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Beneath Exoticism: Hidden Hybridities in Early Modern European Music

AuthorsIrving, David R. M.
KeywordsMusical exoticism
Modern European music
Critical analysis
Global interconnections
Western art music
Global history of music
Hidden hybridities
Jewish and Islamic influence
Issue Date2019
CitationMusic Now - Department of Music, Brown University : (2019)
AbstractThe study of musical exoticism in early modern European music has focused largely on the critical analysis of forms of representation found within canonic works. Yet this overwhelming focus on cultural representation and its attendant discourses has arguably diverted attention away from asking how deeper degrees of global interconnections, European economic hegemony, and historiographic discourse shaped and influenced the making of Western art music. There are examples of hidden hybridities – performance practices, instruments, music theory – that were so thoroughly naturalized and normalized within European practice that their exotic origins were forgotten, or reinvented. Meanwhile, reflexive processes of oppositional self-definition that emerged in European music discourse as a result of global comparative ethnographies fostered new European philosophical and aesthetic perspectives on music that made people who self-identified as Europeans feel increasingly distanced from their ethnic others. In this context, a close reading of certain early modern music texts reveals a tendency to systematically erase or denigrate Jewish and Islamic influence on the musics of Europe, while some writers articulated either implicitly or explicitly a sense of a cultural incommensurability with musics of other societies, with this sense of difference and superiority reinforced by the broader patterns of taxonomic thinking. There is, however, a disconnect between the incipient subtexts of a monolithic “European” essentialism and exceptionalism in early modern historiographic discourse, on the one hand, and evidence of the diversity and non-normativity of actual performance practices, on the other. The latter suggests that there was greater continuity between European and non-European practices than is reflected in the treatises and historiographies of the time. This colloquium critiques examples of hidden hybridities in early modern European music through a subversive reading of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century texts, proposing an approach that could offer a useful paradigm to current work in the global history of music.
Appears in Collections:(IMF) Comunicaciones congresos
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