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

By Georgina Born; David Hesmondhalgh | Go to book overview

Scoring the Indian:
Music in the Liberal Western
Claudia Gorbman

The resistance of both filmgoers and film critics to acknowledging the powerful role of music in feature films leads us to associate music with the film's unconscious. As we follow a movie's narrative in the perceptual foreground, music inhabits the shadows of our attention, inflecting our reception of screen events by means of a musical language that has been elaborated over many decades. Film music is also the hypnotist that lulls us into a hyperreceptive state, in order that we receive and identify with the movie's fantasy. If it normally avoids being attended to on a fully conscious level, it resurfaces in the form of a multimillion-dollar industry in soundtrack albums, which, as it were, bring the movie experience back. Film music is like the medium of a dream, forgotten in the waking state; but this medium is itself not neutral. It embodies and disseminates meaning, all the more powerful in not actively being noticed.

This essay examines the musical representation of Indians in westerns. The western owes its enduring popularity to its staging of elemental struggles on the mythic frontier of proto-America, and the Indian plays a key role in representing the cultural “other.” The nature of this otherness has changed in tune with social and political history. The Indian served in the 1930s and 1940s as an obstacle to the fulfillment of manifest destiny. In the 1950s and beyond, the Indian continued to be a symbolic repository of American fears, guilts, and preoccupations—few of which concerned actual Native American history or politics. What role does music have in determining the spectator's reception of the other, or better yet, how does music inflect the nature and degree of the Indian's otherness?


ANTECEDENTS: MUSICAL STEREOTYPES AND THE “INDIANISTS”

The western's pervasiveness in literature, drama, painting, film, and other media testifies to its significance in America's ongoing mythic self-definition. 1

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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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