Music & … Nationalism
3rd Global Interdisciplinary Conference
Saturday 12th June 2021 – Sunday 13th June 2021
Music, Songs, Identity, Independent Schools, Nationalism, Pedagogy, Eton, Harrow, Uppingham
There currently exists a fragmentary corpus of extant Nationalistic Songs from the latter half of the 19th century which evidence the role of educationally situated singing in shaping communal identity within UK Independent Schools. Such songs gained an anthemic status within their respective communities which is still felt today, encapsulating and communicating the ethos and achievements of the school and preserving its history for future generations. There is a lack of discourse within current research regarding the relevance of such nationalistic songs within the identity of Independent Schools and their communities today, and by extension the fate of those songs which are now thematically controversial.
Independent School Directors of Music such as John Farmer, Joseph Barnby and Paul David, with support of their lyricists and Head teachers, produced songs which shaped Independent School music education in the late 19th century and continue to influence pedagogical approaches towards music within Independent Schools today. Through collecting, cataloguing and analysing Independent School Songs I have explored the educational role they fulfilled at their time of composition.
Through interviewing those who teach and perform these songs today, I have been able to examine the current discourse upon their appositeness and my initial research evidences how Independent School communities are currently engaging with themes of nationalism within their school songs. The extent to which this engagement impinges upon the preservation of songs for future generations of school communities and scholars is also addressed. This paper evidences an emergent movement of Independent Schools seeking to re-establish the role of the School Song as an educational vehicle for conveying values which are in line with current thinking.
A qualitative research on the construction of national identity in and through popular music: the case of Belgium and Flanders
Hanne Van Haelter
Popular music, National identity, Belgium, Flanders, Music production, Audiovisual content, Spotify, Music criticism
Research shows that media in general (Schlesinger, 1991) and music in particular (Folkestad, 2002) play a significant role in the construction of national identity. As Belgium is a unique case where both Belgian and Flemish national identities are strongly present, this project aims to investigate how national identity is expressed in and through homegrown popular music in Belgium, by examining four different sections within the contemporary Belgian popular music industry.
Producers within cultural industries have obtained a significant amount of political, ideological and economic power (Garnham, 2005) and can therefore create coalitions of disparate interests (Kong, 1995). As producers have the agency to put labels (e.g. ‘Flemish’) on artists, this project explores how these practices contribute to the creation of national identity.
It is notable that a lot of Belgian radio and television content is produced with an explicit Belgian and/or Flemish approach. Hence, this project investigates why content (e.g. ‘Make Belguim Great Again’, ‘Belpop’) is produced and labeled as such and to what extent this (un)consciously co-constructs feelings of national identity.
Spotify – the largest of all streaming services worldwide (Marshall, 2015) – uses algorithmic curation (Prey, 2018) to create their ‘fans also like’ feature, which suggests artists that are presented to be similar to those users were currently listening to in terms of genre, gender and nationality (Werner, 2020). As it is proven that the provided artists in the ‘fans also like’ function will always be Belgian when listening to other Belgian artists, questions arise about what artists the algorithms provide when specifically listening to Flemish artists.
Since audiences’ processes of cultural assessment draw partly on evaluation by professional critics (Keuschnigg, 2015), this projects also explores how music critics make sense of the way national identity is articulated through popular music.
Who Gets to Sing the Song: Who Gets to Sing the Song: The Statues of Iranian Singers Who Become the Echo of People’s Resistance
Morq-e Sahar ‘Bird of Dawn’ is one of the most popular songs in Persian music that has become the anthem of freedom. It was composed by a classically trained master musician Morteza Neydavud in the early 20th century and was publicly performed by his student the legendary female singer, Qamar al-Moluk Vaziri. It is considered one the first political songs of Iranian music in the twentieth century. The lyric criticizes the status quo and asks the symbolic Bird of Dawn to cry and express the grievance of the narrator and symbolically urges her to rescue everyone from this cage of misery and repression. For its socio-political characteristic, it became enormously popular and subsequently over twenty popular and classical singers adapted it and released their own versions. However, none has gained more widespread acceptance in Iranian society than that of the renowned vocalist master, Mohammad Reza Shajarian who revived the song after the 1979 Revolution. Using a “follow the thing” approach (Marcus, 1995), this article argues that in contemporary Iranian society-particularly in the post-revolution period- the Iranian people have preferred the classical singers over popular singers to be their transnational voice to echo political and social issues. As rhythmic songs in Iranian music are shared between art music and popular genres, the case of ‘Morq-e Sahar’ could illustrate what characteristics in Iranian music and Iranian musicians elevate them in the contemporary Iranian society and based on what values their status rises. Through cultural study of music, analysis of the text and the epistemological analysis of music, it is argued that the social status of art music singers could give them a position higher than popular music singers both inside and outside of Iran allowing them to echo the complaint of people and be the integrated triad of “tale, teller and telling” (Sholes, 2006) as has been traditionally and historically accomplished by poets and masters of avaz, the art of singing Persian classical poetry.
Ideological reconciliation: French nationalism and Wagnerism in the music of Vincent d’Indy
Wagner, France, Catholicism, opera, religious music, religion, 19th century, early 20th century
The French composer and pedagogue Vincent d’Indy (1851 – 1931) was notorious for his fervent Catholic nationalism, involving himself closely in the proceedings of the anti-Republican League of the French Homeland (founded in 1899). D’Indy’s nationalist ideals resulted in a musical agenda that promoted and celebrated contemporaneous efforts among French musicologists to revive the tradition of Gregorian chant – music which the composer felt most profoundly symbolised the country’s religious heritage. Indeed, his fondness for France’s regional folk songs was tied to his belief that they were rooted in the liturgical chant tradition. In 1894 D’Indy founded the Schola Cantorum in Paris, a musical establishment which quickly became a rival to the Paris Conservatoire. The Schola politicised music as a means of reigniting a model of collective religious identity, in opposition to the Republican Conservatoire’s purportedly meretricious promotion of virtuosity and secular individualism.
But this picture of d’Indy as a staunch French patriot is complicated by his self-identification as a French ‘Wagnerian’. While denigrating in general terms what he called ‘Boche art’, he simultaneously heaped adulation on his German idol, Richard Wagner, and his orchestral and operatic works bear obvious homage to the composer.
How was d’Indy able to reconcile such apparently incongruous musical models for his fellow patriots? How did he consider the Wagnerian codes in his music to be relevant to French patriotism? This paper considers the cultural tensions embodied by d’Indy’s works, and relevant implications concerning the meaning of ‘nationalist’ expression in music more generally. My particular focus will be his final and most ambitious opera, The Legend of Saint Christopher (first performed at the Paris Opéra in 1920), which the composer envisaged as being France’s answer to Wagner’s Ring cycle.
Experimental Music Performances for a People to Come: A Transversal Analysis of the Free Jazz-Black Power and the Jazz Libre-Quebec Liberation Movement Assemblage’
Free Jazz; Jazz libre du Québec; Social-Political Movements; Experimentation; Virtual Community; Political Speculation; Collective Perception; Becoming-minoritarian; Dissonance
The relations between music and nationalism have historically often been attached to the affirmation and the promotion of established identities, the induction and the reinforcement of senses of belonging and national prides and the aestheticization of defined political structures. But among the alternative relations between these two notions, some, rather rare, can be considered as creative expressions of an experimental nationalism, not focused on the constituted population concerned by the national impulse, but rather on the potentialities of a desired collectivity. This is how can be approached two musical and political movements: the Free Jazz-Black Power and the Jazz libre-Québec Liberation Movement. These two singular assemblages can be analyzed transversally as exercises of virtualization, of speculation of a people to come, always to be composed. Indeed, while the scope of these collective experimentations has often been underplayed by the social-historical analysis insisting on the relative incapacity of these initiatives to connect with the actual people they were seeking to join (Fillion, 2016; Monson, 2007), this presentation proposes another angle of analysis of these practices, considering them as disordered performances, delirious and passionate expressions of collective potentialities that remained otherwise muted. A particular attention will be paid to the hypothesis according to which these practices occurred as collective assemblages that opened paths for the experimentation of others ways to perceive, other modes of existence. How such an opening to dissonance and unconventional rhythms can not only transform the listening habits of the audience and performers, but also resonate in a context of political effervescence oriented towards the speculation of new political communities? This perspective, drawing on the concepts of collective individuation (Simondon, 1989), becoming-minoritarian (Deleuze & Guattari, 1977, 1980) and undercommons (Moten, 2003; Harney & Moten, 2014) opens new paths to approach some issues around the notions of community and identity in the collective struggles against oppression by proposing a non-essentialist perspective devoid of phantasms of origin and moral purity.
Heavy Metal and Taiwanese Nationalism: ChthoniC’s Campaign Concert during 2020 Election
Mark Hsaing-Yu Feng
popular music, heavy metal, ethnomusicology, music and politics, nationalism, Taiwan, China, postcolonialsm
The Taiwanese heavy metal music scene is typically associated with progressive politics, such as movements supporting the transition from dictatorship to democracy (Lee 2007). This process was consolidated during Taiwan’s democratization period in the 1990s when many heavy metal musicians constructed a Taiwanese nationalism through performance (Chu 2001; Liu 2016). Thus, this Taiwanese metal scene differs from Euro-American ones, often associated with anarchism, xenophobia, and racism. Since China’s intervention in Taiwan’s 2020 election strengthened the Taiwanese nationalism (Kassam & McGregor 2020), I study how Taiwanese musicians use heavy metal music to fortify the youth-driven nationalism in Taiwan’s 2020 election. My case study focuses on an electoral campaign concert called Taiwan Victory, organized by politician Freddy Lim, the vocalist of a metal group ChthoniC, who sought his second legislative term. By employing Lawrence Bogad’s (2016: 28-31) concept of “tactical performance,” a usage of performance techniques, tactics, and aesthetics in social movement campaigns, I argue that ChthoniC’s Taiwan Victory musical performance connects Taiwan’s colonial history with current politics to reinforce the Taiwanese nationalism in three different ways. First, ChthoniC’s musicians quoted political activists such as Su Beng in their metal songs to enhance ideological credentials in live performance. Second, a symphonic orchestra accompaniment also turned ChthoniC’s metal song into a national anthem style to synchronize the audience with Taiwanese nationalism. Third, ChthoniC’s album story viewed the 2020 election as an unfinished battle since the “2/28 massacre” by China’s Kuomintang party in 1947. My research employs ethnographic fieldwork (interviews and conversations with musicians and politicians), and my analysis of online videos of the performance focuses on different versions of songs “Next Republic” and “Millennia’s Faith Undone.” This research enlarges current studies on heavy metal’s global transformation in Asian countries, especially in Taiwan, where it is considered to have developed relatively slow (Kahn-Harris 2007).
Greenlandic Rock and Revolution
colonialism, sovereignty, revolution, Greenland, Indigenous, rock
Greenlandic Rock and Revolution
“Origin stories as told in Indigenous languages provide access to foundational teachings, such as how relationships are understood between people and other living elements of the earth.” (Briggs-Cloud, 247)
This is a paper about Indigenous methods and methodologies, as well as about how stories are told and travel across time and space through music. It is also the story of a band that gave shape to a revolution. ‘Sumé – the Sound of a Revolution’ was the first Greenlandic film to ever be shown at the Berlin film festival. Sumé, the subject of the film, was the first rock band ever to sing in the Greenlandic language. The film, “The Sound of a Revolution,” is also a portrait of a culture slowly emerging from centuries of colonialism fueled by the transformative power of music, and rock music, in particular, framed as an act of defiance, which provided and framed a revolution against a regime of colonial oppression. Greenland had been ruled by Denmark for over 200 years before Sumé began performing and recording n Greenlandic within an era of student activism and emergent musical forms of expression and youth culture, Sumé found an audience, both in Greenland and Denmark, releasing three albums between 1973 and 1977, that would change the world.
What followed Sumé were several generations of younger rock musicians, some of whom appear in this film, whom would follow their example by singing in their own language as a form of asserting sonic sovereignty. Using this film as a primary body of evidence, while deconstructing the active music scene in Nuuk today as an ongoing outcome of the band’s work, I will revisit the cultural impact of Sumé’s relevance as it relates to Greenland’s ongoing battle for self- rule, sovereignty and social and spatial justice. How story-telling, music, language and revolution intertwine is, itself, a story worth telling and retelling as we slowly make progress in deconstructing and decolonizing other places and practices across the post-colonial world.
“We are Building the New Society within the Shell of the Old”: Punk-Rock Dance’s Anti-Imperialist Communities of Resistance
protest, rebellion, semiotics, dance, revolution, community, anti-imperialist, punk
“We are Building the New Society within the Shell of the Old”: Punk-Rock Dance’s Anti-Imperialist Communities of Resistance
On January 12 1991, five days before the opening of Operation Desert Storm, Ian MacKaye’s DC-based hardcore band Fugazi played an open-air show in protest at Washington DC’s Lafayette Park. At one point, MacKaye says to the crowd “I thought ‘There’s no way this country’s going to go to fucking war, again’,” before the band crashes into “Keep Your Eyes Open”—at which the mosh-pit explodes into dancing.
In Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture, author Tricia Rose describes the street spaces of early hip hop as “especially rich and pleasurable places where oppositional transcripts or the ‘unofficial truths’ are developed, refined, and rehearsed.” Similarly, 1980s hardcore exerted oppositional cultural influence beyond its immediate participants, both in its outreach to hip-hop and in the influence of both genres’ DIY ethos, which impacted the processes of music touring, recording, and sales, via the radical democratization of technological tools and the Internet.
At the same time, those employing sound and movement as resistance, whether washoi dancers during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, drag queens at Stonewall, Pussy Riot in Red Square, or hijabis dancing hip hop in Iran, have often done so precisely because street dance is portable, mutable, and infinitely viral: capable of transmission via person-to-person physical or visual contact. Multiple revolutionary movements have begun in search of spaces for dancing, while conversely the repression of public dance has been a locus for authoritarian crackdowns.
Drawing upon a larger historiography of public dance as resistance, and employing methodologies from semiotics, musicology, kinesics, and political science, this presentation explores the punk-rock mosh pit as a potent, present, and immediate realization of “the new society within the shell of the old.”