Tawa, Nicholas, E. High-Minded and Low-Down: Music in the Lives of Americans, 1800-1861 (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000)

Publisher blurb:

From America's beginnings, our homes, churches, and public spaces have resounded with music. A preeminent musicologist now explores the relevance of music to Americans during the country's formative years, from the dawn of the nineteenth century to the Civil War. Rather than reexamining composers or musical compositions, Nicholas E. Tawa focuses instead on the cultural interests and values of antebellum Americans - men and women, white and black, wealthy and poor, educated and uneducated, sophisticated and uncultivated - to show how their tastes in music reflected their times. By looking back at how people thought about music, what they expected of it, how they acquired it, and how they employed it in their daily activities, Tawa seeks to determine how music enriched their lives and helped establish the national identity. Distilling thirty years of research in a vast array of primary sources, Tawa depicts scenes of domesticity and worship, wooing and recreation, toil and travel, illustrating how the music of a citizenry struggling to define its government evolved from ordinary, everyday experiences. His book recreates the spirit that helped bind a young nation together and holds up a new and valuable mirror to early American musical life and society.

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