Containing details of 390 L.P. and E.P. recordings, African Music on LP: An Annotated Discography contributed to the scholarship of African music at a time when very little had been written. Organized by record label and arranged in alphabetical order, Allen P. Merriam assesses the stylistic characteristics of each recording, providing new insights on the subject and the recording industry at the time of publication. African Music on LP also contains 18 indexes cross-referencing each of the records.
In recent years black South African music and dance have
become ever more popular in the West, where they are now
widely celebrated as expressions of opposition to
discrimination and repression. Less well known is the
rich history of these arts, which were shaped by several
generations of black artists and performers whose
struggles, visions, and aspirations did not differ fundamentally
from those of their present-day counterparts.
In five detailed case studies Veit Erlmann digs deep to expose the roots of the most important of these performance traditions. He relates the early history of isicathamiya, the a cappella vocal style made famous by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
In two chapters on Durban between the World Wars he charts the evolution of Zulu music and dance, studying in depth the transformation of ingoma, a dance form popular among migrant workers since the 1930s. He goes on to
record the colorful life and influential work of Reuben T. Caluza,
South Africa's first black ragtime composer. And Erlmann's reconstruction of the 1890s concert tours of an Afro-American vocal group, Orpheus M. McAdoo and the Virginia Jubilee Singers, documents the earliest link between the African and American performance traditions.
Numerous eyewitness reports, musicians' personal testimonies, and song texts enrich Erlmann's narratives and demonstrate that black performance evolved in response to the growing economic and racial segmentation of South African
society. Early ragtime, ingoma, and isicathamiya enabled the black urban population to comment on their precarious social position and to symbolically construct a secure space within a rapidly changing political world.
Today, South African workers, artists, and youth continue to build upon this performance tradition in their struggle for freedom and democracy. The early performers portrayed by Erlmann were guiding lights—African stars—by which the present and future course of South Africa is being determined.
Arsenio Rodríguez was one of the most important Cuban musicians of the twentieth century. In this first scholarly study, ethnomusicologist David F. García examines Rodríguez's life, including the conjunto musical combo he led and the highly influential son montuno style of music he created in the 1940s. García recounts Rodríguez's battle for recognition at the height of "mambo mania" in New York City and the significance of his music in the development of salsa. With firsthand accounts from relatives and fellow musicians, Arsenio Rodríguez and the Transnational Flows of Latin Popular Music follows Rodríguez's fortunes on several continents, speculating on why he never enjoyed wide commercial success despite the importance of his music. García focuses on the roles that race, identity, and politics played in shaping Rodríguez's music and the trajectory of his musical career. His transnational perspective has important implications for Latin American and popular music studies.
“In Naples, there are more singers than there are unemployed people.” These words echo through the neomelodica music scene, a vast undocumented economy animated by wedding singers, pirate TV, and tens of thousands of fans throughout southern Italy and beyond. In a city with chronic unemployment, this setting has attracted hundreds of aspiring singers trying to make a living—or even a fortune. In the process, they brush up against affiliates of the region’s violent organized crime networks, the camorra. In The Art of Making Do in Naples, Jason Pine explores the murky neomelodica music scene and finds himself on uncertain ground.
The “art of making do” refers to the informal and sometimes illicit entrepreneurial tactics of some Neapolitans who are pursuing a better life for themselves and their families. In the neomelodica music scene, the art of making do involves operating do-it-yourself recording studios and performing at the private parties of crime bosses. It can also require associating with crime boss-impresarios who guarantee their success by underwriting it with extortion, drug trafficking, and territorial influence. Pine, likewise “making do,” gradually realized that the completion of his ethnographic work also depended on the aid of forbidding figures.
The Art of Making Do in Naples offers a riveting ethnography of the lives of men who seek personal sovereignty in a shadow economy dominated, in incalculable ways, by the camorra. Pine navigates situations suffused with secrecy, moral ambiguity, and fears of ruin that undermine the anthropologist’s sense of autonomy. Making his way through Naples’s spectacular historic center and outer slums, on the trail of charmingly evasive neomelodici singers and unsettlingly elusive camorristi, Pine himself becomes a music video director and falls into the orbit of a shadowy music promoter who may or may not be a camorra affiliate.
Pine’s trenchant observations and his own improvised attempts at “making do” provide a fascinating look into the lives of people in the gray zones where organized crime blends into ordinary life.
Growing out of the collaborative research of an American ethnomusicologist and Zimbabwean musician, Paul F. Berliner’s The Art of Mbira documents the repertory for a keyboard instrument known generally as mbira. At the heart of this work lies the analysis of the improvisatory processes that propel mbira music’s magnificent creativity.
In this book, Berliner provides insight into the communities of study, performance, and worship that surround mbira. He chronicles how master player Cosmas Magaya and his associates have developed their repertory and practices over more than four decades, shaped by musical interaction, social and political dynamics in Zimbabwe, and the global economy of the music industry. At once a detailed exposition of the music’s forms and practices, it is also an indispensable historical and cultural guide to mbira in a changing world.
Together with Berliner and Magaya's compendium of mbira compositions, Mbira’s Restless Dance, The Art of Mbira breaks new ground in the depth and specificity of its exploration of an African musical tradition, and in the entwining of the authors’ collaborative voices. It is a testament to the powerful relationship between music and social life—and the rewards of lifelong musical study, performance, and friendship.
Audible Empire rethinks the processes and mechanisms of empire and shows how musical practice has been crucial to its spread around the globe. Music is a means of comprehending empire as an audible formation, and the contributors highlight how it has been circulated, consumed, and understood through imperial logics. These fifteen interdisciplinary essays cover large swaths of genre, time, politics, and geography, and include topics such as the affective relationship between jazz and cigarettes in interwar China; the sonic landscape of the U.S.– Mexico border; the critiques of post-9/11 U.S. empire by desi rappers; and the role of tonality in the colonization of Africa. Whether focusing on Argentine tango, theorizing anticolonialist sound, or examining the music industry of postapartheid South Africa, the contributors show how the audible has been a central component in the creation of imperialist notions of reason, modernity, and culture. In doing so, they allow us to hear how empire is both made and challenged.
Contributors: Kofi Agawu, Philip V. Bohlman. Michael Denning, Brent Hayes Edwards, Nan Enstad, Andrew Jones, Josh Kun, Morgan Luker, Jairo Moreno, Tejumola Olaniyan, Marc Perry, Ronald Radano, Nitasha Sharma, Micol Seigel, Gavin Steingo, Penny Von Eschen, Amanda Weidman.
In this audacious book, Ana María Ochoa Gautier explores how listening has been central to the production of notions of language, music, voice, and sound that determine the politics of life. Drawing primarily from nineteenth-century Colombian sources, Ochoa Gautier locates sounds produced by different living entities at the juncture of the human and nonhuman. Her "acoustically tuned" analysis of a wide array of texts reveals multiple debates on the nature of the aural. These discussions were central to a politics of the voice harnessed in the service of the production of different notions of personhood and belonging. In Ochoa Gautier's groundbreaking work, Latin America and the Caribbean emerge as a historical site where the politics of life and the politics of expression inextricably entangle the musical and the linguistic, knowledge and the sensorial.
The fast-paced zouk of Kassav', the romantic biguine of Malavoi, the jazz of Fal Frett, the ballads of Mona, and reggae of Kali and Pôglo are all part of the burgeoning popular music scene in the French Caribbean. In this lively book, Brenda F. Berrian chronicles the rise of this music, which has captivated the minds and bodies of the Francophone world and elsewhere.
Based on personal interviews and discussions of song texts, Berrian shows how these musicians express their feelings about current and past events, about themselves, their islands, and the French. Through their lyrical themes, these songs create metaphorical "spaces" that evoke narratives of desire, exile, subversion, and Creole identity and experiences. Berrian opens up these spaces to reveal how the artists not only engage their listeners and effect social change, but also empower and identify themselves. She also explores the music as it relates to the art of drumming, and to genres such as African American and Latin jazz and reggae. With Awakening Spaces, Berrian adds fresh insight into the historical struggles and arts of the French Caribbean.