MUS111H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Asian Dub Foundation, Walter Benjamin, Gauhar Jaan

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Published on 5 Feb 2013
MUS300 Music, Media, and Technology
Week 3: Theoretical Approaches to Music & Culture in the 20th Century
Week 2 Recap
Music notation as technology
Piano’s role in social and cultural formations in early 20th C
“Laws of media”
musicking vs reification
capitalization & industrialization of music
analytical focus on tech and implications
tech and culture inherently connected
Today’s Lecture
Technology & (mass) media’s impact on culture
1. “Frankfurt School”
Adorno & Benjiamin
2. Culture
3. Radio (briefly)
4. Toronto School
McLuhan, Innis
The Frankfurt School
Walter Benjamin, Max Horkneimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse
Marxism -> neo-marxists (founders of critical theory)
Focus on culture rather than politics
Ideology, aesthetics, totalitarianism
Precursor to contemporary cultural theory
Benjamin and Adorno
Walter Benjamin (1892-1940)
Literary critic, theorist
Theodor Adorno (1903-1969)
Musicologist as well as sociologist and philosopher
Close friends, exchanged letters
“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”
What is the value of “mechanical reproduction”?
Aesthetic value of art
Origins of art in ritual
Printing press, lithography, photography, phonograph
Transforming how we see art works
The Aura
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“a strange tissue of space and time: the unique apparition of a distance, no matter
how near it may be”
residual magic of cult value
Aura- related to “original genuis”
Calls for replacing aura with participatory mode
1) Art now in everyday life
2) Work once “rare” is now common
Spectator joins process of production (film)
Empowering potential of technologies
“The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”
Cultural totalitarianism by entertainment industry that we vulnerable against
Mass Conformism
Unachievable promises
Commodification of eccentricity, uniqueness: pseudo-individuality
“Art” sought for exchange value
Benjamin/Adorno: Music?
Popular Music?
Opposes “art for art’s sake”
Music as activity
Mass participation
Social significance lost in mass production
Music as thing: Commodity Fetishization
Mass conformity
Music & Mass Production: Recap
Early 20th Century
Industrialization of sheet music (Taylor, Gay)
Mass production of instruments
Pianos; ukuleles; saxophones; guitars
Rise of “popular culture”(Tin Pan Alley)
Dichotomization between “high and low” culture
South Asian Musics (India): Tradition, Technology, and Mass Production
Alternative to western perspective
Different traditional system of transmission, production, performance
Major influence of recording on music and society in India and South Asia
Hindustani “Classical” Music
Foregrounds Melody and Rhythm
Transmission primarily oral: no score
Notion of authorship differs from west
Composer/performer distinction collapsed
Author not as important as interpretation (Indian music has much improv,
distinction between composer and performer collapse vs Western music)
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Differs from western concept of scale
Ragas associated with times of day, seasons, moods: affects
Recording in India
Gramophone Company est. London 1898
First Indian musicians recorded in London in 1899, in India in 1902
Motive commercial
By 1901: 75 companies
Musical Transformations
Increasing recording sophistication: “Barbarism of perfection” (Adorno)
Selectivity: some repertoire for masses, some for select audiences
De-traditionalization: associations of ragas with times of day, seasons, etc.
Time Limits: 78 RPM format limited improvisation
Technology alters form
Musical style/form creation of Western technology?
Essence of raga squeezed into three minutes?
Zohrabai Agrewali (1868-1913)
Social Transformation 1: Courtesans
Stigma: music and dance associated with courtesans
Gauhar Jan (1873-1930): recognition and fortune
Cult valueExhibition value
Released women from stigmitization
Social Transformation 2: Gharana System
Patriarchal system of transmission/education
Regulated authenticity
Recordingbreak with system
Traditionalists vs. Modernists
Contemporary Technologies: The Internet
Preserves tradition?
Mass Participation
Indian Music gone Global
Collaborations with western artists
1960s counterculture: Ravi Shankar w/George Harrison
1990s “World Music”: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan w/Eddie Vedder
Globally circulated (Recordings then tele-technology)
“Hybridity Talk”
Experimentation, collage, multiple identities
Could be…
a) Just another marketing niche(Adorno)
b) A means towards liberation from tradition (Benjamin)
Asian Dub Foundation
From Music Technology workshop in East London
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Document Summary

Week 3: theoretical approaches to music & culture in the 20th century. Week 2 recap: music notation as technology, piano"s role in social and cultural formations in early 20th c, laws of media , musicking vs reification, capitalization & industrialization of music technoculture. Analytical focus on tech and implications tech and culture inherently connected. Today"s lecture: technology & (mass) media"s impact on culture, frankfurt school , adorno & benjiamin, culture, radio (briefly, toronto school, mcluhan, innis. The frankfurt school: walter benjamin, max horkneimer, theodor adorno, herbert marcuse, marxism -> neo-marxists (founders of critical theory, focus on culture rather than politics. Benjamin : popular music, opposes art for art"s sake , music as activity, mass participation. Adorno : social significance lost in mass production, music as thing: commodity fetishization, mass conformity, music & mass production: recap, early 20th century. Mass production of instruments: pianos; ukuleles; saxophones; guitars.

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