The musical genre of taarab is played for entertainment at weddings and other festive occasions all along the Swahili Coast in East Africa. Taarab contains all the features of a typical 'Indian Ocean' music, combining influences from Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, India and the West with local musical practices. In Taarab, Music in Zanzibar, Janet Topp Fargion traces the development of the genre in Zanzibar, from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth. Of special interest is the role of women. Although men play the main role in the composition and performance of the genre, Topp Fargion argues that the modernization of the genre owes a debt to the participation of women - as audiences and primary consumers, but also as poets and innovators of musical concepts. The book weaves together the historical, social, economic, religious and political dynamics involved in the development of the genre, and investigates how these are played out in the performance of taarab music on Zanzibar.
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This book contains a wide-ranging survey of musics of the world, in historical and social contexts, from ancient times to the present day. It starts by describing aspects of musical style and function in relation to the early developments of civilisations, as background to a study of later transformations. It then describes, in some detail, musical traditions of Africa and Asia, in relation to history/geography and to other aspects of culture. European music is subsequently treated similarly, and in relation to music-cultures elsewhere. A further section examines the consequences of Europe's appropriation of the Americas, and describes popular musical styles in both Latin America and the USA. The final section considers the nature of tradition and change, examines some African and Asian musical styles in their colonial and post-colonial contexts, and considers, in broad historical perspective, the effects of Westernisation. A concluding essay examines the consequences for the West of global Westernisation, and of increasing cultural interchange. The book includes a Foreword by Laurence Picken, an essay that presents a unique view of music and ethnomusicology by one of the most distinguished scientists and musicologists of our time. In part a compendium of information currently available, in part a dialectical examination of musical causation and function, this book aims to lead students, teachers, and those who practise Western music towards a deeper understanding of the various musical traditions that contribute to the modern, multi-cultural environment. The author's aim throughout has been to achieve clarity in the writing and to make the book accessible to those with no training in ethnomusicology.
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