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Sågarnas sång: folkligt musicerande i sågverkssamhället Holmsund 1850-1980
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Ethnology.
1991 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The song of the saw-mills : popular music-making in the saw-mill community of Holmsund 1850-1980 (English)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this dissertation is to analyze the public music-making by locals in Holmsund 1850—1980, and to explain the great variety of musical forms in hope to thereby illuminate the importance of local music-making for the workers' musical taste, but also how workers' musical aesthetics were affected by a more general working-class culture. The variety of musical forms is explained according to John Blacking's distinction between change of musical system, and variation and innovation within a musical system.

There are two major changes of the musical system. The first generations of workers in Holmsund were recruited from the surrounding countryside, and the main structure of their music-making seems to have remained unchanged. During the 1880s and 1890s there is an introduction of new elements which dominate the whole industrial epoch: brass instruments become the most highly valued instruments, and the thoroughly organized group playing. The new ideals of instrument sound are related to the new soundscape of the industrial society. Organized group playing is seen as homological with the social organization of industrial production, where the work of individuals in different departments is coordinated by a conductor/executive in power.

During the decade of the 1960s the musical system is once more changed. Electronic technology changes the concepts of sounds and distribution forms, the influence of local music-making on public musical taste became marginal. Local music-making cannot therefore be said to reflect a workers' aesthetic, but should rather be interpreted as tendencies counteracting the professionalism and mediafication of modern society.

These epochal models outline the basic structural frame of the musical system of each period and the role assigned to local music-making. At the same time there is a great variety of musical forms within each period. These variations are systematized as temporarily-used ways fo managing certain pairs of concepts, which are seen as oppositional or complementary. These pairs are: individual/collective, ideals of equality/professionalization, education/entertainment, continuity/innovation, culture/subculture, and male/female.

Finally, the ways in which values and attitudes of the general working-class culture influence the local music scene are analyzed. Instead of the abstract ideals of composition, the usefulness of the music is stressed in popular aesthetics. The genius cult of art musics does not fit into popular music situations, where the will to work hard for the audience is valued instead. Ways of relating to the body form another distinction between bourgeois and worker culture. Popular music is much centred around dance music, which is also used in concert situations. What these values and attitudes have in common is that they are part of a popular aesthetic which the educated aesthetic uses as a negative reference point.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1991. , 191 p.
Umeå studies in the humanities, ISSN 0345-0155 ; 101
, Kungl. Skytteanska samfundets handlingar, ISSN 0560-2416 ; 39
Keyword [en]
Ethnomusicology, working-class culture, workers' music, soundscape, amateur music, popular music, dancing, concerts
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-85048ISBN: 91-7174-595-5OAI: diva2:691225
Available from: 2014-01-27 Created: 2014-01-27 Last updated: 2014-01-27Bibliographically approved

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