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Kurt Blaukopf on Music Sociology – an Anthology

2nd Unrevised Edition

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Edited By Tasos Zembylas

This anthology contains seven texts by Kurt Blaukopf (1914–1999) that exemplify the sociological and epistemological position of this pioneer of Austrian music sociology. Blaukopf’s efforts were aimed at a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach and analysis of music as a cultural phenomenon and as social practice. The primary aim of this anthology is to make Blaukopf’s work better known in the English-speaking world. It offers the interested reader a fruitful analysis of the relation between music sociology and its sister disciplines, e.g. musicology, a solid analysis in terms of the philosophy of science on the possibilities and limits of music sociology, and a highly topical discussion about the significance of intrinsic artistic aspects in music sociology.
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The Mediamorphosis of Music as Global Phenomenon

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1

The reflections contained in this book have been limited – with the exception of several digressions used for purposes of comparison – to Occidental cultures. But the sociology of music cannot remain within these borders, because its concept of intercultural comparison requires that the sociology of music be extended to those cultures that have so far been relegated primarily to ethnomusicology. The convergence of music sociology and ethno-musicology thus seems to be necessary: “Whether they merge or not, an effort should certainly be made by music sociologists and ethnomusicologists to keep better informed about each others’ work” (Sorce Keller 1986, 179).

The increasing interdependence of our planet’s cultures also challenges both disciplines to cooperate. Given the hitherto limited intercultural communication, it was impossible to speak of a “world history of music.” Thus, until recently, it may have been sufficient to view individual musical cultures in their (relative) isolation. The present mutation has made global coherence a central theme of research. Whereas there has until recently been no universal history of music, one has now been created with the mutation induced by the electronic media.

It seems appropriate to explain the particular characteristics of this global mutation, which has no parallel among the historic mutations known to date. A prominent feature of this metamorphosis (although not its only aspect) is the dominant role of the electronic media. In order to visualize this specific aspect, I call the present mutation the mediamorphosis of music.

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