Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review on Buchanan

In this reading, the author digs into many aspects of music professionalism(culture, aesthetics, politics etc) during socialist Bulgaria, which is distinctively characterized as mingling European ideals and rural Bulgarian music life.
At Bulgaria, he found out that Bulgarian music is more complicated than just a folk orchestra, but is much influenced by many social and political powers/systems. it's interesting to see that the author actually witnessed a major political change in Bulgaria during his field research-the fall of Zhivkov and a series of political conflicts following it. The author then talks about "truth", to my point of view, this is almost an alliteration of the term ethics, which was the topic we studies last week, since as the author described "truth is deeply connected to cultural and interactively experienced as one's sense of morality and identity within the confines of a particular group." He added that the political conflicts were partly because of disconnection between the appearance and the reality. I am wondering if this refers to that the Bulgarian communist government was controlling its people to live in a institutionalized life according to its communist regime while ignoring people's actual life needs and opinions.
He stated that the conceptualizations of music or other forms of arts, such as acting, reflect the power structure of one nation-in this case, a hegemony- that is, playing certain types of music or performing a particular act, just for government promotions/propagandas.
He described the dialectic tension between individual and the society captured in metaphors. "a violinist cannot feed a household, but gloomy is the house that lacks one"- this everyday discourse illustrated the relationship between Bulgarian villagers and foreign musicians. He then gave examples to describe the development of professional music making in the history of Bulgaria and the transition from "traditional" to "modern" through technology devices such as radio.
After the reading this paper, i am starting to appreciate the freedom of expression in music. "Playing from the heart"is often taken for granted and it is hard to imagine not being able to play music freely because of political situations. From the paper, it seemed that the communist/socialist government was sticking people with "traditional" music, and once that government fell, people started to have the freedom to play more freely, but is it just the government or the ruling system's fault? What if the government continued to rule Bulgaria? Maybe it will still adjust itself to fit in the world music scene inevitably?


  1. There are often assumptions made: 1) national music is a must 2) the nation music has to come from cultural folk music 3) all the minorities get edited out of the folk orchestra while the socialist government is in power 4): bulgaria is part of the west, not east.
    Everyone was into these assumptions, are there any revolts against this?
    There's constantly question of the composers? Why did they write these horrible compositions sometimes?
    This is a perfect example how hegemony works. Who get the true ruling power to decide which music is the best? The western trained professionals or the folk musicians? Although these ideas or questions are not touching the root of the problem. Its only touching the surface. People did not realize the deeper structure.

  2. Hegemony is hard to maintain, there's always something, or a means of challenging, at bulgaria, there are two sorts of authorities:western professionals and folk musicians. How do people debate?
    It does however makes people feel that they get chances to contribute and fight, but people are deluded.
    Are folk orchestrasnecrssarily a bad thing?

  3. In her last sentence, she summarized that. The Bulgarian context, an understanding of the relationship between nudie and political hegemony must be married to an understanding of the construction of identity?
    Why do we get the identity we do get now? How do we change our social identity ? Where did the identities originally came from, designed by whom?
    If inflected with a political angle, there are group of people who are able to direct the identities.