Music and the Poetics of Production in the Bolivian Andes: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Music and the Poetics of Production in the Bolivian Andes

1st Edition

By Henry Stobart


358 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9780754604891
pub: 2006-10-13

FREE Standard Shipping!


Music and the Poetics of Production in the Bolivian Andes is a musical ethnography of a Quechua-speaking community of northern Potosí, in the Bolivian Andes. Based on extensive fieldwork, it explores how music permeates the lives of this group of herders and agriculturalists, and how it is deeply interwoven with agricultural and social (re)production. In this harsh highland environment, persuading the earth to bear fruit is a perpetual challenge, and music emerges as an especially critical and dynamic medium; one that provides rich insights into broader social processes and values. Music and dance orchestrate the seasonal transformation of the landscape, coordinate processes of life and death, and articulate relations with outside social groups and the spirit realm. Through rich and evocative ethnography, the book delves into the powerful meanings ascribed to sound; charts unfamiliar aesthetic territories; suggests how modernity can contribute to indigeneity; and reveals remarkable musical perspectives on llama husbandry and potato cultivation. As we follow the lives, shifting fortunes and musical year of this, in many ways, fragile community, a seasonally shifting array of musical instruments, genres, dances and tunings is introduced. The book is accompanied by an audio CD, photographs, musical transcriptions and explanatory diagrams.


'… a fundamental resource for anyone interested in indigenous music traditions of South America. Students and scholars with other areas of interest would do well to review this book as a model of exemplary scholarship. Essential.' Choice ’The beauty of this book is that while it is about so many things that might be considered 'not music', it is always tightly interwoven with a sonorous landscape and with the specificities of performance practices that are described in reference to the entire body… Music and the Poetics of Production, written in an accessible jargon-free style, succeeds in connecting with scholarship on aesthetics, social production, and performance, as well as with a body of literature about culture and modernity in the Andes. Stobart's book should be of great interest to anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, and anyone with an interest in the music and culture of this region.’ The World of Music ’If asked to recommend a single book that conveys the magic and connective powers of indigenous Andean music as well as exemplifies prominent themes and approaches in traditional Andean studies, I might well choose this one… I intend to use this book in my courses and recommend it warmly to students and colleagues who wish to understand the powerful integration of music making and dance with subsistence activities, senses of time, spirituality, love making, and community in the Andes and beyond.’ Journal of Folklore Research ’… detailed and engaging… a winning combination of scholarly detail and illuminating anecdote.’ British Bulletin of Publications ’Stobart is at his best when describing the 'sensory explosions' that constitute the calendrical feasts that are the primary context for music-making, along with drinking and other forms of ritual performance… The book includes an audio CD with excerpts from Stobart's field recordings of musical performances, soundscapes and Quechua storytelling, all carefully cues to the text.

Table of Contents

Contents: Part I Creating Context; Introduction: the poetics of production: Worlds of sound: energy, weeping and feeding: the background to music; Orchestrating the year: seasonal alternation, calendars,and power. Part II Guitars and Song: Fabricating tradition and the Macha groove: guitars, artisans, seasonality and performance; Marrying the mountain and the production of people: songs of courtship and marriage. Part III The Music of a Year; May - June Violent harmony and the making of men: julajula panpipes and harvest time; June - October Cacophony, community and the water war: saints, siku panpipes, and miraculous 'renewal'; November - January Invoking the dead and crying for rain:souls, flutes, llamas and compassion; January - February/March Disembodied voices and dancing potatoes: carnival, devils, sirens, musical creation and new potatoes. Part IV Kacharpaya - 'despatch': The fragile community: epilogue; Appendices; Character glossary; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Henry Stobart is Senior Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

About the Series

SOAS Studies in Music Series

SOAS Musicology Series is today one of the world’s leading series in the discipline of ethnomusicology. Our core mission is to produce high-quality, ethnographically rich studies of music-making in the world’s diverse musical cultures. We publish monographs and edited volumes that explore musical repertories and performance practice, critical issues in ethnomusicology, sound studies, historical and analytical approaches to music across the globe. We recognize the value of applied, interdisciplinary and collaborative research, and our authors draw on current approaches in musicology and anthropology, psychology, media and gender studies. We welcome monographs that investigate global contemporary, classical and popular musics, the effects of digital mediation and transnational flows.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General