This chapter examines the issue of censorship in the British Broadcasting Corporation’s controversial decision to ban the final track, “A Day in the Life,” from the Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967 due to its oblique reference to drug use. More specifically, it analyzes the factors underlying the BBC ban within the context of the cultural environment in which company executives interpreted the recording. The chapter also discusses the BBC mission and its “Green Book,” the BBC Variety Programmes Policy Guide for Writers and Producers, which establishes Britain’s standards for taste in broadcasting.
Participant-activist engagement with marginal music brings the ethnomusicologist face to face with choice of subjects, self-reflexivity, and musical value, played out in local power politics. Using phenomenological methods and dialogical processes from two case studies of Tamil Dalit (former outcaste or untouchable) folk music from her fieldwork and filmmaking in India, the author argues that engagement with the meaning and value of marginalized South Asian music forces ethnomusicologists to deconstruct local hegemonies of musical style and ethnomusicology’s contributions to their perpetuation, in fieldwork, teaching content, and academic/community programming. The chapter examines methods (including filmmaking and participant activism) to approach contexts where the oppressed use music to assert identity and cultural politics of revaluation against local hierarchies of musical value that contribute to Dalit Action Theory: that is, politicized agency of the oppressed asserted through the arts, necessitating an activist ethnographic methodology focused on collaboration, dialogue, and reciprocity.
Advocacy and the Ethnomusicologist: Assessing Capacity, Developing Initiatives, Setting Limits, and Making Sustainable Contributions
Jeffrey A. Summit
What happens when ethnomusicologists’ experiences in the field conjoin with ethical, moral, and religious imperatives to pursue social justice and give back to the people with whom they work? This chapter addresses a set of issues and offers a project framework that ethnomusicologists might consider when moved to partner with the people whose music they study, who so generously help them and sometimes become teachers and friends. When deciding how, and if, to become involved in an advocacy initiative, it is important for the ethnomusicologist to ask a series of questions: How does one assess motivation and personal capacity when deciding if, and how, to engage in advocacy? How can one ensure that advocacy makes a real contribution? With limited time and resources—and often unlimited need—how does one determine the personal, financial, and psychological limits to advocacy? How does one evaluate if, and how, advocacy projects are sustainable?
The afterlife of an archive determines what that archive was in the first place. In other words, the way an archive preserves, processes, analyzes, and circulates its holdings—or fails to do so—plays a central role in constituting not just the what of the archive (its ontology) but also its when (the temporalities it contains and allows). In the 1930s, Milman Parry, a scholar of Homeric epic, traveled to the former Yugoslavia to collect oral poetry from the area, hoping to use this contemporary tradition to think about the feasibility of epic song—and specifically the Iliad and Odyssey—as an oral tradition more broadly. Parry’s student, Albert Lord, published their findings on the topic, creating a massive rethinking of poetry and literature more generally. But the archive they created through their audio recordings in Yugoslavia, recorded on aluminum discs, wire spools, and reel-to-reel tape, served for decades as a kind of necessary proof of their findings, but not an archive that allowed for significant new research. In the past decade, however, a number of family members of the singers who had recorded for Parry have begun to contact the archive seeking information about recordings in the archive. This contact has led not only to meaningful encounters between these families and the archive but also to small but significant expansions in the archive’s holdings through a kind of genealogical ethnography of the archive itself and its multiple, simultaneous (and often divergent) histories.
Philip V. Bohlman
This chapter frames world Christianities as a continuous dialogue within, across, and between worlds: the human world of the everyday and the divine (utopian) world of God. To mediate this contradiction inherent to Christianity—and perhaps to the human experience more generally—Christian soteriological and eschatological doctrines takes the shape of continuous journeys aimed at transcending the boundaries of both the sacred and the secular, producing an (altered) return that re-creates the everyday world, where difference is ever-present. Christian musics come into being at specific sites of origin—in early church history, at colonial encounter in the Americas, along the boundaries crossed by 21st-century immigrants in Chicago—forming sacred journeys articulated through worship and song. Connecting these sites is the path of return, realized musically through the centrality of revival. The intertextuality of music maps the trajectories of these journeys, embodying the multiple encounters generating the continuous re-creation.
“An Interesting Experiment in Eugenics”: Ted Shawn, American Dance, and the Discourses of Sex, Race, and Ethnicity
Paul A. Scolieri
The “ethnic dance” movement in the United States is closely associated with Ted Shawn, the “Father of American Dance” (1891–1972). Shawn and his wife and dancing partner, Ruth St. Denis, founded a dance company called Denishawn, whose repertory incorporated Native American, “Negro,” and Spanish folk dances. By the mid-1920s, Shawn viewed American dance in terms of moral and physical purity—a philosophy he based on the discourse of eugenics. This article explores how the eugenics movement informed Shawn’s vision of American dance in the 1920s, particularly with respect to two of his related writings, The American Ballet and “An American Ballet.” It explains how Shawn’s personal and professional relationship with Havelock Ellis, a British physician who was a leading proponent of the eugenics movement in Europe and whom he considered his idol, influenced his views about eugenics. It also examines how Shawn’s anxiety about his own sexual “unfitness” (his homosexuality) shaped his racist, nativist, and xenophobic “experiment” with eugenics in American dance.
The history of the black diaspora is full with examples of the ways music has enabled various black cultural communities to cope with racial oppression. This article explains how sound-producing technology, in the form of vinyl records and turntables, functions within communities that endow these devices with cultural value. Hip-hop is used to center the discussion on ways in which turntables and vinyl records are attributed a racial authenticity not seen in other music communities where DJs exist. It begins with the premise that the hip-hop culture, similar to other music cultures, is a deeply technological way of life. Furthermore, it explores hip-hop and the emergence of digital vinyl systems and discusses hip-hop and race in the digital age. Finally, it suggests that the intersections of hip-hop, technology, and sound could help understand the ways the materiality of sound is embedded and circulated within society.
“And I Make My Own”: Class Performance, Black Urban Identity, and Depression-Era Harlem’s Physical Culture
Christopher J. Wells
This chapter applies spatial practice theory to the intersections of power relations, social spaces, and embodied performance in the dance culture of Great Depression-era Harlem. Tracing the movement in black communities away from signifiers of ethnicity toward social-class-based hierarchies, it shows how ethnicized tropes have been used to exoticize and commodify black identity and to create the American black/white racial binary. This strategy has its roots in the marketing labels of the slave trade and the performative tropes of minstrel shows, and it continued in the floor shows of the Cotton Club and other “jungle alley” nightclubs in Harlem. The chapter charts the trajectory of the Savoy Ballroom’s drift from an upscale, dignified dance palace to an incubator for the lindy hop and Harlem’s other popular dance innovations. It argues that considering dance demands a model of ethnicity that creates more space for individual agency and processes of self-definition.
Andes to Amazon on the River Q’eros: Indigenous Voice in Grassroots Tourism, Safeguarding, and Ownership Projects of the Q’eros and Wachiperi Peoples
This chapter advocates that micro-scale applied ethnomusicology projects based in shared experience, co-collaboration, and equal status, executed in small groups, are as valid and often more effective than large-scale organizational projects. Two case studies show how grassroots approaches support the effectiveness of indigenous voice and representation regarding use of traditional music in tourism, safeguarding, and music ownership via CD production. The first case charts indigenous tourism and musical representation with the Quechua Q’eros of the southern Peruvian Andes; the second outlines safeguarding conflicts with Peru’s Ministry of Culture regarding UNESCO’s nomination of esuwa, healing songs, and song ownership with the near-extinct Wachiperi Amazonian group. The measurement of effectiveness is premised on the concept of reciprocity, the driving social mechanism in both the Q’eros and the Wachiperi communities. These case studies show tourism and safeguarding projects that are successful precisely because they are small scale and founded on mutually beneficial relationships.