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Review of Georgina Born and David Hesmondhalgh, eds. Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music. University of California Press, 2000. xi, 360 pp.

Fox, Aaron Andrew

This is an important book, and deserves attention from ethnomusicologists,
historical musicologists, and students of popular culture across the
disciplines. It is the first collection I am aware of to situate issues of the
politics, semiotics, and cultural dynamics of musical appropriation in a
broad, interdisciplinary context attentive to the theoretical projects of
postcolonial and post-structuralist cultural studies. There have been several
monographic studies and edited volumes in recent years that have
explored some of this intellectual terrain; Gerry Farrell's Indian Music and
the West (1997) and Jonathan Bellman's edited collection The Exotic in
Western Music (1998) each approach art musics in terms of transnational
appropriations and Orientalist cultural dynamics. And a wide range of
work on popular music and globalization has taken up the thorny problematic
of "appropriation" in terms of issues of ownership and cultural imperialism
(a good example is Timothy Taylor's 1997 Global Pop). However,
the disciplinary and empirical articulations achieved in this volume are in
many cases novel and, in their totality, quite progressive. Simply by virtue
of its serious commitments to interweaving popular and art music subjects,
"western" and "non-western" idioms and perspectives, and textual and contextual
emphases, it sets a fine example for a more dialogic and less ghettoized
future musicology. The volume is comprised of exceptionally strong
papers from both very well known and younger scholars, and it is relatively
coherent as a whole while covering a huge range of topics and issues.



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November 26, 2014