The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

“Lost in the Sound of Separation/: Mainstreams and Alternatives at a Christian Rock Festival” – Andrew Mall & “From Migration to Generation: Kampala (Uganda) in the Global Classical Network” – Suzanne Wint


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Presentations: “Lost in the Sound of Separation/: Mainstreams and Alternatives at a
Christian Rock Festival” – Andrew Mall

Rock festivals have long been representative sites of tension between mainstream musical cultures and alternative (sub)cultures. From 1969’s iconic Woodstock to the present-day Bonnaroo, Coachella, and Lollapalooza festivals, these ambitious events attempt to balance alternative aesthetics and ideologies against mainstream scope and practicalities. Cornerstone Festival is similar to these events in many ways: it is annual, takes place over several days, has available campgrounds, presents dozens of musicians and bands on multiple stages, requires a full year of planning and an army of staff and volunteers to execute, and attracts a primarily young generation of participants.

But Cornerstone is crucially different from these other festivals: it markets itself as a festival of alternative Christian rock music,
presenting self-identifying Christian musicians to Christian fans. For participants, the music performed at Cornerstone provides an alternative to the mainstreams of both (secular) popular music and faith-based music: Cornerstone aesthetics have more in common with contemporary punk, hardcore, and indie rock than they do with the Nashville-based Contemporary Christian Music industry or the guitar-based praise music found in many contemporary worship services.

How do the performers, mediators, and listeners of alternative Christian rock negotiate these multiple tensions? How can their negotiations contribute to existing conceptions of mainstreams and alternatives? Describing the lived experiences of Cornerstone participants requires a perspective more subjectively nuanced than the strict dichotomies of previous models. In working through these ideas, this ethnography studies the ways in which Cornerstone contributes to participants’ self-conception of their Christian lifestyle: mainstream, alternative, and in-between.

“From Migration to Generation: Kampala (Uganda) in the Global Classical Network” – Suzanne Wint

The introduction of Western classical music to Uganda can be traced back to European Christian missionaries of the late 19th century. Just as missionization patterns have changed and Christianity has become Ugandan, so too has the musical practice that migrated with Christianity become Ugandan. In both vocal and instrumental performance in the capital city Kampala, “standards” of the European Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods share the stage with twentieth- and twenty-first-century compositions by Ugandans. More than the generation of individual “works,” however, it is the generation of social networks surrounding musical performance that illustrates how classical music has become a Ugandan practice. Looking at Kampala through the lens of the “scene” (H. Becker, T. Jackson), I identify relationships that maintain and expand the practice of classical music in Kampala. The scene also extends its reach internationally, not only by importing musical commodities such as recordings, instruments and sheet music, but also by exporting knowledge – through teaching, performing and adjudicating – to other regional nodes in the network of global cities (Sassen) throughout Eastern and Southeastern Africa. The generation of local and regional African networks demonstrates one way in which a migrated music might find a home beyond the European diaspora with which it was originally associated.

Ethnoise! The Ethnomusicology Workshop
Thursday, November 12, 2009
4:30 pm, Goodspeed, room 205

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