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In many ways the history of British light music knits together the social and economic history of the country with that of its general musical heritage. Numerous 'serious' composers from Elgar to Britten composed light music, and the genre adapted itself to incorporate the changing fashions heralded by the rise and fall of music hall, the drawing room ballad, ragtime, jazz and the revue. From the 1950s the recording and broadcasting industries provided a new home for light music as an accompaniment to radio programmes and films. Geoffrey Self deftly handles a wealth of information to illustrate the immense role that light music has played in British culture over the last 130 years. His insightful assessments of the best and the most shameful examples of the genre help to pinpoint its enduring qualities; qualities which enable it to maintain a presence in the face of today's domination by commercial popular music.