Ethnomusicology and Filmmaking

Norton, Barley. 2021. Ethnomusicology and Filmmaking. In: Stephen Cottrell, ed. Music, Dance and Anthropology. Hertfordshire: Sean Kingston Publishing, pp. 121-143. ISBN 978-1-912385-31-7 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Despite some passionate advocates for film as a medium of musical ethnography and some recent scholarly writing on the history of ethnomusicological film, a gulf remains between ethnomusicological theorizing and filmmaking. Audiovisual representations of musical practices by ethnomusicologists have proliferated in the digital age, yet ethnomusicological filmmaking is rarely subject to critical reflection. Ethnomusicological film is typically thought of as supplementary supporting data, rather than as a medium for argument or as a stimulus for theoretical discourse in words. Moving beyond an understanding of film/video as visual ‘data’ or ‘evidence’ separate from the writing of ethnomusicological theory, this chapter discusses emergent and potential directions for engagement with film in ethnomusicology. Informed by debates in visual anthropology and art practice, it reevaluates some of the central tenets of realism in ethnomusicological filmmaking and consider the ramifications of new approaches to ethnographic film for music research. Some ideas about the potential of filmmaking for musicology are discussed with reference to some ethnographic films, including one I directed called Hanoi Eclipse: The Music of Dai Lam Linh (Documentary Educational Resources, 2010).

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October 2021Published

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25 Sep 2017 11:07

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27 Oct 2021 11:53


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