Towards a mapping of the marginal : readings of art songs by Nigerian, Ghanaian, Egyptian and South African composers

Van Rhyn, Chris (2013-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: African art music practices of western origin have oftentimes been excluded from general discourses on western art music practices. In this study, close readings of selected art songs by twentieth and twenty-first century Nigerian, Ghanaian, Egyptian and South African composers serve to ‘map’ this music through challenging existing general discourses on art music composition, and genre-specific discourses on art song composition in Africa. The readings also serve to create new discourses, including ones that promote African crossregional engagements. In the first part of this dissertation, the readings take place in the contexts of the selected countries. The second section presents pre-selected discourses and theories as points of departure. Chapter 2 proposes to question how the theory of African vocalism can be expanded, and how animist materialism could serve as an alternative context in which to read the composition of art music in Nigeria and Ghana. Chapter 3 aims to answer which strategies in anti-exotic self-representation have been followed in twentieth-century Egyptian art song. Chapter 4 asks how South African composers of art song have denoted ‘Africa’ in their works, and how these denotations relate to their oeuvres and general stylistic practices. Chapter 5 interrogates how composers have dealt with the requirements of tonal languages in their setting of texts in such languages to music. Chapter 6 probes possible interpretations of composers’ display of the ‘objects’ of cultural affiliation, positing expatriate African composers as diplomats. Chapter 7 asks what the contexts are in which to read specific examples of African intercultural art music, without which the analyst might make an inappropriate (perhaps unethical?) value judgement. The conclusion presents a comparison of trends and styles in African art song to those in certain western song traditions. A discussion on folk and popular song styles as art is followed by a consideration of African vocalism in the context of the dissertation as a whole. A continuation of an earlier discussion on the compositional denotation of ‘Africa’ leads to a consideration of the ‘duty to denote’ in the context of western modernity.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Kunsmusiekpraktyke van westerse oorsprong in Afrika is gereeld van algemene diskoerse oor westerse kunsmusiekpraktyke uitgesluit. Stip-lesings van geselekteerde kunsliedere deur Nigeriese, Ghanese, Egiptiese en Suid-Afrikaanse komponiste dien in hierdie studie om die musiek op die ‘kaart te plaas’ deur in gesprek te tree met bestaande algemene diskoerse oor kunsmusiekkomposisie, asook genre-spesifieke diskoerse oor kunsliedkomposisie in Afrika. Die lesings dien ook om nuwe diskoerse te skep, insluitend diskoerse wat gesprekke óór die grense van verskillende streke in Afrika bevorder. Die lesings in die eerste helfde van die proefskrif vind plaas binne die kontekste van die geselekteerde lande. In die tweede deel word vooraf-geselekteerde diskoerse en teorieë as wegspringpunte gebruik. Hoofstuk 2 stel dit ten doel om te vra hoe die teorie van Afrikavokalisme (African vocalism) uitgebrei kan word, en hoe animistiese realisering (animist materialism) as alternatiewe konteks kan dien waarin die komposisie van kunsmusiek in Nigerië en Ghana gelees kan word. In Hoofstuk 3 word gepoog om uit te vind watter strategieë in anti-eksotiese self-uitbeelding gevolg is in twintigste-eeuse Egiptiese kunsliedkomposisie. Die doel van Hoofstuk 5 is om uit te vind hoe komponiste die vereistes van toontale in hul toonsettings van tekste in sulke tale hanteer het. Hoofstuk 6 ondersoek moontlike interpretasies van komponiste se aanbiedings van die ‘objekte’ van kultuuraffiliasie deur die postulering van geëmigreerde komponiste as diplomate. Hoofstuk 7 vra wat die kontekste is waarin spesifieke voorbeelde van interkulturele kunsmusiek uit Afrika gelees kan word, waarsonder die analis ‘n onvanpaste (dalk onetiese?) waardebeoordeling kan maak. Die slot bied ’n vergelyking van tendense en style in Afrika-kunsliedere met dié in sekere westerse liedtradisies aan. ’n Bespreking van volks- en populêre liedstyle as kuns word gevolg deur ’n oorweging van Afrika-vokalisme in die konteks van die proefskrif as geheel. ‘n Voortsetting van ’n vroeëre gesprek oor die komposisionele uitbeelding van ‘Afrika’ lei tot ‘n oorweging van die ‘plig om uit te beeld’ in die konteks van westerse moderniteit.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85813
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