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Conventional WisdomThe Content of Musical Form$
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Susan McClary

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780520221062

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520221062.001.0001

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Thinking Blues

Thinking Blues

Chapter:
(p.32) Chapter 2 Thinking Blues
Source:
Conventional Wisdom
Author(s):

Susan McClary

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520221062.003.0002

This chapter discusses the blues, which has provided the basis for so many genres of African American and popular musics throughout this century, and provides two principal reasons for focusing on this genre. First, blues can help academic music study out of a longstanding methodological impasse: the chapter draws on blues as a clear example of a genre that succeeds magnificently in balancing convention and expression. Second, any account of twentieth-century Western music must dwell extensively on the blues in its various manifestations because this is the music that has most shaped our era. Finally, the blues-based repertory deserves our careful attention simply because it contains so much superb music, and this is among the principal reasons we bother to study any repertory.

Keywords:   blues, African American music, genre, convention, expression

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