Experience and expectations

The new book “Experience and Expectation: The “Future From the Past” in Music Making”, edited by Ardian Ahmedaja and Anda Beitāne is published by the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music and MUSICA BALTICA.

The contributions to this book were selected through a double-blind peer-review process from the presentations at the XXXIV European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (ESEM) in 2018 at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music. 

The editors of the book sincerely thank, first of all, the authors for their commitment in preparing the contributions and their close cooperation during the entire process of the preparation of the manuscript as well as the peer reviewers for their careful and most helpful suggestions. They thank further, Amanda Zaeska for her very inspiring and rewarding proof-reading and designer Kristīna Bondare for the continuous and fruitful cooperation. A special thank you goes to the JVLMA rector Guntars Prānis and the State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia for the generous support of this publication. 

The book focuses on the conceptual couple of experience and expectation in the framework of conceptual semantics of time in music making. Among the understandings that support the perspectives reflected in its contributions are St. Augustine’s characterisation of “time as a feature of the human spirit and its imaginative power”, according to which “past and future exist only in the mind” (Le Poidevin), Johann Gottfried Herder’s conviction of the existence “at any one time in the Universe [of] infinitely many times”, and Edmund Husserl’s fundamental conclusion that “in expectation – phantasy forms the idea of the future from the past”.

In the Prolegomena, the editors expound the aims for the chosen topic and the dynamics of perception and experiencing time, which in ethnomusicology implies not only the often-discussed issues of past and present but also, and foremost, the future as a tool. These reflections are followed by explorations on Latvia, Riga and JVLMA as spaces of musical experience and expectation as well as on experience and expectation as research tools in ethnomusicology.

Philip Bohlman proposes in his essay the ethnomusicological entrepôt as a metaphor for the aesthetic topographies that ethnomusicologists study historically and ethnographically, examining the experience and expectation that the Latvian capital and its narratives provide for ethnomusicology today.

In the following section of the book, the tensions between experience and expectation are explored. Martin Boiko argues that Herder’s engagement with Latvian traditional singing and the concept of orality and “(poetic) tone” becomes noticeable only a decade after Herder’s sojourn in Latvia, “while he was compiling in Weimar his anthology Volkslieder (1778–1779)”. Felix Morgenstern portrays tensions between the “remarkably persistent, German imaginaries of Irish musicality, sentimentality and a political alignment with anti-colonial resistance” of the 19th century and “the ethnographic voices of folk revivalists who were operational in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) during the 1970s and 80s” within “the long history of precisely this affinity narrative with a proximal European musical sibling tradition”. Enrique Cámara de Landa, for his part, discusses issues of memory and revival in the context of migration, showing how the modus operandi of contrapunto de coplas performances in the northwestern part of Argentina is modified in a migratory framework and how such modifications contribute to the re-creation of identity traits. Sverker Hyltén-Cavallius examines entangled times from the viewpoint of issues of mobility, migration and multi-temporality in Sweden in the late 1960s. In the final contribution to this book, Rytis Ambrazevičius explores psychological models of expectation based on an analysis of song melodies from local musical practices in Lithuania, emphasising that expectations in the construction of melody and musical emotion depend also on the experience and musical culture the individual is embedded in.

Table of Contents – here.

The book can be ordered here.  

Ahmedaja, Ardian and Anda Beitāne (eds.). 2023. "Experience and Expectation: The “Future From the Past” in Music Making". A publication of the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music. Riga: Musica Baltica, 144 pages, 28 figures, notes on contributors, index. ISBN 978-9984-588-72-8 (hardcover).

Photo above: Participants of the European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (ESEM) in the garden of Riga Cathedral. From the left: Ulrich Morgenstern, Guntars Prānis, Anda Beitāne, Philip Bohlman and Ardian Ahmedaja. 09.04.2018. Photo by Anrijs Požarskis. 

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