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Comparison of Two Pieces of Critical Ethnomusicological Writing

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The analysis of music has long been an art form in itself, to be studied in the same way as music itself is studied, and those who perform the analysis are as diverse in their approaches as the composers and genres they specialise in. The two writers I shall discuss, whilst being similar in that they are passionate and knowledgeable about their chosen musical field, differ in their approach to writing. Throughout the course of this essay, I shall examine the differences and similarities between them, explore the purpose of their articles and their intended audiences, their use of language and how they have presented their subject to their readers. I shall discuss the writers' chosen sources of information and analyse the articles both as pieces of writing in their own right and also as pieces of scholarship.

The extract by Christopher Waterman is taken from his book "Juju: A Social History and Ethnography of an African Popular Music." It is a descriptive account of a live Juju performance at a Muslim funeral celebration. As such, its purpose is to describe this performance in detail, conveying the convivial atmosphere and act of celebration. As it is an extract from a book about this particular style of music, it is a demonstration of the use of Juju music as a continuation of the previous chapters in the book. However, this does not indicate that the piece cannot stand alone as a piece of Ethnomusicology, which indeed it does.

The extract by Robert Walser is taken from the journal "Ethnomusicology", 39:2 (1995). It is a journal article within which Walser explores the rhythmic declaration and rhetorical strategies utilised in the composition and performance of rap music, whilst also demonstrating the coherence and complexity of the genre, hopefully helping to dispel the myth that it is impoverished and monotonous, as has been previously stated.

Waterman writes in great detail about the actual performance of the Juju band at the celebration - he gives a minute by minute account of the events, from the power cut half an hour into the concert to the pasting of money onto the band leader's sweating brow as payment by the rich host of the funeral. The writing is evocative, enthusiastic and well informed, almost anecdotal at times - but also incorporates transcription and partial analysis of the music itself, and detailed translations of the lyrics of the songs, explaining the significance of their use in the performance. These are given precedence throughout the extract, as is the atmosphere and good humour of the performance, to engage and enthuse the reader. The notation and transcripts demonstrate the complexity of the rhythms and the layering of the composition - technical musical terms are in evidence, but without going into great depth, suggesting a wider target audience than purely an academic one. The piece would be of interest to those interested in African culture, music and traditions and in the genre of Juju dance music. It would possibly appeal to those interested in international pop music in general.

Walser writes in prose, using transcripts of notation and technical musical language to present and support his argument. The main body of the extract is transcription and technical



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