Music Research Institute

Intercultural Music, Vol 2

Intercultural Music, Vol 2

Cynthia Tse Kimberlin and Akin Euba, Editors.
Published for the CIMA by the MRI Press, 1999.
Cat No. MRI-0002BK

254 pp, ISBN 0-9627473-1-9 $24.00 per copy plus shipping. 


Text from back cover

Review by Daniel Avorgbedor


Title of Essay (Author) 

  • The establishment of the modern Chinese orchestra and the Interchange between Chinese and Western musical culture (Translated 
    from Mandarin by Helen Rees) (Qiao Jianzhong and Xue Yibing) 
  • Traditional and Folk Idioms in Modern Egyptian Composition since the Fifties (Samha El-Kholy) 
  • Tibetan and Ladakhi Popular Music in India (Mark Trewin) 
  • Composing Contemporary African Choral music: Problems and Prospects (Laz Edward Nnanyelu Ekwueme) 
  • The Ballets of Gamal Abdel-Rahim (John O. Robison) 
  • The Judeo-Spanish Ballad as Western Art-song: Problems in Harmonizing Modal Melodies (Alexander Knapp) 
  • The Composition of Pathways (Simon Emmerson) 
  • 'Whose "music"?' (Simon Emmerson) 
  • The USA Government: Arbiter or Catalyst for the Arts? (Cynthia Tse Kimberlin) 
  • Problems Involved in Teaching Music in a Nigerian Secondary School: A Case Study of the International School, University of 
    Ibadan, Nigeria (Amorelle E. Inanga) 
  • Challenges for African music and Musicians in the Modern World Music Context (Meki Nzewi) 

The second International Symposium and Festival on Intercultural Music, organized by the Centre for Intercultural Music Arts in London in 1992 continues its role as a forum for discussion and debate as exemplified in this volume of eleven essays. Scholars from Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States focus on aspects of intercultural music that are regional and also country-specific, and include Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Ghana, Egypt, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, The Peoples' Republic of China, Tibet, and the United States.... 

These essays reveal a number of factors relating to the increasing global interaction among nations. They have to do with economic, political, religious and other humanistic concerns that also are relevant to intercultural music because they have played a role in catapulting it to international prominence. More importantly in terms of the authors' responsibilities as scholars, these factors raise a number of issues that obligate us to question the efficacy of what we accomplish and achieve as composers, performers, and educators with respect to the ideological and political, ethical and moral, technological and technical in fostering individual and collaborative efforts. In this volume, the authors provide concrete examples of why intercultural music has come to the forefront in the latter half of the twentieth century and why it will continue to have a defining presence in the twenty-first. 

Reviewed by Daniel Avorgbedor, Associate Professor, School of Music and the Department of African-American and African Studies, Ohio State University ( 9/01)

Intercultural Music, Vol. 2. Published for the Centre for Intercultural Music Arts, London, U.K. by MRI Press (Music Research Institute) Pt. Richmond, California, USA, 1999. ISBN 0962747319

Edited by Cynthia Tse Kimberlin and Akin Euba

This is the second volume in the important initiative that seeks to address-and thereby-integrate both the concept and practice of “intercultural music” within our contemporary discourse on music. Readers wishing to gain a background understanding of intercultural music and its related terms such as interculturalism, intercultural composition, and intercultural musicology should consult the introduction to the first volume (1995).

Volume 2 draws largely on papers presented at the Second Biennial International Symposium and Festival held in 1992, which was sponsored by the Centre for Intercultural Music Arts and hosted by the Department of Music, City University, London. The volume is organized around three broad themes: Historical and Political Indicators of Intercultural Music; Composing in Contemporary Societies; and Cultural Attitudes and Ethical Dichotomies. The essays range from perspectives on and trends in music and music composition to national support for the arts, with examples from China, Africa, India, and the U.S.A. Composers Simon Emmerson and Alexander Knapp provide detailed analysis of their works. In his Pathways, Emmerson employs some interesting concepts and techniques, such as “musical poeisis” (Nattiez?), and Fibonacci series in discussing his music. Pathways draws on North Indian musical elements (eg., rag, tal, tabla drone) that are interwoven with Western orchestral instruments and electronic or synthesized sounds. While this work supports the basic understanding of “intercultural composition” (Western, electronics, Indian), it also demonstrates the various challenges that contemporary composers have. For example, how much knowledge and skill must the composer acquire from the host music culture before they can “competently” integrate and explain the borrowed elements in their works?

Knapp first provides ethnographic, historical and basic musical details on Sephardic musical traditions, focusing on “three main forms of Sephardic secular music: coplas, canticas, and romanceros.” (p.112). Next, he compares the settings of the lullaby Nani, nani by the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo and the American-Jewish composer Richard Neumann, alongside with Knapp’s own arrangement of the same song, which is taken from Isaac Levy’s 1959 publication, Chants Judéo-Espagnol. The author’s conclusions emphasize problems that confirm the dual status of an art work: encodes cultural habits and preferences and at the same time displays levels of creativity and autonomy.

In his essay on contemporary choral composition African, Laz Ekwueme mentions two broad categories of problems facing the composer: audiences that are not ready to understand-and hence appreciate-atonal work, or who cannot understand songs sung in foreign languages; and choirs who struggle with problems of intonation due to their indigenous musical background that departs significantly from the Western tempered scale, etc. He, however, recommends the use of modulation, ostinato, imitative counterpoint, since these seem to be in consonance with some indigenous practices in Africa. His discussion of call-and-response, however, seems to be very skeletal, since this an important musical and structural phenomenon that is realized in a multitude of innovative ways.

A few essays such as Mark Trewin’s “Tibetan and Ladakhi Popular Music in India” present important ethnomusicological data, with attention to social processes. Many of his conclusions can be verified and sustained in parallel processes in several countries of the world: “although the official policy has been to maintain cultural continuity by preserving Tibetan traditions and resisting acculturation within the host society, a number of musical changes can be objectively identified.” (p.53). Other essays in this volume include Samha El-Kholy, “Traditional and Folk Idioms in Modern Egyptian Composition since the Fifties,” John Robison, “The Ballets of Gamal Abdel-Rahim,” Qiao Jianzhong and Zue Yibing, “The Establishment of the Modern Chinese Orchestra and the Interchange between Chinese and Western Musical Culture,” Meki Nzewi, “Challenges for African Music and Musicians in the Modern World of Music Context,” and Cynthia Tse Kimberlin, whose essay provides an interesting analysis of the situation of government support for the arts. Cynthia’s essay is well-documented, with several important conclusions: “The United States government influences music and the Arts indirectly through special interest groups which reflect a pluralistic United States cultural policy.” (p.177).

The range of articles and issues are contributed by individuals from different fields and disciplines who offer their perspectives on what intercultural music means to them. Although contributions from composers discussing their compositions are evident, this series is not meant to focus principally in this area but to cover a wide range of topics relevant to intercultural music. Selection of topics for inclusion for each volume corresponds with the oral presentations made for a particular year. The papers for this volume correspond to the 30 March to 4 April 1992 second biennial international symposium and festival.


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