A Single Canon

Musicologists have always played a role in determining the treatment of the word “music” or canon, and what falls under these categories through the study of musical, political, and history and analysis of the music in question. Without these studies it is hard to imagine where the world of music would be today without these studies and analytical findings. We all know that in the world of music, today, there are many different types of “musics” each representing a different nation or genre of music. Musicologists have often looked at Western European Influences to determine what should fall under or be a part of the musical canon. In the Bolhman article Epilogue: Music and the Canon, he expresses that one cannot label music as falling within the canon of western European music without having found research and writings done by musicologists. He also mentions that there would not be a canon without an exclusion of certain music that was representable of certain demographics such as woman or ethnic rooted music. Thus brings forth the music of Mexico and how according to Leonora Saavedra’s dissertation OF SELVES AND OTHERS: HISTORIOGRAPHY, IDEOLOGY, AND THE POLITICS OF MODERN MEXICAN MUSIC, Mexico was not recognized in the canon for centuries, and still remains mostly unexplored to this day. According to Saavedra, a country such as Mexico with quite a wide range of history, and culture should be studied, written about and performed more frequently than it has been. The reason?? Is the pure fact that it has not been kept up with in documenting such as the music of Mozart, Beethoven, or Bach. This was also echoed in the Bolhman article, that the musicologists of the time were blissfully unaware of anything that did not have to do with Western European music and its influences, as mentioned above, these “musicologist” had certain parameters in order for certain music to be in the canon. These parameters; however instead of allowing works in, it was treated as more of a barrier to keep them out. It was suggested that the fear of political stances would be taken about said works or research. This is what led to the main canon of Western Europe and its ideals taking precedent over music.su10_tijuana

Both Bolhmam and Saavedra scratch upon the idea that there is more than just one canon, and I would have to agree with them. A canon, to me is not just this single solitary line thru history that fit nicely on a blackboard. There are many culture and people whose own experience and growth have earned them the acceptance to be added to the canon. I do not personally the point of a singular canon when there is so much more to be explored such as the case of Mexico had there been better treatment or a better openness to these cultures at first the canon in question could be looking very different than it does today.

-John Guevara


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