This work intends to explore the shared qualities and roles of improvisation in six different musical traditions throughout North America, Southeast Asia, and West Africa. Methods of literature review, transcription, and quotation analysis are used to construct an operating state of improvisation within each tradition. The application of improvisation was unique enough in each tradition that general claims could not be made, however connections were found between sub-elements of improvisations which may be made more robust upon analysis of a greater number of traditions. The contribution of new transcriptions and concentration of information regarding improvisation may assist musicologists in further pursuits of comparative analysis., 2019
The Golden Age of hip-hop is a time period that refers to any number of years from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, in which the music was creatively transformed by a number of talented musicians. Specifically, a handful of recording artists working in the New York Metropolitan area significantly developed the lyrical part of the art form in the years between 1983 and 1988 , creating poetic innovations that allowed for a much greater range of expression. That is, these MC's used new types of musical phrases, rhythms, and rhymes to strengthen, add to, and transform the meaning of their words. In so doing, they helped to firmly establish both hip-hop's place in mainstream culture and the MC's role as its central artistic voice., 2013, Old URL: https://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/etd_hon_theses/964, In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)
Fairley, Brian R (Brian R Fairley) (author), (Eric Charry) (Thesis advisor)
This thesis explores a genre of Georgian traditional vocal music, the Gurian trio song, through a combination of ethnographic description, musical analysis of improvisational formulas, and close listening to early-twentieth-century recordings and their return to circulation in the embodied practice of present-day folk ensembles. Two prominent Gurian singers, Tristan Sikharulidze and Anzor Erkomaishvili, serve as touchstones for these strands of analysis, each representing approaches to transmitting the memory of their tradition that intertwine the oral and technologically mediated. After an introduction to Guria, a region of Georgia on the Black Sea coast, the first chapter reviews scholarly writing on Gurian music since the early twentieth century, and interrogates concepts of “polyphony” which influence research on Georgian music to this day. The second chapter draws on interviews with Tristan Sikharulidze and other Gurian singers to develop the idea of trio singing as a social activity with a moral dimension and complex processes of musical reference and intertextuality. Chapters Three and Four take a single Gurian trio song, “Me Rustveli,” and, based on comparative study of several recordings, propose a formulaic system of improvisation, while placing this practice within the context of Soviet-era attitudes toward improvisation. The final chapter explores the role of early-twentiethcentury recordings of Gurian music, and the way that idiosyncracies and accidents in the original recordings may have tangible effects on the way these songs are performed today. The outsize influence of Anzor Erkomaishvili as a performer, publisher, and all-around keeper of the archive, is augmented and colored by his familial connections to singers on the hundred-year-old records. A brief conclusion proposes areas for further research, particularly how to place musical, improvisatory practice within various models of cultural memory, including those built from the perspectives of textual, anthropological, or performance studies., Old URL: https://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/etd_mas_theses/156, In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)
In this study, I investigate contemporary popular music as a case study in collective effervescence. Emile Durkheim, writing in the late 17th and early 18th century, observed the increased isolation of the individual as a result of the societal shifts caused by the rise of industrial capitalism. In his works he specifically describes a decrease in opportunities for individuals to engage in what he refers to as collective effervescence. This leads into my argument that in the absence of formal structures to provide the means for engaging in this collective experience, the consumption of popular music is the primary means through which these experiences are felt. I argue that key developments, such as the rise of the Digital Age and societal circumstances, have led to a new wave of unabashedly political artists making music within what I refer to as the age of Black Lives Matter. I will be turning to the careers of Beyoncé Knowles, Kendrick Lamar, and Janelle Monáe, to place their varying conceptions of a more just society in conversation and help make sense of the ways in which artists are becoming increasingly comfortable taking on the role of political actors., 2019, Old URL: https://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/etd_hon_theses/2160, In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)
The Sambla are a small ethnic group nestled in a hilly region of western Burkina Faso, West Africa, who play a xylophone called the baan. Played by three musicians simultaneously, the baan accompanies all ritual, work, and recreational activities that require music in Sambla life, and it can be considered the primary locus of Sambla musical expression. They acquired the instrument from the neighboring Tusia, an ethnic group with whom the Sambla have long shared friendly relations, when two of their musicians migrated into Sambla country with their xylophone in the late 19th century. Over time the Sambla adopted this xylophone as their own, adapting the instrument and its music to suit their needs and transforming it into a unique local tradition.
The acceptance and transformation of the Tusia xylophone into a new local tradition can be viewed as the latest step in the formation of Sambla ethnic identity. As an ethnic group, the Sambla were formed by a series of processes that began when they separated from the Samogo populations, became geographically isolated, and began to absorb various foreign people, practices, and belief systems into their community, unifying themselves by their link to the land under a sacred earth chief. The creation of the baan tradition was another step in their process of identity creation, as it became an essential element to all ritual and social events and the center of Sambla musical life.
Music of the baan is complex and multifaceted, and it employs a speech surrogate system that is capable of extemporaneous speech both within the performance of a song and during interludes between songs in which spectators engage in conversation with the soloist, who responds with musical speech on the baan. The speech surrogate mimics the tonal and rhythmic contour of spoken Sambla, and it must fit within the melodic and modal context of the particular song in which the speech is played. The tonal, modal, and multi-dimensional rhythmic and metric facets of the music are explored in the musical analysis., Old URL: https://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/etd_diss/3, In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)
This paper is an extension of my research of neo-traditional music ensembles, called cultural troupes, in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, during the spring of 2007. In recent years, due to shifting cultural, political, and social climates, new technology, growing urban populations, and rapid globalization, Ghanaian musicians are in the process of developing new musical traditions that reflect and shape change in Ghana. Through analysis of four cultural troupes in Accra, the Ghanaian National Dance Ensemble, and the development of neo-traditional, recreational, and popular music styles, I explore the shifting dynamics of Ghanaian contemporary music. I also present strategies that Ghanaian musicians are employing to incorporate traditional music into a contemporary context. I conclude that traditional music is dynamic and Ghanaians are currently and have always adapted their musical traditions to both reflect and shape cultural change., 2008, Old URL: https://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/etd_hon_theses/206, In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted (InC-NC)