American Musical Traditions, 1st Edition

  • Editor: Jeff Todd Titon
  • Published By:
  • ISBN-10: 002864624X
  • ISBN-13: 9780028646244
  • DDC: 781.62
  • Shipping Weight: 11.35 lbs ( 5.15 kgs)
  • 1044 Pages | Print | Hardcover
  • © 2002 | Published



Prepared in conjunction with the Smithsonian/Folkways Archives, this set highlights the contributions of Native American, European-American, African American and immigrant groups (including Asian, Hispanic, Western and Eastern European cultures) to our rich musical heritage. Within each volume, different groups or genres of music are examined in terms of how they are performed. Maps, charts and photos show how the music has grown and spread and the interrelationships between musical cultures. Biographies of musicians are included in sidebars, and terms are defined throughout the text.

Included in the set are five volumes:

  • Volume I: Native American Music
  • Volume II: African-American Music
  • Volume III: British Isles Music
  • Volume IV: European American Music
  • Volume V: Latino and Asian-American Music

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  • Jeff Todd Titon


"The first three volumes of this set, which will be welcome to a variety of collections, represent areas that have received the most attention from musical scholars: Native American, African American, and the British Isles. Increased research on the music of European, Spanish American, and Asian American immigrant groups provides material for the fourth and fifth volumes. The work reflects both recent research by folklorists and ethnomusicologists and previously published information from the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Many essays are drawn from booklets that accompany the Smithsonian recordings and program guides from the Festival of American Folklife. Each volume contains a comprehensive index and glossary, along with many maps and photographs. The CIP record catalogs this set in juvenile literature, and while many high school students will gain useful knowledge from it, the writing is pitched for older general readers and college students. Recommended." -- CHOICE (April 2002)

— Choice

"This scholarly and professionally produced set of hard-back volumes is a deep source of sociologically related musical information about some of the peoples who have contributed to American culture. This is a new addition to an extensive collection of excellent ethnomusicological materials generated under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution... This is an excellent reference set. There is a wealth of information in these five volumes put together by expert scholars... as the make-up of America keeps changing in ways no one could have expected 100 years ago, there is a need for more ethnographical information, particularly that related to the cultures of native Americans and recent immigrants. This is a set that should be in every public school library and perhaps in every music classroom." -- American Music Teacher (September/October 2002)

— American Music Teacher

"This reference focuses on the traditional music tied to particular people and places. ... The articles within each volume are written by folklorists and ethnomusicologists whose research centers on musical traditions in the United States. ... The five volumes are arranged according to ethnic groups. ... Each volume begins with an introduction by a specialist in the area under discussion. Following the introduction, there are two primary focuses: essays on communities and examples of their music, and interviews or profiles of particular musicians and musical groups. The signed articles and essays include details such as the kinds of music identified with the ethnic group; how the music has been used in social, religious, or ceremonial situations; the instruments used to create the music; and the people who have composed or performed the music. ... Readers will be attracted to the beautiful and colorful cover designs--a different one for each volume. Whether used for general browsing or for research, this reference will be a valuable addition to high school, public, and academic libraries." -- ARBA (2002)


"Imagine that you have the entire Smithsonian Folkways Recordings collection in the jukebox and further imagine that sitting around you in the pub are the people who wrote the liner notes, all in a talkative mood, explaining the history, context, and instruments as you listen to the music. American Musical Traditions may be the closest you will get to that experience. "This is not a traditional A-Z encyclopedia of music but rather a collection of more than 100 essays that was conceived to 'reflect recent research by folklorists and ethnomusicologists on the one hand, and the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklore and Cultural Heritage on the other.' These essays are aimed not only at the music scholar but at all who would like to enjoy a deeper understanding of U.S. musical heritage... "This work is not for an audience looking for two pages on Celtic music, but it is for libraries with strong music collections or that want to provide a source of unique information for traditional or folk musicians in their communities. Though there is overlap with the more scholarly and comprehensive 'United States and Canada' volume of The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (1994), American Musical Traditions treats some topics in greater detail, and students may find it more accessible. Just be sure to have an Internet connection nearby with headphones so that users can listen to the Folkways samples." -- Booklist (May 2002)

— Booklist

"As Titon states in his introduction, this work is not intended to be an exhaustive study but rather a spicy stew, a mosaic, and a mix giving a flavor of the wide range of regional and ethnic music still evolving in our country...This is an excellent resource for large public or secondary school libraries, particularly those with sizable music collections and those located in communities with active local folk-music scenes." -- School Library Journal (May 2002)

— School Library Journal

"Folklorists and ethnomusicologists wrote essays specifically highlighting their research on varied musical traditions in the United States. These comprise the American Musical Traditions volumes. This "American Mosaic" is further enhanced by materials solicited from the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage...Most definitely a wealth of information for the music instructor. A must have for the library shelf!" -- Catholic Library World (June -- August 2002)

— Voice of Youth Advocates