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Look Inside Musical Exoticism

Musical Exoticism
Images and Reflections

$55.99 (C)

  • Author: Ralph P. Locke, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, New York
  • Date Published: November 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521349550

$ 55.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • A Japanese geisha, a Middle Eastern caravan, a Hungarian-'Gypsy' fiddler, Carmen flinging a rose at Don José - portrayals of people and places that are considered somehow 'exotic' have been ubiquitous from 1700 to today, whether in opera, Broadway musicals, instrumental music, film scores, or in jazz and popular song. Often these portrayals are highly stereotypical but also powerful, indelible and touching - or troubling. Musical Exoticism surveys the vast and varied repertoire of Western musical works that evoke exotic locales. It relates trends in musical exoticism to other trends in music, such as programme music and avant-garde experimentation, as well as to broader historical developments such as nationalism and empire. Ralph P. Locke outlines major trends in exotic depiction from the Baroque era onward, and illustrates these trends through close study of numerous exotic works, including operas by Handel and Rameau, Mozart's 'Rondo alla turca', 'Madame Butterfly' and 'West Side Story'.

    • Provides a wide-ranging overview of the major trends in exotic portrayal in music, from the high Baroque era to today
    • The many illustrations provide the reader with a range of evocative visual images, from centuries-old drawings of Turkish musicians to photos of scenes from stage works such as 'West Side Story'
    • Places musical exoticism in the context of other trends in music, and historical and cultural events
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Depictions of Turkish pashas, Spanish gypsies, and of amusing or threatening foreigners are very familiar to musicians and audiences, yet Ralph P. Locke is the first critic to confront this enormous repertoire as a major phenomenon in Western music. The range – from Baroque opera to jazz – is vast, and the ethical and political issues are more relevant today than ever. Locke's penetrating study explores the manifold implications of evoking exotic cultures in music, and offers insights that force us to rethink many of our most firmly held assumptions." --Hugh Macdonald, Avis H. Blewett Professor of Music, Washington University, St. Louis

    "In this ambitious and challenging monograph, Ralph Locke proves himself to be an extremely expert guide to that musical Elsewhere that we all know but little understand, whether it be the multiple locations of Rameau’s Les Indes galantes, the Turkey of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, the Sri Lanka of Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles, the neighbourhood Otherness of Bernstein’s West Side Story, or the journey from Venice to China undertaken by Tan Dun’s Marco Polo."
    --David Nicholls, Professor of Music, University of Southampton

    "In this book, Ralph Locke offers a comprehensive and probing examination of musical exoticism in diverse musical repertoires that range from Rameau to Algerian Rap. He effectively bridges the gap between cultural and musical analyses of exoticism by grounding stylistic traits and paradigms to specific ideologies (colonialism, imperialism, Orientalism, and globalization) and cultural contexts. In demonstrating how western audiences’ understanding of exoticism is mediated by cultural preconceptions and “situated” knowledge, Locke carefully negotiates the multiple subject positions and social forces that have shaped its discursive practice."
    --Yayoi Uno Everett, Associate Professor, Music Department, Emory University

    "Locke's impressive achievement in Musical Exoticism is at least threefold: to have offered a synthetic account of its area of investigation, drawing judiciously upon a voluminous bibliography and over two decades of his own extensive research on musical exoticism, nineteenth-century art music and opera, and music's relationship to politics; to have offered a new research paradigm as a much-needed corrective to scholars of exoticism and orientalism in music, who have hitherto focused primarily on the "borrowing" or appropriation of musical materials (scales, modes, tunes, styles, etc.), too often at the expense of issues of representation and interpretation; and to have outlined a compelling periodization of exoticism's shifting role within the dual histories of Western art music and Western imperialism. But, I hope that the book is also remembered for its simultaneously generous and critical--and, one might therefore reasonably suggest, Saidian--impulse to examine and assess artworks in a patently non-reductive manner. Indeed, some of the best material in the book can be found in its rich, authoritative treatments of specific compositions, creators, keywords, and topoi that span three centuries of musical production. Equally important are the book's lucid prose and accessibility to general readers, which should garner it a wide audience."
    --Sumanth Gopinath, Assistant Professor of Music Theory, School of Music, University of Minnesota

    "...remarkable publication."
    --Eftychia Papanikolaou, Musicology, Bowling Green State University

    "an engaging read, aided by well-chosen illustrations and musical examples. . . . The ethical, moral, and political issues . . . lead one to contemplate as never before how pervasive musical exoticism has become throughout the music of the Western world. . . . An engrossing, intriguing, and fascinating book. Professor Locke offers us a rich feast, one which whets our appetite for more information and urges us on to further explorations of our own."
    --The Boston Musical Intelligencer: A Virtual Journal and Blog of the Classical Music Scene in Boston

    "Insightful and original. . . . [A] subtle and powerful account of musical understanding. . . . Musical Exoticism is not just a fine instance of contemporary musicology but also a timely intervention in debates about the ethical and didactic role of the arts in society." --Times Literary Supplement (Conor Farrington)

    “[Locke’s] approach is warm, enthusiastic and instructive on those musical details introduced in order to ‘link a work to some fascinating, attractive or fearsome place’ . . . Interesting points are made about familiar pieces, such as Carmen’s versatility in Spanish, Cuban and flamenco music.”—Musical Times (Peter Williams)

    "Ralph Locke has written a masterful study of the processes, effects and and ramifications of the representation and appropriation of 'exotic' musics by Western composers from the 17th century to the present: it promises to be the benchmark work in this area for some time, and one to which scholars should refer. Locke's Musical exoticismis arguably more comprehensive in its breadth and (as a single-author work) more uniform in its approach. It is likely to become a cornerstone for music students, if not a textbook for undergraduate courses on this subject. Written in such an accessible way that non-specialist readers can easily relate to it, it will also be of great relevance to scholars working in related fields, such as literary criticism, theatre studies, cultural history and even social anthropology. Musical exoticism, evidently the product of decades of research and deep reflection, deserves the highest acclaim for its detailed critique of a challenging area of Western music history, theory and aesthetics;...Musical exoticism should be the standard textbook on the subject for undergraduate music students, and a ready reference for anyone interested in the topic." --David R.M. Irving, Early Music

    "A comprehensive survey of three centuries of [musical] exoticism framed by a highly flexible yet incisive theoretical approach . . . The very readable text is clearly aimed at a diverse group of scholars, musicians, and concertgoers. Theoretical terms (both musical and cultural) are helpfully explained and even the most complicated ideas are communicated in clear and jargon-free language.” —Music Library Association Notes (Shay Loya)

    “A splendid history. . . . The musicological journey of this book is as fascinating as the subject itself. . . . A compulsory reference for any academic curriculum of both musicology and the history of cultural ideas. . . . Important for a very wide range of musicologists and ethnomusicologists, as well as of people doing cultural studies, are the multiple chapters on Gikpsy and gipsyness in music, on popular musical genres and on film music. . . . Convincingly complete, a state-of-the-musicological-art that establishes itself as an unavoidable milestone and major reference. . . . A major source and reference for the study of exotic/exoticism/orientalism in general [i.e., not just in music].”—Journal of Ethnography and Folklore.

    “Pushes us to widen the scope of inquiry beyond what is (merely) heard to what is seen, read, and intuited in and around the moments of sounded exoticism. . . . Allows for the inclusion of works that do not necessarily sound exotic, but involve exoticist elements in various extramusical ways. . . . Does not shy away from questions of stereotype or works that seem to traffic in them. . . . [Locke’s] fascinating claim moves us away from arguments about works’ value, and invites us instead to confront our own values and from where they come. . . . One of the volume’s contributions is its resituation of other scholarship in the context of exoticism. . . . This book can provide a set of questions about representation and meaning that may have been previously overlooked. . . . His Full-Context paradigm ultimately offers . . . a way of including works, and by extension, their communities of scholarship, that represent difference in ways other than sound.” --Journal of the American Musicological Society (Sindhumathi Revuluri, Harvard University)

    "This sophisticated and wide-ranging book . . . draws us in, then challenges, instructs, and delights us. . . . The chapters that attempt to define musical exoticism are rich and provocative. . . . One of the strongest aspects of the book is the extended discussion of 'Turkish exoticism' (pp.110-26), inspired by the percussion instruments of the Turkish Janissary troops. . . . One of the most insightful analyses comes from Locke's discussion of Bernstein's 'evenhanded portrayal of the rival ethnic groups' [in West Side Story]. . . . One of Musical Exoticism's many strengths is that it takes on the risk of defending what Appiah has called the 'necessary and inevitable part of cultural contact' (p. 41) and gives us many new reasons to appreciate this music. With its subtlety and wide-ranging analyses, music lovers will find many occasions here for fruitful 'reflection'." (Jann Pasler)
    Full review at

    "Mature and fair-minded...This might serve well as a text book for an undergraduate module, or as initial reading for a (post)graduate seminar. For those coming at the topic for the first time, it represents a well designed and carefully balanced introduction. Everyone benefits from Locke's use of plain, readable language...intelligible to non-specialists...The clarity of the definitions [in Chapters 1-4] are a strength of the work and represent its core originality...[Regarding the years since 1890], Locke provides a clear path through ambiquous and confusing terrain...For me, this material was the most rewarding and original aspect of the book." --Matthew Head, Nineteenth-Century Music Review

    “A major . . . contribution to musicological scholarship. Locke is not bound by terminologically reified concepts, but constantly shapes and evolves his definitions to respond symbiotically to his musical material. As such the conventional philosophical binarisms of exoticism are treated critically: then/now; self/other; near/far; fact/fiction—these are systematically dismantled and reassembled in [the] later, more music-orientated chapters of the book. . . . The basic profundity of Locke’s book: it asks questions about questions.” Bennett Zon, Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland

    “We can hardly imagine any scholar better suited to deal with such a wide scope. . . . The most intriguing part is Locke's discussion of theoretical issues (Chapters 1-4), in which he develops his own paradigms. . . . Locke rightly points out a too narrow reading of [Edward] Said's paradigm, especially when applied to literary and artistic productions. . . . The use of his Full-Context Paradigm undoubtedly allows the richest harvest to be reaped from dramatic genres such as opera or oratorio. . . . The close reading of [Handel’s] _Belshazzar_ is highly illuminating. . . . A fascinating approach incorporating all sorts of contexts, not neglecting one of the most important: performance.”--Thomas Betzwieser, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521349550
    • length: 440 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.69kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I:
    1. Music, the world, and the critic
    2. Questions of value
    3. Exoticism with and without exotic style
    4. Who is 'Us'?: the national and/as the exotic, and the treatment of stereotypes
    Part II:
    5. Baroque portrayals of despots: ancient Babylon, Incan Peru
    6. A world of exotic styles, 1750–1880
    7. Exotic operas and two Spanish 'Gypsies'
    8. Imperialism and 'the exotic Orient'
    9. Exoticism in a modernist age (ca. 1890–1960)
    10. Exoticism in a global age (ca. 1960 to today)
    11. Epilogue: exotic works of the past, today.

  • Author

    Ralph P. Locke, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, New York

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