Merriam - The Anthropology of Music

Music of Anthropology

by Jason Antrosio

For the next issue of Open Anthropology I am assembling a list of articles on music. Consistent with the mission of Open Anthropology, these articles will be open for six months. We are hoping to provide useful resources for teaching anthropology, ethnomusicology, and adjacent disciplines for summer and fall 2017.

I enjoy listening and (sometimes) attempting to play music. I also enjoy reading anthropology. However, I confess I am a neophyte for anthropology of music or ethnomusicology articles. What resources on music & ethnomusicology have been most helpful to your anthropological work? And, particularly for Open Anthropology, what articles from the Wiley-Blackwell American Anthropological Association archives would you like to see opened? What have been some of the main research and communication themes in recent years?

So far I’ve found some preliminary resources below. Please let me know what else is helpful! Or what I’m missing. On a related note, would also be great to know if there’s anything that shouldn’t be there.

Articles on Music from AAA Publications

Beeman, William O. 1988. “The Use of Music in Popular Film: East and West.” Visual Anthropology Review 4(2):8-13.

Boudreault-Fournier, Alexandrine. 2008. “Positioning the New Reggaetón Stars in Cuba: From Home-Based Recording Studios to Alternative Narratives.” The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 13(2):336-360.

Briggs, Charles L. 1993. “Personal Sentiments and Polyphonic Voices in Warao Women’s Ritual Wailing: Music and Poetics in a Critical and Collective Discourse.” American Anthropologist 95(4):929-957.

Bryant, Rebecca. 2005. “The soul danced into the body: Nation and improvisation in Istanbul.” American Ethnologist 32(2):222-238.

Byrd, Samuel. 2014. “‘The collective circle’: Latino immigrant musicians and politics in Charlotte, North Carolina.” American Ethnologist 41(2):246-260.

Cameron, Catherine M. 1989. “Patronage and Artistic Change.” City & Society 3(1):55-73.

Donahue, Katherine C. 2005. “Nomad Souls Across Time and Space: West African Musicians as Ethnographers.” Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe 5(2):2-12.

Dorsey, Margaret. 2004. “The Role of Music in Materializing Politics.” PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review 27(2):61-94. (Note that this article was included in the October 2016 Open Anthropology issue on Anthropology in an Election Year.)

El-Ghadban, Yara. 2009. “Facing the music: Rituals of belonging and recognition in contemporary Western art music.” American Ethnologist 36(1):140-160.

Fachner, Jörg. 2006. “An Ethno-Methodological Approach to Cannabis and Music Perception, with EEG Brain Mapping in a Naturalistic Setting.” Anthropology of Consciousness 17(2):78-103.

Ferguson, Jane M. 2010. “Another country is the past: Western cowboys, Lanna nostalgia, and bluegrass aesthetics as performed by professional musicians in Northern Thailand.” American Ethnologist 37(2):227-240.

Gaunt, Kyra D. 2002. “Got Rhythm?: difficult encounters in theory and practice and other participatory discrepancies in music.” City & Society 14(1):119-140.

Glasser, Jonathan. 2015. “Andalusi musical origins at the Moroccan-Algerian frontier: Beyond charter myth.” American Ethnologist 42(4):720-733.

Heine, Colleen M. 2012. “Scene and Unscene: Revealing the value of the local music scene in Savannah, Georgia.” EPIC: Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference 2012(1):200-216.

Hosokawa, Shuhei. 2005. Review of The Chrysanthemum and the Song: Music, Memory, and Identity in the South American Japanese Diaspora. Journal of Latin American Anthropology 10(1):239-241.

Kapchan, Deborah A. 2008. “The Promise of Sonic Translation: Performing the Festive Sacred in Morocco.” American Anthropologist 110(4):467-483.

Kaplan, Danny. 2009. “The Songs of the Siren: Engineering National Time on Israeli Radio.” Cultural Anthropology 24(2):313-345.

Keeler, Ward. 2009. “What’s Burmese about Burmese rap? Why some expressive forms go global.” American Ethnologist 36(1):2-19.

Keil, Charles. 1987. “Participatory Discrepancies and the Power of Music.” Cultural Anthropology 2(3):275-283.

Koen, Benjamin D. 2013. ““My Heart Opens and My Spirit Flies”: Musical Exemplars of Psychological Flexibility in Health and Healing.” Ethos 41(2):174-198.

Lomax, Alan. 1959. “Folk Song Style.” American Anthropologist 61(6):927-954.

Lysloff, René T. A. 2003. “Musical Community on the Internet: An On-line Ethnography.” Cultural Anthropology 18(2):233-263.

Mahon, Maureen. 2000. “Black Like This: Race, Generation, and Rock in the Post-Civil Rights Era.” American Ethnologist 27(2):283-311.

Nettl, Bruno. 1958. “Historical Aspects of Ethnomusicology.” American Anthropologist 60(3):518-532.

Powell, Kimberly A. 2012. “Composing Sound Identity in Taiko Drumming.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly 43(1):101-119.

Qureshi, Regula. 2000. “How Does Music mean? Embodied Memories and the Politics of Affect in the Indian Sarangi.” American Ethnologist 27(4):805-838.

Roseman, Marina. 1998. “Singers of the landscape: Song, History, and Property Rights in the Malaysian Rain Forest.” American Anthropologist 100(1):106-121.

Saada-Ophir, Galit. 2006. “Borderland Pop: Arab Jewish Musicians and the Politics of Performance.” Cultural Anthropology 21(2):205-233.

Samuels, David W. 2015. “Music’s Role in Language Revitalization–Some Questions from Recent Literature.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 25(3):346-355.

Shannon, Jonathan H. 2003. “Emotion, Performance, and Temporality in Arab Music: Reflections on Tarab.” Cultural Anthropology 18(1):72-98.

—. 2003. “Sultans of Spin: Syrian Sacred Music on the World Stage.” American Anthropologist 105(2):266-277.

Shipley, Jesse Weaver. 2013. “Transnational circulation and digital fatigue in Ghana’s Azonto dance craze.” American Ethnologist 40(2):362-381.

—. 2017. “Parody after identity: Digital music and the politics of uncertainty in West Africa.” American Ethnologist 44(2):249-262.

Weidman, Amanda. 2003. “Gender and the Politics of Voice: Colonial Modernity and Classical Music in South India.” Cultural Anthropology 18(2):194-232.

—. 2012. “The Ethnographer as Apprentice: Embodying Sociomusical Knowledge in South India.” Anthropology and Humanism 37(2):214-235.

Wilf, Eitan. 2010. “Swinging within the iron cage: Modernity, creativity, and embodied practice in American postsecondary jazz education.” American Ethnologist 37(3):563-582.

—. 2012. “Rituals of Creativity: Tradition, Modernity, and the ‘Acoustic Unconscious’ in a U.S. Collegiate Jazz Music Program.” American Anthropologist 114(1):32-44.

Anthropology Articles on Music (non-AAA)

Bilby, Kenneth. 1999. “”Roots Explosion”: Indigenization and Cosmopolitanism in Contemporary Surinamese Popular Music.” Ethnomusicology 43(2):256-296.

Blake, Elizabeth C., and Ian Cross. 2015. “The Acoustic and Auditory Contexts of Human Behavior.” Current Anthropology 56(1):81-103.

Faudree, Paja. 2012. “Music, Language, and Texts: Sound and Semiotic Ethnography.” Annual Review of Anthropology 41:519-536.

Feld, Steven, and Aaron A. Fox. 1994. “Music and Language.” Annual Review of Anthropology 23:25-53.

Flores, Richard R. 1992. “The Corrido and the Emergence of Texas-Mexican Social Identity.” The Journal of American Folklore 105(416):166-182.

Guerrón-Montero, Carla. 2006. “Can’t Beat Me Own Drum in Me Own Native Land: Calypso Music and Tourism in the Panamanian Atlantic Coast.” Anthropological Quarterly 79(4):633-665.

Nettl, Bruno. 2006. “Response to Victor Grauer: On the Concept of Evolution in the History of Ethnomusicology.” The World of Music 48(2):59-72.

O’Toole, Patricia. 2005. “I sing in a choir, but I have no voice.” Visions of Research in Music Education 6.

Palkki, Joshua. 2017. “Inclusivity in Action: Transgender Students in the Choral Classroom.” Choral Journal (57):20-34.

—. 2015. “Gender Trouble: Males, adolescents, and masculinity in the choral context.” Choral Journal (56):25-35.

Samuels, David W., et al. 2010. “Soundscapes: Toward a Sounded Anthropology.” Annual Review of Anthropology 39:329-345.

Senay, Banu. 2015. “Masterful words: musicianship and ethics in learning the ney.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 21(3):524-541.

Stokes, Martin. 2004. “Music and the Global Order.” Annual Review of Anthropology 33(1):47-72.

Wade, Peter. 1998. “Music, Blackness and National Identity: Three Moments in Colombian History.” Popular Music 17(1):1-19.

Books on Music & Anthropology

Bannan, Nicholas, ed. 2012. Music, Language, and Human Evolution. Oxford University Press.

Dorsey, Margaret. 2006. Pachangas: Borderlands Music, U.S. Politics, and Transnational Marketing. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Faudree, Paja. 2013. Singing for the Dead: The Politics of Indigenous Revival in Mexico. Durham: Duke University Press.

Feld, Steven. 1990. Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression (2nd Edition). University of Pennsylvania Press.

Gaunt, Kyra D. 2006. The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop . New York: New York University Press.

Grant, Catherine. 2014. Music Endangerment: How Language Maintenance Can Help. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gilman, Daniel J. 2014. Cairo Pop: Youth Music in Contemporary Egypt. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press. See this review by John Schaefer in American Ethnologist. “Cairo Pop is the best book in anthropology on the Middle East that I have read for some time, and certainly this year. It is appropriate for undergraduate and graduate courses in anthropology and related disciplines” (2015:795)

Glasser, Jonathan. 2016. The Lost Paradise: Andalusi Music in Urban North Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Grauer, Victor A. 2011. Sounding the Depths: Tradition and the Voices of History. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Hill, Donald R. 1993. Calypso Calaloo: Early Carnival Music in Trinidad. University Press of Florda.

Keil, Charles. 1992. Urban Blues. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Keil, Charles, and Steven Feld. 2005. Music Grooves: Essays And Dialogues. Fenestra Books.

Manovski, Miroslav Pavle. 2014. Arts-Based Research, Autoethnography, and Music Education: Singing Through a Culture of Marginalization. Sense Publishers.

Merriam, Alan P. 1964. The Anthropology of Music. Northwestern University Press.

Netti, Bruno, and Philip V. Bohlman, eds. 1991. Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music: Essays on the History of Ethnomusicology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Seeger, Anthony. 2004. Why Suyá Sing: A Musical Anthropology of an Amazonian People. University of Illinois Press.

Shipley, Jesse Weaver. 2013. Living the Hiplife: Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music. Durham: Duke University Press.

Stokes, Martin, ed. 1997. Ethnicity, Identity and Music: The Musical Construction of Place. Bloomsbury Academic.

Taylor, Timothy D. 2017. Music in the World: Selected Essays. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Turino, Thomas. 2008. Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Weidman, Amanda. 2006. Singing the Classical, Voicing the Modern: The Postcolonial Politics of Music in South India. Durham: Duke University Press.

Anthropological Blog-posts and Blogs on Music

2017. “Musicofilia: música y cerebro.” Una antropóloga en la luna.

Filterrauschen. A blog about music and anthropology, at the moment mainly in German, with translation in process. How to do music, mediumship, infogenetic linkages, digitalization, constructivism music.

Ted Swedenburg’s hawgblawg often features relevant posts.

Debra Jopson, Songlines that criss-cross Australia televised as a series for the first time (June 2016). Thanks to Helga Vierich on Facebook for the link, plus click there for lots of YouTube links!

Also see Anthropology Blogs 2017 for more on current anthropology blogs.



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  • Dennis Eckhardt

    There is some work I really love, which is not always “originally ethnological”, but which is highly interesting due to its impact of social critic.

    Manovski, M.P., 2014: Arts-Based Research, Autoethnography, and Music Education. Singing through a Culture of Marginalization. Rotterdam, Boston, Taipei: Sense Publishers.
    Manovski, M.P., 2013: Snapshot Reflections: Targeting Young Boys Singing Girls’ Songs In School. GEMS (Gender, Education, Music, & Society) 6: 24–33.

    Manovski is a singer who worked with arts-based methods and ethnography. His work is covering gender and singing and its linkages. Through his autoethnographic perspective there is a huge data emerging from his own life. Great work!

    O’Toole, P., 2005: I sing in a choir but „I have no voice!“ Visions of Research in Music Education 6: .
    O’Toole, P., 2000: Music Matters: Why I Don’t Feel Included in These Musics or Matters. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education 144: 28–39.
    O’Toole, P., 2002: Threatening Behaviors: Transgressive Acts in Music Education. Philosophy of Music Education Review 10: 3–17.
    O’Toole, P., 1998: A Missing Chapter from Choral Methods Books: How Choirs Neglect Girls. Choral Journal 39: 9–32.

    Patricia O’Toole is/was (I am not able to trace any informations about her) a choir leader. She is highly concerned about singing in a choir, gender – especially the marginalization of women – and the politics of leading a choir. Her work is kind of para-ethnographic, but due to its critical impact more than worth to read and discover!

    Palkki, J., 2017: Inclusivity in Action: Transgender Students in the Choral Classroom. Choral Journal 57: 20–34.
    Palkki, J., 2015: Gender Trouble: Males, Adolescene, and Masculinity in the Choral Context. Choral Journal 56: 25–35.

    Joshua Palkki works on the linking choir-singing-gender. His work is also para-ethnographic, but highly interesting.

    Thanks for your list!
    All the best
    Dennis

    • Hi Dennis, many thanks for stopping by and providing some great resources. Unfortunately since (as you note) most of these authors have published outside the anthropological journals, I won’t be able to include them in the official Open Anthropology issue. However, I have put some references to their work in the above post.
      Thanks!
      Jason

  • Helga Vierich

    “…“Sounding the Depths” is an innovative inquiry into the origins and deep history of some of humankind’s most venerable and highly valued traditions, suggesting “solutions to mysteries that, until recently, were thought to be completely beyond the reach of systematic investigation.” Building on his many years of research on world music, the author draws on a wide range of anthropological, archaeological and biological evidence, with special emphasis on the revolutionary genetic research behind the widely discussed “Out of Africa” model of early human history. A major objective is to demonstrate that evidence distilled from the music of contemporary indigenous peoples can function as a kind of cultural “genome,” roughly analogous to the biological genome currently being explored by geneticists. Indeed, it is the author’s hope that his research may some day do for cultural history what population genetics is currently doing for our biological history; going, in both cases, all the way back to our beginnings in Africa. Written in a straightforward, non-academic style, this book should appeal to a wide range of readers, from anyone with an interest in world music, cultural evolution or early human history, to students and professionals in fields such as anthropology, archaeology, population genetics, ethnomusicology and pre-history.

    This book triggered a response in me much like the first time I glimpsed the iconic “Blue Marble” photo of the whole earth, shot from space in 1972. Victor Grauer’s big picture is of our historical world; the twin engines of the craft that took him far enough to fit it to that global frame are ethnomusicological and population genetics research, fueled by rich shots of cultural studies and linguistics. The psychological impact of his results is both as deeply familiar and as wildly novel as that of the Blue Marble, and may well loom and seep into our collective psyche like the same kind of gravity-well for human identity that it is. . .

    Mike Heffley, in the Journal of Folklore Research, Jan. 2012…” https://www.amazon.ca/Sounding-Depths-Tradition-Voices-History-ebook/dp/B0130OEBV6