Kentucky Mountain Music Analysis

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Over the spring break, I enjoyed perusing through my collection of Yazoo Records reissues and spent considerable time with a seven-disc boxset entitled, Kentucky Mountain Music: Classic Recordings of the 1920s and 1930s. In the liner notes, Richard Nevins commented on a few sides recorded by Taylor’s Kentucky Boys at Gennett Records in 1927. In addition to some fine musicianship by the players, what made this group different was its interracial lineup of guitarist, Willie Young, banjoist, Marion Underwood, and African-American fiddler, Jim Booker. Nevins lamented that, historically, the racial make-up of the group was the most remarkable attribute of their recordings and not the fine playing on the few sides released by Gennett. He states, “It’s hard to understand why anyone would have the perverse impulse to place fiddlers into categories of black and white. Why even waste the energy to create a category if it serves no useful purpose in the real word?!” It is remarkable because very few if any African Americans recorded hillbilly music and with the exception of a few white jazz bands, very few whites recorded race music. Karl Hagstrom Miller addresses the reasons and history for this partition between black and white vernacular music and musicians …show more content…

Miller focuses on the authenticity of music based on race or region in the 1920s, while Stimeling approaches authenticity from the fronts of gender and technology. Stimeling makes a compelling argument and develops a sound thesis for issues of gender in music. However, I completely disagree with his attempt to find justification for the use of autotune on any level beyond a mild enhancement to preserve a particularly good take of a performance that might contain a minor

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