From 'diversity' to 'difference': the case of socio-cultural studies of music

Winter 1989

Grenier looks at the socio-cultural analysis of music, considering the eighteenth-century emphasis on exotic, foreign musical forms and the idea that some music is more ‘primitive’ or ‘savage’ than other forms, with Bruno Nettl’s ethnomusicology assuming a kind of musical evolution from simplicity to increasing complexity. Grenier moves us towards a less linear model of musical change, and considers the ways in which specific Black, youth and female musics have contributed to group identity and ‘social specificity’. However, she questions whether so-called MOR (middle-of-the-road) music has been neglected in this respect, arguing that all music partially constructs identity through difference.

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