FROM THE EDITOR
The seventh issue of the journal Musicology gathers together no fewer than 28 authors from 10 countries all over the world. On the assumption that the horizons of knowledge are widened by means of an open and flexible, international and interdisciplinary, dialogue, this new issue of Musicology continues to expand the boundaries of its titular discipline. There are studies in musicology and ethnomusicology. Articles and reviews dealing with art music sit alongside texts on folklore and on sacred traditions, old and new. And for the first time Musicology has texts on popular music, as well as on film music.
The diversity of issues covered under our central rubric arises from the breadth of interpretative space suggested by the main topic of this issue: Music and Identity/ies. The complex network of relations between music and identity stems from the semantic complexity of both notions. As a mode of communication, music, like language, is a powerful channel through which people can develop their personal and social identities. Indeed, music’s role in constructing, articulating, negotiating, and maintaining identity operates at deeper levels than in most other human activities. Not only can music express the religious, ethnic, social or political identity of an individual; at the same time it can register that individual’s affiliation to, or rejection of, particular ideological positions within a broader social and cultural group.
Having recently emerged as one of the key research topics in the fields of psychology, sociology, cultural studies and philosophy, the notion of identities has permeated contemporary thinking about music as well. This has given impetus to the rethinking of stereotypical approaches to the history of music; it has suggested new angles on the relations between individual and collective identities; and it has initiated a close collaboration between cognitive psychology and music education. In all these ways, and in a context of global homogenization, the theme of identity has come into the foreground of musicological and ethnomusicological debate. Moreover, in the course of generating what we might call a transitional crisis in national and cultural identities, globalization has encourages a search for new identities; and in musical terms this has meant a simultaneous decline of “old” music traditions and their revitalization in new environments and with new meanings. Today there is a serious debate to be had about the interdependence of global, frequently plural, musical identities, the politics of power, and the market forces of liberal capitalism.
The contemporary relevance of the theme of this issue is confirmed by the wide spectrum of topics it covers. Answers to the major questions posed in the introductory study by Timothy Rice – “What is identity?” , “Where does identity come from?” , “How many identities do we possess?” , “How is identity created?”, and “Who defines and institutionalizes identity?” – are given, directly or indirectly, in each of the texts in the body of the text. Philip Bohlman considers the Eurovision Song Contest as a model of the overall complexity of “network connections” between musicians, cultural agents and politics as new identities emerge in Europe. Carol Silverman perceives similar phenomena in the relationship between Bulgarian wedding music and chalga (pop-folk). In a study dedicated to the aesthetic concepts of the prayer chant of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe, Judith Frigyesi, on the other hand, offers a suggestive interpretation of vocal quality as the expression of identity. Biljana Milanović duly initiates a discussion on how oppositions between modern and post-modern understandings of social identities might be overcome in the context of musicology. And current problems of individual and ethnohistorical identity formation in traditional gusle performance and instrumental practice are the topic of the texts by Danka Lajić-Mihajlović and Ihor Macijewski. The fact that the reception of multilingual and multinational musical traditions is equally important for the central debate is confirmed by Darije Marušić’s writing about the music of the Adriatic peninsula of Istria, while last three texts – by Ivana Perković-Radak, Jernej Weiss and Aleksandar Vasić – emphasize the importance of education, musical migration and critical-ideological strategies in the processes of national identity formation in the history of Serbian and Slovenian, church and art music.
The column Varia fully justifies its name. The text by Simon Frith, which systemizes models of the various discourses through which popular music history, with the special reference to the problem of progress, is understood, is followed by a study from Vesna Peno, who documents the differences between stenographic and analytic neumatic notation in Greek chant manuscripts of the 18th and 19th centuries. Three studies are dedicated to more recent Serbian music: Ivana Medić writes on the ideology of moderated modernism, while Marija Masnikosa аnd Branka Radović write on Vladan Radovanović’s and Zoran Simjanović’s compositions. The former (Voices of Earthmen) is realized in the poetical context of high and late modernism, while the latter (New Age Symphony) affirms the recognizable patterns of the New Age movement.
The diversity of methodological approaches – historiоgraphical, analytical, critical-comparative, critical-theoretical and postcolonial – further demonstrates the dynamic dialogues through which musicology can intermittently reshape its own semblance, and thus construct its own, new identities. Readers can judge for themselves how far this has occurred from the Reviews section, which in the usual way presents assessments of recent publications and scholarly conferences.