All posts filed under: Music

“Trees and the Wild”: Matt Pond, the American Pastoral and the Sublime [Condensed Version]

*The article below is a shortened version of a conference paper of the same name that I presented at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference held in New Orleans, LA on April 4, 2015. Additionally, the presentation is portion a longer work exploring the role of musicians in the twenty-first century speaking to the idea of the landscape in American culture. Scholars show that American culture, in part, developed around the people’s reaction to nature and the wilderness. Americanist Henry Nash Smith describes the pull of the frontier in Virgin Land (1950), Perry Miller depicts a nature-manipulated change in the Puritan mind in Errand into the Wilderness (1956), and cultural variations are explored in Roderick Frazier Nash’s meticulous search for American interpretation and interaction with the outdoors in Wilderness and the American Mind (1965). This nature-driven response permeates American cultural production. American nature, and the wilderness, serves as an unavoidable topic of discussion when asking the question, “Who – or what – is America?” In the nineteenth century, Ralph Waldo Emerson reflected on …

Transcendentalism Today; or, Music as Cultural Thread

Each generation believes their ideas to be creative, inventive and the finest the world has seen. While the great art of history is venerated, musicians are inducted into halls of fame, and scientists are esteemed for their work – aside from the typical grievances against “strange” things – the newest generation imagines their view of the world to be the most complete. Similarly, if historians of culture make connections to earlier eras, often it is with the understanding that the current method is the preferred method; it is the most perfected method (possibly, the most politically correct method, too). Granted, big issues such as American slavery, pre-feminist/über-patriarchal society, homophobic, and pre-regulation factory eras always are foul and certain philosophies rooted in these ideas should not be revived. Yet, when considering more subtle undercurrents of American thought, should we continue upholding that eras/periods/phases are really finished? On to the new thing! We “debunked” the old way and are moving on to what is correct. Are we disconnected completely from, say, nineteenth century thought? Independent from nostalgia, …