by Geoff Belforti, UArts Music Library
Collaborative and interdisciplinary by nature, music is a socially powerful and adaptable art form. The ubiquity of Anglo-American popular music testifies to its functionality as a reinforcement mechanism for communal belonging and individual identity. Music is readily co-opted by religious and political movements, as aural landscape for personal reflection, and as continuity stream for dance and cinema. That music tends to “show up” in the mix became the inevitable observation when we tried to find a peg upon which to hang a discussion about some of our best—but too little appreciated—scholarly journals. Far more current, and often more provocative than what we find in droller books, the journal literature provided by the University Libraries can lean toward the genuinely juicy and be as unpredictable as the wandering scholars who pause to polish and parade their pearls therein. Because the UArts Music Library subscribes to the print version, some of these journals are also available online.
By way of undisguised self-promotion, herewith is a random sampling of articles from the Music Library’s periodicals on music and … —
— dance anthropology
Giurchescu, Anca and Speranţa Rădulescu. “Music, dance, and behaviour in a new form of expressive culture: the Romanian manea,” Yearbook for Traditional Music 43 (2011), 2-36. (ML26 .I63 v. 43 2011 – the call number is for the bound issues in the Music Library.)
This article from the venerable Yearbook for Traditional Music traces the roots, influences, and transformations of a highly popular form of Roma protest music in Romania known as manea. Originating in Ottoman aristocratic music of the early 19th century, in the 1960’s the manea first became a genre of protest music, with gypsy musicians (mostly from poor communities and neighborhoods around the southeastern Danube) lamenting their plight as a marginalized people in Romania. By incorporating musical elements from genres as diverse and disparate as hip-hop, disco, pop, techno, and house music, as well as pan-Balkan and Arabic-Turkish music, manea has somewhat paradoxically come to appeal to everyone from lower class Romanian audiences to the nouveaux riches of the country. Read the full article to find out how manea has adapted so well to modern society and remained a powerful form of protest.
— landscape design
Fowler, Michael. “Transmediating a Japanese garden through spatial sound design,” Leonardo Music Journal 21 (2012), 43-49. (ML1 .L46 v. 21 2012)
Inspired in part by John Cage’s composition Ryoanji (a recording is available on CD6786 in the UArts Music Library), the artist Michael Fowler, writing for the Leonardo Music Journal, has developed schemata for “transmediating” landscape and sound at the ancient Sesshutei garden-temple complex at Joei-ji, Yamaguchi, Japan. The garden was originally designed and planted by a 15th-century Zen Buddhist painter and priest, who modeled it after one of his most famous paintings—one that playfully distorts viewers’ senses of scale and perception. Taking cues from Sesshu’s design, Fowler employs methods developed by the mathematicians Georgy Voronoy and Boris Delaunay to map the layout of the garden. He then transforms recordings from nature (of bird song, running water) combined with those of traditional instruments (rin, or singing bowl; mokugyo, or woodblock; and daiko drums) into a sound installation that complements—diagrammatically emulates—Sesshu’s original garden design.
Vuoskoski, Jonna, et al. “Who enjoys listening to sad music and why?” Music Perception 29 (2012), 311-315. (ML3830 .M765 v. 29 2012) Thoroughly superficial assumptions pervade whatever understanding most of us have regarding so-called “happy” and “sad” music. Most discussions founder on the shores of cultural indoctrination. Here, in the journal Music Perception, several researchers from Finland and Australia attempt a more deeply analytical approach to this deceptively puzzling issue. Contrary to feelings of increased sadness elicited by certain life events, the psychologists found that those participants who self-identify as appreciators of “sad” music were more like to report feelings of “peacefulness”, “wonder”, and “nostalgia” after hearing selected musical compositions. They further discovered that certain personality traits typically associated with “positive” emotions correlate with the enjoyment of sad music. As is the case with much of the burgeoning field of music psychology, the proposals concluding this article are worth the effort it takes to monitor journal literature such as this, where extraordinary developments in a host of disciplines are often first presented.