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Title: Tuning in to the past : the viola and its representations in 19th century Rio de Janeiro
Author: Castro, Renato
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 3461
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the civilising processes that led to the decline of the viola in the first half of the nineteenth century in Rio de Janeiro. It proposes alternative methods of working with archives and musical artefacts in historical ethnomusicology. A number of archival collections from Brazil and Europe comprise the focus of the analysis. Travelogues, chronicle and fictional literature, as well as musical scores and tutors are analysed to provide a range of perspectives on the cultural contexts and the organology of the instrument. An historical ethnographic study of these documents addresses how music-making is shaped by changing socio-political conditions of Rio and its surrounds during this period, while an analysis of the rapidly shifting socio-cultural contexts of migration reveals how representations of musical instruments have been differentially and ambiguously documented. Thus, this thesis is as much about how documents represent Brazilian and European lifestyles and histories, as it is about how musical instruments are depicted as ethnographic artefacts. A fine-grained analysis of the organology of the viola in Rio is set alongside the methodologies required to interpret nineteenth century practices of Brazilian music-making. By analysing a wide range of archival materials, including some that had previously been undiscovered, I argue that writers, artists and musicians use three kinds of representational modalities to inscribe contested musical knowledge i) visual technology, ii) written technology and iii) sound technology. By analysing visual technologies, for example, it becomes evident that the so-called eight-shaped five-course viola is not the main chordophone pictured by travel artists but a pear-shaped guitar. Furthermore, I contend that any analysis and interpretation of the nineteenth century viola in Brazil depends upon how a researcher interacts with archives. I argue that by recreating musical practices of the time, the researcher is encouraged to look beyond textual semantics to consider how music was heard and performed during this period of viola organology and music-making, raising issues around how Brazilian viola practices of the past are (re)imagined in contemporary contexts .
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available