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Book reviews for "Ellinwood,_Leonard_Webster" sorted by average review score:

The History of American Church Music
Published in Hardcover by DaCapo Press (1970)
Author: Leonard Webster Ellinwood
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First-rate music scholarship from the 1950s.
Leonard Ellinwood's "The History of American Church Music" is packed with fascinating historical details, and it blesses the reader with clear and practical mini-histories of topics that are often incompletely (or incorrectly!) explained, such as fuging (or "fuguing") tunes and shape notes. Fuging tunes, for example, are frequently treated as an 18th-century phenomenon, but Ellinwood, with swiftly-presented but ample evidence, demonstrates that the tradition stems from motets of the Elizabethan era. The author's analysis of these tunes, derived from an exhaustive survey cited in the text, is of much use to anyone who has encountered these things in tune books and/or hymnals. And the history of solfeggio (aka "fasola" singing) is a masterpiece of concise scholarship, even if the author assumes reader familiarity with the "Guidonian hand" and terms like "gamut" and "hexachord." To put it simply, this isn't "Rolling Stone," but rather a work of genuine musical scholarship. Do not expect to be patronized.

"The History of American Church Music" differs from the pop-music press, also, in its disdain for informal musical practices like "lining out," the use of "quartet choirs" in 19th-century churches, and what it considers an increasingly vernacular orientation in "gospel songs." In regard to the last item, one wonders how the author would react, almost fifty years later, to the "praise music" featured in so many modern churches. While the tone of the book can be described, with considerable understatement, as elitist, its scholarship is thorough and engaging--so much so, that anyone even remotely interested in the subject is likely to come away from this volume empowered, with an eagerness to learn more.

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