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World Musics

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The World Musics series promotes the publication of books that focus on music traditions and musicians within the context of the cultures to which they belong and thereby advance understanding and appreciation of their historical, intellectual, and cultural milieu.

“Silk and Bamboo” Music in Shanghai

| Filed under: Music, World Musics
Witzleben Book Cover

“Of all the world’s major musical cultures, that of China may well be the least thoroughly understood and most often misunderstood by Western scholars and music lovers,” writes J. Lawrence Witzleben. Witzleben adds to the understanding of this musical culture with the first book-length study of one of China’s most influential regional musical traditions. The first Western ethnomusicologist admitted to a Chinese conservatory, Witzleben presents a multifaceted study, based on more than two years of fieldwork in the early 1900s, of “silk and bamboo” string and wind music (Jiangnan sizhu) in Shanghai. Although Jiangnan sizhu is a regional tradition, enjoyed by only a small part of the population, an indepth look at it reveals much about Chinese musical culture. Through his varied experiences as student, performer, and participant-observer, Witzleben is able to present and discuss the perspectives of musicians in Shanghai and of Chinese scholars and teachers, as well as those of a Western-trained ethnomusicologist. The result is a comprehensive understanding of Jiangnan sizhu its musical sounds and concepts; the people who play, teach, and learn the music; and the environment in which it is and has been played, heard, and discussed.

 


The Indispensable Harp

| Filed under: Art, World Musics
Schechter Book Cover

A musical instrument that has played a vital role in Latin American music cultures—the harp—is the subject of this new work, the first study of its kind to be published in English. John Schechter presents a history of the harp in Spain, traces its introduction into colonial Latin America, and describes its modern roles in the diverse cultural centers of Mexico, Paraguay-Argentina-chile, Venezuela, and Peru. He then turns his focus to his own field research in the Quichua culture of northern highland Ecuador, an area that has receive considerably less scholarly attention than many of its Latin American neighbors. The reader will meet a community of harp maistrus on the slopes of Mt. Cotacachi and become familiar with their culture, their particular instrument and its tuning, and their performance practices. Numerous photographs, musical transcriptions, and diagrams illustrate and enliven the text. The Indispensable Harp is unique for its integration of aspects of music and cultural history, organology, and performance practice, treating in considerable depth both broadly established music-ethnographical practices. It speaks to the conclusion that the vital role of the harp in Latin American music history has now been properly acknowledged and documented.

 


The Way of the Pipa

| Filed under: Music, World Musics
Pipa Book Cover

“Over the centuries a repertoire of solo pipa pieces has developed and this study focuses on those found in the Hua collection, which encompasses the pieces in the repertoire of the Hua family, and was printed, using the wooden block technique, in 1819.  Among the works are many ancient melodies which were handed down through […]

 


The Melodic Tradition of Ireland

| Filed under: Music, World Musics
Cowdery Book Cover

This is a major work, at once synthetic and analytical. The author has drawn on previous studies of Irish music and general melodic theory to describe the inner workings of a rich melodic tradition. Irish folk music, resting upon monophonic melodies which are varied and ornamented, and thus viewed from several perspectives—ethnographic and musical, “insider” and theoretical—to weave an integrated image of a still thriving genre. The concepts of “tune family” and “melody type” are starting points for the qualitative study of melodic change and tune relationships without recourse to simplified tune skeletons or statistics. The concept of “implicit” folk theory leads both to rigorous theoretical analysis and to an examination of the musicians’ own words, thus creating a working model in which a particular performance is understood in a larger context.