This article has been commissioned as part of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Music Revival edited by Caroline Bithell and Juniper Hill. This essay explores modern performances of medieval music as a phenomenon of musical revival. The revival of early music in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries can be traced back to an early modern musical antiquarianism that saw medieval and folk music traditions as intimately related. In the revivals of medieval and folk music in Europe, antiquarians obsessed about the idea of restoring traditions to a hypothetical original and pure state. Both revivals underwent a remarkable institutionalization in the nineteenth century that was indispensable to their becoming bona fide academic disciplines. In comparing approaches to early music and folk music, key central concerns arise in both cases: their origins in the activities of early modern academic societies; nostalgia for the past and, nostalgia’s corollary, dissatisfaction with contemporary culture; an obsession with written sources paired with an academic validation of oral performances; and a specifically nineteenth-century trend toward institutionalization in the wake of industrialization.
Stephen Sondheim and his critics usually ascribe the failure of Anyone Can Whistle, Sondheim’s most revered flop, to the volatile social and political context in the United States, claiming that it was ahead of its time. This chapter argues, in contrast, that it is very much of its time and that no other musical of the period epitomizes the social and cultural contradictions of the mid-1960s as vividly as Whistle. Attempting to bring the kind of theatrical and political provocation that was flourishing Off-Off-Broadway to Broadway audiences unfamiliar with experimental idioms, Whistle represents a determined hybrid: part satire, part romance, part musical comedy, part Broadway razzle-dazzle, part political polemic. It is also symptomatic of the contradictions inherent in the dominant political philosophy of the 1960s, liberal individualism, in its opposition to standardization and conformism and its inclination toward an arrogant egocentrism. That Whistle had to wait decades to find an audience is a tribute less to Sondheim’s prescience than to his ascendency since the 1970s as his generation’s preeminent architect of experimental music theatre.
Although musicians and labels have been slow to jump into application production for mobile devices, major artists such as Björk and Lady Gaga have recently released expensive and expansive app-based virtual albums, suggesting apps are becoming an increasingly viable format for packaging and delivering popular music. This chapter analyzes app-based albums like Bjork’s Biophilia to theorize on app music and its impact on production and consumption of music commodities. Through historical analysis of enhanced CDs and interactive CD-ROMs as well as close reading of a range of virtual albums, this chapter explores the possibilities and problems apps present as they mediate our aesthetic and affective relationships with cultural goods like music. Although their artistic potential is exciting, app-based albums are nonetheless limited by the demands of the platforms and software that constitute them.
Ethnomusicology and music therapy are modern-day disciplines with roots that reach into the far past and share themes common to music and healing. This article seeks to link systematically ethnomusicology and music therapy by using ethnomusicological research methods to describe music therapy as practiced at a residential institution for persons with developmental disabilities located in the northeastern United States. It presents fourteen constructs derived from observations of moment-to-moment events that occurred during music therapy sessions. The fourteen constructs are based on Ki Mantle Hood's “Nine Levels of Group Improvisation,” principles that govern Javanese gamelan performance: tuning, mode, colotomy, balungan, fixed melody, instrumental/vocal idioms, local style, group empathy, and personal style. The use of these nine levels serves to describe the improvisational nature of music therapy at this institution, and identifies determinants of moment-to-moment events, whether musical or extramusical, including culturally derived musical expression.
The Applied Ethnomusicologist as Public Folklorist: Ethnomusicological Practice in the Context of a Government Agency in the United States
Clifford R. Murphy
Since the early twentieth century, government agencies (local, county, state, and federal) in the United States have supported public folklore programs whose primary purpose is to identify, promote, celebrate, analyze, and archive the expressive culture (“folklife” or “intangible cultural heritage”) of its residents through ethnographic fieldwork and public programs, and to connect key individuals (“folklife practitioners,” or “tradition bearers”) to agency resources. This chapter chronicles the work of the ethnomusicologist as public folklorist in the United States, explores disciplinary connections between applied ethnomusicology and public folklore, and asks the question “How can an applied ethnomusicologist work meaningfully within the institutional and intellectual framework of public folklore?”
Applied Ethnomusicology and Intangible Cultural Heritage: Understanding “Ecosystems of Music” as a Tool for Sustainability
Within its broad range of possible identities, one of the most potent incarnations of applied ethnomusicology lies in its potential to understand and support the sustainability of the intangible cultural heritage it examines. It can do this in many ways, including the now common practice of returning recordings and research findings to communities. However, over the past few years, thinking has refined on gearing material and actions in a more targeted way to the specific needs and wishes of musicians, communities, and other stakeholders. Placing these into a wider understanding of what constitutes sustainability in music, this chapter explores some key issues and views relevant to this approach. It proposes a framework for understanding music cultures as ecosystems in a way that does justice to the complex realities of twenty-first century contexts. In doing so, it aims to provide communities with tools to address sustainability issues on their own terms.
Applied Ethnomusicology as an Intercultural Tool: Some Experiences from the Last 25 years of Minority Research in Austria
This chapter argues that there is considerable potential in ethnomusicology, and especially in minority studies, for intercultural communication. Ethnomusicology is suited to working in this way, because music has proven itself to be a powerful instrument of constructing and conveying identities and of “relocation.” This potential can be used in applied ethnomusicology. After a theoretical introduction, three case studies from Austria are presented, covering a time span of 25 years, involving different minority groups: Roma, Bosnian refugees, and immigrants from Turkey. The varied sociopolitical background in each of the cases is taken into account, as well as the different methodological approaches due to changing discourses in ethnomusicology.
Applied ethnomusicology has attracted little attention among Chinese ethnomusicologists, many of whom do not understand exactly what it is. However, the practice of ethnomusicology is far from uncommon. Properly balancing the inheritance, protection, development, and utilization of Chinese traditional music has been the subject of discussion among Chinese scholars for a long period of time. This has led to increased attention and effort from government at all levels, a development that reflects the distinctive nature of applied ethnomusicology. This chapter addresses the application of ethnomusicology in China from the perspective of ethnomusicology’s social practices (the macro level) and personal practices (the micro level), as well as tackling the implications of these practices.
With its roots in psychological writings of the twentieth century, the subject of the uncanny provides ways of critically analyzing why some objects appear eerie or make us feel uncomfortable. For researchers building on this appraisal, the uncanny is now associated with realistic, human-like characters featured in film and video games. Such characters may fall into an “Uncanny Valley” as their increased realism evokes a negative affective response in the viewer. This chapter presents a possible psychological explanation of the uncanny in virtual characters, based on a perception of a lack of empathy in a character. Aspects such as a lack of facial mimicry and a belief that there is an inability to forge an attachment with a character may lead to an abnegation of self and evoke the uncanny. An assessment is also made of how old and new definitions of the virtual may be applicable or untenable to the uncanny.
The black-cast backstage musical Stormy Weather (1943) is the first Hollywood film to explicitly celebrate black achievement. Featuring key figures of African American dance and more black dance numbers than any other mainstream musical, it testifies to the versatility and—crucially—the hybridity of jazz dance culture. This article analyzes dance in Stormy Weather by addressing questions of appreciation, appropriation, and assimilation in the context of both film and dance history. Stormy Weather’s panoply of styles and stars negotiates several contradictory processes: white appropriation of “authentic” black talent, black assimilation to “classy” white styles, but also black adaptation and appropriation of hitherto white domains of performance. Through its self-referential narrative of dance history—and through some omissions—it simultaneously chronicles the history of black performers and racial stereotypes in white Hollywood, and thus reveals the industry’s strategies in the exploitation of black talent.