Beyond the East-West divide : Balkan music and it's poles of attraction
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In its engagement with Balkan music, musicology has largely conformed to the dominant cultural historiographical model of a divide between ‘East’ and ‘West’. Marked by core binary concepts, under the spell initially of theories of modernity, and subsequently of critical theories that aimed to deconstruct these oppositions, musicology on Balkan music still remains within the confines of the ‘East-West’ paradigm. Theories such as Edward Said’s Orientalism and Maria Todorova’s Balkanism have served as key methodological tools in conceptualizing Balkan music and analysing the ways in which stereotypical and ideologically-charged images of ‘the West’ and ‘the East’ are reproduced in musical praxes. Powerful as they have been, analyses of the Balkans solely withreference to ‘East’ and ‘West’ surely do not do justice to the diversity of relationships that have shaped its variegated musical space, and have inevitably rendered a distorted image of its musical landscape. This book a...ims to contribute to a widening of our critical understanding of a historically and spatially diverse cultural network that embraces Balkan music, and therefore invites proposals for papers that challenge and/or move beyond the ‘East-West’ paradigm. An examination of a network that would not be restricted to the West-East perspective should lead to a richer and more complex understanding of the Balkans and its interconnectedness with other regions, such as the Mediterranean and Russia. By analysing these as well as other spheres of influences, we hope to reveal affinities that have rarely been explored, and will yield a richer understanding not only of Balkan music (‘art’, ‘traditional’ as well as ‘popular’) but also of music history in general. Contributions fall under the following subtopics: – Musical Relations between the Balkans and Russia Russia has acted as an influencing agent on the Balkans over several centuries and ties between these two regions were often highly charged politically. Importantly, Moscow was perceived as the ‘Third Rome’ by the Orthodox Balkans, while the Russian Empire was deeply involved in matters of the so-called ‘Eastern Question’. The great influx of Russian émigrés following the Russian revolution played a significant role in shaping the Balkan cultural elite. Last but not least, the Russian national school and the Soviet model of socialist realism had a profound impact on Balkan music over the last two centuries. – Interactions with the Mediterranean Both the Balkans and the Mediterranean figure more as imaginary cultural spaces than firm geographical entities. Yet the way these spaces correlate musically has barely been explored. How did the culture of the Mediterranean, with its shifting empires and perpetual migrations, engage with the Balkans musically? What could be learned, for example, by exploring the great hub of Constantinople, which has been perceived both as a gateway to the Balkans and a symbol of the Eastern Mediterranean? Could a scrutiny of Balkan music’s interaction with Mediterranean music enrich our understanding of musical life of the broader area of South Eastern Europe? Jasmina Huber writes about the musical physiognomy of melodies that belong to the Sephardic vocal (liturgical and paraliturgical) heritage in the western Balkans. The author shows that the Jewish musical tradition in the Balkans was a symbiosis of Hebrew poetry and oriental(ised) melodies. Valentina Sandu-Dediu has contributed a very interesting, introspective and often self-deprecatory account on the past and present state of Romanian musicology, the discipline that has long been torn between shifting ideologies, the Riemanninspired grandiose ambitions of music historians who singlehandedly wrote monumental but often error-laden books, and the long-standing focus on domestic output, caused both by ideological restrictions, language barrier and the fact of external i.e. foreign interest in Romanian music. The author concludes that the history of Romanian music must be rewritten from next prespectives, but also warns that a compromise must be reached between two opposing extremes - the unscrupulous political engagement on the one hand (which has influenced the boys written in communist times) and avoidance of any ideological involvement the other (which has been a recent tendency). Ivana Miladinović-Prica writes about Milimir Drašković who, in the later phase of his career, Drašković, seemingly surprisinglu, turned towards Byzantine heritage and Serbian orthodox church chants of the Octoechos as a source of inspiration and combined it with his already established avantgarde procedures, but also with popular music genres such as rock and jazz. Drašković and Miloš Petrović held workshops titled Byzantium and Today in Germany, where they brought the experiences of the cultural “Other” to German audiences, but also deliberately “invented” tradition in accordance with their artistic goals. Iva Nenić addresses the dichotomy of the East-West and its ideological implications using the example of the slowly expanding world music scene in the former Yugoslav region and, more specifically, with the specific (re)interpretation of the sevdalinka genre of popular folk song, as interpreted by the young Bosnian singer Damir Imamović, an heir to a well-known Bosnian musical “dynasty”, and his Sevdah Takht band. The author discusses the origins and development of the sevdalinka genre, its “politically correct” interpretations in the socialist Yugoslavia, mostly purified of overt Oriental influences, and compares it to Imamović’s contemporary interpretations, where remnants of its Oriental origin (such as: aksak rhythms, melismatic singing, oriental modes and instrumentation that resemble maqam practices etc.) have been reinstated and even emphasised. Russian and other non-phonetic Slavic languages written in Cyrillic script have been transliterated using the simplified Library of Congress transliteration system, with some exceptions which have been duly explained in the footnotes. We must express our sincere gratitude to Srđan Atanasovski and Katerina Levidou who originated the idea of rethinking the cultural and artistic ‘poles of attraction’ in the Balkans and without whom this volume would have not been possible. Moreover, we are grateful to all contributors to this volume, for their patience and cooperativeness during the long process of preparing this book. We would also like to thank our colleagues who have assisted us in various stages of preparing this volume: Marija Ćirić, Bogdan Đaković, Jelena Janković-Beguš, Jelena Jovanović, Danka Lajić-Mihajlović, Mary McRoberts, Melita Milin, Vesna Peno, Selena Rakočević and Mirjana Zakić. Also, we are thankful to the members of the Department of Fine Arts and Music of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, in particular Academician Milan Lojanica and Academician Dejan Despić, as well as the Academician Dimitrije Stefanović, former General Secretary of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Ars and a long-standing Director of the Institute of Musicology SASA, for their support, encouragement and understanding. Finally, we would like to thank the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia for their generous financial support, without which this book would have not been published.
Keywords:Balkan music / musical practice / Russian emigrants in Belgrade / Greek music / Sephardim / liturgical music / professional folk dance choreography / Southeastern Europe
- Belgrade : Institute of Musicology, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
- Belgrade : Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Department of Fine Arts and Music
- Serbian musical identities within local and global frameworks: traditions, changes, challenges (RS-177004)
ISBN: 978-86-80639-23-9[ Google Scholar ]
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