"Mek Some Noise": Gospel Music and the Ethics of Style in Trinidad

"Mek Some Noise": Gospel Music and the Ethics of Style in Trinidad

"Mek Some Noise": Gospel Music and the Ethics of Style in Trinidad

"Mek Some Noise": Gospel Music and the Ethics of Style in Trinidad

Synopsis

"Mek Some Noise", Timothy Rommen's ethnographic study of Trinidadian gospel music, engages the multiple musical styles circulating in the nation's Full Gospel community and illustrates the carefully negotiated and contested spaces that they occupy in relationship to questions of identity. By exploring gospelypso, jamoo ("Jehovah's music"), gospel dancehall, and North American gospel music, along with the discourses that surround performances in these styles, he illustrates the extent to which value, meaning, and appropriateness are continually circumscribed and reinterpreted in the process of coming to terms with what it looks and sounds like to be a Full Gospel believer in Trinidad. The local, regional, and transnational implications of these musical styles, moreover, are read in relationship to their impact on belief (and vice versa), revealing the particularly nuanced poetics of conviction that drive both apologists and detractors of these styles.

Rommen sets his investigation against a concisely drawn, richly historical narrative and introduces a theoretical approach which he calls the "ethics of style"--a model that privileges the convictions embedded in this context and that emphasizes their role in shaping the terms upon which identity is continually being constructed in Trinidad. The result is an extended meditation on the convictions that lie behind the creation and reception of style in Full Gospel Trinidad.

Copub: Center for Black Music Research

Excerpt

This book is about conviction. It is about believing and translating that belief into action. It is about the way that music participates in actualizing belief— but also about the ways that music convinces. This book is about people talking about people making music—that is, reception. But it is also about people making music in order to say something—that is, performance. in short, this book is about the ethics of style. This book is about Full Gospel Christians who want to live as and sound like Christians in Trinidad. As such, it concerns the place of Full Gospel believers in the nation and in the region— it is a book about memories and identities, about futures and possibilities. But mostly, it is a book that hopes to convey in prose a poetics of belief so delicate and intricate that I have often felt at a loss for vocabulary and syntax with which to discuss it.

The chapters that follow explore music and its roles in the lives of Full Gospel believers in Trinidad. They explore the ways in which the several styles of gospel music circulating in and around that community are seized upon and used (or rejected) in the hope of securing Full Gospel identity in the face of other religious traditions and within the nation at large. As such, the chapters that follow concern themselves variously with musical style, colonial and missionary histories, national and regional politics, media flows and migration, and aesthetics. the central and unifying thread running throughout the book, however, is conviction.

The pages that follow, then, constitute an extended meditation on the convictions—the ethical concerns—that motivate the creation and reception of style in Full Gospel Trinidad. This is the case because ethics is firmly entrenched at the core of communal discourse about the relative usefulness of given styles and because ethical considerations serve as a principal motivation for many artists’ individual contributions to what gospel music . . .

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