Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music

By Georgina Born; David Hesmondhalgh | Go to book overview

Bartók, the Gypsies,
and Hybridity in Music
Julie Brown

I. INTRODUCTION

To talk about Hungarian modernist composer Béla Bartók is almost inevitably to talk about ethnicity and race. Considered a great of twentieth-century music , Bartók succeeded in the 1920s in creating a musical language that mediated between the increasingly polarized Schoenberg and Stravinsky camps— twelve-note atonalism on the one hand, neoclassicism on the other. Most notably, however, he forged a recognizably Hungarian modernist voice. The basic story of his quest for this voice is well known. Around 1906, influenced by nineteenth-century völkisch nationalism, though more directly by the celebration of folk culture at Hungary's 1896 millennial commemoration of a thousand years of Magyar presence in the Carpathian Basin, Bartók became, with Zoltán Kodály, a pioneering collector and student of folksong. His initial aim was to expand the available repertory of magyar nóta (Hungarian tunes, often by amateur composers of the middle classes, transmitted as folk songs), but this grew into one of identifying an “authentic” Hungarian source music, an ur-Hungarian folksong which he hoped might enrich his own efforts to create a distinctively Hungarian modernist art music. (His main compositional influences at this time were Strauss, Debussy, and Liszt.) His Magyar nationalism may later have undergone significant revision, and the emphases he placed on individual activities may have shifted over the years. He concerned himself, for instance, with an increasingly wide range of ethnic musics, not only from provinces within Hungary, and clearly took increasing pleasure in ethnographic study for its own sake. But his foundational project was undoubtedly nationalist.

One of Bartók's major achievements as folklorist was his “discovery” of peasant song, something quite different from the folk music with which urban

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Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - On Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music 1
  • Notes 47
  • Musical Belongings - Western Music and Its Low-Other 59
  • Notes 78
  • Race, Orientalism, and Distinction in the Wake of the “yellow Peril” 86
  • Notes 110
  • Bartók, the Gypsies, and Hybridity in Music 119
  • Notes 137
  • Modernism, Deception, and Musical Others: Los Angeles Circa 1940 143
  • Notes 160
  • Experimental Oriental - New Music and Other Others 163
  • Notes 183
  • Composing the Cantorate - Westernizing Europe's Other Within 187
  • Notes 207
  • East, West, and Arabesk 213
  • Notes 229
  • Scoring the Indian - Music in the Liberal Western 234
  • Notes 251
  • The Poetics and Politics of Pygmy Pop 254
  • Discography 275
  • Notes 276
  • International Times - Fusions, Exoticism, and Antiracism in Electronic Dance Music 280
  • Notes 301
  • The Discourse of World Music 305
  • Notes 320
  • Contributors 323
  • Index 327
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