Afro No-Clash : composing syncretic African/Western music : eleven compositions and the frameworks for their systematic analysis

Chapman, James Norman (2007) Afro No-Clash : composing syncretic African/Western music : eleven compositions and the frameworks for their systematic analysis. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This PhD consists of an artistic work (an album of music) and an exegesis. The album contains eleven works for a variety of ensembles, including an eight-piece pop fusion group, a string quartet, an eleven-piece a cappella ensemble, a five-piece contemporary classical ensemble and a six-piece percussion ensemble. Each of these works embraces a blend of African and Western techniques and aesthetics. These works are the result of a compositional praxis which is closely integrated with a theoretical framework that I develop in the exegesis. The purpose of the exegesis is to provide a framework from which to understand the compositions. Perspectives such as postcolonialism are immediately engaged because of the fact that two distinct world cultures are referenced by these compositions. Similarly, the musical aesthetics of the two source cultures are examined because I need to understand the ways that the value systems are expressed in musical terms, and how they might interact in cross-cultural composition. Examination of the literature reveals that there has been a trend in recent decades towards cultural analysis of cross-cultural music but very little work has been done on the technical analysis of such works (Utz 2003). A preliminary list of issues is developed from a survey of ten relevant composers’ works and these issues are categorised into three analytic dimensions: the contextual (cultural), aesthetic and technical. African “musics” and musical cultures are discussed with regard to issues of Western interpretation (Agawu 2003) and appropriate representation, social and cultural preferences and aesthetic values. Likewise Western musical culture is examined in order to understand its colonial impact, its stylistic consistency and ideas that have emerged about aesthetic preferences and the interpretation of meaning (Cone 1972; Kivy 2001). Four frameworks are developed to address each of these analytical dimensions. The first deals with cultural identity and the appropriation of musical ideas, the second with the sensitivity of certain materials. The third framework enables the examination of the aesthetic preferences for each of the cultures involved and the fourth framework provides a taxonomy and vocabulary of terms for use in analysis of the structural and other technical features of cross-cultural Western/African musics. These four frameworks are applied to the eleven compositions that I have completed for this project. I identify distinct approaches to appropriation, aesthetic preferences, the predominance of rhythmic structure and the performative embodiment and narrative transformational processes in my compositions. I conclude by categorising the technical and stylistic preferences embodied in my work, and identifying possible future directions for my compositions and the development of the analytical frameworks.

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ID Code: 16694
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Vella, Richard & Davidson, Robert
Keywords: African musics, analysis, appropriation, aesthetics, blending, composition, cross-cultural, culture, difference, embodiment, ethnomusicology, expectancy, identity, metatheory, multivalence, participation, performance, polyrhythm, postcolonialism, repetition, simultaneity, syncretism, transformation, ubuntu, variation, Western music
Department: Faculty of Creative Industries
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright James Norman Chapman
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:08
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:51

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