What Makes Music European: Looking beyond Sound (Europea: Ethnomusicologies and Modernities)

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9780810876712: What Makes Music European: Looking beyond Sound (Europea: Ethnomusicologies and Modernities)

We seldom consider how much we mistakenly presume in hewing to definitions of music that differ dramatically from the standpoint of other cultures. In What Makes Music European, Marcello Sorce Keller examines the limitations of accepted wisdom about the concept of music in Euro-Western culture. His investigations of the conclusions reached by music researchers of the past several decades considerably upsets the concepts relied upon by the concert-going public. Sorce Keller insightfully asks: Who makes the music? Should music be original, and how much can it be? Why do people identify with songs, pieces, styles, and repertoire? Why is music so ideological? Why do we misunderstand the music of different times and places, and why do we enjoy doing so? He also explores the juxtaposition of economy, society, and music making, as well as the concept of "illegal harmonies."

In What Makes Music European, Sorce Keller addresses the little-discussed matters that are essential to an understanding of how music intersects with the life of so many people. Readers are offered an approach for thinking about music that depends as much on its history as on the concepts and attitudes of the social sciences. What Makes Music European concisely demonstrates, to those familiar with Western music, how peculiar Euro-Western concepts of music appear from a cross-cultural perspective. At the same time, it encourages ethnomusicologists to apply their knowledge to Western music and explain to its public how much of what listeners take for granted is, at the very least, highly debatable.

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About the Author:

Marcello Sorce Keller is Board Member of the Mediterranean Institute at the University of Malta. He is the author and producer of "Note in libertÓ," a radio program on Swiss Italian Radio.

Review:

Sorce Keller's express intention is to examine the European art-music tradition with the same tools and from the same perspectives that an ethnomusicologist would employ to examine music of a non-Western culture. The working out of this agenda does not go as one might expect. This is a fascinating, personal, broadly provocative book that can be approached by readers far beyond the discipline of ethnomusicology. The current notion of European art music, or the very idea of "music" in Europe, seems to have been constructed in the 19th century; it was tied strongly to social and economic change, among other things. Fundamental European assumptions about music (e.g., that there are musical "works" and that there are "composers" of those works), then, do not emerge inevitably from the stuff of music itself. Sorce Keller raises these issues and many more within a purview that comprehends European music's relationships with other musics and with its own history. This book is particularly appropriate for libraries with holdings in musicology, especially other volumes in the "Europea" series. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. (CHOICE)

This book is a “fun read.” Sorce Keller quotes everyone from Monteverdi, Voltaire, GarcíaMárquez, Stravinsky, and David Hume, to Clifford Geertz, Max Weber, and Groucho Marx. Looking at everything with sophistication, showing constantly the close relationship of music to the other arts and to literature, he provides frequent bits of humour and always avoids a sense of self-importance. . . Altogether, however, this is a significant contribution to the literature of music research which will also show readers from other disciplines and interests what ethnomusicology is all about.
(Yearbook for Traditional Music)

In this book the author addresses several core questions about how we define music, which he then narrows down into how European music is defined: Who makes music? Should music be original? What makes people identify with specific songs? And, why do we misunderstand music from different regions or time periods? In general, the author of this title has written essays that will help researches explore the definitions of music in Europe, and the limitations that people put on their music experiences. The book combines music with the social sciences, exploring the links between music and the economy, society, and music-making. The work is divided into three parts: 'Who Makes the Music (Why We All Are 'Composers')'; 'Originality, Ideology, and Taste'; and 'The Tangible Aspects of Music Making.' The author ends with a conclusion tying all of his ideas together as well as an appendix of journal and encyclopedia entries that were necessary to write this book, a list of references, and an index. This is a highly theoretical book that will appeal mainly to those researching at the post-graduate level.

(American Reference Books Annual)

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