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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Editorial Board

  • 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 VII, Number 2 (2013) Current Issue

“Sing Vasya, Sing!”: Vasya Oblomov’s Rap Trios as Political Satire in Putin’s Russia

Philip Ewell

Under the increasingly autocratic rule of Vladimir Putin, Russians have seen freedom of speech erode. Under such dire circumstances, one possible outlet is satire, a time-honored outlet for artists under such rule. Vasya Oblomov—writer, rapper, activist, and musician—is such a satirist. In this article the author looks at Oblomov’s work and, in particular, his rap trios performed with Ksenia Sobchak and Leonid Parfyonov. The first trio is a direct plea to Dmitri Medvedev, while the second is a plea to Vladimir Putin. The third trio, his finest, is entitled “Rap Moleben,” and details all of the absurdity surrounding the Pussy Riot episode of 2012. The author shows how Oblomov is able to highlight the injustices taking place in contemporary Russia through his use of satire, both lyrical and musical.

Communal Singing as Political Act: A Chorus of Women Resistants in La Petite Roquette, 1943–1944

Colin Roust

During World War II, any women arrested in Paris for political reasons were incarcerated in La Petite Roquette prison. While there, some of the women formed an ad hoc chorus that sang a repertoire comprised of French and Soviet songs. Though they were prevented from taking direct, physical action against the Nazi occupiers, they turned to song as a means of proclaiming their identity and demonstrating their political beliefs.

“Songs of Malice and Spite”?: Wales, Prince Charles, and an Anti-Investiture Ballad of Dafydd Iwan

Craig Owen Jones

The investiture as Prince of Wales of Charles Windsor in 1969 occasioned extraordinary debate and dissent in Wales. Welsh-language protest singer and language activist Dafydd Iwan (1943-) was a key figure in this debate, penning several successful anti-investiture songs. The record-breaking single ‘Carlo’ (1969) has been the subject of extensive analysis by musicologists and cultural historians, but its successor, ‘Croeso Chwe Deg Nain’ (‘Welcome Sixty-Nine’; 1969) has been neglected, in spite of its equally impressive rhetorical force and respectable showing in the Welsh charts. This article seeks to demonstrate that ‘Croeso Chwe Deg Nain’ articulated a separate facet of the Welsh nationalist reaction to the investiture, lampooning the perceived servility of the Welsh towards the monarchy rather than the investiture itself. Even as Iwan was at pains to stress the ballad's status as a ‘comic song’, there were those in Wales who were not only prepared to find political resonances in the song's text, but were in positions to offer interpretations of the song's meaning that affected audience responses to it at the most fundamental level.

This is What Democracy Sounds Like: Live and Mediated Soundscapes of the Wisconsin Uprising

Michael S. O’Brien

Sociologists studying social movements in the U.S. have suggested that changing technologies of music production and consumption have made participatory protest music an obsolete practice. The Wisconsin Uprising, a popular protest movement rejecting Governor Scott Walker’s proposed anti-union legislation in 2011, saw the emergence of a range of participatory uses of original protest music, ranging from amateur music video to group song. Contrary to sociologists’ predictions, technologies of mediation did not preclude or replace such participatory practices, but rather were integrated within them in symbiotic cycles of performance and remediation.

Recent Books on Music and Politics

Eunice Schroeder

The books listed in this column address music as it relates to political expression or focus to a significant degree on power relationships between individual musicians or musical communities and a governing authority. Most of the works listed were published within the previous half year. Readers are welcome to submit additional titles to schroeder@library.ucsb.edu for possible inclusion in the next issue.