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Review

Reviewed Work(s): Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae by Michael
E. Veal
Review by: Egberto Bermúdez
Source: Lied und populäre Kultur / Song and Popular Culture , 2007, 52. Jahrg. (2007),
pp. 259-262
Published by: Zentrum für Populäre Kultur und Musik

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deutsche Gesangspiidagogen Problemen der gesungenen Sprache widmen, und allgemeinen Ten
denzen im Bereich der 6ffentlichen Rede im 19. Jahrhundert, mit denen sich u.a. Karl-Hein
Gdttert und Ulrich KiihnI auseinandergesetzt haben?
Auch als Materialsammlung taugt Trummers Buch nur bedingt. Wie Stichproben zeigen, ist
bei den zahlreichen Zitaten Vorsicht geboten, denn der Autor nimmt es mit dem originalen
Wortlaut nicht so genau und vergisst mal nur eine Silbe, mal ein ganzes Wort oder korrigiert hin
und wieder die Orthographie des Originals. Eine den Lesefluss ddimpfende Unart Trummers is
die Gewohnheit, einen Sachverhalt im engen Anschluss an einen Quellentext zuniichst zu paraph-
rasieren und dann noch durch das Zitieren dieses Textes zu belegen.
Auf jeder Seite ist zu erkennen, dass dies die Arbeit eines Autors ist, der diber wenig Erfah-
rung im Schreiben wissenschaftlicher Texte verfiigt und, schlimmer noch, einige Grundprinzi
pien wissenschaftlicher Arbeit nicht zu kennen scheint. Nur ein- allerdings besonders drastisches

- Beispiel: Im Literaturverzeichnis fiihrt Trummer unter RPrimiirliteratur, nur >>Gesangspdidag


sche Lehrwerkeo im engeren Sinne auf; Zeitschriftenartikel, medizinische Handbiicher oder ande
re Quellentexte des 19. Jahrhunderts, aus denen er ausgiebig zitiert, erscheinen dagegen vermischt

mit Forschungsbeitraigen unter der Rubrik ,Sekundarliteraturv. Der grundlegende Unterschie


zwischen Primair- und Sekundairliteratur ist Trummer offenkundig gar nicht klar. Ohnehin ver
zichtet er auf jeden Diskurs mit der aktuellen Musikwissenschaft, die sich in jiingster Zeit doch
mehr denn je fir historische Phainomene des Singens interessiert. Ein Blick in ein aktuelles
Handbuch wie das von John Potter herausgegebene Cambridge Companion to Singing (Cambridge
2000)2 -_um nur einen Titel von vielen zu nennen - bhtte ihm deutlich machen k6nnen, auf
welchem Niveau historische Gesangsforschung heute stattfindet. So bleibt der Eindruck, dass ein
grofges und wichtiges Thema weiterhin einer angemessenen wissenschaftlichen Aufarbeitung bedarf.
Thomas Seedorf, Karlsruhe

Veal, Michael E.: Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae. Middletown
Wesleyan University Press, 2007. 338 pp., ISBN 978-0-8195-6571-6.

Veal's book is an excellent example of contemporary musicology (or ethnomusicology as we ma


prefer to call it) centred on music. Very early in his text (p. 2), Veal reveals his intentions: t
demonstrate that othe production style of Jamaican music has helped transform the sound an
structure of world popular musico taking into account that othe sounds and techniques of classic
dub music has been stylistically absorbed into the various genres of global electronic popular mu
sic (such as hip-hop, techno, house, jungle, ambient and trip-hop), and conceptually absorbed
into the now commonplace practice of song remixing(. Information like this is badly needed
especially in developing countries where cultural dependency (fed by meagre and amateurish
analysis, indulgent academia and manipulated media) tends to obliterate the contribution of their
own rich musical worlds to the global one. A good example of what Wallis and Malm eloquentl
called )big sounds from small peoples1'.

1 Vgl. G6ttert, Karl-Heinz: Geschichte der Stimme. Miinchen 1998; Kuihn, Ulrich: Sprech-Ton-Kuns
Musikalisches Sprechen und Formen des Melodrams im Schauspiel- und Musiktheater (1770-1933
Tiibingen 2001 (Theatron. Studien zur Geschichte und Theorie der dramatischen Kiinste 35).
2 Vgl. die Rezension in Lied und populnire Kultur / Song and Popular Culture. Jahrbuch des
Deutschen Volksliedarchivs 47 (2002), 5. 270-273.

1 Wallis, Roger and Malm, Krister: Big sounds from small peoples: The music industry in small
countries, London 1984.

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Veal proceeds quickly to identify clearly his main object: dub music, defined as a >>new popu-
lar art formo in which >>circuits, knobs and switcheso were as important as political and cultural

ideas. However, he states that his study will focus: ,,on those knobs and the people who operated
them in order to develop an understanding of the role of sound technology, sound technicians
and sound aesthetics within the larger cultural and political realities in Jamaica in the 1970so
(p. 14). Explaining the consolidation of the phenomenon he touches on the violent lives and
deaths of so many of its major figures outlining a secondary objective of his work, namely to serve
as oa tribute to the life and work of these artists as well as a reminder to audiences outside of Ja-
maica of the human toll behind music they so cherisho (p. 12). Given these aims, no doubt Veal
attains in the end a satisfactory balance.
The book is structured in two parts. The >text(, dub music as such, is thoroughly discussed
from various perspectives (historical, cultural, musicological, technical) in Chapters 2-7 including
the stylistic changes that brought along by the arrival of digital musical technology. On the other
hand, the >context( (social, political, cultural) is discussed in the first Chapter and the Introduction;
and the conclusive section is covered on Chapter 8 and the Coda, rounded up with an Appendix
of >Recommended Listening(. The core of the book is built combining, historically, the analysis of
selected examples the various stages of dub music development with valuable contextual informa-
tion on the lives and careers of the creators and performers themselves, emphasizing on the cul-
tural interpretation of their creations and their significance. Reading Chapter 2 however, one
thing remains unclear to me: how the development of the new genre was affected by the efforts of
the establishment of multinational recording companies in Jamaica? Regarding this topic, espe-
cially the resistance of small local companies in developing countries, Wallis and Malm consider
the case of Jamaica a paradigmatic one. There (and for that matter also in Colombia), and given
the market's low income purchase capabilities or in other cases, such as Colombia's, the presence
of protectionism that forbade imports, the production and distribution of international material
was in the hands of small local companies via licence agreements. Wallis and Malm summarize
the difficulties faced between 1981-83 by CBS executives trying to finalize an agreement with
Byron Lee, owner of Dynamic Sounds, formerly owned as WIRL (West Indies Record Label) by
Edward Seaga, the right wing politician who replaced socialist and nationalist Michael Manley as
Prime Minister in 1980. Lee's brother Neville narrates how in 1976 he has blocked CBS entry
into the Jamaican music business in the nationalist climate of Manley's government but how then,
in 1981, Primer Minister Seaga himself had insisted, backed by his brother Byron, in keeping
CBS at home when they hinted to an opening in Barbados. In the end, using Wallis and Malm's

words, Neville Lee's Sonic Sounds ),survived by working with a new generation of artists when
CBS took the cream of the established names"2. Was this also relevant to dub as was to reggae?
I have been always intrigued, and again in Veal's work I found very little, on Seaga's (born in
Boston in a Lebanese family settled in Jamaica) previous career as a businessman, music producer
and recording company owner, especially seen against the backdrop of earlier phases of interna-
tionalization of Jamaican (and by extension Caribbean) music in the United States and elsewhere
in the late 50s and early 60s mainly trough Harry Belafonte's recordings and concerts with its
repertoire of stereotyped calypsos and mentos. It is paradoxical how - even in the vivid and cul-
turally optimistic first Manley term (1972-80) - Jamaican intelligentsia, well represented for in-
stance by Marxist artist and cultural activist Rex Nettleford, failed to understand the cultural and
political power of new local musical creations such as reggae and dub. In an essay that could be

2 Wallis and Malm: Big sounds, pp. 97-100.

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seen as a cultural manifesto of Manley's government, Nettleford only mentions reggae in pass
along with mento when he writes about ))harmonising participatory democracy with cultural r

ity< allowing these music genres become part of the >Jamaican Establishment<. However, in t
photographic section of his book, Bob Marley appears side by side with The Jamaica Folksinge
led by Olive Lewin, a typical entertainment t r o u p e for official receptions or tourists cabare
Ironically, Nettleford devotes several pages to Kamau Brathwaite's ideas about >nation-langu
and its relevance to national and regional Caribbean identity and in doing so quotes the co
ments of Trinidadian Basil Matthews who sees Caribbean local languages as )>the cult of the wo

as sound<, the very essence of dub poetry and to certain extent to dub music too.' Consequent
Veal unveils a second irony when he argues that )>it was technological developments impor
from the Euro-American context that enable the prominence of [...] a localized Creole ton
emerging from the deconstruction of the colonial tongue. Ultimately, this allowed the Jamaic

subaltern to ,speak,< (p. 215).


Its focus on music perhaps explains why Veal's work does not include in it references to th
main elements of the discussion of >dub< as a literary category, prominent in post-colonial lite
studies. G. A. Elmer Griffin's review-article on the work of Dr. Christian Habekost (himse
dub performer) reveals the importance, against canonized figures such as Derek Walcott, of Ca
ibbean (especially Jamaican) >dub poets< such as Mutabaruka, Michael Smith, Linton Kw
Johnson and Oku Onoura, the alleged father of the >dub< term.4 The strong political accen
>dub poetry< seems to contrast strongly with the utopian, romantic and religious lean still pre
(peripherally) in dub music lyrics. Veal here compares it to Latin American m a g i c a I r e a
i s m and endorses Walcott's assertion of its appearance as >>aesthetic response to the Carib
cultural context« (pp. 203-4). It is difficult however, that such statement could be supported
the fragmentation and reduction of thematic verbal material present in dub mixes, rightly rec

nised by Veal as ominimalist poetry, Dadaist collage or surrealist automatism< (p. 69). Accep
that the object of his study is essentially an instrumental music genre, but taking into acco
again its centrality in postcolonial studies, perhaps this aspect could have been better explored.
Another partly unanswered question, obviously from my reviewing location, is about the h
tory and early stages of one of dub's principal institutions, the s o u n d s y s t e m, (pp. 42-4
especially in relation to its Colombian equivalent, labelled p i c 6 (from )pickup<, a model
turntable allowing a continuous playing of records). This phenomenon flourished in Cartagena
widely known historical tourist location in the Colombian Caribbean coast) and was essentia
the emergence of terapia and champeta in the late 1980s, urban, marginal and proletarian mus
genres such as reggae and dub.5

3 Nettleford, Rex M.: Caribbean Cultural Identity. The case of Jamaica: An Essay in Cultu
Dynamics. Kingston 1978, pp. 15-17, p. 48, p. 146ss.
4 Word Bullets: Dub in Postcolonial language debate. Review of: Habekost, Christian: Ve
Riddim: The Politics and Aesthetics of African-Caribbean Dub Poetry. In: Transition
(1995), pp. 57-65.
5 Cf. Bermudez, E.: Syncretism, Identity and Creativity in Afro-Colombian Musical tra
tions. In: Music and Black Ethnicity. The Caribbean and South America. Ed. by Gera
H. Behague, New Brunswick 1994, pp. 225-238; Pacini Hernandez, Debora: The pic
phenomenon in Cartagena, Colombia. In: America Negra 6, (1993), pp. 69-115; Bilby
Kenneth: Making Modernity in the Hinterlands: New Maroon Musics in the Black Atlantic.
In: Popular Music 19, 3 (Oct. 2000), pp. 265-292 and George, B.: Picolandia. In:
www.arcmusic.org/features/archive/picolandia.html [date: 15.08.2007].

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Despite its strengths, perhaps the most noticeable shortcoming of the book is the absence of
sound examples, so central to the discussion, especially in Chapters 2-6, the fundamental argu
mentative section of Veal's work. His descriptions of individual styles and works, though accu
rate, comprehensive and thorough, are definitely not enough. Despite his comprehensive list
>Recommended Listening< material, a second edition with an accompanying CD, or links to vi
tual copious music examples will be most welcome.
Egberto Bermudez, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotai (Kolumbien)

Verflechtungen im 20. Jahrhundert: Komponisten im Spannungsfeld elitir - populir. Hg. von


Walter Salmen und Giselher Schubert. Mainz u.a.: Schott, 2005 (Frankfurter Studien 10
441 S., Not., ISBN 3-7957-0116-3.

Schon der Titel ist irrefiihrend. Ein Sammelband zum Spannungsfeld elitair-populiir lsst Studien
erwarten, die etwa auf jiingere Ergebnisse aus den Bereichen Kulturtheorie und Cultural studies
(wie Lawrence Levines Diskussion von Highbrow und Lowbrow) aufbauen oder im musikwissen-
schaftlichen Kontext an die kritisch gefiihrten theoretischen Debatten der internationalen Popu-
larmusikforschung ankniipfen. Doch so selten diese Aspekte in vorliegender Publikation auch nur
aufscheinen, so unscharf und bisweilen ungelenk werden - fuir das 20. Jahrhundert besonders
strfich - populdire Musik, Volksmusik, das Volkslied, usuelle Musik, Umgangs- und Gebrauchs-
musik in einen Topf geworfen. Wenige der vertretenen Autoren legen iiber den Gebrauch solcher
Begriffe oder gar fiber den Sinn der dahinter stehenden Konzepte Rechenschaft ab, und wenn,
dann geriit es, wie etwa bei Joseph Dorfmann, meist zu kurz und geradezu naiv. Die Idee der
))Verflechtungen( suggeriert zudem, dass zunichst etwas zeitlich vorher oder von Natur aus ge-
trennt vorlag und im 20. Jahrhundert durch Komponistenhand zusammengebracht, eben mitein-

ander verflochten wurde - eine fragwiirdige Ausgangsposition. Die Einsicht, dass gerade ,Volks-
lied" und ,Volksmusiko geschichtlich und geistesgeschichtlich festzumachende Konstruktionen
darstellen, die im Wesentlichen durch Zuschreibung funktionieren und durchaus nicht (dies am
allerwenigsten) durch Identifikation von Stilhbhen zu diagnostizieren sind, hditte vielen der vor-
liegenden Studien m.E. zu deutlich differenzierteren Ergebnissen verhelfen k6nnen.
Insbesondere gilt dies fuir den engen Zusammenhang des Volkslied-Konzeptes mit nationalen

Zuschreibungen, die im vorliegenden Band Constantin Floros auf den Punkt bringt: >,Nationa-
lismus und Folkorismus in der Musik hngen nicht nur eng miteinander zusammen, sondern
sind geradezu zwei verschiedene Aspekte einer und derselben Sacheo (S. 146). Von daher ist der
Aspekt der Zitate oder anderer Referenzformen auch angebunden an Fragen der ))Semantisie-

rung,, wie Floros treffend fuir Arnold Schbnberg diagnostiziert. Umgekehrt erscheint das Argu-
ment von Julia Spinola- im Kontext einer brillanten Analyse von Alban Bergs Violinkonzert- zu

kurz gegriffen, Zitate des ,Volksmusikalischen, offenbarten bei Berg )>die grobe und gewaltsame
Seite seiner Sinnlichkeit, das unsublimiert Triebhaftev. Spinola wendet sich hier, und dies zu
Recht, gegen das Argument Douglas Jarmans, der das Violinkonzert aufgrund der Volksliedzitate

als das ,,nationalistischste< Werk, Bergs bezeichnet hat. In der Tat handelt es sich bei Bergs Refe-
renzen vorwiegend um populire (Tanz-)Musik und regionale Lieder sowie einen Bach-Choral -
Referenzpunkte, die, zumal so wie sie bei Berg eingearbeitet sind, weder auf das nationale Volks-
lied-Konzept noch auf einen nationalen Korpus bezogen sein wollen.
Volksliedadaptionen von Komponisten stellen gerade im deutschsprachigen Bereich ein be-
sonders komplexes Feld dar. Als Beispiel eines aggressiv gegen alles Populiire gerichteten musikii-

thetischen Diskurses erliiutert Gabriele Busch-Salmen die Auseinandersetzung Hans Pfitzners mit
Volksliedern und Gassenhauern. Wertvoll sind hier auf der einen Seite die aus unterschiedlichen

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