A new concept for understanding the history of the American popular music industry.
Blacksound explores the sonic history of blackface minstrelsy and the racial foundations of American musical culture from the early 1800s through the turn of the twentieth century. With this namesake book, Matthew D. Morrison develops the concept of "Blacksound" to uncover how the popular music industry and popular entertainment in general in the United States arose out of slavery and blackface.
Blacksound as an idea is not the music or sounds produced by Black Americans but instead the material and fleeting remnants of their sounds and performances that have been co-opted and amalgamated into popular music. Morrison unpacks the relationship between performance, racial identity, and intellectual property to reveal how blackface minstrelsy scripts became absorbed into commercial entertainment through an unequal system of intellectual property and copyright laws. By introducing this foundational new concept in musicology, Blacksound highlights what is politically at stake—for creators and audiences alike—in revisiting the long history of American popular music.