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music with a REALLY bad image problem

Jack Campin 11 Jan 10 - 03:57 PM
Lighter 11 Jan 10 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,leeneia 11 Jan 10 - 06:38 PM
Jack Campin 11 Jan 10 - 07:31 PM
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Subject: music with a REALLY bad image problem
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 03:57 PM

I think this goes a bit further than bodhran and banjo jokes...

Hiromi Lorraine Sakata, Music in the Mind: the Concepts of of Music and Musician in Afghanistan, pp.78-9, describes how some kinds of music are mainly played by barbers, who are a tabooed, outcast group marrying within themselves and buried outside the walls of the cemetery. Barbers also conduct minor surgery and circumcisions. Their characteristic instruments are the sorna and dohl - i.e. shawm and bass drum - and players of these instruments end up in the same social category as barbers. It seems they owe their degraded social position to being a migrant lower-caste group from India.

Perhaps the exclusion of sorna and dohl players can be explained by the instruments' supposedly polluting qualities. The double reed of the sorna is placed entirely within the mouth of the player; thus, the reed and by extension the whole instrument is contaminated by the player's own spittle. Spit is likened to semen by the gypsies, an idea suggested by our own expression, "he is the spitting image of his father". This polluting attribute is supported and sustained by stories and notions of the evil, satanic origin of the sorna. It is considered by some to be "the penis of Satan", and the first maker, performer and teacher of the sorna was said to be the devil himself. According to a Herat folksong, the skin for the dohl is made out of a donkey's stomach and the sorna is made out of its penis.

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Subject: RE: music with a REALLY bad image problem
From: Lighter
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 04:07 PM

Wow! Fascinating. So music ain't the universal language after all.

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Subject: RE: music with a REALLY bad image problem
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 06:38 PM

in the 1970's somebody coined a word for this kind of thinking: elephant shit.

What is comes down to is that the group is of a different ethnicity (and perhaps religion), and they are the victims of bigotry.

Quoting all that nonsense about spit and semen is uncivilised, ignoble and a waste of the planet's resources.

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Subject: RE: music with a REALLY bad image problem
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 07:31 PM

("Elephant shit" was coined by Fritz Perls, and it doesn't mean that).

There was no perceived difference in ethnicity or religion (in their capacity as circumcizers these guys were performing a religious function - didn't make them any more accepted). Sakata was theorizing that a past difference in ethnicity might have led to the present situation.

That example was simply one of the more dramatic examples of social categorization of musical roles that Sakata describes. It's an illuminating read and should get you thinking about how the same processes operate in other societies, like your own; "musician" is very far from being a neutral behavioural label in Western society too.

I know the person who first got Highland pipers recognized officially as musicians in the BBC fee scale - it was as recent as the 1960s. Pipers had been playing in British Army regiments for about a century before they got the same recognition as musicians that drummers had. Look at the kind of qualifications you can get in the DJ field and it's obvious that the British educational establishment sees them as a lesser breed than pianists.

When did you last hear anyone describe a karaoke singer as a musician? How about a racetrack commentator?

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