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- Item"People and Sounds": Filming African music between visual anthropology and television documentary(University de Valladolid, 2005-09) D'Amico, LeonardoIn order to deepen our knowledge of traditional music, both European and of any origin, it is essential to 'see' the music instead of just listening to it or writing about it. Since the birth of visual anthropology there have been different ways of developing this idea. Through a review of the documentary films produced from the fifties to the present, this communication shows the changes in the priorities of the film industry in terms of the representation of world music. The dialectical tension between the ethnographic approach and the fictional approach has been constant. This communication maintains that auteur films can reach an ethnomusicological level, although not a scientific one, in addition to providing a poetic factor of great value to this field.
- ItemThe sound of whiteness: early music vocal performance practice in Britain(2011-11-10) Marshall, Melanie L.Critics love to tout the pure sound of early music. Think Emma Kirkby. Coupling head voice with minimal vibrato evokes sexual purity and innocence (Yri), or disembodied angels (Grieg). As the term ‘white tone’ suggests, purity is connected with race and historically it also indicated class. It is a neutral sound, lacking ‘grain’ (Barthes), against which others are measured. The dominant vocal sound of women early music singers thus carries intersecting gender, class and racial connotations. This paper examines early music vocal ensemble performing practice in Britain since the 1950s in relation to race. It focuses on the interplay of difference and sameness through the discourse of purity and the practice of blending. I argue that aspects of the practice and its reception are rooted in unmarked whiteness. Britain’s early music movement introduced a new sound world through repertoire, historically-informed techniques and experimentation with multicultural musics. To mixed reception, Musica Reservata used folk and world instruments and vocal techniques. As John Potter noted, the choral-scholar sound of the Early Music Consort of London eclipsed Jantina Noorman’s ‘holler’ (Brown); the Anglican a capella sound became the quintessential sound of British early music vocal ensembles. Class and gender axes of difference within the practice are well documented but there is an elephant in the room: whiteness. Like Victorian voice culture the balanced, blended sound (achieved with modified Received Pronunciation and matched enunciation) minimizes difference, maximizes sameness, promotes assimilation, and reflects the relative homogeneity of the ensembles that initially defined the sound. In effect, it is the sound of an elite whiteness, one that contrasts with diverse singing traditions (e.g. Gaelic psalm singing, shape note singing, musical theatre and pop singing).The paper ends by taking on the attempt at multiculturalism that now permeates the British early music movement. Although originating in anti-racism, rather than decentering whiteness, such fusion might serve to highlight it without dismantling power structures embedded in the sound. British early music practice may not be ready to be an equal multicultural partner until it addresses the `waves of sameness’ (Deleuze and Guattari) in the early music vocal sound.
- ItemThe cinematic texts of Edgar Allan Poe: from the written word to digital art(2012-11) Gil Curiel, GermánDebates on the encounters between literature and cinema have for a long time focused on the different ways in which each convey interiority and subjectivity, the argument being that literature is better suited for these purposes since film inevitably shows, thus it is better suited to convey external action (Kroeber 2006). The argument is presented in such a way that the cinematic and the literary are made to oppose each other, supposedly bringing about diametrically different aesthetic experiences of subjectivity and consciousness, and contrasting perceptions of reality outside oneself, with a focus on the way space, time and perception are rendered on film and in literature (See for instance (Gil-Curiel 2013). In this piece however my key tenet is that art is either a total artwork or not art at all. By total artwork I am here referring to the idea often attributed to Richard Wagner, but that can in fact be traced back to Friedrich Nietzsche, that literature, theatre, music and painting would all be brought together by a kind of art that would encompass all of them, referring, at that time, to opera. This idea was later retaken by Riciotto Canudo and other early film theorists, arguing that such an artwork would in fact be cinema. For in cinema, the argument ran, theatre, music, literature, painting, dance and even architecture ‘all found (…) an efficient way of understanding themselves and of co-operating with each other creatively’ (Ruíz 2007, 9), helping each other, as it were, to bring out the best in each one of them. For most of the 20th century, however, these ideas were much marginalised as film studies struggled to establish itself as a discipline in its own right, and as universities sliced up knowledge into separate fields in accordance with dominant epistemologies of the day. Nevertheless, recently the view that knowledge is in fact inherently interdisciplinary and the convergence that digital media have brought about have thrown the intermediality of cinema into sharp relief, allowing other forms of thinking about the nature of art and the relation between cinema and literature and the other arts and media. My contention is thus that there was always cinema in certain works of literature, and literature in many films, and that indeed, all pieces of art that deserve that name implicitly contain all the other arts. In the paragraphs that follow I shall first explain what I mean by ‘total art’ and then point to the cinematic features in three pieces by Edgar Allan Poe that Jean Epstein drew from to create his La Chute de la maison Usher (1928) (The Fall of the House of Usher). I then move on to the literary features of Epstein’s film, to show the way literature and film—and in some cases, music and painting as well—are interwoven in a complex kind of work that we might call ‘a total artwork’ of sorts.
- ItemAn ethnomusicological perspective for a television documentary film shot in Calabar (Nigeria)(University of Valladolid, 2014-11) D'Amico, Leonardo; de Landa, Enrique Cámara; D'Amico, Leonardo; Isolabella, Matías Nicolás; Yoshitaka, TeradaIn August 2012 a television documentary about traditional music was shot in Calabar, Nigeria. The main focus of the documentary was to find the roots of cumbia music, originated by the Afro descendents in the Atlantic coast of Colombia and widespread in all Latin American countries. I was involved in this project as scientific advisor and cameraman along with two Nigerian ethnomusicologists. This experience reveals some theoretical, methodological and ethical issues related to filming music in traditional cultures: is it possible to convey an ethnomusicological content through a television format directed to a wide audience? What kind of contribution can a team of ethnomusicologists make to a research project whose ultimate goal is the production of a documentary for TV broadcasting? What are the dynamics that take place between the stakeholders involved (insiders/outsiders, academics/musicians, cultural mediators/village chiefs) inside the dialectical tension between culture and entertainment?