Exhibition of second-year ethnomusicology students' work

Exhibition of second-year ethnomusicology students' work

Video documentaries by sixteen ethnomusicology students from the Music Department will feature in an exhibition in the MacRobert Building foyer from 12 to 22 May

The work of sixteen ethnomusicology students from the Music Department will feature in an exhibition of video documentaries to be hosted in the MacRobert Building foyer from 12 to 22 May. The video documentaries were submitted as part of the Introduction to Ethnomusicology course, and explore a wide variety of topics, including music therapy, amateur music making, traditional music, and youth music, brought together under the title of ‘The Ways we are Musical’.

As course co-ordinator and exhibition curator, Ronnie Gibson, explained, ‘Ethnomusicologists recognise the value and validity of all forms of musical expression, and study fundamental issues, such as the definitions of music in different cultures and the functions and uses of music among diverse societies and groups. This exhibition showcases the excellent work done by a group of second-year music students in exploring these issues, and each of their documentaries makes a substantial contribution to understanding the ways we are musical’.

John Blacking, in How Musical is Man?, challenges the view, dominant in Western society, that people are either musical or not. This view arguably emerged with the advent of the public concert in the late seventeenth century when a visible divide materialised between musicians and non-musicians in the form of the performance platform. In more recent times, the move from live to recorded performance has further promoted a consumer-orientated music culture. However, as Blacking explains, music remains a powerful and essential social and emotional resource:

‘In this world of cruelty and exploitation … it is necessary to understand why a madrigal by Gesualdo or a Bach Passion, a sitar melody from India or a song from Africa, Berg’s Wozzeck or Britten’s War Requiem, a Balinese gamelan or a Cantonese opera, or a symphony by Mozart, Beethoven, or Mahler may be profoundly necessary for human survival, quite apart from any merit they may have as examples of creativity and technical progress. It is also necessary to explain why, under certain circumstances, a “simple” “folk” song may have more human value than a “complex” symphony’.

This exhibition showcases many of the ways we are musical, both as individuals and communities, and the power of music, whether in artistic, therapeutic, or social contexts.

The exhibition will run on a screen in the space by the Music office window for the duration of 12–22 May, with headphones available for viewers to listen as well as watch these fascinating ten-minute documentaries.

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