This week's readings presented us with a grocery list of theoretical notions about the combining and overlapping of musics: mix, fusion, hybridization, synthesis, and creolization. How musicians and their audiences understand one another, themselves in society, and their musics have all been engaged. Suddenly, I find myself thinking about inter-sectionality, authenticating people or processes, and the role of the imagination in performer-audience interactions.
"Trauma, rupture, and catastrophe characterize the moment of creolization. Creolization is also fundamentally not about 'origins' nor about a return to authenticity." writes Livermon (p. 64, Livermon). This statement is presented as one explanation of many as to why "creolization" as a theoretical lens might not suit the context of South Africa. Creolization is about the creation of a new thing (problematic in the hierarchy it perpetuates) and not the return to something previously known and understood. Livermon is interested in post-racial possibilities (p. 71 Livermon) in South Africa. The sociopolitical realities of South Africa may simply be too distinct from the (distantly?) related post-colonial contexts of other diaspora groups such as the peoples of the Caribbean.
I'm still intrigued by the notion of "authenticity" and how as a theoretical concept it could prove to be an interesting ground for understanding musical expression in neoliberal economies. Livermon offers up the term rather casually in the above passage putting "origins" in quotations as if it were perhaps a disputed term, but authenticity is not disputed. Perhaps later in the dissertation Livermon takes the notion of authenticity to task. I'd be interested in reading more.
If mix, fusion, hybridization, or creolization are all theories of change in music making as human identifying practices, might they all be understood in some way as authenticating processes? To create something new and "true" of an emerging socio-political identity is an authenticating process. According to Brinner's interlocutors, there is even the possibility of a "shallow" hybridization, synthesis, or fusion (p. 215, Brinner). This opinion was offered from someone who creates the musical process but not from the listener. Does the audience share the same opinion, the same apprehension? If so, why? If not, then who is the performer to claim that one composition is "shallow?" Who is crafting the new authenticity? How might these theories express both the ideals of the musical creator and the audience when there may be competing notions of what is authentic? What about the creation of something new and thus inauthentic?
Livermon writes of role of the imagination (p. 65, Livermon) and "the present 'problem-space' that is post-apartheid South Africa." Might further discourse about imagination yield good fruit in understanding musical change, overlap, and the creation of new forms? Who are people imagining themselves to be? Similarly, the authenticating listening to mixed-genre music (p. 215, Brinner), a hybrid creation we're discussing this week, even marketing and the neoliberal context for "global music industry" or "world musics" assumes certain imaginings. Relatedly how does the audience listen/receive them? What is the hybrid ear?
Brinner, Ben. 2009. Playing Across a Divide: Israeli-Palestinian Musical Encounters, New York: Oxford University Press
Hall, Stuart. 2003. "Creolite and the Process of Creolization" in Creolite and Creolization: Documenta 11 Platform 3, editd by O. Enwezor et al., 27-41. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz
Livermon, Xavier. 2006. "Mixing it Up, Mzani Style." in "Kwaito Bodies in African Diaspora Space: The Politics of Popular Music in Post-Apartheid South Africa." 58-78. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.