Fiddler on the Move: Exploring the Klezmer World

Fiddler on the Move: Exploring the Klezmer World

Fiddler on the Move: Exploring the Klezmer World

Fiddler on the Move: Exploring the Klezmer World

Synopsis

Contemporary klezmer music is a rapidly expanding revival of repertories and styles used by old-time professional musical entertainers in Jewish Eastern Europe. Fiddler on the Move, a volume in the American Musicspheres series edited by Mark Slobin, is an attepmt to position klezmer within American music studies, cultural studies, and ethnomusicology. Rather than present a chronology or a comprehensive survey, the author suggests how a variety of methods of research and angles of vision can help make sense of the highly diverse activities found under the klezmer umbrella. The book is accompanied by a CD of recorded examples.

Excerpt

Spheres within spheres--this is what American music looks like in the early twenty-first century. Overlapping, intersecting, sharp at the core and fuzzy at the edges: large and small music systems surround Americans and project the region's sound to the world. This is a multidimensional, surprising set of worlds in collision. the machinery of marketing and media struggle to straighten out the shapes, styles, and meanings. Tinges of domination, accommodation, and reciprocity color the picture.

"America" here means the several cultural spaces that center on the United States, both magnet and generator of musical energy. This nation- state once understood its musical map as an overlay of "white" on "black," with "color" added by continuous overlays of absorbed populations, some brought in by aggressive territorial expansion, others by the pull of immigration or the push of disaster. It took the whole twentieth century to shift to a more nuanced sense of internal cultural ferment. Now we can see any musician or audience as an influencer or receptor. Groups actively seek to control their own definition, often consciously crossing cultural and national borders. the media both empower and disempower musical taste and direction through target marketing.

This series will present concise, focused accounts of a sampling of spheres. Some studies will describe a localized group, but show how a micromusic is implicated in broad trends and constantly changing ways of thinking about musical choices. Some books survey "networks," circuits of sensibility that bind people regionally or nationally. Others will introduce an individual as a prism that refracts and breaks down the harsh beam of American life into an intensely hued pattern of musical light. Yet others might seize on a musical moment of particular intensity.

The overall aim: to avoid defining musical "villages," to move away from neat periodization, and to give terms like "folk," "traditional," "ethnic," and "popular" a well-deserved rest. American music studies needs new perspectives; this series hopes to suggest some.

Mark slobin Series Editor American Musicspheres . . .

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