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Abstract and Keywords
Caroline Bithell’s essay offers a history of a local religious institution—the Corsican confraternity—which constructs itself as a local alternative to a global religious bureaucracy—the Catholic hierarchy. She traces the musical life of the confraternities between the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and comments on the contemporary role played by the confraternities in both church and society. The distinctive polyphonic song repertoires of the confraternities are central to their identities, negotiated with contemporary church and Corsican institutions. In sum, in Corsica, the confraternities provide an alternate institutional space for (conservative) local musical and expressive traditions to continue, despite the shifts in musical and liturgical practices stemming from Vatican II.
Caroline Bithell is Senior Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at the University of Manchester, UK. She has published widely on Corsican music, which was the main focus of her research from 1993. Her monograph Transported by Song: Corsican Voices from Oral Tradition to World Stage appeared with Scarecrow Press in 2007. Her edited collection The Past in Music appeared as a special issue of the journal Ethnomusicology Forum (2007). Her new monograph on the natural voice and world song is forthcoming, together with other new work on Georgian polyphony. She is also co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Music Revival.
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