University of Illinois Press has published a new book titled Hawaiian Music in Motion – Mariners, Missionaries, and Minstrels that investigates the performance, reception, transmission, and adaptation of Hawaiian music on board ships and in the islands. Thuis new publication reveals the ways both maritime commerce and imperial confrontation facilitated the circulation of popular music in the 19th century. Author James Revell Carr reveals how Hawaiians originally used music and dance to ease tensions with, and spread information about, potentially dangerous foreigners, and then traces the circulation of Hawaiian song and dance worldwide as Hawaiians served aboard American and European ships.
Extracting details from journals and ships’ logs, Carr underscores the profound contrasts between Hawaiians’ treatment by fellow sailors who appreciated their seamanship and music, versus aggressive American missionaries determined to keep Hawaiians on local sugar plantations.
Hawaiian Music in Motion – Mariners, Missionaries, and Minstrels looks at how Hawaiians attained their own ends by capitalizing on Americans’ conflicting expectations and tense discourse around hula and other musical practices.
James Revell Carr also explores American minstrelsy in Hawaii, including professional touring minstrel troupes from the mainland, amateur groups consisting of crew members of visiting ships, and local indigenous troupes of Hawaiian minstrels. In the process he explains how a merging of indigenous and foreign elements became the new sound of native Hawaiian culture at the turn of the twentieth century–and made loping rhythms, falsetto yodels, and driving ukuleles deep-rooted parts of American popular music.
“The scope of this [book] is without precedent in existing scholarship on nineteenth-century musical cultures. . . . His research has uncovered a rich array of new documentary evidence from primary sources, and the narrative engages in a close examination of the interpretive opportunities and limits of this evidence.”–Amy Ku’uleialoha Stillman, University of Michigan
The 240-page publication is supported by a grant from the L. J. and Mary C. Skaggs Folklore Fund. It is also supported by the AMS 75 PAYS Endowment of the American Musicological Society, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
James Revell Carr is an associate professor of ethnomusicology at University of North Carolina Greensboro.
Author: World Music Central News Department
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