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?
Roger W. H. Savage
The distinction that John Blacking draws between music that serves a social purpose and music that he regards as enhancing human consciousness calls for a further consideration of how the experiences that music affords are the source of its meaning and significance. Drawing on Hans-Georg Gadamer’s phenomenological analysis of play, the author sets out a hermeneutical approach that accounts for music’s expressive vehemence. Paul Ricoeur’s theory of mimesis provides a hermeneutical foundation for understanding how music’s expression of moods and feelings gives rise to different ways of inhering in the world. Music’s exemplification of the moods and feelings to which it gives voice, the author accordingly argues, is the spring of its worlding power. Conversely, Thomas Turino’s adaptation of Peirce’s semiology both draws on and supports ethnographic descriptions of emotive, musical behaviors. In turn, these descriptions presuppose the meaningfulness of the experiences that music occasions. Blacking’s insight into the primary significance of what he identifies as “music for being” thus reserves a place within ethnomusicological discourse for a phenomenological hermeneutics for which music’s worlding power is the ground of the interfaces between music’s expressive force and its place in social life.
Where does affect reside in a phenomenology of perception? How should we understand ethics when bodies are close? What changes when we are distant? In this chapter, the author illustrates the “aesthetics of proximity,” degrees of spatio-temporal as well as spatio-tactile closeness between sounds and bodies, and the implications for an embodied ethics of response. Using Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the “flesh,” which he defines as an element (like water or fire), the author explores the relation of feeling and matter in close encounters, evoking Sufi sounds of worship in Morocco and France, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement during a global pandemic.
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.
Matthew J. Jones
This essay focuses on English-language popular songs about HIV/AIDS and offers a five-part typology based not on sonic markers of musical genre but instead on lyric content. Its central argument is that song lyrics carry important political messages and constitute a significant and under-studied contribution to the broader culture of arts-based HIV/AIDS activism. In AIDS-themed elegies, protest songs, pedagogical songs, confessional songs, and a small category of songs in bad taste, songwriters and performers translate the official scientific, medical, and political discourses of HIV/AIDS into vernacular speech idioms. In doing so, ideas and ideologies about HIV/AIDS transcend generic boundaries to effectively reach broad and diverse groups of listeners with varying beliefs, attitudes, and stakes in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Ninotchka D. Bennahum
Guided by an unwavering belief in the moral capacity of dance to transform human society and effect social change, Anna Schuman Halprin (b. 1920) shaped the radical, Jewish nature of postmodern dance. With her invention of task-based improvisation as a method of devising dance—a clandestine, communitarian agent of change—Halprin espoused dance making as a basic human right. This chapter essays how Halprin envisioned postwar dance as environmental study rather than merely physical practice. Through her visionary work Halprin reconceived movement as engendering climate activism and social justice, radical beliefs that emerged out of her Talmudic pedagogy. Dancing bodies were retrained, away from technique, narrative, and desire, toward a reinvention out of one’s relationship to and study of the natural world.
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.
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.