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The Creolization of American CultureWilliam Sidney Mount and the Roots of Blackface Minstrelsy$
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Christopher J. Smith

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037764

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037764.001.0001

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Melody’s Polyrhythmic Polysemic Possibilities

Melody’s Polyrhythmic Polysemic Possibilities

The Bodily Evidence of Mount’s Music

(p.148) 5 Melody’s Polyrhythmic Polysemic Possibilities
The Creolization of American Culture

Christopher J. Smith

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the musical repertoires collected by William Sidney Mount in order to understand early minstrelsy's melodic imagination and polyrhythmic style as well as its creole synthesis. It situates Mount's melodic repertoire within the wider context of contemporaneous rhythm and dance repertoires, including the ongoing resources represented by Anglo-Celtic music and dance; the newer dance-types of the polka, quadrille, and cotillion; and the already-creolized tunes explicitly associated with blackface minstrelsy and New York comic theatricals. The chapter suggests that the black–white exchange of the creole synthesis can be traced in movement vocabularies and that the creole synthesis was as present a factor in dance musicians' tune repertoires as it was in dance rhythms. The contents of Mount's musical collection and recollections provide evidence that he was a major participant in social and dance music making.

Keywords:   polyrhythmic style, William Sidney Mount, creole synthesis, rhythm, Anglo-Celtic music, blackface minstrelsy, Anglo-Celtic dance, dance musicians, dance music

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