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Prague Soundscapes

Prague Soundscapes

Jurková, Zuzana

témata: hudba, antropologie a etnografie

brožovaná, 324 str., 1. vydání
vydáno: květen 2014
ISBN: 978-80-246-2515-7
doporučená cena: 365 Kč



Prague Soundscapes is the first book focusing on music in Prague from other than musical-historical perspectives. It approaches musical events in present-day Prague from an ethno-musicological position, sometimes called musical anthropology. We take in, for instance, the Refufest festival, a punk concert at the Modrá vopice club,a performance of Dvořák’s Rusalka at the National Theatre or accompany followers of the Hare Krishna and their procession through Prague – not just to see and "hear" their music, but also to learn who makes and listens to it and why. An abundance of photographs accompany the book‘s text, helping the reader become one of the participants.

"Prague Soundscapes is a wonderful book whose content is presented in an original and convincing manner... I feel that this will contribute significantly to the development
of a new field of musical anthropology – a field that has up to this point been the home, especially in the USA, of urban ethnomusicology."

Speranţa Rădulescu, National University of Music Bucharest


The introduction to Prague Soundscapes is made up of two sections: a theoretical one ("for those who don 7 fear theory"), followed by guidelines to the application research to be undertaken by the author.
The main author, Zuzana Jurkowa, circumscribes and explicates the concept of soundscape, beginning with a review of ideas put forward by Anglo-Saxon anthropologists and ethnomusicologists who, directly or indirectly, have contributed to its delineation: Alan Merriam, Zygmunt Bauman, John Blacking, Arjun Appadurai, Kay Kaufman Shelemay, Timothy Rice, etc., following which Zuzana Jurkowa presents and convincingly justifies her own position, point by point.
The field of instrumentalization of the soundscape concept is Prague. In the next segments of Prague Soundscapes, the author and her collaborators "overfly" the city, stopping at points where most various musics are produced, both oral (Romany, Chinese, Persian, flamenco, Uzbek, Cuban, African, Ukrainian, Kyrgyz, jazz and others) and academic (opera, chamber music). These musics are produced either by the majority or a minority, by people from popular culture or from the academic world. Each separate one is a soundscape, or world of music; by juxtaposition or superposition, together they compound the overall soundscape of the Czech metropolis.
I am knowledgeable about previous attempts to apply the concept in other major cities such as Berlin, Calcutta, Vienna (Bohlman, Reyes, Hemetek...). I have also read Zuzana Jurkowa's excellent article Listening to the Music of City, published in a book she also co-authors and edits: Urban People (2012). Yet I know few books that have taken an analytical approach, in all aspects, in-depth and in detail, to the soundscapes of a great city; I have reasons to assume that Mrs. Jurkowa's book will be one of the first.
The book also has an undisclosed goal that follows from Zuzana Jurkova's capacity as a university professor: to help the group of students that she teaches transform into a true school of urban ethnomusicology. A school whose members are armed with the theoretical and practical tools that capacitate them to practice the profession they have chosen or are about to chose. The final chapters provide disciples with substantial articles on 20th-century personalities (Alan Lomax, John Cage) who suggested different approaches to musical diversity.
I appreciate the initiative of the publishers to bring out Prague Soundscapes. I am convinced that this book will be a significant contribution to the development of a relatively new branch of music anthropology, which so far has been the fiefdom of North-American researchers: urban ethnomusicology. In addition, it will be an exemplary book for both Czech students and students from any other country, who will learn to observe phenomena, build documents, analyze and systematize them, theorize, and eventually turn out their own papers.

Z recenzního posudku: Speranta Radulescu