A Language of Song: Journeys in the Musical World of the African Diaspora

A Language of Song: Journeys in the Musical World of the African Diaspora

By: Samuel B. Charters (author)Hardback

1 - 2 weeks availability

£81.70 RRP £86.00  You save £4.30 (5%) With FREE Saver Delivery


In A Language of Song, Samuel Charters-one of the pioneering collectors of African American music-writes of a trip to West Africa where he found "a gathering of cultures and a continuing history that lay behind the flood of musical expression [he] encountered everywhere ...from Brazil to Cuba, to Trinidad, to New Orleans, to the Bahamas, to dance halls of west Louisiana and the great churches of Harlem." In this book, Charters takes readers along to those and other places, including Jamaica and the Georgia Sea Islands, as he recounts experiences from a half-century spent following, documenting, recording, and writing about the Africa-influenced music of the United States, Brazil, and the Caribbean. Each of the book's fourteen chapters is a vivid rendering of a particular location that Charters visited. While music is always his focus, the book is filled with details about individuals, history, landscape, and culture. In first-person narratives, Charters relates voyages including a trip to the St. Louis home of the legendary ragtime composer Scott Joplin and the journey to West Africa, where he met a man who performed an hours-long song about the Europeans' first colonial conquests in Gambia. Throughout the book, Charters traces the persistence of African musical culture despite slavery, as well as the influence of slaves' songs on subsequent musical forms. In evocative prose, he relates a lifetime of travel and research, listening to brass bands in New Orleans; investigating the emergence of reggae, ska, and rock-steady music in Jamaica's dancehalls; and exploring the history of Afro-Cuban music through the life of the jazz musician Bebo Valdes. A Language of Song is a unique expedition led by one of music's most observant and well-traveled explorers.

Create a review

About Author

Samuel Charters is a renowned and influential ethnomusicologist whose many books on music include A Trumpet around the Corner: The Story of New Orleans Jazz; The Blues Makers; The Roots of the Blues: An African Search, winner of an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award; Robert Johnson; The Life, the Times, the Songs of Country Joe and the Fish; The Bluesmen; and The Country Blues. In recognition of his writing, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1994. Charters is a Grammy-winning music producer, who has made many recordings as well as a documentary film, The Blues. He is also the author of four novels, numerous books of poetry, and a memoir.


A Note 1. A Griot's Art: The Story of Everything 1 2. Canaries-Canarios: A New Music in an Old World 17 3. Go Down Chariot: The Georgia Sea Islands and Fanny Kemble. The Slavery Spirituals, Lydia Parrish and Zora Neale Hurston 37 4. Skiffles, Tubs and Washboards: Good Time Music before the Blues 62 5. Red Clark's List: New Orleans Street Jazz and the Eureka Brass Band in the 1950s 81 6. A Dance in Ragged Time: "Shake the World's Foundation with the Maple Leaf Rag" 105 7. Gal, You Got to Go Back to Bimini: The Bahamas, Its Rhymers, and Joseph Spence 133 8. Pretenders, Caressers, Lions, and a Mighty Sparrow: Trinidad's Sweet Calypso 152 9. It Be Like Thunder if a Man Live Close: Nights in Trinidad's Pan Yards 178 10. Reggae Is a New Bag: Kingston Streets, Kingston Nights 203 11. To Feel The Spirit: Gospel Song in the Great Churches of Harlem 230 12. A Prince of Zydeco: Louisiana's Zydeco Blues and Good Rockin' Dopsie 254 13. 'Como se llama este ritmo? Bebo Valdes, the Music of Cuba, and the Buena Vista Social Club 283 14. Bahia Nights: Carnival in Brazil's Black World 308 Notes 335 Bibliography 339 Index 343

Product Details

  • publication date: 06/05/2009
  • ISBN13: 9780822343585
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 368
  • ID: 9780822343585
  • weight: 771
  • ISBN10: 0822343584

Delivery Information

  • Saver Delivery: Yes
  • 1st Class Delivery: Yes
  • Courier Delivery: Yes
  • Store Delivery: Yes

Prices are for internet purchases only. Prices and availability in WHSmith Stores may vary significantly