Music on the Move
Danielle Fosler-Lussier, Ohio State University
Copyright Year: 2020
ISBN 13: 9780472901289
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Conditions of Use
It depends on what subject this book is used or evaluated for comprehensiveness. As a book for an average World Music class, it would not be comprehensive enough. However, it is adequately comprehensive for its scope and thesis. It also would make... read more
It depends on what subject this book is used or evaluated for comprehensiveness. As a book for an average World Music class, it would not be comprehensive enough. However, it is adequately comprehensive for its scope and thesis. It also would make a wonderful companion text to many different types of music topics courses. While it is not broad enough to illustrate all movements of music from each corner of the world, when a story or region is used for illustration, the depth of detail is more significant than other world music texts.
I did not notice any inaccuracies in content. The author provides endnotes and selected bibliographies which aid in further research for the reader.
The content is overall up to date. Some examples of popular music, while appropriate at this point, are generally in places that would make it easy to update in the future if desired.
The prose is quite accessible, with a storytelling style to weave together terminology and concepts. Notes, selected bibliography, and index are easy to use as well. I hope a glossary will be added for a second edition to easily house all the bolded keywords that are defined throughout the book. Not only would it make it more accessible, it would also allow better use for courses that adopt only portions of the book.
There is a solid consistency at all levels--from sensitivities in discussing various cultures, to use of terminology and framework.
Being well organized, this book has good modularity allowing for the possibility of using chapters or sections easily. Some key concepts and terminology would be lost by skipping certain sections, but it may fit various course contents with proper planning by the instructor.
The organization of this book is strong. The overarching thesis is woven in each section, with each section having a focus, and each chapter within showing specific regional examples. It flows together well, yet can be excerpted if needed as well.
This book is available on the web, tablet, or PDF, making it extremely accessible and versatile. The myriad musical examples and links work well across platforms, enhancing the experience. Images are well used and easy to read. Again, a glossary of terms in the back would strengthen this book.
The book was free of major grammatical errors.
Given the scope and intent of this book, its cultural relevance is broad, inclusive, and sensitive. The author is transparent and notes inherent bias in the preface.
I wanted to note the strength and quality of the introduction and conclusion, including giving limitations through transparency, good questions to consider, and tying together the framework of the text. It should be required reading for all musicians and lovers of music alike.
Assessing this text's comprehensiveness is a bit tricky, because of its theoretical underpinnings: it is a work rooted in globalization theory, with heavy attention to themes like cosmopolitanism, appropriation, assimilation, and nationalism.... read more
Assessing this text's comprehensiveness is a bit tricky, because of its theoretical underpinnings: it is a work rooted in globalization theory, with heavy attention to themes like cosmopolitanism, appropriation, assimilation, and nationalism. Given that theoretical focus, perhaps the content is arbitrary, and multiple examples could be used to explore any given theory. But there are problems. On the one hand, the discussion of recorded music and national "invented traditions" in Chapter 4, which includes examples from Turkey, Great Britain, and Bulgarian women's choirs, seems quite strong. On the other hand, the U.S. focus in Chapter 3 perpetuates common U.S.-centric tropes about the African diaspora, in which scholarship and popular media routinely frame African Americans primarily as passive victims. If Fosler-Lussier broadened the discussion to include some of the the many vibrant neo-African traditions performed throughout the Caribbean, readers would have a much stronger sense that autonomous Africans have actively and intentionally shaped the culture of the New World. Such a view would make for a much more interesting discussion of theories like appropriation and assimilation.
I didn't find any content errors.
Some examples in this book (like Paul Simon's collaborations with South African musicians on his album Graceland) have been important in the literature on world music for decades now, and probably will continue to have relevance (though perhaps not in the way framed here). Other examples, like the 2017 Eurovision performance by Romani Hungarian singer Joci Papai, may soon feel dated.
Theoretical terms are helpfully offset in bold and clearly defined as they are introduced in the text, but a glossary of these many terms would improve accessibility.
The terminology and framework are very consistent.
The modularity of this book is one of its greatest strengths. While I can't imagine the utility of assigning the entire text in a college class, given its shortcomings, certain excerpts -- either entire chapters or subsections -- could prove useful.
The organization is fine.
The absolute best thing about this book is the seamless incorporation of the many musical examples. They are numerous, they guide and enrich the discussions in the text, and they are all easily accessible. On the other hand, some of the maps in this book are quite hard to read, for instance the map of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Voyages, in which it is impossible to see which countries or historical kingdoms were the origination points of enslaved Africans.
The text is mostly well written. There are a few errors (the final paragraph includes the oxymoron "a musicians' strategy," p. 240). Some points needed more editing, such as in Chapter 4 when the word "rather" is used three times in the same short paragraph (p. 118).
There is a heavy reliance on Western classical/art music in the examples, belying the author's training in Euroamerican concert music (which is stated openly in the Preface as a potential source of bias). Readers in classical music departments may appreciate the many "New Music" and avant-garde examples. Many other readers may not. For example, while Paul Simon's Graceland is criticized by the author (but not by the musicians involved in the project), it is an undeniably good record that most readers will find accessible and enjoyable. Simon's record is juxtaposed with a more positive discussion of several obscure art music examples, like Barbara Benary's "Braid," which readers may find less relatable. Perhaps an example from the world of popular music would have helped enrich the discussion by providing a more meaningful comparison to Paul Simon, for example, the appropriation of reggae music by Trinidadian soca musicians.
While it is impossible for any music textbook to cover all areas and ideas of any subject (unless that subject is very narrow), Music on the Move nonetheless provides a wide and varied coverage of music as a mobile art. The Table of Contents... read more
While it is impossible for any music textbook to cover all areas and ideas of any subject (unless that subject is very narrow), Music on the Move nonetheless provides a wide and varied coverage of music as a mobile art. The Table of Contents provides an easy-to-read overview of each part’s general focus and each chapter’s particular focus. There is a comprehensive index, and (most/all) bolded terms are given descriptions or definitions.
Content is well-researched, with endnotes provided extensively throughout the book and a rich bibliography of sources is provided. Part of the purpose of the textbook, as I read it, is to help readers (students or otherwise) to break down or set aside their own biases in order to better understand music as part of culture and cultural groups as it moves, with or without people, from place to place.
First published in June 2020, the textbook includes an extensive selected bibliography of source material from 1967 to 2019, including several that can be considered “state-of-the-art” in terms of content and currency. Given the topical nature of the parts and chapters, it will be relatively easy for the author to update the content and related resources.
The text is engaging, accessible, and provides context and/or descriptive definitions for any jargon or technical terminology.
The framework of the textbook is consistent throughout, not only in terms of organization but also in terms of content and terminology.
Presented in three parts with 2-3 chapters per part and sub-sections within chapters, the text is clearly intended to be presented as written, as each part and chapter builds upon what came before and could be easily divided into smaller reading assignments. Parts could conceivably be assigned in a different order than presented (although probably unwise) as long as the Introduction comes first.
Beginning with an introduction that expertly and thoroughly sets the stage for the content and purpose of the textbook’s approach, the book is presented in three parts: migration, mediation, and mashup. Migration makes clear sense given the thrust of the book—music on the move—and considers colonialism and diasporic movement in Europe and the United States, i.e., the movement of people and their music. Mediation focuses on the media and technology through which music moves—is presented, recorded, and distributed—including how geopolitical relationships can cause music to move across international boundaries in the service of groups of people (such as states, nation-states, nations, etc.). The last Part, Mashup, guides the reader to consider the impact of easy transmission of and access to music (addressed in Part 2) as a possible force in transforming people—how they think and behave, their preferences and opinions—as well as issues of ownership, including mixing (blending, sampling, borrowing) in new local uses with newly formed ideas of cultural property.
The text is available in multiple formats, including web and pdf, with easy navigation of the web-based version making a good case for its use. The pdf version does not have live anchor links, making it more unwieldy to navigate. The images, including maps, are clear on computer and tablet screens. YouTube video links, links to images (such as maps, score examples, charts, tables, etc.), and links to streaming audio examples are all embedded in the text of the online version. The web-based version includes easy access to these same Resources, all presented in the order encountered in the text and labeled accordingly, including the source chapter. For my own use, I would recommend students use the online version, with a pdf saved for offline work.
The text is beautifully written and presented in engaging and readable prose. Given that the author worked with other college-level instructors to “test drive” the textbook, it is likely that it benefited from multiple eyes contributing to its accuracy.
Given that the textbook presents a variety of races, ethnicities, and background and deals with their responses, reactions, uses, transmissions, and changes, the cultural representation is very sensitive of issues of tradition, heritage, and ownership. The Conclusion (in fact, probably better labelled as the last chapter) addresses “Violence, Difference, and Peacemaking in a Globalized World,” providing an apt capstone to the entire textbook’s explorations.
As a contingent faculty member (having “retired” from full-time teaching), I don’t always get to choose my courses. I can say, though, that I hope to use this textbook at some point in the near future, most likely for “Musics of the World.” In the past, my approach to that course has been to guide students to explore traditions and origins, look at music’s movement (diaspora and via transmission), and consider cultural, social, political, etc. forces at work. This text does all that and more in a beautiful, carefully written and presented, and well-research package. The fact that it includes extensive documentation of sources also makes it appropriate as a source for research papers, which cannot be said of most textbooks.
Table of Contents
Part I: Migration
- Chapter 1 Colonialism in Indonesia: Music Moving with an Occupying Force
- Chapter 2 The Romani Diaspora in Europe: Mutual Influences
- Chapter 3 The African Diaspora in the United States: Appropriation and Assimilation
Part 2: Mediation
- Chapter 4 Sound Recording and the Mediation of Music
- Chapter 5 Music and Media in the Service of the State
Part 3: Mashup
- Chapter 6 Composing the Mediated Self
- Chapter 7 Copyright, Surveillance, and the Ownership of Music
- Chapter 8 Localizations: Mediated Selves Mixing Musics
About the Book
Music is a mobile art. When people move to faraway places, whether by choice or by force, they bring their music along. Music creates a meaningful point of contact for individuals and for groups; it can encourage curiosity and foster understanding; and it can preserve a sense of identity and comfort in an unfamiliar or hostile environment. As music crosses cultural, linguistic, and political boundaries, it continually changes. While human mobility and mediation have always shaped music-making, our current era of digital connectedness introduces new creative opportunities and inspiration even as it extends concerns about issues such as copyright infringement and cultural appropriation.
With its innovative multimodal approach, Music on the Move invites readers to listen and engage with many different types of music as they read. The text introduces a variety of concepts related to music's travels—with or without its makers—including colonialism, migration, diaspora, mediation, propaganda, copyright, and hybridity. The case studies represent a variety of musical genres and styles, Western and non-Western, concert music, traditional music, and popular music. Highly accessible, jargon-free, and media-rich, Music on the Move is suitable for students as well as general-interest readers.
Citable link: https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.9853855
About the Contributors
Danielle Fosler-Lussier, Ohio State University