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Translation and Popular Music

Transcultural Intimacy in Turkish–Greek Relations


Şebnem Susam-Saraeva

Research on translation and music has so far focused mainly on «art music» and on issues such as quality, singability and accessibility. Studies which seek to embed translation and music within their historical and sociocultural contexts are relatively rare. This book aims to shed light on how translations of popular music contribute to fostering international relations by focusing on a case study of Turkish-Greek rapprochement in the last two decades. It provides a brief account of the thaw in relations between the two countries and then examines the ways in which translation and music have played a role in these changes. By looking at the phenomenon through the music’s various forms of materiality (on paper, in audio and through the internet) and the different forms the accompanying translations take, and by drawing on a range of disciplines (popular music studies, sociology of music, ethnomusicology, social anthropology, comparative literature and fan studies), the book aims to foreground the multifaceted nature of translation and music and their wide-ranging impact on society and international relations.
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Chapter 5: Music fandom as online activism: Translating lyrics on the net


← 132 | 133 →CHAPTER 5

Up until this chapter, music has been discussed in two of its various forms of materiality – on paper and in audio – and during its production, distribution and promotion stages. In this chapter my objective is to look at particular aspects of the consumption of popular music on the digital platform, including how and why song lyrics from Greek and Turkish circulate in translation on internet forums, how digital communities form around these songs and their lyrics, and how the rapprochement may be reflected, advanced or contested within these communities. Without exploring the translations of lyrics on the net, the account of translation, popular music and the rapprochement I would like to present in this book would have been certainly incomplete.

The internet forums in question could be seen as attempts of ordinary citizens, this time disguised as fans, at establishing some form of direct, if virtual, communication with the other shore and the diasporas originating from the Aegean. Their efforts are a testimony to music’s role ‘as a device of collective ordering, how music may be employed, albeit at times unwittingly, as a means of organizing potentially disparate individuals such that their actions may appear to be intersubjective, mutually oriented, co-ordinated, entrained and aligned’ (DeNora 2000: 109). The curiosity of these fans of diverse backgrounds towards the unintelligible lyrics coming from the other shore have led them to request translations, and in time, to respond to requests coming from other members of...

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