Charles Hamm

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This article is about the American musicologist. For the American Air Force officer, see Charles R. Hamm.

Charles Hamm (April 21, 1925, Charlottesville, Virginia – October 16, 2011, Lebanon, New Hampshire) was an American musicologist, writer on music, composer, and music educator. He is credited with being the first music historian to seriously study and write about American popular music.

Hamm graduated from the University of Virginia in 1947 where he was a member of the Virginia Glee Club.[1] Zachary Woolfe wrote in The New York Times that "Mr. Hamm was one of the first scholars to study the history of American popular music with musicological rigor and sensitivity to complex racial and ethnic dynamics, and both oral and written traditions. He traced pop’s history not just to its full recent flowering in the 1950s or to the 19th century and Stephen Foster, but also to the colonial-era compositions that created the context for all that followed."[2]


  • Yesterdays: Popular Song in America (1979)
  • Music in the New World (1983)
  • Putting Popular Music in its Place (1995)
  • Irving Berlin: Songs From the Melting Pot (1997)
  • Graceland Revisited


  1. ^ "In Memoriam". University of Virginia Magazine. Spring 2012. 
  2. ^ Zachary Woolfe (October 23, 2011). "Charles Hamm, Author on American Popular Music, Dies at 86". The New York Times.