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Saturday morning quotes 3.15: Read and discuss

August 24, 2013

This morning’s post is on the lighter side since we are dealing with the convergence of far too many agenda items demanding all of our time and energy.  In lieu of our usual dose of original prose, we feature quotes from two musicologists with something to say about topics that pertain to the overarching theme of our blog – performing early music in the 21st century.

The first quote is from a worthwhile essay by Elizabeth Upton, “Concepts of Authenticity in Early Music and Popular Music Communities” from  Ethnomusicology Review Volume 17 (2012).

The interactions between Early Music and popular genres, including English and American folk music revivals, have been less easily recognized than connections between Early Music and Classical music. The similarities between Early Music and pop music experiences are reflected in the mediated musical objects that provided the reference points for – and are the products of – both movements. In the 1960s and 1970s, Early Music transmitted by recordings became available to a wider range of listeners, and elements of those recorded performances were appropriated by pop performers and composers for inclusion in pop music. At the same time, pop-sounding elements, particularly vocal timbre, were adopted by Early Music performers seeking alternatives to operatic-sounding voices. Changes in technology meant that musicians born after WWII were likely to grow up receiving music through recordings and broadcasts, linking generational cohorts through shared listening. Mass media allowed, and allows, generational cohorts to share characteristics across class and education lines. Scholars, respecting the categorical separations of pop and folk music from Classical and Early Music, miss noticing the existence of a shared experiential and historical zone for mutual transmission traceable in sonic borrowings across genre borderlines.

Our second quote is excerpted from an article by Christopher Moore, a specialist in French music of the 20th century.  The article is titled “Music and Politics, Performance, and the Paradigm of Historical Contextualism” from Music & Politics 4, Number 1 (Winter 2010).

The standard musicological defence, I suppose, would be to claim that sensitivity to political contexts provides the performing artist with a more complete appreciation for the factors that lead to a host of compositional decisions, not least of which involve such salient musical elements as genre and style. Governments, ideologies, and institutions create (even in the best of times) a network of constraints to which individuals, willingly or unwillingly, consciously or subconsciously, submit themselves. Indeed, it may be argued that the terms of artistic endeavour are largely defined by these parameters, ones over which an artist often has little or no control. Quite simply put, an artist can never be divorced from contemporary society. Even the oft-cited category of artistic alienation is predicated upon the existence of an antagonistic social relationship, not complete (and ultimately unattainable) isolation and autonomy from the political world.

Read and discuss.

One Comment
  1. Ned Mast permalink

    Good points. There are many composers who come to mind when reading Christopher Moore’s comments. One who immediately does is Dmitri Shostakovich – maligned by some for being too accommodating to political pressures.

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