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One Sound, Two Worlds: The Blues in a Divided Germany, 1945-1990

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One Sound, Two Worlds

The Blues in a Divided Germany, 1945-1990

Michael Rauhut
Translated from the German by Jessica Ring

336 pages, 24 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-193-2 $130.00/£92.00 Hb Not Yet Published (May 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78920-194-9 eBook Not Yet Published

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


Praise for the German edition:

“Rauhut proves himself to be a true specialist with outstanding expertise … For anyone seeking a basic understanding of blues music in Germany, Rauhut’s study is indispensable.” • American Studies

“If books were reviewed in the same way as CDs, this one would be lit up with six stars. It’s as good as it gets.” • Blues News

“Michael Rauhut’s book is a masterpiece … analytically sharp and substantial.” • Detlef Siegfried, University of Copenhagen


For all of its apparent simplicity—a few chords, twelve bars, and a supposedly straightforward American character—blues music is a complex phenomenon with cultural significance that has varied greatly across different historical contexts. One Sound, Two Worlds examines the development of the blues in East and West Germany, demonstrating the multiple ways social and political conditions can shape the meaning of music. Based on new archival research and conversations with key figures, this comparative study provides a cultural, historical, and musicological account of the blues and the impact of the genre not only in the two Germanys, but also in debates about the history of globalization.

Michael Rauhut is a music scholar, radio journalist, filmmaker and founding member of the Center for Popular Music Research at Humboldt University in Berlin. Since 2008, he has held a Professorship of Popular Music at the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway.

Subject: Postwar History Performance Studies General Cultural Studies
Area: Germany


List of Illustrations

Introduction: Just turn that noise off …

Chapter 1. Sense and Sensibility: How We Know What the Blues Is

Chapter 2. Early in the Morning: An Awakening

  • Under the Influence of the Hot Club Movement
  • B.O.A.S.: Blues Overseas American Service
  • The Perception of Jazz and Blues in East Germany
  • Conquering the Media’s Gray Zone
  • Archetypes: Blues on Stage

Chapter 3. Get off of My Cloud: Emancipation

  • The Concept and Design of the American Folk Blues Festivals
  • Logistics, Marketing, and Artistic Profiles
  • The Second Season of the American Folk Blues Festival
  • The American Folk Blues Festival in East Germany
  • Blues Discourses: Topoi, Interpretive Models, and Clichés

Chapter 4. Standing at the Crossroads: Expansion

  • Between Pop and Political Protest
  • The Voice of the ‘Other America’
  • The Blues as Official Culture in East Germany
  • In German: Blues and the Mother Tongue
  • Far from the Mainstream: L+R Records

Chapter 5. I’m Drifting and Drifting: Daily Routines

  • Niches and Biotopes: Scene Action Spaces
  • The Self-Concept of the German Blues Circle
  • Only a ‘Black’ Person Can Sing the Blues
  • Metamorphoses: The Blues and the Hippie Cult in East Germany
  • Fans in the State’s Crosshairs

Conclusion: … just turn it up


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