A moustachioed young man and a girl in long braids dance the 'original polka' on page one of 'Jullien's Celebrated Polkas', dedicated to Mr E Coulon.

The Rebellious, Scandalous Origins of Polka

The dance is often associated with the traditions of immigrant communities in America. But it emerged in Europe during a time of radicalism.
Kanye West performs Sunday Service during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival in 2019

The Gospel According to Kanye West

On the making of gospel music, from Gospel Pearls to Jesus Is King.
A group of goths in Trafalgar Square, London, 1987

Goth Won’t Die, but It Wants a Funeral Anyway

Like its celebrated vampires, the Goth subculture has roots in a fascination with death and cultural transgression.
El Jaleo by John Singer Sargent, 1882

What Did Franco’s Spain Do to Spanish Music?

Contemporary Spanish genres like flamenco and zarzuela still carry the weight of cultural associations with Franco’s fascist regime.
A Moog synthesizer

The Fear That Synthesizers Would Ruin Music

A German musicologist complained in 1954 that they reminded him of "barking hell-hounds."
David Berman

David Berman

Three poems by writer and musician David Berman.
Woodstock, 1969

Woodstock: Sex, Drugs, and Zoning

It's the 50th anniversary of the famous Woodstock festival, which was fraught with controversy before it even happened.
Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, “The Black Swan”

Born into slavery, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield broke barriers with every note she sang.
A harmonica against a yellow background

How Harmonicas Came to America

Harmonicas were invented in Europe in the 1820s as an aid for tuning pianos, but they didn't really take off until they crossed the Atlantic.
Miles Davis

Why Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” Is So Beloved

A music scholar suggests that Miles Davis combined the blues with the musical avant garde in a manner reflecting the integrationist spirit of the era.