Tag Archives: Musicology

Macunaíma and brasilidade

In Macunaíma, o herói sem nenhum caráter (Macunaíma, the hero without character) by the Brazilian musicologist, ethnomusicologist, poet, and cultural activist Mário de Andrade (1893–1945), the title character leaves his home deep in the jungle for a mystical quest to São Paulo to retrieve the muiraquitã, an amulet said to embody all of the history and traditions of his culture. Macunaíma succeeds in his mission, but in the process he undergoes a series of dramatic transformations; finally, he is changed into a constellation. He leaves for the firmament with a cryptic remark: He was not brought into the world to be a stone.

The story can be read as a metaphor for the cultural developments that Andrade helped to shape: He advocated bringing the jungle to the city to create the modernist aesthetic of brasilidade that informed the growth of the Brazilian creative arts and the parallel development of musicology and ethnomusicology there. Like Macunaíma, Brazilian modernism did not come into the world to be a stone, with all its implications of rigidity, contour, and well-defined boundaries—rather, brasilidade relishes improvisation, exploration, and fluid boundaries that can be perpetually transformed.

This according to “Macunaíma out of the woods: The intersection of musicology and ethnomusicology in Brazil” by James Melo, an essay included in our recently published Music’s intellectual history.

Related article: Tropicália and Bahia

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Ethnomusicology, Literature, Musicologists

Musicology and fiction

Throughout the nineteenth century, parallels between the forms and contents of individual compositions and a variety of poems and prose tales were discussed. Liszt, Strauss, and other composers cited literary classics in the titles of their works and even published excerpts in their scores. As a consequence, certain critics came out in favor of musical programmism, while others advocated musical absolutism.

More recently, such discussions have been amplified by suggestions that certain works of fiction themselves employ musical structural principles, particularly sonata form. Doktor Faustus by Thomas Mann (above) can be viewed in relation to Beethoven’s piano sonata op. 111, and several of Jane Austen’s novels can be compared with Mozart concerto movements. This approach suggests new ways in which musicologists might acquire a deeper understanding of such issues as musical representations of gender, the ways in which instrumental compositions may be said to embody character, and the problem of music and narrativity.

This according to “Musicology and fiction” by Michael Saffle, an essay included in our recently published Music’s intellectual history.

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Filed under Curiosities, Literature, Reception, Romantic era

Was Kuhač there first?

In his 1882 unpublished essay Die Eigenthümlichkeiten der magyarischen Volksmusik, Franjo Ksaver Kuhač (1834–1911) used and explained the term musicology. Since the Vierteljahrsschrift für Musikwissenschaft appeared three years later with Guido Adler’s definition of the term, Kuhač assumed—and he died with this conviction—that he was the first to have coined it.

Kuhač was also an early visionary in comparative musicology, a stream that fed into the beginnings of ethnomusicology. As he saw it, the discipline’s task was to determine the laws of any given nation’s traditional music so these could be used as the basis for a national style in art music; his overarching goal was to create an awareness of Croatian national music and to establish its place in the context of Central European culture.

This according to “Franjo Ksaver Kuhač and the beginnings of music scholarship in Croatia” by Zdravko Blažeković, an essay included in our recently published Music’s intellectual history.

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Filed under Ethnomusicology, Europe, Musicologists

Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek

The Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek (EZB), which was developed at the Universitätsbibliothek Regensburg with the Universitätsbibliothek der Technischen Universität München (above), provides an international list of musicology journals that are available on the Internet. The complete database, which is regularly updated by 545 libraries and research institutions, indicates whether each journal is open-access or subscription-based, and provides links to the journals themselves; it currently lists 47,117 titles, including  6150 journals that are only available online and 23,655 journals that can be read for free.

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Filed under Resources

Advanced musicology

In October 2009 the Finnish branch of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres (IAML) inaugurated the series Advanced musicology (ISSN 1798-3754) with Esa Lilja’s dissertation Theory and analysis of classic heavy metal harmony. The book’s author explores the implications of the harmonic language of heavy metal from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, with examples from bands including Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden.

Related article: In Extremo and Walther

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Filed under New series, Popular music, Theory

Journal of music research online

The Music Council of Australia launched the Journal of music research online (ISSN 1836-8336) in 2009. The journal intends to publish English-language articles on composition, early music, ethnomusicology, gender studies, interdisciplinary studies, music technologies, musicology, pedagogy, performance practice, and popular music; its first issue presents articles on Ravel and the influence of online social networking on music making and higher education.

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Filed under New periodicals

Conference reports

Conference reports illuminate intellectual history with a window on a particular moment. Since conference papers present the most current scholarship, a collection from a single conference provides a glimpse of the state of research on many topics at that time.

RILM recently published the papers from our first conference in Music’s intellectual history, and our retrospective coverage of conference reports, Speaking of Music: Music conferences, 1835–1966, was issued in 2004. The preface to the latter book provides an overview of this publication type.

The photo above is from the American Musicological Society‘s International Congress of Musicology in 1939. Standing: Harold Spivacke, Otto Kinkeldey, Otto Gombosi, Knud Jeppesen, Fernando Liuzzi, Gustave Reese. Seated: Edward J. Dent, Carleton Sprague Smith, Curt Sachs, Alfred Einstein, Dayton C. Miller.

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Filed under Musicologists, Publication types

The choral scholar

 

The choral scholar (ISSN 1948-3058), a peer-reviewed journal launched in 2009 by the National Collegiate Choral Organization, is dedicated to “presenting outstanding scholarship related to the study and performance of choral music”—including such topics as conducting and pedagogy, in addition to musicological research; it also welcomes studies that directly involve choral music from fields other than music. The journal’s first issue includes articles on vocal physiology, performance practice, repertoire, and compositional style.

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Filed under New periodicals

Submissions: The old days

lopez calo2

Before RILM set up online forms for sending us citations and abstracts, all submissions were made by writing or typing on forms like the one pictured above. We had forms in all necessary languages, color-coded for sorting. As was the case with most manual typewriters, corrections and diacritics all had to be added by hand. After we received completed forms, everything had to be retyped into the database (and, for non-English titles and abstracts, translated into English) at the International Center.

Over the years, countless volunteers have made such contributions to RILM, including some very distinguished figures in musicology and ethnomusicology. The example above was submitted by the preeminent Spanish musicologist José López-Calo (b.1922) for the retrospective project undertaken by RILM’s founder Barry S. Brook in the 1970s—a project that finally reached fruition with the publication of Speaking of Music: Music conferences, 1835–1966 in 2004. (Click on the image, or here, to see a larger reproduction.)

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Filed under From the archives, RILM

International journal of community music

International journal of community musicInternational journal of community music (ISSN 1752-6299) is a refereed journal that publishes research, practical discussions, reviews, readers’ notes, and special issues concerning all aspects of community music.  To define its scope, the editors—David Elliott, Lee Higgins, and Kari Veblen—write: “Just as music and community are situated, contested, contingent, and hard to pin down, so too are concepts of community music as practice and as scholarship. In short, community music is a complex, multidimensional, and continuously evolving human endeavor.” The journal was launched in 2008.

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Filed under Ethnomusicology, New periodicals