For a century and more, the idea of democracy has fuelled musicians’ imaginations. Seeking to go beyond music’s proven capacity to contribute to specific political causes, musicians have explored how aspects of their practice embody democratic principles. This may involve adopting particular approaches to compositional material, performance practice, relationships to audiences, or modes of dissemination and distribution.
Finding Democracy in Music is the first study to offer a wide-ranging investigation of ways in which democracy may thus be found in music. A guiding theme of the volume is that this takes place in a plurality of ways, depending upon the perspective taken to music’s manifold relationships, and the idea of democracy being entertained. Contributing authors explore various genres including orchestral composition, jazz, the post-war avant-garde, online performance, and contemporary popular music, as well as employing a wide array of theoretical, archival, and ethnographic methodologies. Particular attention is given to the contested nature of democracy as a category, and the gaps that frequently arise between utopian aspiration and reality. In so doing, the volume interrogates a key way in which music helps to articulate and shape our social lives and our politics.
Table of Contents
Introduction: looking for democracy in music and elsewhere 1. ‘Unsociable sociability’: orchestras, conflict and democratic politics in Finland after 1917 2. Dismantling borders, assembling hierarchies: Percy Grainger and the idea of democracy 3. How democratic is jazz 4. Curating difference: Elliott Carter and democracy 5. Getting exercised: ensemble relations in Christian Wolff’s Exercises 6. Defining audible democracy: new music in post-dictatorship Argentina 7. Network music and digital utopianism: the rise and fall of the Res Rocket Surfer project, 1994–2003 8. As the band hit full throttle: live event, mediatization and collective identification in popular music concert films 9. Reinventing audiences: imagining radical musical democracies
Robert Adlington holds the Queen’s Anniversary Prize Chair in Contemporary Music at the University of Huddersfield. He is the author of books on Harrison Birtwistle, Louis Andriessen, and avant-garde music in 1960s Amsterdam, and has edited volumes on avant-garde music and the sixties, music and communism, and (in the present book series) New Music Theatre in Europe (Routledge, 2019).
Esteban Buch is Professor of Music History at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. His latest books include Trauermarsch. L’Orchestre de Paris dans l’Argentine de la dictature (Seuil, 2016) and, as a co-editor, Composing for the State: Music in Twentieth Century Dictatorships (Routledge, 2016).