Get Shown the Light

Get Shown the Light

Improvisation and Transcendence in the Music of the Grateful Dead

  • Author: Kaler, Michael
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Serie: Studies in the Grateful Dead
  • ISBN: 9781478020349
  • eISBN Pdf: 9781478027324
  • Place of publication:  Durham , United States
  • Year of digital publication: 2023
  • Month: October
  • Pages: 312
  • Language: English
Of all the musical developments of rock in the 1960s, one in particular fundamentally changed the music’s structure and listening experience: the incorporation of extended improvisation into live performances. While many bands—including Cream, Pink Floyd, and the Velvet Underground—stretched out their songs with improvisations, no band was more identified with the practice than the Grateful Dead. In Get Shown the Light Michael Kaler examines how the Dead’s dedication to improvisation stemmed from their belief that playing in this manner enabled them to touch upon transcendence. Drawing on band testimonials and analyses of early recordings, Kaler traces how the Dead developed an approach to playing music that they believed would facilitate their spiritual goals. He focuses on the band’s early years, the significance of their playing Ken Kesey’s Acid Test parties, and their evolving exploration of the myriad musical and spiritual possibilities that extended improvisation afforded. Kaler demonstrates that the Grateful Dead developed a radical new way of playing rock music as a means to unleash the spiritual and transformative potential of their music.
  • Cover
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • An Autobiographical Introduction
  • 1. The Grateful Dead: A Spiritually Motivated, Improvising Rock Band
  • 2. Setting the Scene: Where They Came From
  • 3. How the Grateful Dead Learned to Jam: Building a Framework for Improvisation
  • 4. Improvisational Tactics, 1965–1974: Roads Taken, and Some That Were Not Taken
  • 5. Writing About Improvisation: Approaches to Understanding Spontaneous Playing
  • 6. Other Improvising Rock Bands: Similar Directions, Different Motivations
  • 7. Music, Transcendent Spiritual Experience, and the Grateful Dead: How They Came Together
  • 8. The Grateful Dead’s Spiritual Context: The Acid Tests and Afterwards
  • 9. What They Did: How the Grateful Dead Joined Their Musical and Spiritual Imperatives
  • Appendix. Grateful Dead Personnel and Performances
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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