Musical Exoticism Analysis

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Differentiating Musical Exoticism
Musical exoticism comes from the influence of non-European elements, often imitating styles from other cultures as a way to differ from the customs of the audience and creators. The motives for exoticism lie on a spectrum, ranging from pure exoticism to transcultural composing. Pure exoticism includes “othering” a subject, labeling them as different from one’s own group (Lecture 5/16). On the other hand, transcultural composing uses both non-western and western elements to create a hybrid of styles, with no purpose of “othering” (Lecture 5/16). The differences between pure exoticism and transcultural are often easily noticeable due to the clear distinctions in their techniques, however, some works are more
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Both compositions contrast two different styles, exotic and conventional. However, Bizet uses the juxtaposition to express the trials undergone by a woman who embodied several stereotypes. At the time, gypsies, Romans in Europe, were seen as ethnically different and their culture held many negative stereotypes. His character, Carmen, was a foreigner, both promiscuous and a gypsy, was seen as threatening for the French elite. She was contrasted to Micaëla who was portrayed as a “sexless white middle-class woman who espouses family values” (Frisch). Carmen’s foreign ethnicity was highlighted through Bizet’s use of Spanish-style music while Micaëla was conveyed using a musical style more similar to Opéra-Comique (Frisch). Bizet use of exotic music was intended to differentiate the subject, the gypsies, from his own group or people. Because of Bizet’s desire to display Carmen as an outsider to the French bourgeoisie, primarily based on her ethnicity it demonstrates differences in the techniques and intentions of the compositions by Bizet and …show more content…
Colin McPhee’s piece Tabuh-tabuhan can be classified as a transcultural composition due to his appreciation and desire to use gamelan music to improve the music of his own culture. On the other hand, Benjamin Britten’s opera Death in Venice incorporates elements of both forms of exoticism, making it more difficult to classify. When compared the character Carmen, however, it is evident that Britten does not have the same intentions of alienating subjects of the non-western culture as Bizet. This makes Britten’s use of gamelan music closer connected to transcultural composition as well. The fusion of non-western elements on western music has both the positive possibility to create new techniques, expanding musical knowledge, as well as the negative ability to further displace those viewed as

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