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Title: Speaking in tongues : music, identity, and representation in jew's harp communities
Author: Morgan, Deirdre Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 6496 0393
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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Based on multi-sited fieldwork in Norway, Austria, and Sicily, this dissertation explores how the jew's harp has become increasingly culturally significant in a number of regional and international contexts, and how it is today experiencing a global renaissance. Written from my perspective as a jew's harp player, I combine research data from participant-observation, interviews with musicians and blacksmiths, and museum, archive, and private collection sources. I provide an overview of the history of the jew's harp, then discuss the rise of its communities from individuals in the 1960s to the proliferation of societies in the 1990s through to the present. I situate my case study on the Norwegian munnharpe within a national folk music discourse, analyze its playing technique, and explore the role of archival recordings in transmitting the tradition. I look at elements of repertoire and performance practice, and conclude with an examination of the role of blacksmiths in the community. In my second case study, on the Austrian Maultrommel, I discuss the golden age of jew's harp virtuosos in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Central Europe, tracing the lineage of two distinct playing techniques. I then examine how contemporary Maultrommel players situate themselves on local and international stages, and discuss the continuing legacy of Maultrommel manufacturing in the village of Molln. My third case study, on the Sicilian marranzano, analyzes connections to Mediterranean song style and vocal timbre then examines how the marranzano is embraced as a symbol of Sicilian identity, cultural renewal and political activism. I analyze marranzano economics and production, and conclude by looking at the instrument's association with banditry in Italian cinema. My final case study discusses jew's harp communities online, exploring how the Internet is today being used for ethnographic research and for understanding musical communities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral