Music in American Religious Experience
Historical moments in which music consciously identifies American religious experience provide the historical framework of this introductory chapter, which stretches from William Billings's “America” to “Amazing Grace” as a historical text to the ethnographic present in Pentecostal worship in a Chicago Romanian church. The theoretical concepts that connect the book's chapters are introduced, including concepts of genealogy, individualism, and the metaphors of American religion in sacred music-making. Charles Ives and Thomas A. Dorsey Jr, the great American modernist composer and the inventor of the gospel blues, provide case studies. The interdisciplinarity of the book's diverse contributors is introduced and connected to the chapters that follow. The importance of music as ritual, sacred language, and the performance of sacred space generates further links and shared notions of religious experience for the book's chapters.
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