Session/Séance 4b: CSTM Panel 1 Instruments as Innovators

Session/Séance 4b: CSTM Panel 1 Friday/vendredi 26 May 2017. 9:00 – 10:00 am, EJB 120.
Instruments as Innovators
     Chair: LAURA RISK (McGill University)

1. Andrew Tracey’s Steelband and the New South Africa
     Hallie Blejewski, Wesleyan University

While in London with the musical Wait a Minim!, Andrew Tracey became enamored of steel pan. He purchased several instruments, starting a steelband upon his return to South Africa in 1970. Today, there are over 100 steel- bands in South Africa, and Tracey’s influence extends internationally: Steve Lawrie, once the most prolific pan tuner in South Africa, became the lead tuner at Panyard in Akron, Ohio. While Tracey and Lawrie were falling in love with pan, the rest of the world was shunning South Africa. Making pans, or “tuning,” is traditionally learned by observation. Unable to travel to Trinidad, Lawrie spent the 1980s making instruments through trial and error, using Tracey’s instruments as guides. It wasn’t until the end of apartheid that Lawrie visited Trinidad. This paper explores how pan was eventually embraced in the “new” South Africa as a representation of the harmonious coexistence of European and African musics.

2. The Contemporary Santur Playing of Iranian Musician Ardavan Kamkar
     Mehdi Rezania, University of Alberta

In the 1980s, Ardavan Kamkar, an exceptionally talented santur player and composer, changed the style of santur performance at a very young age. Over the 20th century, the santur had become one of the main instruments of Persian classical music due to its ability to allow musicians to create variety of styles in performing it. Kamkar has used material outside of the radif (the classical Persian music repertoire), including folk songs of his native Kurdish heritage and western compositional techniques. These elements have made Kamkar’s innovations controversial and unorthodox amongst other musicians but popular among the younger generation of musicians. In this article I will explore and analyze Kamkar’s music using his published and unpublished works and my interactions with him as his student. I argue that the multi-layered identity of his compositions and innovations are the result of his extraordinary period when he grew up in post-revolutionary Iran. His hybrid compositions address the challenges of his generation from tradition, modernity, ethnicity, globalization and war to social and political barriers.

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