Music: A Subversive History, by Ted Gioia

Author Ted Gioia may be known to readers of Syncopated Times through his writing about jazz, which includes many articles and the books: The History of Jazz, How To Listen To Jazz, The Birth and Death of The Cool, The Imperfect Art, West Coast Jazz and Jazz Standards. Gioia has also written about blues, work songs and love songs. I’ve read much of this material and have found it incisive, well researched and written. Music: A Subversive History, however, is a step beyond anything Gioia has written. His last book Love Songs: The Hidden History also had a central thesis which he used as a means of investigating the history of music. Gioia takes a similar approach in this book, but here his aim is even higher and his investigations run wider and deeper. He pulls the curtain back on the formulaic history that we have all been taught and shows us that innovations in music can be explained in a new way. While most musicologists have been willing to try and build on or to simply repeat common, top-down perspectives, Gioia demonstrates that music history-like all of history-has been written by the powerful. The truth told in this book is that the creative impulses that have driven musical creativity for centuries arose from beneath, from society’s marginalized-slaves, outsiders, outcasts, women. Gioia takes us back to the earliest cave dwellers, who used music as a community ritu
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Steve Provizer is a brass player, arranger and writer. He has written about jazz for a number of print and online publications and has blogged for a number of years at: He is also a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild.

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