Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dutch magazine on music - plus a symposium paper and definitions of 'creolization'

Found while trying to track down a definition of *creolization, a term used in "Polkabilly: How the Goose Island Ramblers Redefined American Folk Music" by James P. Leary ... an article in, a magazine or "journal on media culture" with this story:

"Global sounds and local brews: Musical developments and music industry in Europe" by Paul Rutten, July 1999. The blurb:
In September 1996 the European Music Office published its report on "Music in Europe". The second part of this study was titled "Music, Culture and Society in Europe" and edited by Paul Rutten. It contains six critical essays and five case studies on the cultural value of music in the European Union. This critical contribution, written by Paul Rutten himself, treats the subject of the local interpretations and uses of global trends in popular music.
Rutten cites Swedish anthropologist Ulf Hannerz (1992) and says a "creole culture is a culture which developed out of an interaction process of two or more different cultures in such a way that the new culture better serves as meaning system to sustain communal life in the context in which it developed, then the cultures from which it has been constructed. Creolization points to the processes that underlie the development of a creole culture."

Other articles in Soundscapes that look interesting:
  • "The music matters: An analysis of early rock and roll" by Joe Burns. April 2003. Burns "analyzed a sample of 100 rock and roll songs, from the years 1955 through 1959, on chord progressions, time signatures, and melody lines.
  • "Marks of the Dorian family" by Ger Tillekens. Nov. 2002. Says Tillekens, "Popular music, as Peter van der Merwe (1989) argues in his book Origins of the popular style, first and for all is modal music."
  • "American popular song: Sharing the standards of the American sound" by Howard S. Becker. July 2002.
  • "One continent under a groove: Rethinking the politics of youth subcultural theory" by Ben Carrington and Brian Wilson. Nov. 2001. ... Ben Carrington and Brian Wilson here take us on a short trip from Chicago to Birmingham and beyond, trying to reformulate the problematic of the "local" and the "global".
  • "Words of love and isolation: Individualism and alienation in popular love songs, 1930-1999" by Thomas J. Scheff (october 2001). Since modern Western societies focus on individuals rather than relationships, we would expect individualist, rather than relational patterns in U.S. popular lyrics. Investigating this hypothesis Thomas Scheff counted romance words in all titles in the Top 40 for a seventy-year period, and analyzed the discourse of romantic lyrics for one sample year in each of seven decades.
And a lot more besides, from "Silent Night" to chord progressions in the Beatles ...

* Creolization may be of interest not only in understanding fiddle music of the upper Midwest but also the African-American spirituals. The Department of Sociology at Warwick University in the UK has a list of definitions including Hannerz' ... says the intro: "... Creolization recognizably emerges in certain historical settings - plantation economies, often populated by African slaves, European settlers, Asian indentured workers and indigenous peoples. But the power of the concept now has ramified and is used in many different and contemporary settings. Our second conceptual question is whether in changing the setting we lose the force of the original concept or, more positively, realize its immanent potential? At this moment, on this site, we do not want to close options, but open them. So we have provided a list of key quotations on the concept of creolization we have found helpful and insightful."

Raquel Romberg of Swarthmore College has an essay from a postcolonial theoretical perspective "Revisiting Creolization" on a bulletin board from a 2002 symposium at the University of Pennsylvania. Cites W.E.B. du Bois, among others.

Best definition I found so far wasn't in an academic publication but the Louisiana Voices Glossary put out by the Louisiana Division of the Arts of the state Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, which also warns - in the entry on "Creole," that the term is laden at least in Louisiana with racial baggage. The definition:
Creolization -- a complex process of cultural borrowing and lending in a region with many different cultural influences.
We don't usually think of it that way, but the definition applies as much to the upper Midwest as it does to Louisiana.

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