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

Recommended Reading:
This Is What Democracy Sounds Like: Sound, Music, and Performance at the Women’s March and Beyond
Volume XIII, Issue 1 (Winter 2019)

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

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Editorial Board

  • Paul Attinello (University of Newcastle)
  • Michael Beckerman (New York University)
  • Andrea F. Bohlman (UNC Chapel Hill)
  • Charles Garrett (University of Michigan)
  • Shirli Gilbert (University of Southampton)
  • Patricia Hall (University of Michigan)
  • Noriko Manabe (Temple University)
  • Chérie Rivers Ndaliko (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Anne Rasmussen (William & Mary)
  • Silvio J. dos Santos (University of Florida)
  • Stephanie Shonekan (University of Missouri)
  • Martha Sprigge (University of California, Santa Barbara)

More Info...

Volume XV, Number 1 (Winter 2021)
Current Issue

Irony and Identity: Music Manuscripts from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Patricia Hall

The Collections Department of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum retains many arrangements of popular songs that were performed by the men’s orchestra of Auschwitz I. These songs often bear highly ironic but tragically relevant titles: “Letters That Never Arrived,” “Hours That One Can Never Forget,” “Sing a Song When You’re Sad.” A number of these songs are in the form of manuscript parts, written with great care in black ink on Beethoven Papier brand music paper. In this essay, I examine the manuscript parts for one of these songs, “Die schönste Zeit des Lebens” (The Most Beautiful Time of Life), to learn more about the identity of the prisoner copyists and how these songs might have functioned in a concentration camp.

Listener Discretion Advised: The Power and Politics of Intercultural Encounters on Music Radio

Rebecca Draisey-Collishaw

On April 14, 2007, rapper Cadence Weapon and indie pop musician Final Fantasy featured on Fuse, a weekly radio program produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) about serendipitous encounters between musicians from diverse scenes, styles, places, and cultures. By bringing together disparate strangers—or, at least, unlikely pairings—producers sought to stage unique performances that demonstrated the capacity for collaborations to spark creativity and enable communication across sometimes vast musical and cultural differences. This article addresses the deployment of power in situations of intercultural collaboration, exploring first how the form of the episode communicates ideological assumptions about the nature of multiculturalism and then focusing on two collaborative performances from the episode to demonstrate how the music may add to a more complicated discourse about social norms. In addition to pointing to the gulf that exists between intention and realization as a means of positively engaging the operationalization of principles of multiculturalism, my approach provides a potential model of analysis suitable for situations of intercultural performance that involve disparately present audiences and levels of mediation.

“Which Side Are You On?”Folk Tune Quotation and Protest in Western Art Music

Vanessa Cornett

Folk songs have long served as a persuasive vehicle for political activism and social change, especially when used to protest war, poverty, racism, or labor conditions. This paper addresses the contemporary expression, through music, of resistance and solidarity among the struggling working class. It emphasizes issues related to poverty, corruption, and class conflict within the Appalachian coal mines of the 1930s, and the ways in which these concerns have been reinterpreted through the lens of contemporary art music. It examines the significance of introducing traditional US American protest tunes into contemporary art music compositions, inviting a short discussion of protest songs, the representation of social issues in art music, and the compositional technique of melodic quotation. The piano music of Frederic Rzewski (b. 1938) serves as a strong example of protest expressed through abstract instrumental art music. To demonstrate Rzewski’s style, this paper explores the composer’s political beliefs as well as his general views on the politics of music itself. An analysis of the piece “Which Side Are You On?” from his North American Ballads (1979) for solo piano focuses the discussion of revolution and empowerment among the working class.

Special Section
Collections from the Field

Civil Rights Songs: A Chronological Listing

Leonard Lehrman

Recent Books on Music and Politics

Compiled by Lena Leson