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Don’t trust white historians

Started a simple course on understanding and appreciating concert music, because it garnered rave reviews. It’s only 30+ hours. Simply put, it’s a study of the history of eurocentric concert music (read: classical music), and its early influences.

It begins by clarifying what the course does not cover, while acknowledging there are plenty of musical traditions out there beyond the boundaries of its focus. Good. The book title made no such distinction, but I knew lah what it wouldn’t cover, otherwise it’d be an encyclopaedia set*.

Then it goes on to contrast eurocentric music against ‘world music’ (strike one), so I braced myself because I sensed the observable whiteness was about to rear its head.

It explains that unlike the music we’re learning about, most other music traditions worldwide are very different in that they don’t ‘constantly stylistically change’. Why? Because ‘world’ musical culture (including Indonesia, India, China) usually serve some ritual, religious or ceremonial aspect of culture, making them bastions against change.

Oh I see. The white people get 30 hours of study on the differences between each composer. Us Asians have just sounded stylistically the same ‘even as the world changes’ around us. Just the same nusantara fellows, banging away at the same music instruments, and making the same sounds and decisions, since hundreds of years before the piano was invented. And nothing else.

I don’t know how he knows this, since afaik we track the changes of euro concert music through sheet music, whereas so much of our music history is not archived that way. It’s not like we fucking carved sheet music into the walls of our temples.

It doesn’t help that sheet music was what the colonialists used to sneer at musicians from this region. Maybe I’ve picked up a chip on my shoulder.

The cherry: this declaration came under the section of “debunking assumptions”.

Anyway, I gila tak puas hati with how the rest of us have just been condensed into this neat idea that if you know what we sound like now, you know what we sounded like then.

…I’m only 15 minutes in. Dah sentap dah. Maybe I should just listen to keroncong (stylistically the same as that precious moment gamelan and coloniser music instruments first struck notes together, and keroncong emerged fully formed).


*Lol, they would never.

Gears in motion

Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now: rethink how I publish. Set my old posts to Private.

I want some time to rearrange all my posts, recategorise, re-tag, and maybe edit the theme. Definitely clean up the media library. I’m also considering a tiny newsletter for friends who want updates.

Let me know if you’d prefer a newsletter instead of a blog? If you’d prefer not to comment publicly, drop me a text. I’m the world’s worst at responding, but I’ll get around to it.

New posts will still be public, but I think I’ll change the privacy setting when I move on to the next post so only one remains live at any time.

It feels good to be getting things done. It’s been a long time coming. Password issues, yknow.

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