We tend to take for granted the labels we put to different forms of music. This study considers the origins and implications of the way in which we categorize music. Whereas earlier ways of classifying music were based on its different functions, for the past two hundred years we have been obsessed with creativity and musical origins, and classify music along these lines. Matthew Gelbart argues that folk music and art music became meaningful concepts only in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and only in relation to each other. He examines how cultural nationalism served as the earliest impetus in classifying music by origins, and how the notions of folk music and art music followed - in conjunction with changing conceptions of nature, and changing ideas about human creativity. Through tracing the history of these musical categories, the book confronts our assumptions about different kinds of music.
Hamish MacCunn’s career unfolded amidst the restructuring of British musical culture and the rewriting of the Western European political landscape. Having risen to fame in the late 1880s with a string of Scottish works, MacCunn further highlighted his Caledonian background by cultivating a Scottish artistic persona that defined him throughout his life. His attempts to broaden his appeal ultimately failed. This, along with his difficult personality and a series of poor professional choices, led to the slow demise of what began as a promising career. As the first comprehensive study of MacCunn’s life, the book illustrates how social and cultural situations as well as his personal relationships influenced his career. While his fierce loyalty to his friends endeared him to influential people who helped him throughout his career, his refusal of his Royal College of Music degree and his failure to complete early commissions assured him a difficult path. Drawing upon primary resources, Oates traces the development of MacCunn’s music chronologically, juxtaposing his Scottish and more cosmopolitan compositions within a discussion of his life and other professional activities. This picture of MacCunn and his music reveals on the one hand a talented composer who played a role in establishing national identity in British music and, on the other, a man who unwittingly sabotaged his own career.
This is the first book to combine contemporary debates in ballad studies with the insights of modern textual scholarship. Just like canonical literature and music, the ballad should not be seen as a uniquely authentic item inextricably tied to a documented source, but rather as an unstable structure subject to the vagaries of production, reception, and editing. Among the matters addressed are topics central to the subject, including ballad origins, oral and printed transmission, sound and writing, agency and editing, and textual and melodic indeterminacy and instability. While drawing on the time-honoured materials of ballad studies, the book offers a theoretical framework for the discipline to complement the largely ethnographic approach that has dominated in recent decades. Primarily directed at the community of ballad and folk song scholars, the book will be of interest to researchers in several adjacent fields, including folklore, oral literature, ethnomusicology, and textual scholarship.
Northern Ireland remains a divided community in which traditional culture is widely understood as a marker of religious affiliation and ethnic identity. David Cooper provides an analysis of the characteristics of traditional music performed in Northern Ireland, as well as an ethnographic and ethnomusicological study of a group of traditional musicians from County Antrim. In particular, he offers a consideration of the cultural dynamics of Northern Ireland with respect to traditional music.
Unaccountably, Percy Grainger has remained on the margins of both American music history and twentieth-century modernism. This volume reveals the well-known composer of popular gems to be a self-described ‘hyper-modernist’ who composed works of uncompromising dissonance, challenged the conventions of folk song collection and adaptation, re-visioned the modern orchestra, experimented with ‘ego-less’ composition and designed electronic machines intended to supersede human application. Grainger was far from being a self-sufficient maverick working in isolation. Through contact with innovators such as Ferrucio Busoni, Léon Theremin and Henry Cowell; promotion of the music of modern French and Spanish schools; appreciation of vernacular, jazz and folk musics; as well as with the study and transcription of non-Western music; he contested received ideas and proposed many radical new approaches. By reappraising Grainger’s social and historical connectedness and exploring the variety of aspects of modernity seen in his activities in the British, American and Australian contexts, the authors create a profile of a composer, propagandist and visionary whose modernist aesthetic paralleled that of the most advanced composers of his day, and, in some cases, anticipated their practical experiments.
"[This book] is a contribution of considerable substance because it takes a holistic view of the field of folk music and the scholarship that has dealt with it." -- Bruno Nettl "... a praiseworthy combination of solid scholarship, penetrating discussion, and global relevance." -- Asian Folklore Studies "... successfully ties the history and development of folk music scholarship with contemporary concepts, issues, and shifts, and which treats varied folk musics of the world cultures within the rubric of folklore and ethnomusicology with subtle generalizations making sense to serious minds... " -- Folklore Forum "... [this book] challenges many carefully-nurtured sacred cows. Bohlman has executed an intellectual challenge of major significance by successfully organizing a welter of unruly data and ideas into a single, appropriately complex but coherent, system." -- Folk Music Journal Bohlman examines folk music as a genre of folklore from a broadly cross-cultural perspective and espouses a more expansive view of folk music, stressing its vitality in non-Western cultures as well as Western, in the present as well as the past.
During the last few decades, most cultural critics have come to agree that the division between "high" and "low" art is an artificial one, that Beethoven's Ninth and "Blue Suede Shoes" are equally valuable as cultural texts. In Who Needs Classical Music?, Julian Johnson challenges these assumptions about the relativism of cultural judgements. The author maintains that music is more than just "a matter of taste": while some music provides entertainment, or serves as background noise, other music claims to function as art. This book considers the value of classical music in contemporary society, arguing that it remains distinctive because it works in quite different ways to most of the other music that surrounds us. This intellectually sophisticated yet accessible book offers a new and balanced defense of the specific values of classical music in contemporary culture. Who Needs Classical Music? will stimulate readers to reflect on their own investment (or lack of it) in music and art of all kinds.
This important study in ethnomusicology is an attempt by the author -- a musician who has become a social anthropologist -- to compare his experiences of music-making in different cultures. He is here presenting new information resulting from his research into African music, especially among the Venda. Venda music, he discovered is in its way no less complex in structure than European music. Literacy and the invention of nation may generate extended musical structures, but they express differences of degree, and not the difference in kind that is implied by the distinction between ?art? and ?folk? music. Many, if not all, of music's essential processes may be found in the constitution of the human body and in patterns of interaction of human bodies in society. Thus all music is structurally, as well as functionally, ?folk? music in the sense that music cannot be transmitted of have meaning without associations between people. If John Blacking's guess about the biological and social origins of music is correct, or even only partly correct, it would generate new ideas about the nature of musicality, the role of music in education and its general role in societies which (like the Venda in the context of their traditional economy) will have more leisure time as automation increases.