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Brimful of Asia: Negotiating Ethnicity on the UK Music Scene - Rehan Hyder - Google книги

Welcome back. Within the partial global hegemony of North American pop and culture, myths of England actually function as much-needed counter-hegemonies. However, critical shortcomings can result. Kate Bush has herself suffered myriad examples of journalistic mythologising. In addition, the overt anti-Americanism that resulted as part of the myth-making process see Colls, —90 was at its best chauvinistic, and at its worst blatantly racist. English ethnicity may be a construct; it may be more of a construct than other national ethnicities, for complex reasons, but it is a much overlooked area of study within popular music.

Kate Bush is one of the most resonant exemplars of Englishness in popular music, but we must break down this statement into its constitutive factors. The couple settle in the comfortable suburbia of Bexley, in Kent and move into the year-old East Wickham farmhouse that becomes the family home for them and their three children ibid. Almost all the research explores and much of the time unnecessarily the paternal line, and at the absent expense of the maternal line.

Whilst the paternal Bush ancestors are evidenced to be Protestant, and non-conformist Wesleyan Chapel , the maternal ancestors are, we assume, Catholic. For more insight into her genealogy and the impact of her Anglo-Irish identity upon her life, work and sense of ethnicity, we have to look to other sources.

Mother Hannah was the winner of several folk dance competitions in Ireland, and father Robert reportedly sold the publishing rights to one of his compositions in order to purchase an engagement ring Jovanovic, Such powerful, beautiful, passionate images! This essentially emotive, symbolic dimension is echoed in her sense of ethnicity:.

The pipes really tear it out of your heart. Paddy Bush subsequently devoted much of his life to a wide variety of traditional music, becoming a musical instrument technologist specialising in mediaeval devices.

Kate Bush and Hounds of Love. Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series.

Kate Bush has gone on record as extolling the Irish take on music as a joyful and vital aspect of everyday life. When questioned on the relationship of her music to American sources, the artist replies:. Whereas perhaps with the majority of other people … most of their heroes would have been American. Bush, in Swales, The Bowie link is further deepened as both Bowie and Bush studied mime and dance under Lindsay Kemp at different periods. Indeed, Kate Bush may have danced to David Bowie tracks during her classes, as Kemp used them in this context Buckley, His voice had limitations, but what he managed to do with it was beautiful, I mean, b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l.

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Her choice of Ferry as possessing a voice to be loved is highly unusual when we consider his mannered use of singing styles. Much later Bush was to fall in love with the Slavic harmonies of the Trio Bulgarka, who, even more than Bowie and Ferry, are operating far from the hegemonic terrain of transatlantic American vocal styling. Amongst the few artists whose work Kate Bush has contributed to, special mention should be made of Peter Gabriel and Roy Harper. Roy Harper is even more maverick in his explicit Englishness, and Kate Bush, an admirer, contributed vocals to several Harper albums.

I will return to this phenomenon below. I do not have the space within this book to adequately explore this whole separate ethno-musicological terrain, but certain dimensions of the English pastoral have both timbral and ideological resonance within the Kate Bush oeuvre, particularly as her career progresses. It is nothing more than the Teutonic style.

In sonic terms, despite a wide variety of imbued moods, the broad adoption of strings and wind as dominant elements over brass sections is a unifying characteristic in the pastoral tradition. It is no accident that landscape and seascape are frequently employed as inspirations or accompanying texts.

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The importance of topography and the symbolism of dreams are both shared by Elgar and Bush. Because of the lack of corroborative biographical evidence, we must be careful not to make the connections too concrete. In this global era of North American hegemony it can be considered as nothing short of deliberate, and possibly even blatantly ideological in its re-presentations of ethnicity. Barthes uses pheno-song and geno-song to differentiate the voices. The former term refers to those aspects that allow us to comprehend through clear expression and representation similar to another term familiar to semioticians — langue.

This is similar to the concept of parole. Pheno-song and geno-song each carry clear echoes of two associated terms — plaisir and jouissance. Plaisir can be termed a rational, detached, unemotional response to stimuli, as opposed to jouissance, a term with no precise translation that connotes feelings such as ecstasy, loss and chaos, even orgasm. But certainly, some critical dimensions relating to grain are of great use in analysing both singing voices and their wider relationship to concepts of ethnicity and national identity.

No singing voice is ever just about plaisir or pheno-song, regardless of our individual likes or dislikes.


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What we are in fact dealing with is the degree of grain, rather than the binary opposition of presence or absence. However, there is some intrinsic link between the degree of grain and the affective response imbued in that voice.

It can be argued that an overtly English, particularly southern English accent is very unusual within the entire body of popular music, and as such assumes a greater degree of individuality and uniqueness. We can substantiate this conclusion by focussing on physical, linguistic distinctions between Standard and American English.

Another distinction, less noted, is that Americans open their mouths wider. This empirical observation is corroborated when we observe original American adverts that have been dubbed by English voices. It is surely no accident that many lead vocalists possess very large or wide mouths — Kate Bush being one clear example. We need the structure of language in order to critically engage with concepts of this mythical pre-linguistic state. In addition, unlike on earlier albums such as Lionheart, the battery of vocal devices — squeals, growls and whispers — was being employed more sparingly, but more effectively as a result.

At various points the artist has drawn upon foreign tongues — another clear victory for jouissance over plaisir if this device denies the reader narrative comprehension.

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Within this paradigm:. As they rightly say, grain is an important aspect of timbre, and is central to instrumental dance music, as much as it is to vocal rock. My own take on grain is to dismantle its role as guarantor of gender- based and timbre-based authenticity.

The folk musicologist A. Bert Lloyd makes an important critical intervention into vocal styles when he divides Europe into two main geographical and singing traditions.


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  6. For Lloyd the plain syllabic tradition dominated in areas such as Germany, northern France, the Netherlands and southern Britain; for the most part these countries have strong links with either the Reformation or an organised nation state, which results in a vocal style that is orderly, structured and has precise pitching and clear intervals. In these areas drone notes rather than chord progressions can dominate, along with vocal styles that meander melismatically and chromatically even microtonally in stretching one syllable over several notes.