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

By Georgina Born; David Hesmondhalgh | Go to book overview

Modernism, Deception,
and Musical Others:
Los Angeles circa 1940
Peter Franklin

I do not attach so much importance to being a musical bogy-man as to being a natural continuer of properly understood, good old tradition!

ARNOLD SCHOENBERG TO WERNER REINHART, 1923

In a short essay on the nature and implications of postmodernity, JeanFran çois Lyotard neatly labels the opposing axes between which the development of high-culture modernism has often been charted as an ethical, implicitly political project. Artists who aspire to be progressive and “authentic ” must “question the rules… as learnt and received from their predecessors ”: “They soon find that such rules are so many methods of deception , seduction and reassurance which make it impossible to be 'truthful.'” 1 To agree with those rules, Lyotard suggests, has been to affirm the way things are and embark upon an evasively therapeutic career in “mass conformism.” The nonconformists' path of progressive modernism is noble but comfortless ; those artists who persistently question the rules “are destined to lack credibility in the eyes of devoted adherents of reality and identity, to find themselves without a guaranteed audience.” 2

The more elaborate version of this model developed by Theodor Adorno, in his writings on music and aesthetics, drew upon complicatedly mediated historical attitudes. As an instrument, theory is itself, of course, historical, selecting and foregrounding evidence in a manner that may ideologically reinscribe what it seeks to explain. Opposition to traditional or academic norms does appear to have linked an extensive body of fin-de-siècle European artists and their heirs: the more aggressively politicized avant-gardistes of the 1920s and beyond. The use of this model as a historical tool is now, however, deeply problematic. Criticizing oversimplified interpretations of the history of European and American modernism, postmodernism has sought to restore the complicating nuances of difference within fields of cultural activity that Adorno, for example, often treated as unitary—such as popular

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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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