations in particular, Prévost identifies operational aspects of improvisation as the means by which to enact such relations in the process of music-making, during which musicians actively search for appropriate musical responses in dialogue with those around them.

Review—Appel, Ellington, and the Modernist Canon


Appel's book views mid-20th century jazz through a modernist lens and finds it a worthy part of that "great tradition" in the arts. Lewis believes that this approach, while valid in its intent, overlooks the unique features of jazz that make it most compelling as art. He argues that European modernists and African-American jazz musicians had different understandings of apparently similar themes, such as a primitive African "utopia", or of techniques such as collage.

Review—Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop

Guthrie Ramsey's Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop explores the lationship between music and African American identity. Surveying an array of black music styles, Ramsey asks how African Americans have identified themselves in music. He draws upon his experience as a jazz and gospel pianist and his family's participation in the Great Migration to generate an ethnographic method that positions family narrative at the intersection of racial identity and musical expression.

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