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With the book pitched midway between academic tome and the Rough Guide vol- umes it also helps that it is not just afford- able, but well-illustrated and that the chap- ters are well-written with the interested lay reader in mind. The use of some musicologi- cal terms is unavoidable and there are occa- sional illustrations of notation in accordance with normal practice, but these aspects don’t dominate and rarely interrupt the book’s flow, wider appeal or accessibility.


Chapters are loosely formatted to cover The Other Classical Musics:


Fifteen Great Traditions Michael Church (ed) The Boydell Press (ISBN 978 1 84383 726 8) 404pp, H/b £25


The idea of also applying the term ‘classical’ to non-Western traditions in music is not new. Many have been banging this particularly drum for decades and the journalist Michael Church, who edited this volume, is just one of them. But while the classical/non-classical argument may be a handy journalistic con- struct, does it have sufficient substance for a book? Particularly one with such a restrictive title and arbitrary selection of genres.


In his introduction Church argues uncon- vincingly for his use of the term ‘classical’ over other common terms for refined non- Western traditions such as ‘art’ music or ‘court’ music, but his contributing musicolo- gists seem less concerned by definitions and switch freely between all these terms while also appearing comfortable to include the- atre music and other forms where relevant.


As irritating as some of Church’s editorial conceits are, however, these shouldn’t be allowed to detract from the book’s real strength which is a solid core of informative individual chapters written by an assembled cast of well-known experts. Ethnomusicolo- gists, however, are by definition highly spe- cialised. Thus Neil Sorrell writes on Java but not Bali, Frank Kouwenhoven on China’s literati gugin (zither) tradition but not on the ‘silk and bamboo’ style from around Shang- hai. And the chapters from SOAS (London’s School of Oriental and African Studies) aca- demics: David Hughes on Japan, Richard Wid- dess on North India, merely draw attention to the lack of a Korean section by someone like their colleague Keith Howard.


Traveller singer Carolyne Hughes


the history, background, definition, reper- toire and performance style of each genre; and in some cases contributors have usefully broadened their remit to include sub-genres or related traditions from the region.


Many of the chapters in this book deserve a wider audience, particularly those about music in the Near and Middle East. Tra- ditions tend to be lazily lumped together in a simplistic fashion as ‘Arabic’ although a pop- ular singer like Fairuz, from Lebanon, may include material from quite diverse sources in her repertoire. Western listeners would be largely unaware of the differences, but a reading of successive chapters shows the extent to which much so-called ‘Arabic’ music contains both distinctive and frequently over- lapping strands and traditions.


Unfortunately, like most reductive con-


structs, Church’s omissions speak as loudly as his selective inclusions. Many established tra- ditions are mentioned only in passing or as peripheral to neighbouring areas, for exam- ple, Afghanistan. The maqam tradition in Azerbaijan is ignored although maqam styles elsewhere are discussed in chapters on east- ern Arabic music and Central Asia. And while the inclusion of Chinese opera may raises eye- brows, having one on European classical music was always bound to look superfluous.


A chapter on North American jazz is wel- come, despite its rather slight survey, but what of Africa: only represented in the most limited sense by the north’s inclusion in the widespread influence of the Andalusian tra- dition and by a section devoted to the Mande jaliyaa of West Africa? Though even here the author downplays other sub-Saharan tradi- tions in order to elevate his own.


At the heart of this volume is the kernel of a worthwhile project – a survey of the world’s more formal musical traditions for non-musicologists – but editorial shortcom- ings could obscure that potential.


www.boydellandbrewer.com Phil Wilson Travellers’ Songs From


England And Scotland Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger (eds) Musical Traditions MTCD254 CD-ROM


The idea was a brilliant one. The concept was fairly straightforward. The outcome is a great success. With support and encouragement from Peggy Seeger, Rod Stradling has pro- duced a text scanned digital version of this very important 1977 book in its entirety.


In the detailed and fascinating introduc- tion, some problems that the song collector has to face are noted, for example: “Many of the singers would get into a tune gradually, arriving at a definitive melody by perhaps a second or third stanza.” How to deal with problems of this nature? Here the CD-ROM comes into its own. The musical stave and the first verse of each of around 150 songs is pre- sented in a clickable window; click on it and the sound clip of that recording opens up.


A lot can be learned from the book; a different insight into the songs can be


gained by listening to the recordings. Having them accessible in this easily interactive man- ner is really rewarding with all the benefits of reading and listening easily combined.


The seams of song collecting that Mac- Coll and Seeger were mining were narrow but very rich and there are some major singers amongst them. Nearly a third of the songs come from the great West Country singer Carolyne Hughes. There are also size- able contributions from Nelson Ridley and in Scotland from Maggie MacPhee and Char- lotte Higgins.


Clearly these recordings are of major importance and one would have thought that they would be properly archived, so it was worrying to read in Rod Stradling’s intro- duction to this digital version that “a good number of the recordings have not been traceable in their principal archives”. Rod turned to the private collection of Jim Carroll and Pat MacKenzie for “many of the missing recordings” so clearly enormous thanks are due to them.


This approach to making these songs available to the serious enthusiast would seem to have a multiplicity of benefits. How many other published collections would ben- efit from this approach?


www.mustrad.org.uk Vic Smith


Acadian Driftwood: The Roots Of Acadian And


Cajun Music Paul-Emile Comeau Fox Music Books (ISBN 978-1-894997-40-9)


The famous French-speaking community of the Louisiana swamps only exists because the Brits kicked the Acadian people out of Nova Scotia and other Canadian Maritime Provinces in the mid-18th Century. This book sets out to compare the well-known sounds of the Cajuns with the less familiar music of their ancestral homeland. Mr Comeau is allegedly the “premier historian” of both musics (hmm, what about Ann Savoy, then?), as well as a journalist and broadcaster. Judg- ing by this he’s also an obsessive list-maker: bands, songs, record labels are catalogued and described ad infinitum. You’re barely a page into “What is Cajun Music?” before you’re confronted by the lyric and history of Jolie Blonde and a list of the author’s 27 favourite versions. The scattergun approach doesn’t make for easy reading, but I did enjoy some of Comeau’s more eccentric snippets. His inventory of over 100 covers of Jambalaya includes a Turkish version backed by “an organ that would be appropriate for a skat- ing rink”, and another by Alpcologne, of which he remarks drily, “three alphorns and a female voice makes for an unusual sound”.


Unfortunately there are shaky areas. The section on zydeco commits the unpardonable sin of omitting Boozoo Chavis, while Dennis Stroughmatt – an incendiary fiddler on a mis- sion to promote the French music of his native Illinois – is lumped together with the Louisiana Cajuns. Then there’s the outright bizarre claim that male Cajun musicians with ‘female’ names such as Shirley (Bergeron) and Doris (DL Menard) demonstrate a progressive respect for “transgender politics”. A joke, maybe, but not the kind of thing you expect from a premier historian.


The section on the Acadian music does-


n’t tell us as much as I’d have liked about archive material, perhaps because of a local attitude toward indigenous musical tradi- tions ranging “from apathy to antipathy”. Instead we get a list of French-language


Photo: Peter Kennedy


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