History can be boiled down to a timeline that explains who did what when. Sometimes, even how or why are addressed in these elementary expressions of history. Thinking towards the history of tomorrow (which happens to be today), what event might one claim has significance from today? An event is one’s life may in fact have taken place today, but there is so much more to today than what happened. Gumbrecht’s book aims to highlight everything happening-active and current- in history, particularly in 1926. The form of the book is intentionally non-linear, to mirror history as I see it to be. Whenever any other topic of relevance to the current topic is discussed, a note to “see: Jazz” appears and begs the reader to understand the context, reasoning, and connection to the current topic.
While timelines, and maps especially, are essential to elementary historical study, the connections between relevant and not-so-seemingly-relevant topics are necessary to a fully in-depth analysis of history. No single historical event, person, place, etc is neither unaffected nor un-impactful of other of these areas. Gumbrecht’s book does well to set this particular method of historical study in motion. His instructions were clear only after reading and understand how the reader follows his methodology.
Music historians are primarily historians. They ask questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how, but they also seek connection and weave and inter-story. Gumbrecht sets a great example of synthesizing stories, topics, and other matters of significance all within the scope of one year in a particular place. A timeline does exactly that, but Gumbrecht goes layers deeper. Through the process of understanding that history is non-linear, one can begin to understand how history of music has everything to do with history of politics, and dance, and cremation, and the automotive industry. Music historians absolutely must study more than music, particular performances, or musical forms. Having knowledge of all aspects and facets of the world is extremely helpful for a full knowledge and understanding of the musical world of musicology and music history.