I’m now diving into American music in earnest now; traditional and native ballads, musicals, orchestral music – a strange statement to make as I have always been listening to American music of this and other types practically my whole life, so what is different today?
What is unusual here in the concentration on American music. Already I feel myself recoiling from this nationalistic concept. Personally, I find it very hard to accept or even classify music along national lines. Even though Kingman in his book “American Music” is laying out a strong case for the establishment of a uniquely American series of musical forms – an argument that is irrefutable – I feel unhappy about it. Perhaps it is because I see music more as the product of individuals, who just happen to be living in one particular place. Maybe it is because whatever arguments any one nationalist is using are being used in precisely the same way and towards the same ends by his or her nationalist counterpart in another country! But, ultimately, this feeling derives more from the events of the past two weeks than anything else. The level of incompetence and failed leadership exhibited by government at all levels in response to Hurricane Katrina is not going to make anyone feel proud of a country represented by such lamentable qualities. At least the people have come through! But I expect more.