Journal of Ethnology 2/2016 is focused on current issues of ethnomusicology. Zuzana Jurková in her contribution thinks about the status of contemporary musicology, the musical-anthropological approach and the study of music worlds in the urban environment (The research spectrum of contemporary ethnomusicology: The ethnomusicologists’ road to the town). The author of the adopted American study – Adelaida Reyes – brings a platform for the discussion about the sense and importance of ethnomusicology (What do ethnomusicologists do? An old question for a new century). Veronika Seidlová introduces a methodological conception of the “multi-sited ethnography” and its use in ethnomusicology (Multi-sited ethnography: examples of application in the contemporary anthropological and ethnomusicological research). The Slovenian ethnomusicologist Mojca Kovačič deals with the study of religious sounds (bells, chimes, calls for prayer) in town (on the example of Slovenian Ljubljana) (Conflicting religious sounds in an urban space: The case of Ljubljana religious soundscape). Zita Skořepová Honzlová submits a view of the music with the Czech minority in Vienna (Music as an anthropological mirror of a minority: An example of research on musical activities of contemporary Viennese Czechs).
Review Section is devoted to the life and work of the literary scientist and folklorist Orest Zilynskyj (1923–1976) (by Naďa Valášková). Interview by Lucie Uhlíková introduces the ethnologist Josef Jančář (born 1931) and remembers his 85th birthday. Social Chronicle is devoted to the following anniversary of the ethnologists Helena Beránková (born 1956) and Helena Šenfeldová (born 1936), the musical folklorist Věra Thořová (born 1936), the teacher and folklorist Alena Schauerová (born 1936) and the folk dance collector Milada Bimková (born 1926); it also publishes an obituary for the historian and ethnologist Jiří Setinský (1951–2016) and a reminiscence of the ethnologist Vlasta Suková (1936–2014). Other regular columns contain reports from exhibitions, book reviews and reports from branch activities.
The Research Spectrum of Contemporary Ethnomusicology: the ethnomusicologists’ road to the town
The text aims to introduce urban ethnomusicology, an important direction in the contemporary anthropologically-oriented research into music. This direction is first set into the context of another ethnomusicological research. After a short look into the history of urban ethnomusicology, significant theoretical conceptions, used in or usable for the research into town music, are described. These include especially the conception of soundscape (Schafer and Shelemay), the connective structure with its two dimensions – the social and the time one (Assmann) and the conception of collective memory (Halbwachs, Kansteiner). The last section of the text introduces how the above conceptions have been applied on Prague music material. The categorization partially inspired by the Appadurai´s –scapes is used for the social dimension of connective structure. Two lines are obvious in the time dimension (to which, in this case, music and remembering relate): the first line includes music as an object of remembering, the other one is its medium. The text is pervaded by the empirically confirmed awareness of fluidity of all borders, which is especially obvious in the today´s big city.
What do ethnomusicologists do? An old question for a new century
Throughout ethnomusicology’s history, the breadth of the discipline’s field, its multidisciplinary nature, and its historical relations to other subdisciplines within musicology have raised questions of identity. Is ethnomusicology a discipline in its own right? “What is ethnomusicology?” is the form in which the question has persisted through changing contexts and contingencies. The resulting entanglement with definitional issues have distracted us from what historians and scientists such as Thomas S. Kuhn and Freeman Dyson have pointed to as the real repository of what gives a discipline its identity: what its practitioners do. To avoid the tendency to have the accomplishments of the discipline’s outstanding members dominate the narrative, and to focus on the activity of practitioners in general, this article explores the power of dialectics to generate new knowledge or new insights by creating a chain of questions and answers engaged in critical exchange and taking into account the oppositions and tensions that leave their mark on the work of practitioners. Addressing the issue that has stood most obstinately against a unitary identity for ethnomusicology – the issue of integrating what has been called “two ethnomusicologies” or a bifurcated discipline – the article first examines ethnomusicology’s problems of identity in historical perspective. From this base it looks at ethnomusicology from the perspective of the humanities and the sciences. Ultimately, the article aims to re-discover and re-articulate the bi-furcating elements in their particular time and place, the better to address issues of generalizability, upon which the discipline’s recognizability and identity stand.
Multi-sited ethnography: examples of application in the contemporary anthropological and ethnomusicological research
The author aims to introduce and contextualize the model of multi-sited ethnography which was suggested by the American anthropologist George E. Marcus as a conceptual and methodological approach to the field research of mobile cultural phenomena and global cultural interactions. The author illustrates the concept with examples of the already implemented anthropological and ethnomusicological research which either inspired this model or used it, as well as with the design of her dissertation research, which deals with transnational musical flows of mantras from India to the Czech Republic. The text also indicates possible limits and challenges brought by this still experimental way that is an alternative to the traditional model of ethnography. Following the anthropologist James Fergusson, the author thinks that the multi-sited ethnography should not replace the “single-sited” ethnography, but rather extend the methodological spectrum.
Conflicting religious sounds in an urban space: The case of Ljubljana religious soundscape
The article focuses on a more recent area of interest within the field of ethnomusicological research – sound. It reveals how sounds of various religious communities in the contemporary urban space reflect, construct or stimulate conflict of socio-political relations. It focuses on the city of Ljubljana and discusses the experiences of the inhabitants with three religious soundings: Christian church bell ringing, Muslim call to prayer (adhan) and the new religious community´s soundings of small bells, pots and pans. Through epistemological dimension of religious sounding it places them in relation to other sounds in urban soundscape. Bell ringing as the sound of dominant Roman Catholic community is being mostly challenged because of its acoustic and ideological domination in the city. Adhan is the sound of minority which has not been not materialized yet in the city soundscape, but has already evoked a broader debate among the wider public. Their reactions reveal religious, identity and xenophobia issues in the society. The Trans-Universal Zombie Church of the Blissful Ringing is using the musical instrument – the bell and the sounding of small bells, pots and pans in the form of progressive spirituality that provokes other religious traditions as well as socio-political situation in the country. All presented examples show how a particular religious sound functions on the level of the symbolic presentation of religious ideology and how the socio-political conflict is produced through religious sonority of the city.
Music as an Anthropological Mirror on an Example of Research into Music Activities of Contemporary Vienna Czechs
The study opens with an introductory section devoted to a brief presentation of the concept of minority and its definition. Based on comparison of the situation in Europe and the United States, as well as in different scholarly disciplines, the author aims to show main differences in its conceptualization and usage in the humanities, social sciences and law. On the background of the discipline´s development from comparative musicology to ethnomusicology, or musical anthropology, changes in the concept of minority and related research problems are outlined. At the beginning of the discipline, scholars focused on musical marginality embodied in non-European and predominantly rural European music in pursuit of its inclusion to the hypothetical timeline of musical development. While some scientists still continue documenting the music of endangered ethnic/national minorities, anthropology of music tends to study musical activities with respect to wider issues, such as music and identity negotiation among minority members, music and migration, etc. Finally, the author presents main questions, theoretical concepts, methodology and a summary of conclusions of her own research on musical activities of the contemporary Czech minority in Vienna, which was realized in the years 2012–2015.