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Reviewed by:
  • Shay Loya
Music and the Exotic from the Renaissance to Mozart. By Ralph P. Locke. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. [xxii, 449 p. ISBN 9781107012370 (hardcover), $135; ISBN 9781316308349 (e-book), $108.] Music examples, illustrations, appendix, bibliography, index.

In Musical Exoticism: Images and Reflections (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), Ralph P. Locke surveyed and pondered three centuries of the phenomenon of exoticism in Western music from Handel’s Rinaldo (1711) to our time (see my review in this journal; 66, no. 4 [June 2010]: 774–76). Six years later, he has [End Page 289] produced Music and the Exotic from the Renaissance to Mozart; in his words, a “prequel” (p. 3). The years 1500–1800 create a chronological overlap that is justified by the prequel’s significantly more thorough coverage of the eighteenth century, with its additional, intensive focus on the plurality of genres that incorporated exotic representation. More fundamentally, Music and the Exotic (2015) is the only book-length study that provides a theoretically-framed, encyclopedic exposition of the pervasive phenomenon of musical exoticism during the early modern era—notwithstanding important, yet less comprehensive antecedents such as Miriam Karpilow Whaples’s dissertation “Exoticism in Dramatic Music, 1600–1800” (Ph.D. diss., Indiana University, 1958), G. S. Rousseau and Roy Porter’s edited volume, Exoticism in the Enlightenment (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990), or Thomas Betzwieser’s Exotismus und “Turkenoper” in der franzosischen Musik des Ancien Régime (Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 1993).

It is remarkable that, despite strong “postcolonial” (and even more narrowly post-Saidian) critical trends in musicology since the 1990s, no writer well-versed in Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) and Culture and Imperialism (1993) has attempted to present such a detailed history of exoticism that runs parallel to the first long period of European exploration, conquest, and colonialism. Yet Locke is not interested in simply filling the gaps left from the 1990s, but rather stretching the theoretical framework to include the multivalent cultural and political meanings of various kinds of exoticisms, with particular attention to endotic political readings that require more proactive scholarship (since dehumanizing stereotypes would be immediately clear to most scholars today, whereas the function of exoticism in critiquing particular domestic situations requires historical inquiry).

It is equally possible that a more rounded summary of exoticism in the Renaissance and baroque was hindered in the past by what Locke considers a narrower paradigm of “exotic style only,” which he previously moved away from in “A Broader View of Musical Exoticism” (The Journal of Musicology 24, no. 4 [Fall 2007]: 477–521), and subsequently in his 2009 book. Like its predecessor, Music and the Exotic (as I shall henceforth abbreviate the title of the 2015 prequel) begins by pitting the style-only paradigm against the broader paradigm he terms “all the music in full context,” which means, in a nutshell, considering every instance where music is involved in exotic representation, whether the musical style sounds exotic or not (what it sounded like to historical audiences and how performance decisions can alter perceptions beyond an analysis of the score, are further complications that Locke considers here and throughout the book).

This theoretical section (Part I) necessitates another overlap with the introductory chapters of the previous book, but there are useful (and study-friendly) vignettes (“boxes”) that summarize some of these issues and new ideas about the limits of exotic meaning, including an interesting continuum between the two paradigms (box 2.4, p. 22). In terms of linearity, this part could have led directly to the discussion of music in Parts III and IV, but Locke opts for another long section (Part II) that looks at the history of cultural encounters and exotic representation prior to 1500. Readers who already know a fair bit about the history of the Crusades, the ascendency of Venice and the Ottoman Empire, famous maritime explorations, and so on, may not need to read most of chapter 3, but there is an argument for its necessity in this book. Chapter 4, with its cultural survey of exotic representation beyond music, leading to the book’s main object of inquiry, is completely necessary. Whether Music and the Exotic needed more than 100...


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