Musicology – some cool ideas


It seems to me that as technologies change, music and literature will surely come closer together than they already are? In any case, musicology is interesting… some ideas:

“Whereas ‘new music’ is written by composers, its reputation and social significance are provided by people who are not composers: textbook writers, magazine journalists, radio interviewers, and newspaper critics.”
(p.227, Susan Parenti, Mark Enslin and Herbert Bruen ‘Recontextualizing the Production of ‘New Music”)

“Music is a threat to hegemonic forms of discourse and social relations because it offers the greatest potential to create new forms of communication and create “pleasure in being instead of having.”” (p.21 Robin Balliger Sounds of Resistance, pp.13-)

Sonic Squatting
[…] subordinate groups have used music as a weapon which is able to penetrate walls and minds. In addition to the fact that drumming can reproduce language, territorialization through sound marks off areas of political or cultural significance and has played a major role in human activities such as religion and war. From kettledrums to bagpipes, sound exhorted troops, relayed commands, and was used to terrify enemies. Sound has remained a potent weapon, a force that disturbs through the fact that it is unhinged from the visual or the knowable and symbolically acts on the imagination, infiltrating and destabilizing power.” (p.23 Robin Balliger Sounds of Resistance, pp.13-)

“Sound or P.A. systems may create an internal spatiality or “temporary autonomous zone,” but through them music can traverse and challenge spatially organized social divisions. In his work on the cultural character of ethnic and class divisions in Cartagena, Colombia, Joel Streicker describes the use of sound as resistance and a “non-spatial way to reclaim space.” He historicizes the construction of urban space which has become increasingly divided by class and race to make certain areas “safe” for the “rich” and tourism. The spatial separation of rich and poor is culturally symbolized by the Independence Day Festival which once involved all social groups, but more recently local elites have shaped it into an event which excludes the poor (who are largely of African descent). Many lower class youths have reclaimed the Festival’s dance through what Streicker describes as a “budding, racially conscious, popular class cultural movement centered on music and dance called champeta.” In addition to constructing an alternative identity through African music as opposed to Latin music, the loud sound systems at these dances broadcast the music past the walls of the colonial city. “This music speaks of – and is – a presence that the rich cannot avoid, a nearly dusk-to-dawn siege reminding the wealthy of the popular class’ Otherness… and a way for disenfranchised groups to exercise control over space…” Through broadcasting their own music directly into the site of official culture the champetudos create a struggle over class privilege and identity through sound.” (p.24 Robin Balliger Sounds of Resistance, pp.13-)

“Our cultural evolution is no longer allowed to unfold in the way that pre-copyright culture always did. True folk music, for example, is no longer possible. The original folk process of incorporating previous melodies and lyrics into constantly evolving songs is impossible when melodies and lyrics are privately owned. We now exist in a society so choked and inhibited by cultural property and copyright protections that the very idea of mass culture is now primarily propelled by economic gain and the rewards of ownership.” (p.92 Fair Use, Negativland, pp.90-)

Ref: Eds Ron Sakolsky and Fred Wei-han Ho Sounding off! music as subversion/resistance/revolution. Autonomedia (and Contributors): New York. 1995


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