Powerful and embracive, The Transformation of Black Music explores the full spectrum of black musics over the past thousand years as Africans and their descendants have traveled around the globe making celebrated music both in their homelands and throughout the Diaspora. Authors Samuel A. Floyd, Melanie Zeck, and Guthrie Ramsey brilliantly discuss how the music has blossomed, permeated present traditions, and created new practices. As a companion to the ground-breaking The Power of Black Music, this text brilliantly situates emerging, morphing, and influential black musics in a broader framework of cultural, political, and social histories.
Grappling with subjects frequently omitted from traditional musical texts, The Transformation of Black Music is guided by more than just the ideals of inclusivity and representation. This work covers overlooked topics that include classical musicians of African descent, and builds upon the contributions of esteemed predecessors in the field of black music study. Providing a sweeping list of figures rarely included in conventional music history and theory textbooks, the text elucidates the findings of ethnomusicologists, cultural historians, Americanists, Africanists, and anthropologists, and weaves these accounts into a powerful and informative narrative. Taking its readers on a journey – one that has never been attempted in a single volume alone – this book reflects the musical phenomena generated by forced African migration and collective memory, and considers the kinds of powerful stories that these musics were meant to tell.
Filling in critical musical and historical gaps previously ignored, authors Floyd, Zeck, and Ramsey infuse an engaging musical dialogue with a deeper understanding of the interrelationships between black musical genres and mainstream music. The Transformation of Black Music will solidify not only the inestimable value of black musics, but also the importance and relevance of black music research to all musical endeavors.
“A bold, brilliant, behemoth contribution to the fields of music, cultural and historical studies. This comprehensive treatise will forever change how we hear, understand and converse about the expansive legacy and rich contributions of ‘black musics’ across the African Diaspora over time. By far Floyd’s most significant masterpiece!” – Emmett G. Price III, Executive Editor, Encyclopedia of African American Music
“The Transformation of Black Music reflects the range of curiosity and thinking of a musician and academic pioneer who has tackled the complexities of the African Diaspora from the perspective of an expert whose methodological boldness, leavened by personal humility, has made him a central figure in American music scholarship” – Richard Crawford, Hans T. David Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan
“Professor Floyd’s last major work stands with Amiri Baraka’s Blues People, Albert Murray’s Stomping the Blues and Thompson’s Flash of the Spirit as one of the most elucidating studies of African music and its legacy.”–Downbeat The authors document the flow of black music from West Africa but also East Africa to the Americas and elsewhere (e.g., India). The emphasis is on classical music at the expense of more popular kinds of black music (the book includes a separate index for classical composers and performers), and what nonclassical music is discussed is mostly circum-Caribbean…The book expresses the hope that folk and popular black music will be inspiration for a black classical music, as was the case in Europe…Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty” –F. J. Hay, Appalachian State University, Choice
About the Author
Samuel A. Floyd Jr. is Founder and Director Emeritus of the Center for Black Music Research, which he established in 1983 at Columbia College Chicago. During his tenure at the CBMR, he authored/edited five books, launched two periodical series-including the Black Music Research Journal, and published numerous articles. He has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for American Music and has been named an Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society.
Melanie Zeck is Managing Editor of the Black Music Research Journal, the peer-reviewed journal of the Center for Black Music Research (CBMR). Trained as a music librarian and historian, she joined the CBMR in 2005 to provide fact-finding and fact-checking services for the Center’s staff and constituents. In this capacity, she has collaborated with and provided extensive informational support for researchers worldwide on a broad range of topics in black music research and history.
Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. is the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop and The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History and the Challenge of Bebop.