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Publisher's Summary

America is an undeniably musical nation. From vaudeville and jazz to country music and blues, hearing the sounds of the American spirit is a truly unique way to appreciate centuries of American history in all its complexity.

Now, learn how to listen to the music of America with new ears. Produced in collaboration with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, proprietor of the vast treasury of American vernacular music, these 12 lectures explore more than 200 years of music that will open your ears to a different side of the American experience.

Professor Seeger reveals the origins of the American music industry; the impact of instruments like the piano and the banjo; and the myriad ways music has shaped American wars, dances, elections, and public demonstrations. You’ll learn the secret histories of songs, including “The President’s March”, “Amazing Grace”, and “We Shall Overcome”, You’ll also hear informative interviews and eclectic performances from scholar-musicians, and sample original recordings that reflect the incredible richness of the American musical experience.

This is a rich and rewarding course that offers new ways for you to experience both music and American social history. You’ll discover new tunes to hum, new rhythms to tap your feet to, and new musical avenues to explore on your own.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2019 The Great Courses

What listeners say about America’s Musical Heritage

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    4 out of 5 stars

Very entertaining

I didn’t think I would learn as much as I did! For example, what makes a rag a rag? Anyone? Anyone? It is a piano piece that, in addition to having a particular “flavor,” (late 19th to early 20th century) it has to have (interesting and complex) rhythms that are different in each hand. Think “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin.

This was a fun romp through our American musical heritage, which admittedly is not nearly as long as many other countries have, but is still long enough to give us quite a history. The teacher of this Great Course was Dr. Anthony Seeger, nephew of the very famous Pete Seeger, and if you don’t know who he is, you are just too young. Look him up. Dr. Seeger brings a lot of great history and knowledge about our musical past with him. It is well worth listening to.

2 people found this helpful

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  • 10-15-20

A good overview of American music during a certain time period.

As someone with only a general knowledge of American music from listening to the radio or the top charts on itunes I feel like I learned quite a bit. The title is maybe a little too comprehensive and general. This audiobook gives some background on the lesser known parts of older American music like election music and even a short section on Native American pow wow music. I realize that there would be lots of royalty and licensing issues involved with much of the commercial hit songs so don’t expect an overview of jazz, rock, or hip hop. Still I enjoyed this audiobook and learned quite a bit from it.

2 people found this helpful

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Too much talking - too little music

This audiobook is VERY boring. Too much talk, too little value music. The first lesson is just praise to the Smithsonian and the lecturer's work with oh, so many boxes and tapes. The second lecture is pure talk about the war music, without music examples (only one), Etc,Etc. Stephany, the invited speaker from Stanford, speaks so slowly that you can fall asleep between one word and the other. This is a lecture from a guy who loves to hear himself talking.

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Decent class, but terrible execution

Like all courses the speed is far far too slow and requires you to crack the playback speed up. The added pain here is that the lecturer plays sound bites of the music, which isn't artificially slowed down.

This leaves you constantly flipping the playback speed back and forth or just skipping the song bites. Or suffering through a artificially slow lecture.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-07-20

So nice to listen to.

Really enjoyed the story of American musical heritage. Narrator engaging, subject matter thought provoking, and lots to think about after listening. Time to pick up that banjo 🎶