REVIEW: In his book, Ted Gioia looks at music in a subversive context

“Music. Subversive History” is a publication that introduces you to the history of music in completely different respects than it might seem at first glance. Ted Gioia is a passionate lover of music of many genres and devotes himself to music history. His latest book is a thorough, slightly provocative excursion.

A passionate jazzman, pianist, but also a music historian, these are the titles that best describe the author of the book “Music. Subversive History” Ted Gioiu. However, this is not his first work in the field of music theory – he became more interested in “History of Jazz” in 1997. However, his latest work is closer to the trilogy “Healing Songs” (which examined ancient folk art), “Working Songs” and “Love Songs”, it can be said that in a way it follows them. At the same time, he views music itself on a scale of history, from ancient times through the turning points of the sixteenth century to the new millennium. However, it is not a dry-telling non-fiction, Ted is an avid collector of materials he studied for the last three decades and from which he composed the final form. In the book itself, you will not learn what, when, where and how he published, what influenced or inspired him. Gioia looks at this ancient history through the use of music itself, why one began to devote oneself to it. He notes that it has always served primarily to earn a living, to encourage sexual contact, religious and shamanic rituals, or to fight in war. That entertainment aspect did not appear until much later, in the aforementioned sixteenth century, from which the first records of folk music have been preserved. The introduction therefore belongs to prehistory. One first had to kill some of that animal to get the skin needed to make drums and drums and the animal bones to make other instruments. In this introduction, the author overwhelms you with a lot of information, refers to numerous publications, the work of famous scientists from the Greek and Roman times or the present. He proceeds very systematically, he does not deviate from his intention to reveal his own, purely subversive truth. The winner is the apostates from the hidden parts of our planet, who diligently attended the imaginary Olympics of success, in contrast to the expansion of music in the famous not only European ports. Music first served a higher principle – rulers, church dignitaries who wanted to control their people through it, on the contrary, cursed popular creativity. This situation was clearly not sustainable forever, and so this approach has changed over the years. The great movers were greats such as Johann Sebastian Bach or Ludwig van Beethoven, on whom Ted shows how they changed their influence, how their symphonies broke sales records (but then in the cost of printed scores). How Mozart, Chopin, Wagner and other revolutionary rioters later intervened in this event, the success of which was influenced by the listeners themselves as delighted visitors to operettas and other deeds. This prelude is then a turning point for events in the last century.

Narration at that moment it gains in intensity. Gioia begins with events in America, when jazz and blues came from black minorities, and Elvis Presley himself took the first steps, expanding the entertainment part of show business to television screens and movie screens. There is also a British invasion of The Beatles and Rolling Stones and a floral era. And for example, you regret such a Bob Dylan, when the author describes his suffering, when he understood that he no longer wants to be just a songwriter with an acoustic guitar and wants to play with a full-fledged band, but the fans whistled at the first concerts for this change. And there’s Sid Vicious and the punk rebellion of the Sex Pistols. Ted Gioia covers this pile of information with his own findings, which are ambitious enough to draw you into this world of musical upheavals as much as possible in a thrilling chess game: most things are repeated in cycles – calmer music reigns for several years, and then this truce is cut by some a revolutionary escapade that will change and accelerate the course of history. The great translation by Marek Sečař, who also looked at the technical terms and arranged the whole, very extensive text, also deserves praise, so that it is not just a boring sequence of events. There is also a carefully maintained register of names, an overview of cited books and works by historians – this overview covers the entire seventeen pages! Here you will appreciate that if the cited publication was published in the Czech translation, you will also find this information here – only occasionally the fact that some of them were published in our country at a very great distance will stop you. “Music. Subversive History” tells the birth of music through the story of apostates and freaks who sought new ways of presenting themselves, but also through the story of musical twists and changes in the genres themselves. About how the rebellion first had to be suppressed so that all the necessary innovations and uses could be extracted from it. Ted Gioia brazenly suffocates that music is a factor in changes in human life, in the power of transformation and enchantment. He claims that it is not decisive whether you are primarily interested in sex or winning a battle. It presents the readers with an obsessive publication that offers an unconventional view of the development of music. He himself, as a great music fan, emerges victorious from this little paper war.

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REVIEW: In his book, Ted Gioia looks at music in a subversive context

Fuzzy Skunk