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Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Music Culture) Paperback – Unabridged, June 15, 1998


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Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Music Culture) + Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation (Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology) + Ethnomusicology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
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Product Details

  • Series: Music Culture
  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan; 1st edition (June 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819522570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819522573
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Small is] a perfect outsider critic, the kind of wise, generalizing mind who sees the whole picture; he is the opposite of a striving, circumspect academic who has followed the trail of specialization toward the goal of tenure. Though educated in the classical tradition and thoroughly at home with its canon, Small has shown a rare catholicity of interests . . . like all gurus, Small teaches more about how to live in relation to the subject matter than he does about the subject matter itself . . . Small's strength is openness. He fiercely believes in the universality of musical experience and seeks to make understanding of it accessible to the general reader . . . His most personal book, Musicking can be seen as a bold divestment of his own cultural training, ending in the man standing naked before his peers." —Lingua Franca

"[Small] forces the reader to grasp the reality that different audiences and social factors obligate variant approaches, and he concludes with an aesthetic orientation of universal validity . . . He unites the musicological and the ethnomusicological in a manner which neither of these disciplines has managed thus far, and in the process provides a penetrating, sophisticated, multicultural challenge to traditional concepts of 'musicking'."—Choice

"With every passing year Christopher Small's profound and endlessly subtle understanding of musicking becomes a more useful foundation for future work. His clear prose, patiently and carefully explaining what should have been obvious, is a model for us all in this era of so much deliberately ambiguous or unintentionally obscure writing . . . The great clarity of worldview, wisdom and indispensible insights they contain will move every reader toward a better understanding of musicking as a pleasurable path to a sustainable future."—Ethnomusicology

Review

"Christopher Small has something of the guru's gift of saying wise things in the simplest but also most engaging way. The book is instructive and enlightening, interesting to think about, and even to differ with . . . stimulating and rewarding." (Ross Chambers)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Christopher W. Chase on October 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
According to Small, there is no such thing as "music." "Music" is a abstract reification of what is fundamentally of a process--'musicking.' Moreover, the term "music" is not held in hegemonic circles to be just *any* product of a process, but rather the product of the process of producing what is known as Western classical music. This music is today commonly perceived as being absolute or autonomous--self-contained, and when performed is performed only in the sense that the performance is judged against an abstract perfected Platonic-like form of the work in question. All performances, are therefore, approximations only of some ur-essence of the piece. The essence of the work (if such can be said to exist) in this paradigm lies in the notated score, which has assumed an inviolate sacredness since the 19th century unknown to previous paradigms (or other current ones) of musicking.

But Small, as I said, wishes to challenge this. What we need, instead, says Small--is to resort to the verb -"to music." To music is to take part, in any capacity, in a musical performance, whether by performing, listening, by rehearsing, or practicing, by providing material for performance (what is commonly called composition), or by dancing. This is true for active participation or passive participation, and Small means it in a descriptive, not prescriptive sense. To take part, is for Small, the important aspect over all--for it refers to the forging of relationships.

Small discusses at length the structure and evolution of modern spaces in which Western classical music is musicked. As the repertory has fossilized, modern orchestras have doubled since WWII.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Todd Hunter on June 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderfully written, this text should be considered standard reading for any undergraduate or graduate music program. It may provide readers with a deeper appreciation for what musicians actually contribute to society and mankind in general.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Christopher Small explores the significance of making music (musicking) in how it forms individuals, relationships, and culture. Well-versed in the tradition of Western Art Music, yet also touches on popular music and the music of other cultures to extend and explain his insights.
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By electricfiddler on September 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very insightful book, reinforcing my view that the classical music tradition in which I was raised does not touch for me the true meaning and power of music that I've found as a street performer using my electric violin to interpret American roots music.
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