America's Musical Life: A History tells the fascinating story of music in the United States, from the sacred music of its earliest days to the jazz and rock that enliven the turn of the millennium. Beginning with the music of Native Americans and continuing with traditions introduced by European colonizers and Africans brought here as slaves, the book reveals how this bountiful heritage was developed and enhanced in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to produce the music we hear today. As author Richard Crawford points out, American musical activity has taken place in three spheres: the traditional (folk music), which emphasizes continuity and the preservation of community custom; the popular, which seeks most of all to find paying audiences; and the classical (Western art music), which places priority on the musical works themselves. We observe American music making in each of these spheres and see, for the first time, how they have continually crossed over, interacted, and combined to shape the rich tapestry of sounds of the twenty-first century. Most important, the narrative is always set in its proper historical context - we cannot, for instance, truly understand Civil War music without knowing the social and political factors that precipitated the conflict. In juggling political, social, and musical history, the author strikes a happy balance between general background and specific accounts of individual composers, performers and pieces of music.