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the world of music 47, 2005-3

The Music of "Others" in the Western World

Editor: Max-Peter Baumann
Co-Editor: Jonathan P. J. Stock
Guest Editor: Bruno Deschênes

ISSN 0043-8774
ISBN 3-86135-745-3

Articles

Bruno Deschênes
The Interest of Westerners in Non-Western Music

Steven Casano
From Fuke Shuu to Uduboo: The Transnational Flow of the Shakuhachi to the West

Jay Keister
Seeking Authentic Experience: Spirituality in Western Appropriation of Asian Music

Anas Ghrab
Occident and Intervals in “Arabic Music,” from the Eighteenth Century to the Cairo Music Congress

Christopher J. Miller
Orchids (and Other Difficult Flowers) Revisited: A Reflection on Composing for Gamelan in North America

Christian Utz
Beyond Cultural Representation: Recent Works for the Asian Mouth Organs Shō and Sheng by Western Composers

Tanya Kalmanovitch
Jazz and Karnatic Music: Intercultural Collaboration in Pedagogical Perspective

 

Book Reviews (Helena B. Simonett, ed.)

Alejandro L. Madrid
Antonio García de León Griego. El mar de los deseos: El Caribe hispano musical: Historia y contrapunto

Rowan Pease
Stephen Jones. Plucking the Winds: Lives of Village Musicians in Old and New China

Peter Cooke
Peregrine Horden, ed., Music as Medicine: The History of Music Therapy since Antiquity

Peter Cooke
Penelope Gouk. ed., Musical Healing in Cultural Contexts

Ola Belo
Mai Palmberg and Annemette Kirkegaard, ed., Playing with Identities in Contemporary Music in Africa

 

Recording Reviews (David Dawe, ed.)

David Cooper
Máirtín Pheaits Ó Cualáin. Traditional Songs from Connemara

Trevor Wiggins
James Burns. Ewe Drumming from Ghana: The Soup Which is Sweet Draws the Chairs in Closer

 

Abstracts

The Interest of Westerners in Non-Western Music
Bruno Deschênes
With the current globalization of communications and connections between today’s societies, cultures are inevitably influencing each other although not to the same extent. All aspects of today’s Western technologies, thoughts, politics, economics, science, arts, music, etc., are permeating many, if not most aspects of all non-Western cultures. In many parts of the world, modernity is equated with Westernization, and many traditions are “trampled” to make way for this so-called Western modernity, which sometimes is equated with some kind of universality. The same phenomenon applies to music as well. In many places, traditional forms of music are now seen by natives as archaic and antiquated. Some are actually altered to conform to the Western paradigm. Over time, these alterations might slowly deprive them of their traditional heritage. Nowadays, even when new forms of music are created, they are basically moulded to the so-called modern, thus Western standards. Witnessing this trend, some scholars even believe that in some parts of the world, some traditional forms of music are nearly on the verge of being swept away by Westernization. The impression is that non-Western societies are being imposed a one-way form of acculturation.

From Fuke Shuu to Uduboo: The Transnational Flow of the Shakuhachi to the West
Steven Casano
Just as Japan has been economically and technologically influential worldwide, its artistic and cultural forms have also been influential on a global level. Over the past thirty years, the shakuhachi, a Japanese end-blown bamboo flute, has steadily grown in popularity throughout the West. In Japan, the shakuhachi developed from an instrument utilized by the Zen Buddhist priests of the Fuke Shuu (Fuke sect) in a form of meditation known as suizen (blowing Zen) to an instrument, which is presently used internationally not only for meditation, but also in movie soundtracks, contemporary compositions by Western-trained composers, and even Jazz. Since the mid-to-late 1960s, the shakuhachi tradition has steadily grown in popularity in the Western world. This is evident with the growing number of non-Japanese recordings, Web pages, publications, compositions, local shakuhachi organizations, and e-mail groups.

Seeking Authentic Experience: Spirituality in Western Appropriation of Asian Music
Jay Keister
Spirituality is a highly problematic topic of study, yet it is crucial to understanding how Westerners appropriate and experience music cross-culturally. A discourse of spirituality in which Westerners construct notions of an authentic, exotic other is particularly common in the appropriation of Asian music. In their encounters with Asian music, Westerners sometimes take an approach that could be described as spiritual, but not religious, meaning that the spiritual power of music lies in the individual’s direct experience with the music unrestricted by the doctrines, texts and social practices that govern musical practice in an Asian context. Although many Westerners do participate in a master-disciple relationship typical of many Asian traditions, some take what can be described as a “seeker” approach to spirituality that rejects such traditional social organization as overly “religious” and antithetical to a spiritually authentic experience of music. Spiritual experiences of Japanese music are examined in this paper, particularly music of the shakuhachi flute in which ideas of spirituality are common and explicitly expressed.

Occident and Intervals in “Arabic Music,” from the Eighteenth Century to the Cairo Music Congress
Anas Ghrab
This article explores the history of the work done on music intervals in Arabic music by Westerners during the last three centuries. This analysis tries to unveil the theoretical precepts underlying their work and uncovers the assumptions it had on understanding the original literature on Arabic musical theory. Moreover, although the basic interests behind this exploration differed from one researcher to the others, some of the ideas put forward were extremely influential. They served to put forth strong clichés thought to be representative of the music of the Arab world. Finally, although this theoretical veil, we can discern a historical evolution which is closely linked to the historical rapport between the European and Arab cultures.

Orchids (and Other Difficult Flowers) Revisited: A Reflection on Composing for Gamelan in North America
Christopher J. Miller
The creative engagement of North American composers with Indonesian music has produced a great diversity of work. Focusing primarily on new music for Javanese gamelan, and drawing largely on my own experience as a composer with a significant involvement in the performance of traditional music, this article examines the variety of approaches taken by composers and ensembles and the different relationships to tradition they imply or embody. Arguing that creative activity cannot be understood apart from the broader presence of Indonesian music, I attempt a realistic assessment of gamelan’s existence in North America on both a philosophical and practical level. I relate the basis of my own interest in the music, and recount some of the history of the group in which I started, a group which managed to avoid the schism which generally persists between composition and traditional performance. In examining different compositional approaches, I point to the interconnectedness of instruments and musical ideas, the problems with simple imitation, and the importance of the situations in which work is created, determined largely by the musicians involved.

Beyond Cultural Representation: Recent Works for the Asian Mouth Organs Shō and Sheng by Western Composers
Christian Utz
One notable effect of musical globalisation is the increasing presence of Asian instruments in works by Western composers, a phenomenon that could only very rarely be observed in Western new music up to the 1980s. The international activities of Asian musicians, though sometimes triggered by Western initiative, have afforded opportunities for creative collaborations with composers looking for more precise, comprehensive and “emic” information on these instruments−as opposed to the secondary materials available to most Western composers in the past. This article focuses on the key question: how do these composers attempt to transform this information into new compositional concepts and how do they confront the cultural symbolism and the idiosyncrasies of the Asian instruments? Most prominently, the Japanese mouth organ shō and, more recently, its Chinese analogue, the sheng, have proved very attractive to Western composers of different generations and origin. Examples from works by Helmut Lachenmann, Chaya Czernowin, Klaus Huber, Gerhard Stäbler, Robert HP Platz, John Cage, Heinz Reber, Jorge Sánchez-Chiong and Wolfgang Suppan exemplify a plurality of perspectives on these two instruments and their "cultural" significance within a Western musical discourse. Finally, two compositions by the author are introduced to illustrate how a bi-cultural instrumentation can lead to complex structural stratification aimed at aesthetic and aural ambiguity and multi-perspectivity.

Jazz and Karnatic Music: Intercultural Collaboration in Pedagogical Perspective
Tanya Kalmanovitch
As a uniquely intercultural music, jazz has been shaped by its joint African and European patrimony, as well as a host of local and distant musical “others.” Among these, Indian classical musics play a special role: an awareness of Indian music is part of the contemporary jazz consciousness, and jazz musicians have frequently looked to Indian classical music as a source of both musical and extra-musical inspiration. Karnatic music – long marginalized in India and abroad – is emerging in the twentyfirst century as a site of specific aesthetic and pedagogical interest in jazz. This paper reports on an educational exchange project between the Jazz and Contemporary Music Program of the New School University (New York) and the Brhaddhvani Research and Training Centre for Musics of the World (Chennai), directed by the author in December 2003-January 2004, in collaboration with Dr. Karaikudi S. Subramanian (Brhaddhvani), Martin Mueller (New School) and Ronan Guilfoyle (Newpark Music Centre, Dublin).

 

 

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