June 2nd, 2015


Title: African American Music: An Introduction (2nd edition)

Editors: Mellonee V. Burnim, Portia K. Maultsby

Publisher: Routledge

Formats: Paperback (466 p.), Hardcover, eBook

Publication date: 2015


The second edition of African American Music: An Introduction, edited by Mellonee V. Burnim* (Professor of Ethnomusicology in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University) and Portia K. Maultsby* (Laura Boulton Professor Emerita of Ethnomusicology in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University) was recently published by Routledge. The collection of seventeen essays presents a survey of major African American musical genres, both sacred and secular, from slavery to the present, and is divided into four sections: Antebellum Formations and Manifestations (1600s-); Post Bellum: Music in Transition (late 1800s-); Music in Migration: Urban Voices (1900s-); Post Civil Rights and Beyond (1960s-).

To better serve introductory courses in African American Music or African American History, the text of this edition has been substantially revised and updated. Included are new essays on African and African American musical continuities, African-derived instrument construction and performance practice, techno, and vocal quartet traditions. Contributions are by leading scholars in the field who bring together various analyses of African American music based on ethnographic fieldwork, which privileges the voices of the music-makers themselves, woven into a richly textured mosaic of history and culture. At the same time, the book incorporates musical treatments that bring clarity to the structural, melodic, and rhythmic characteristics that both distinguish and unify African American music. Musical transcriptions, photographs, illustrations, a discography and videography, and a new accompanying audio CD bring the music to life.

Burnim and Maultsby are currently at work on Volume 2, of the second edition, Issues in African American Music, which is slated for publication in 2016.

* Dr. Mellonee V. Burnim is the current director of the Archives of African American Music and Culture, while Dr. Portia K. Maultsby is the Archives’ former director and founder.

Reviewed by Jude Orakwe

Review Genre(s): African American Media, Publications


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