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Title: Listening to the spectre of ideology in jazz : a consideration of the composer-bandleader as a musical figure of critique during the interwar years of the 20th century with particular reference to Reginald Foresythe, Lil Hardin Armstrong, Raymond Scott and Duke Ellington
Author: Burrows, George
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 2803
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis treats the composer-bandleader as a novel critical concept that illuminates the subtly complex relationship between musical culture, ideology and subjectivity during the interwar years of the twentieth century. Four case studies, based upon the work of Reginald Foresythe, Lil Hardin Armstrong, Raymond Scott and Duke Ellington, paint a picture of the composer-bandleader as a usefully discursive figure occupying a special position between, around or about the categories of genre and role that arose with music’s commodification. From this unique location composer-bandleaders are shown to explore socio-political issues in a usefully critical way that might otherwise be impossible within the standard ideological framework of music. The composer-bandleaders are used to reconsider critical theories as much as interdisciplinary critical approaches are utilised to examine the work of the musicians. Thus Theodor Adorno’s dismissal of a socio-political function for jazz is critiqued by Foresythe’s camp modernism. Louis Althusser’s notion of interpellation is articulated with John Mowitt’s concept of drumming in exploring the critical relationship between jazz culture and feminine subjectivity in Hardin Armstrong’s work. Scott’s “Quintette” compositions are subjected to a Lacanian reading to highlight music’s critical function in fantasising Jewish subjectivity and Michel Foucault’s notion of polemics and Henry Louis Gates’ concept of Signifyin(g) are articulated in the discursive relationship between musical culture and race politics in Ellington’s work. Ultimately these figures are taken to embody Slavoj Zižek’s “Spectre of Ideology” that covers over the Real of the antagonism within the musical-ideological system of Symbolic “reality” in which they operate. The thesis argues that by listening to, and fantasising about, such “spectral apparitions” we can hear things in music that might otherwise be silenced by the workings of ideology. In this way we can use the composer-bandleader figure to amplify how music can challenge ideological structures and shape society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Performing Arts