Tunes and Tones vs. Culture and Crises

I am referring in this post specifically to the conclusion of the Journal of the American Musiological Society paper by Agawu, because I found his paper particularly difficult to read. I played the flute for nine years and come from a musical family but I still had a very tough time struggling through his in depth analysis of African music. It was as if his paper were meant for someone hearing the music at the same time as reading (as well as for a person with much more knowledge on beats and their “politics” than myself).

I believe that the sentence, “exercise greater self awareness in assigning attributes to African rhythm, be they of structural or cultural cast,” is a fantastic one- its what we are doing in class. But at the same time I think that he could have tied his highly analytical structural elements back to culture and socio-political context much more than he did in order to reach a broader audience. Then again, maybe he didn’t want to reach a broader audience and was satisfied with the scope of his material as it is today. Overall, I would have liked more context but I understand why he left it out.


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