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

By Georgina Born; David Hesmondhalgh | Go to book overview

pinning down, in order to have power over, the core of its former identity: urban Gypsy music. Bartók's obsession with terminological clarity in this respect—”Gypsy music, ” “Hungarian folk-style art music, ” 78 “Hungarian popular art music” 79—betrays this concern with national self-definition. As Seamus Deane has pointed out, “the naming or renaming of a place, the naming or renaming of a race, a region, a person is, like all acts of primordial nomination, an act of possession.” 80 In view of Gypsy music's investment “with enormous emotional and political energy” in the name of conservative Magyar nationalism, 81 Deane's continuation is telling: “That for which there is no all-embracing name cannot be comprehensively possessed. Instead of possession, we have various modes of sectarian appropriation.” 82 Bartók's obsessive renaming bears witness to his need to possess Gypsy music in order to discount it in the name of progressive modern Hungarian nationalism . And if we have to expand our conception of “progress” and “modernism ” in the social domain in the early twentieth century, and to accept that it frequently relied on Darwinian theories of evolution, such acceptance can only lead to a more rounded picture of the birth of musical modernism. Narratives of Bartók as the heroic, enlightened progressive struggling against conservative forces whose less enlightened path somehow connected them, in contrast to Bartók, to the political fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, need greater nuance. 83 The hybrid and its contrasting agents, the Gypsy and the peasant, figures on which Bartók's evolutionary account of cultural and musical formation relied, ultimately emerge from writings spanning a fraught period in history as signs of confusion and anxiety.

It is beyond the scope of the present essay to consider ways in which references to Gypsy music, music based on the verbunkos type, changed in Bart ók's own compositions. I shall simply note that having abandoned the verbunkos style around 1905, after the Kossuth symphonic poem (1903) and the Rhapsody op. 1 (1904), Bartók began to use it again in 1928. Although this came two or three years before the spate of essays in which he comprehensively reconstructed Gypsy music (and followed quickly upon Kodály's own return to verbunkos), there is a suggestive broad parallel between this stylistic return and his change in representation of Gypsy music. Perhaps more significantly, his Concerto for Orchestra of 1942, recently characterized as “historically embedded in world crisis…a lament for man's inhumanity to man, ” brings Bartók's life's work full circle, as David Cooper notes, through its inclusion of Gypsy, verbunkos, and peasant elements in the mature Bart ókian style. 84


NOTES
1
As will become clear in the following discussion, the very category “Gypsy music ” is contested. However, to avoid needless complexity, unless otherwise specified

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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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