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Free and Easy? : A Defining History of the American Film Musical Genre (Paperback) (Sean Griffin)

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Free and Easy? A Defining History of the American Film Musical Genre narrates the evolution of this hugely popular genre from classical Hollywood studio days to contemporary independent cinema, music publishing, and the music recording industry. On the way, the book provides an engaging and comprehensive survey of music history beginning with the music and dance of Native Americans and moving right up to contemporary music performance in streaming media.

Griffin examines the different ways in which the film musical genre has been defined, what gets counted as a musical, why, and who gets to make that decision. The text expands beyond the glory days of MGM and the blockbuster Broadway adaptation to also reflect on sound experiments, short subjects and cartoons, foreign-language films, "race movies", documentaries, and contemporary independent cinema. There is in-depth discussion of how the genre has incorporated other forms of musical entertainment, such as folk music, vaudeville, musical theatre, and rock. It also describes the contributions made to the genre by a number of social factors, including marginalized or subordinated identity groups who have helped invent and shape the musical, and how the genre has in turn reflected issues of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Underlying this history is an examination of how the genre continually attempts to balance a celebration of individual freedom with efforts to bring people together in a joyous community.

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