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Music Culture

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Music Culture

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Among the Jasmine Trees

Music and Modernity in Contemporary Syria

Jonathan Holt Shannon

How does a Middle Eastern community create a modern image through its expression of heritage and authenticity? In Among the Jasmine Trees: Music and Modernity in Contemporary Syria, Jonathan H. Shannon investigates expressions of authenticity in Syria's musical culture, which is particularly known for embracing and preserving the Arab musical tradition, and which has seldom been researched in depth by Western scholars. Music plays a key role in the process of self-imaging by virtue of its ability to convey feeling and emotion, and Shannon explores a variety of performance genres, Sufi rituals, song lyrics, melodic modes, and aesthetic criteria. Shannon shows that although the music may evoke the old, the traditional, and the local, these are re-envisioned as signifiers of the modern national profile. A valuable contribution to the study of music and identity and to the ethnomusicology of the modern Middle East, Among the Jasmine Trees details this music and its reception for the first time, offering an original theoretical framework for understanding contemporary Arab culture, music, and society.

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Antiphonal Histories

Resonant Pasts in the Toba Batak Musical Present

Julia Byl

Positioned on a major trade route, the Toba Batak people of Sumatra have long witnessed the ebb and flow of cultural influence from India, the Middle East, and the West. Living as ethnic and religious minorities within modern Indonesia, Tobas have recast this history of difference through interpretations meant to strengthen or efface the identities it has shaped. Antiphonal Histories examines Toba musical performance as a legacy of global history, and a vital expression of local experience. This intriguingly constructed ethnography searches the palm liquor stand and the sanctuary to show how Toba performance manifests its many histories through its “local music”—Lutheran brass band hymns, gong-chime music sacred to Shiva, and Jimmie Rodgers yodeling. Combining vivid narrative, wide-ranging historical research, and personal reflections, Antiphonal Histories traces the musical trajectories of the past to show us how the global is manifest in the performative moment.

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The Arab Avant-Garde

Music, Politics, Modernity

Thomas Burkhalter

From jazz trumpeters drawing on the noises of warfare in Beirut to female heavy metallers in Alexandria, the Arab culture offers a wealth of exciting, challenging, and diverse musics. The essays in this collection investigate the plethora of compositional and improvisational techniques, performance styles, political motivations, professional trainings, and inter-continental collaborations that claim the mantle of "innovation" within Arab and Arab diaspora music. While most books on Middle Eastern music-making focus on notions of tradition and regionally specific genres, The Arab Avant Garde presents a radically hybrid and globally dialectic set of practices. Engaging the "avant-garde"--a term with Eurocentric resonances--this anthology disturbs that presumed exclusivity, drawing on and challenging a growing body of literature about alternative modernities.

Chapters delve into genres and modes as diverse as jazz, musical theatre, improvisation, hip hop, and heavy metal as performed in countries like Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and the United States. Focusing on multiple ways in which the "Arab avant-garde" becomes manifest, this anthology brings together international writers with eclectic disciplinary trainings--practicing musicians, area studies specialists, ethnomusicologists, and scholars of popular culture and media. Contributors include Sami W. Asmar, Michael Khoury, Saed Muhssin, Marina Peterson, Kamran Rastegar, Caroline Rooney, and Shayna Silverstein, as well as the editors.

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Between Nostalgia and Apocalypse

Popular Music and the Staging of Brazil

Daniel B. Sharp

Between Nostalgia and Apocalypse is a close-to-the-ground account of musicians and dancers from Arcoverde, Pernambuco—a small city in the northeastern Brazilian backlands. The book’s focus on samba de coco families, marked as bearers of tradition, and the band Cordel do Fogo Encantado, marketed as pop iconoclasts, offers a revealing portrait of performers engaged in new forms of cultural preservation during a post-dictatorship period of democratization and neoliberal reform. Daniel B. Sharp explores how festivals, museums, television, and tourism steep musicians’ performances in national-cultural nostalgia, which both provides musicians and dancers with opportunities for cultural entrepreneurship and hinders their efforts to be recognized as part of the Brazilian here-and-now. The book charts how Afro-Brazilian samba de coco became an unlikely emblem in an interior where European and indigenous mixture predominates. It also chronicles how Cordel do Fogo Encantado—drawing upon the sounds of samba de coco, ecstatic Afro-Brazilian religious music, and heavy metal—sought to make folklore dangerous by embodying an apocalyptic register often associated with northeastern Brazil.

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The Book of Music and Nature

An Anthology of Sounds, Words, Thoughts

David Rothenberg

This innovative book and online CD, assembled by the editors of the renowned periodical Terra Nova, is the first anthology published on the subject of music and nature. Lush and evocative, yoking together the simplicities and complexities of the world of natural sound and the music inspired by it, this collection includes essays, illustrations, and plenty of sounds and music. The Book of Music and Nature celebrates our relationship with natural soundscapes while posing stimulating questions about that very relationship. The book ranges widely, with the interplay of the texts and sounds creating a conversation that readers from all walks of life will find provocative and accessible.

The anthology includes classic texts on music and nature by 20th century masters including John Cage, Hazrat Inrayat Khan, Pierre Schaeffer, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Toru Takemitsu. Innovative essays by Brian Eno, Pauline Oliveros, David Toop, Hildegard Westerkamp and Evan Eisenberg also appear. Interspersed throughout are short fictional excerpts by authors Rafi Zabor, Alejo Carpentier, and Junichiro Tanazaki.

The virtual CD at http://www.wesleyan.edu/wespress/musicandnaturecd/ includes fifteen tracks of music made out of, or reflective of, natural sounds, ranging from Babenzele Pygmy music to Australian butcherbirds, and from Pauline Oliveros to Brian Eno.

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The City of Musical Memory

Salsa, Record Grooves and Popular Culture in Cali, Colombia

Lise A. Waxer

Salsa is a popular dance music developed by Puerto Ricans in New York City during the 1960s and 70s, based on Afro-Cuban forms. By the 1980s, the Colombian metropolis of Cali emerged on the global stage as an important center for salsa consumption and performance. Despite their geographic distance from the Caribbean and from Hispanic Caribbean migrants in New York City, Calenos (people from Cali) claim unity with Cubans, Puerto Ricans and New York Latinos by virtue of their having adopted salsa as their own. The City of Musical Memory explores this local adoption of salsa and its Afro-Caribbean antecedents in relation to national and regional musical styles, shedding light on salsa's spread to other Latin American cities. Cali's case disputes the prevalent academic notion that live music is more "real" or "authentic" than its recorded versions, since in this city salsa recordings were until recently much more important than musicians themselves, and continued to be influential in the live scene. This book makes valuable contributions to ongoing discussions about the place of technology in music culture and the complex negotiations of local and transnational cultural identities.

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Dissonant Identities

The Rock’n’Roll Scene in Austin, Texas

Barry Shank

Music of the bars and clubs of Austin, Texas has long been recognized as defining one of a dozen or more musical "scenes" across the country. In Dissonant Identities, Barry Shank, himself a musician who played and lived in the Texas capital, studies the history of its popular music, its cultural and economic context, and also the broader ramifications of that music as a signifying practice capable of transforming identities.

While his focus is primarily on progressive country and rock, Shank also writes about traditional country, blues, rock, disco, ethnic, and folk musics. Using empirical detail and an expansive theoretical framework, he shows how Austin became the site for "a productive contestation between two forces: the fierce desire to remake oneself through musical practice, and the equally powerful struggle to affirm the value of that practice in the complexly structured late-capitalist marketplace."

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Dub

Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae

Michael Veal

When Jamaican recording engineers Osbourne "King Tubby" Ruddock, Errol Thompson, and Lee "Scratch" Perry began crafting "dub" music in the early 1970s, they were initiating a musical revolution that continues to have worldwide influence. Dub is a sub-genre of Jamaican reggae that flourished during reggae's "golden age" of the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Dub involves remixing existing recordings--electronically improvising sound effects and altering vocal tracks--to create its unique sound. Just as hip-hop turned phonograph turntables into musical instruments, dub turned the mixing and sound processing technologies of the recording studio into instruments of composition and real-time improvisation. In addition to chronicling dub's development and offering the first thorough analysis of the music itself, author Michael Veal examines dub's social significance in Jamaican culture. He further explores the "dub revolution" that has crossed musical and cultural boundaries for over thirty years, influencing a wide variety of musical genres around the globe.

Ebook Edition Note: Seven of the 25 illustrations have been redacted.

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Empire of Dirt

The Aesthetics and Rituals of British Indie Music

Wendy Fonarow

Britain is widely considered the cradle of independent music culture. Bands like Radiohead and Belle and Sebastian, which epitomize indie music's sounds and attitudes, have spawned worldwide fanbases. This in-depth study of the British independent music scene explores how the behavior of fans, artists, and music industry professionals produce a community with a specific aesthetic based on moral values. Author Wendy Fonarow, a scholar with years of experience in the various sectors of the indie music scene, examines the indie music "gig" as a ritual in which all participants are actively involved. This ritual allows participants to play with cultural norms regarding appropriate behavior, especially in the domains of sex and creativity. Her investigation uncovers the motivations of audience members when they first enter the community and how their positions change over time so that the gig functions for most members as a rite of passage. Empire of Dirt sheds new light on music, gender roles, emotion, subjectivity, embodiment, and authenticity.

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The Hidden Musicians

Music-Making in an English Town

Ruth Finnegan

A landmark in the study of music and culture, this acclaimed volume documents the remarkable scope of amateur music-making in the English town of Milton Keynes. It presents in vivid detail the contrasting yet overlapping worlds of classical orchestras, church choirs, brass bands, amateur operatic societies, and amateur bands playing jazz, rock, folk, and country. Notable for its contribution to wider theoretical debates and its influential challenge to long-held assumptions about music and how to study it, the book focuses on the practices rather than the texts or theory of music, rejecting the idea that only selected musical traditions, "great names," or professional musicians are worth studying. This opens the door to the invisible work put in by thousands of local people of diverse backgrounds, and how the pathways creatively trodden by amateur musicians have something to tell us about both urban living and what it is to be human. Now with a new preface by the author, this long-awaited reissue of The Hidden Musicians will bring its insights and innovations to a new generation of students and scholars.

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