The Musical “Other”: Exoticism, Appropriation, and Multiculturalism (MHI2116.01)

Joseph Alpar

How has the cultural “Other” been represented in Western music? How can composers and performers create with a clear conscience and use source material ethically? We will examine a large repertory of works from the early Baroque period through the Twenty-first century, investigating the uses and abuses of non-Western musical sources. Beyond the classics, we’ll talk about mid-century exotica music, gaming, World’s Fairs, the Eurovision song contest, Hollywood soundtracks, Broadway musicals, pop music, and jazz. We will discuss the World Music industry, crate diggers and sampling, reissues of “lost” world music on vinyl, and contemporary ways of consuming and listening to music. We’ll dig into concepts like Orientalism, exoticism, a la Turca, Chinoiserie, appropriation, and many more. Exploring each composition within its own cultural, political, and musical context, we will attempt to answer certain key questions: why was it written and for whom? Does the composition foster understanding between different cultures or reinforce racial and ethnic stereotypes? What sorts of power relations are inherent in the composition, production, and reception of these musical works? This course is open to students from all areas of study.

Prerequisites: None.
Credits: 4
M/Th 1:40-3:30
Maximum Enrollment: 18
Course Frequency: One time only
This course is categorized as All courses, History, and tagged , , , , , , .