Music and Politics is an open access, peer-reviewed, academic journal first published in 2007. More...

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Please send all inquiries and submissions to musicandpolitics@umich.edu.

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  • Paul Anderson (University of Michigan)
  • Paul Attinello (University of Newcastle)
  • Laura Basini (California State University)
  • Michael Beckerman (New York University)
  • Timothy J. Cooley (UC Santa Barbara)
  • James R. Currie (University at Buffalo)
  • Dick Flacks (UC Santa Barbara)
  • Shirli Gilbert (University of Michigan)
  • Nancy Guy (UC San Diego)
  • Áine Heneghan (University of Washington)
  • Pamela Potter (University of Wisconsin)
  • Tricia Rose (Brown University)
  • Silvio J. dos Santos (University of Florida)
  • Jeremy Smith (University of Colorado)
  • Joseph N. Straus (CUNY)

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Volume VIII, Number 2 (2014) Current Issue

Music, Place, and Gulf Coast Tourism since the BP Oil Spill

Travis D. Stimeling

The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill elicited public concern for the environmental and public health impacts of this disaster, as well as its short- and long-term economic consequences for the Gulf Coast region. Of particular concern to many was the stability of the region’s tourism industry, which depends significantly on its white beaches and emerald water. In response to these concerns, BP, according to a corporate press release, promised to spend more than US$179 million to support Gulf Coast tourism between 2010 and 2013. Among their efforts were numerous music and culture festivals stretching from Louisiana to Florida and a television advertising campaign declaring the region to be open for tourism. Many of the musical by-products of BP’s recovery funding seem to deny the Gulf Coast’s increasing economic and cultural globalization. This essay problematizes the ways in which BP and Gulf Coast tourism organizations alike have deployed musical practices associated with the region to reinforce essentialized understandings of place in their efforts to rehabilitate the Gulf Coast’s image following the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Consequently, this essay explores the potential impact of such musical constructions of place on public perception of the American South—representations that exist at the intersection of reality and romanticism—in the twenty-first century.

The Politics and Place of a “Legendary” Hip Hop Track in Detroit

Rebekah Farrugia and Kellie D. Hay

This paper examines how a collective of women in Detroit are using hip hop culture and rap music specifically to create spaces of resistance in a place inundated with environmental ruins, race politics, social alienation, and dilapidated living conditions. It contextualizes the historical and contemporary environmental situation of Detroit before moving on to examine the collective process of creating the rap song and music video “Legendary.” Ecomusicological and urban planning literature, along with Adam Krims’s concepts of design intensity, cultural regeneration, and urban ethos, are reconfigured in relation to socially conscious, women-centered hip hop. “Legendary” locates Detroit’s contemporary struggles in racially marked places in the city through an array of arresting images that capture environmental waste, forgotten spaces, and resilience among residents to survive such challenges. Ultimately, we argue that the video serves as an example of how music can be used to question gendered power dynamics in hip hop culture and its connection to the environment, creating more desirable, sustainable communities.

Darius Milhaud’s Machines Agricoles as Post-Pastoral

Louis K. Epstein

Darius Milhaud’s song cycle Machines agricoles (1919) has long been considered a joke among critics and scholars. In the piece, Milhaud sets mundane, unpoetic excerpts from farm machine catalogues with his characteristic polytonal, polyrhythmic musical language. The earnestness of the setting clashes with the piece’s awkward texts, and both seemingly contradict the work’s subtitle, “Six Pastorals for Voice and Seven Instruments.” Although Milhaud protested against the one-sided critical reception of his work, claiming that he had created an unironic celebration of rural life, the piece’s pastoral pretentions remain unexamined. I argue that Milhaud’s invocation of the pastoral genre in Machines agricoles is not merely an iconoclastic, Dadaist provocation. Rather, it engages in productive critique of the pastoral tradition while subtly echoing politically inflected discourses concerning the challenges facing rural France at the time, challenges that deepened following the ecological and demographic devastation of the First World War. A close reading of Machines agricoles reveals numerous musical references to the pastoral tradition, albeit in a context that updates or rejects Romantic idealizations of rural ecologies. Drawing on literary ecocriticism, I demonstrate how Machines agricoles articulates a “post-pastoral” perspective on the complicated symbiosis between man, machine, and nature in early twentieth-century France.

Sustainability and Sound: Ecomusicology Inside and Outside the Academy

Aaron S. Allen, Jeff Todd Titon, and Denise Von Glahn