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The Invention of 'Folk Music' and 'Art Music'
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Book description

We tend to take for granted the labels we put to different forms of music. This study considers the origins and implications of the way in which we categorize music. Whereas earlier ways of classifying music were based on its different functions, for the past two hundred years we have been obsessed with creativity and musical origins, and classify music along these lines. Matthew Gelbart argues that folk music and art music became meaningful concepts only in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and only in relation to each other. He examines how cultural nationalism served as the earliest impetus in classifying music by origins, and how the notions of folk music and art music followed - in conjunction with changing conceptions of nature, and changing ideas about human creativity. Through tracing the history of these musical categories, the book confronts our assumptions about different kinds of music.


Review of the hardback:'The Invention of 'Folk Music' and 'Art Music' is an important work with a wealth of interesting things to say to students of the Enlightenment and the Romantic Revival. It represents a major contribution to the field.'

William Donaldson - author of The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society, 1750–1950, Eighteenth-Century Scotland

Review of the hardback:'In the enormity of its subject matter and breadth of its learning - delightfully leavened by and almost colloquial writing style that somehow manages to combine informality with precision - The Invention of 'Folk Music' and 'Art Music' is an indispensable addition to the general history of Western musical culture.'

Julian Onderdonk Source: Current Musicology

Review of the hardback:'This excellent book is part of a series entitled 'New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism' dedicated to creating 'a greater space for music in the ongoing discourse among the human sciences … Reading such sound scholarship was a great pleasure. Gilbert has used a wide range of sources judiciously and intelligently. His rational and humane approach allows him to draw out what is best in the work of even some contentious scholars … this rich and suggestive book should benefit anyone who wishes to understand the intellectual background to studies of tradition, and I highly recommend it.'

Paul Cowdell Source: Folklore

Review of the hardback:'… crammed Russian doll-like with information … an important contribution to understanding how national doctrines become international paradigms, how the 'origins of music' originated, and how we as musicologists originated, too.'

Source: Music and Letters

Review of the hardback:'… this thoughtful and important book … brings forward a vital development in the history of European musical thought which should be of abiding interest to scholars everywhere …'

Source: Journal for the Society of Musicology in Ireland

'… a very fine book that wants to be widely read - by musicologists, ethnomusicologists, and literary scholars interested in pursuing the historical interconnections between their fields.'

Source: Journal of the American Musicological Society

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