In many ways the history of British light music knits together the social and economic history of the country with that of its general musical heritage. Numerous 'serious' composers from Elgar to Britten composed light music, and the genre adapted itself to incorporate the changing fashions heralded by the rise and fall of music hall, the drawing room ballad, ragtime, jazz and the revue. From the 1950s the recording and broadcasting industries provided a new home for light music as an accompaniment to radio programmes and films. Geoffrey Self deftly handles a wealth of information to illustrate the immense role that light music has played in British culture over the last 130 years. His insightful assessments of the best and the most shameful examples of the genre help to pinpoint its enduring qualities; qualities which enable it to maintain a presence in the face of today's domination by commercial popular music.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; Roots and reasons; Sullivan and the dilemma; Down into the market-place: Sullivan's followers; Music-hall songs: a social mirror; Theatre music; Balladry; Instrumental music (1): the founding generation; Patriotism and war (1): 1914-1918; The 1920s; Instrumental music (2): the second wave; Piano music; Sweet singing in the choir; The 1930s; Instrumental music (3): the post-World War I generation; Patriotism and War (2): 1938-45; The post-war years: 1945-1960; The 1960s to the present day; Bibliography; Societies and relevant organizations; General index; Index of music, films and literature mentioned in the text.
Prize: Winner of the Choice Outstanding Academic title Award. 'Slim, classily bound and printed, this is the standard work on the subject...we have waited a long time for a book such as this!' International Record Review 'Self's accessible, breezy, readable and thoroughly delightful book surveys the British "light music" scene from the 1870s...until the present.... the book is a pleasure to read. Libraries supporting studies in these areas will find it worth every penny.' Choice 'The research is obviously deep and serious but the writing up and cohesion of such a varied patttern of events is the work of a true enthusiast, the words brimming over with sheer delight in the telling... this is a book to read, utilize in conversation and dip into at regular intervals.' Musical Opinion '... the first overall survey of British light music over the last century and a bit... a good general introduction to a very large subject.' BBC Music Magazine 'This book lifts the veil on the last hundred years of British Light Music... Ashgate ought to be congratulated for bringing out this publication... Throughout, many passages of music usefully punctuate the book, a much needed valuable resource, which should find place on the shelves of every music college and library. Although it can be used as a reference aid it makes an enjoyable read for all wanting to widen their knowledge in this area.' Classical Music on the Web