This chapter will provide a perspective on recent shifts in... Weltanschauung.

This chapter will provide a perspective on recent shifts in... Weltanschauung.
This chapter will provide a perspective on recent shifts in Western culture, intellectual
discourses and Weltanschauung. The author will, in the ftrst place, provide a broad overview
of modem and postmodern
developments
in the area of cultural activities such as
architecture, literatur~, art and music. Because the exploration of postmodern activities is still
relatively unknown in the field of Southern African formal music education, especially at the
level of secondary schooling, the author will present a detailed explanation of both modem
and postmodern outlines. Limited space also prompted some choices regarding exponents
and characteristics of both modernism and postmodernism.
Following this, a rationale and alternative approach for music education at the beginning of
the 21 st century will be deducted for Southern Africa. Music education has in principle been
viewed from the (modernist) perspective of Western art music, which has normally excluded
genres such as popular or indigenous music, and this is still the case in many educational
ins~itutions. It is only at the end of the 20th century that these styles came to be regarded as
substantial enough to deserve academic scrutiny. This then, will be considered as a viable
enrichment or alternative for music education.
During the chapter the author will use many direct citations. The rationale for this lies in the
hesitation to paraphrase primary philosophical sources, as well as to provide an overview of
the wealth of secondary sources concerning postmodernism, indicating the current lively
debate on this subject.
The current age or culture is generally, in Western societies, being considered as a
postmodem age or culture. Important cultural shifts over roughly the last forty years of the
th
20
century began shaping the understanding of the world we live in. A rethinking of the
traditional foundations and paradigms of thought has proliferated "which problematise the
great ordering principles of rationality, unity, universality, and truth, recasting them as
special cases of contingency, plurality, historicity and ideology" (Kramer 1995:xi). For the
project of writing unit standards for music to be relevant, it is necessary to reflect on these
changes.
Because of an increasing acknowledgement of a postmodern condition in Western societies,
it is also necessary to describe this condition, for the reason that it profoundly inf!uences
policies and other activities undertaken in the area of arts education within a specific culture.
Although postmodernism, as intellectual practice, is primary a Western phenomenon, the
widespread influen~e of Western culture throughout the world, made possible by the
processes of modernisation, technology, telecommunications, globalisation and the spread of
Western popular culture, has made its mark on virtually every comer of the globe (Adams
1997:2).
According to Rossouw (1995:75), the culture of a specific society may be described as
having three important functions:
•
Firstly, it is the mechanism through which the members of a society understand each
other and the reality around them.
•
The last function is to organise relationships between members of a society, and
between those members and the world around them.
The author does not want to offer such a wide definition, but will stay within the
sedimentation of art forms in the culture of a society, therefore understanding culture as the
mechanism through which members ofa society handles and interprets reality. The focus will
be on architecture, literature and especially music, because in these manifestations of culture,
a condition of postmodernism relevant to this thesis may be clearly observed. The reader
must note that, because this theme poses a minefield of conflicting notions, the author is
often forced into simplification for the sake of finding conclusions appropriate to music
education.
The period preceding postmodernism, namely modernism, extended from more or less the
last third of the 19th century roughly to three-quarters through the 20th century. The nature of
this culture of modernism underwent its most significant change after World War II,
th
gradually preparing the path for a postmodern culture towards the end of the 20 century.
Many people are aware that Western societies since the Second World War have
radically changed their nature in some way. To describe these changes social
theorists have used various terms: media society, the society of the spectacle,
consumer society, the bureaucratic society of controlled consumption, postindustrial society. A fashionable description of such societies is that they are
postmodern (Sarup 1988:117).
Because music is generally accepted as one of the basic expressions of culture, it is important
to situate it within the sphere of postmodern culture. Changes in cultural conditions
essentially exercise an influence on the musical practices of a society and, in the perspective
of this thesis, the approach and content of music education. Postmodernism evolved as a
critique on, a reaction against and an extension of modernism, therefore it is essential to take
cognisance of modernism, as well as postmodern culture's stance regarding these issues.
The terms modernism/modernity and postmodernism/postmodernity,
before embarking
"postmodernism"
cultural
on a discussion.
uses the words "modernism"
and
to describe the cultural period, ideology or worldview manifesting in the
reproductions
"postmodernity"
The author
must first be clarified
and
activities
of a specific
society,
and
"modernity"
or
to describe the social formation or condition within a society (Epstein
1999:1). Modernity
may, in this sense be considered
a necessary pre-condition
for
modernism.
In this chapter the author will therefore first provide a brief description of general and
cultural events, especially in the field of modernist music that preceded the development of
postmodernism. The trends and characteristics of postmodernism will then be discussed, with
a specific perspective provided for music education at the beginning of the 21 st century.
Postmodernism
is an elusive subject. The development
of postmodernism
in Western
societies has not gone uncontested or without critique, and the outcome is still far from clear,
but its impact is unmistakably evident, recognisable and undeniable (Kramer 1995:xi).
Postmodernism
is often described in terms of, and in contrast to, modernism: "No one
exactly agrees as to what is meant by the term, except, perhaps, that 'postmodernism'
represents some kind of reaction to, or departure from, 'modernism'"
(Harvey 1990:7).
Klages (1997: 1) also defines postmodernism in terms of modernism when she says that the
easiest way to start thinking about postmodernism, is perhaps by thinking about modernism,
the movement from ~hich postmodernism seems to grow or emerge.
An accurate and simple definition of postmodernism is very difficult because it comprises a
wide array of smaller definitions and trends. In the opinion of the author the difficulty in
defining postmodernism points to and contains one of the key elements of this condition,
namely that it contains a wide diversity of perspectives,
possibilities
and individual
approaches to living and thinking, all valid and part of the same condition.
When describing postmodernism :from the departure point of modernism, this last concept
must then first be thoroughly understood and defined, because modernism contains the
seedbed from which postmodernism evolved.
In this section, the author will provide a brief description of modernist culture. This will be
done in the first pla~e by briefly looking at the history, mood and underlying philosophy of
this era, roughly between 1870 to 1960, and then by comparing this with the way the
character of the period is reflected in the music.
The era of modernism in the arts encompassed approximately the last third of the 19th and the
biggest portion of the 20th centuries, a time associated with rapid industrial and technological
developments. "The condition of modernity is often spoken of as the rapid pace and texture
of life in a society experienced as the result of the industrial revolution" (Berman, as quoted
in Piercy 1999:4). Modernism, as worldview, often carries the connotation of transgression
and rebellion associated with fast and drastic changes in society.
An important origin of modernism was the phenomenon of urban migration and an explosive
urban growth, together with industrialisation
and mechanisation.
"The pressing need to
confront the psychological, sociological, technical, organisational and political problems of
massive urbanisation was one of the seed-beds in which modernist movements flourished"
(Harvey 1990:25). The impact of living in the city was, for example, vividly illustrated in the
work of 20th century artists and architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier and Otto
Wagner.
The genesis of modernism as a period and style in the arts is usually associated with the first
signs of Impressionism, which signified a break with Realism as a style in the visual arts. In
philosophy, modernism is equated with the scientific worldview of the Enlightenment of the
18th century.
I
The focus of the dogma of the Enlightenment
turned away from the church as power
structure, seeking to provide the people with sovereignty. A line of social and scientific
theorists such as Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer
and, later, Nietzsche,
were part of this
philosophical frame of thought, of which the last pronounced that God was dead and that a
race of supermen were destined to rule the world (Solomon 2001 :1).
According to Solomon (2001: 1), the world of the Enlightenment
was a world ruled by
dictators and monarchs, enforcing a belief that civilisation was steadily progressing from
primitive beginnings to perfection. Reductive science, master codes, exploration, imperialism
and colonisation were characteristic of this era. Society was ruled by the Newtonian principle
that the future could be determined and mastered completely by applying the powers of
reason - abstract theories were regarded superior to subjective observations, and the universe
was viewed as a huge deterministic machine which had to be explored and controlled.
The modern age of the early 20th century was the fmal stage of the European Enlightenment,
with the extreme cillmination of the social theories of progress, knowledge and culture
resulting in the atrocities of two World Wars. The Enlightenment was rooted in what JUrgen
Habermas (1985:8) refers to as the project of modernity. "That project amounted to an
extraordinary intell~ctual effort on the part of Enlightenment thinkers 'to develop objective
science, universal morality and law, and autonomous art according to inner logic'" (Harvey
J
The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement in the 18th century that believed human reason could be used
to combat ignorance, superstition and tyranny exercised by authorities such as the Roman Catholic. Church and
the aristocracy. By applying reason, it was believed that nature could be progressively understood, thereby
building a better world (Brians 1998: 1). One of the earliest advocates of the Enlightenment was Descartes, and
other followers were inter alia Voltaire, Rousseau and Locke.
The project of modernity was established roughly during the middle of the 18th century as the
product of a group of philosophers such as Descartes, Pascal, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot
and Rousseau (RemPel 200 I: I).
Modernity is equated with the scientific worldview of the Enlightenment. This
powerful and successful approach to nature and culture has come to dominate the
modem university and our social, economic, moral, and cognitive structures.
Human reason, as exemplified in the deductive thought of mathematics and
physics, would come to replace the superstitious worldviews of religion and other
forms of irrationality. Reason, science, technology, and bureaucratic management
would improve our knowledge, wealth and well being through the rational control
of nature and society (Grassie 1997:1).
Rose (2000:2) explains that the project of modernity "was that epoch in which man was to
master himself and to legislate for himself'. Art and science, so the exponents of this project
believed, could be made' autonomous by applying the human mind and reason.
One of the foundations of modernity, according to Rempel (2001:1), was the faith in the
instrument of reason rather than in a mere accumulation of knowledge. The Enlightenment,
as a movement of .thinkers, believed that science could explain nature, and encouraged
society to employ science, exploring nature and questioning established frames of thought.
People were encouraged to participate in government and to rethink old ideas such as
feudalism (Dowling 2001: 1). They believed that human reason could be used to combat
ignorance, superstition, and tyranny and to build a better world, and their principal targets
were religion (embodied in France in the Roman Catholic Church) and the domination of
society by a hereditary aristocracy (Brians 1998: 1).
The basic ideas of the Enlightenment, as briefly described by Klages (1997:1, 3) correspond
with the main characteristics of modernism as described by (Rossouw (1995:3-6):
•
There is a stable, coherent and knowable self. This self is rational, conscious and
universal, with no physical conditions or differences affecting the functioning of the
self.
•
This self knows itself and, importantly, the world through reason, which is proposed
as the highest form of mental processing, and the only objective form of knowing.
•
The mode of knowing produced by this rational and objective self is "science", which
can provide universal truths about the world.
•
Reason is the ultimate judge of what is true, what is right and what is good.
Therefore, in a world governed by reason, the true will always be the same as the
good and the right, and there can be no conflict between good and right
•
Science is neutral and objective, and stands as the paradigm for any useful form of
knowledge.
•
Language, as the vehicle of expression used in producing knowledge, must be rational
also and serve only to present the real world observed by the rational mind.
Habermas (1985:9) describes the "extravagant" expectation of Enlightenment thinkers that
the arts and sciences would promote not only the control of natural forces, but also
understanding of the world and of the self, moral progress, the justice of institutions and even
the happiness of human beings.
"Totality is basic to modernist thought" (Kramer 1995:8). In modernist terms this meant that
central truths could be proved valid for all people. A prominent theme in the modernist era is
the theme of grand narratives, or meta-narratives,2 which may be simply described as a
comprehensive system of general truths (Kramer 1995:8) or the story that a culture tells
about its practices and beliefs. An example of a grand narrative may be that democracy is the
most advanced form of government, and that it can lead to universal human happiness
(Klages 1997:4). Other examples are ideologies such as Marxism and Darwinism. This
culture of grand narratives further established itself in aspects such as the prescription of
genres in art and literature, and governmental control of music played by broadcasting
corporations. Decisions were, for example, made by central authorities on the nature and kind
2
The term meta-narratives as defined by Lyotard (1979), is used as functioning within a culture to explain
indigenous practices and principles. Within the context of this thesis, it is employed to indicate large-scale
theoretical interpretations, purportedly of Wliversal application.
visual art that was acceptable in a society (Hamm 1995:47). In this way modernism tried to
create order amidst a perception of chaos.
According to Hamm (1995:1-2), whose significant research on popular music in his book
Putting Popular Music in Its Place is used extensively in this chapter, meta-narratives were
extended to national power structures, as the modem era was signified by a concentration of
power in the form of new, large nation-states and colonialism. These macro powers
swallowed smaller, previously autonomous city-states, regions and smaller countries, leaving
military and economic control to a handful of large countries (Hamm 1995:1). It goes without
saying that these macro powers then determined policies and principles for the relevant
societies, serving as .meta-narrativesunderlying the reality of everyday life.
This notion of unifying smaller units into one big corporation, country, state or morality, was
one of the main characteristics of modernism. Smaller enterprises very often had to merge
with these giants in order to survive in the huge cities that formed. In the same way smaller
stories or narratives that deviated from the prescriptive principles were regarded as invalid.
Furthermore the functioning of meta-narratives served to keep the modernist values of order
and rationalism alive and legitimate. Anything not fitting in with these was regarded as
leading to chaos and was therefore illegitimate.
Another characteristic of modernism was the condition that one set of rules or truths was
valid for every member of a society. This was quite evident in the Enlightenment project of
the late ISth century, which took it as axiomatic that only one ideal answer was to be found
for each question (Harvey 1990:27). This answer was true only if it was possible to find it
rationally, by reason. Therefore, if it is possible to find one universal moral law, or universal
reason, this law, answer or reason could be proved valid for all people. "Doctrines of
equality, liberty, faith in human intelligence, and universal reason abounded" (Harvey
1990:13).
A further development after 1945 became apparent when a period of "high modernism",
drawing even more on values of universalism and rationalism, became characteristic of .
Western societies. Art of this period was absorbed into establishment and power structures,
and was meant to run parallel with the modernisation of European economies to restore war-
· tom communities and governments. After World War II, the dominant powers in society
became more stable, and "the belief in linear progress, absolute truths and rational planning
of ideal social orders under standardised conditions of knowledge and production was
particularly strong" (Harvey 1990:35).
The two world wars, especially World War II, were the great turning points of the 20th
century in the Western world. Mitchell (1997:10) alleges that much of the drive for
postmodern thinking has sprung from World War II, of which the consequent human
suffering and powerlessness is viewed by some as leading to the ultimate collapse of the
modernist paradigm.
In the period after World War II, America and its leaders played an essential role in
determining the future of the post-war world, with, for example, the headquarters of the
United Nations stationed in New York. Countries wrecked by war were economically,
physically and politically assisted by the American government, which became one of the
two macro powers ih the world (the USSR was the other macro power at this stage). In the
same vein, developments regarding cultural, especially popular culture, directions also
largely originated from America (Hamm 1995:7).
The period after 1945 was also the period that experienced a return of the worship of the
efficient machine to embody all human aspirations. The extremes of this approach were
illustrated by not allowing or approving personalised design - house tenants were, for
example, not allowed to modify their environment to suit personal taste and needs, and the
students living in Le Corbusier's Pavillon Suisse had to "fry every summer because the
architect refused, for aesthetic reasons, to let blinds be installed" (Harvey 1990:36).
Isaacson (1999:18,22) notes that the 20th century, especially the first two-thirds, was marked
by exceptional scie.ntific discoveries and achievements: "The 20th century will be most
remembered for its earthshaking advances in science and technology, in particular for our
ability to understand and then harness the forces of the atom and the universe."
The anticipation that scientific achievements would lead mankind along the road to a
peaceful, happy, healthy life (Hamm 1995:67) and the admiration for the scientists who were
showing the way, were important characteristics of this period in history. An optimistic view
of humans being uplifted by the sciences was common amongst modernists. A full and
rational comprehension of scientific laws would, for example, promote understanding and
consequently domination of the world, thereby making life easier and happier. The general
view was that tec~ology
and science would free people by alleviating the burdens of
everyday struggles while promoting understanding and therefore domination of the forces of
nature. Francis Bacon, British modernist philosopher (as quoted by Rossouw 1995:34), said
in this regard that the aim of science is to enrich everyday life by means of new discoveries
and the utili sing of nature's powers.
Hamm (1995:65) even states that the years after World War II witnessed such a succession of
scientific discoveries promising a better life, that merely listening to the radio or reading a
newspaper became an exciting event, anticipating yet another scientific marvel or miracle.
These scientific marvels included achievements such as the first supersonic flight, a roundthe-world airways service, global telecommunication
services, the beginnings of satellite
technology, miracle drugs combating diseases such as polio and mental illnesses, and colour
television broadcasts. "Indeed, our century may be noted most for the work of those who
went out to their garages (metaphorically,
at least) and helped bring us televisions and
transistors, plastics and penicillin, computers and the World Wide Web" (Isaacson 1999:4).
This mood of optimism was gradually brought to an end, being replaced with pessimism and
doubt towards the last third of the century that technology and science will ever make life
significantly better. Habermas (1985:9) stated that: "The 20th century has shattered this
optimism". The optimistic mood was replaced by disillusionment
and bitterness, as the
emancipation that was promised by mobilising the powers of technology and science did not
result in improved quality of life or freedom from daily struggles, but in the two World Wars.
The image of science was tarnished as it continued to develop more powerful and
terrible weapons for warfare, to furnish procedures and means for industry to
pollute and poison the air, earth and water, and to drink up billions of dollars from
the national 5udget for such things as the space program, an exciting adventure but
of little immediate benefit to the millions of people who still needed decent shelter,
food, clothing, medical care and education (Hamm 1995:86).
Knowledge in the modem paradigm had a distinctly rational character. This meant that
phenomena that could not be explained by means of reasoning had no place. This also
implied that modernism is inherently reducing in character (Bosman 2001:13).
The ideal of rationality was, after World War I, gradually extended to a metaphor of
rationality incorporated in technology and machines. Rationality was now defined as
technological efficiency. In this sense a city was referred to as a "living machine", houses
and cities were openly designed as "machines for living in", and language was thought of as
ideally conforming to machine efficiency.
A poet such as Carlos Williams "specifically held that a poem is nothing more or less than 'a
machine made of words'" (Harvey 1990:31). Language was furthermore seen as a transparent
signifier referring to or describing an object (as sign), with its only function being to serve as
medium between object and reader.
Postmodem language is seen as a network of signs (Klages 1997:4) and the meaning of
language is constructed by the relationship between words. The origin of language is
furthermore seen more as forming the subject than being formed by individuals (Bosman
2001: 14). The rule of reason is furthermore broadened by utilising, reaffirming and exploring
the powers of religion and spirituality. Not all matters can be explained in terms of
rationality, and not all existing matters had a rational or single explanation.
This trend of a broader rationality had an enormous impact on the music of postmodemism
that was to follow from roughly the last forty years of the 20th century.3This could especially
be seen in the lesser support of the so-called rationally or mathematically inspired music of
the mid-20th century, shifting to music influenced by mysticism and religion such as that of
the Russian Orthodo"XChurch. This shift will be discussed later in this chapter.
3
As with all other periods in history, no cut-off date can clearly be provided for a conclusion of modem ism and
the onset of postmodernism. The 1960s are generally accepted as showing the first manifestations of a new
condition following modernism. While the new paradigm was starting to emerge, modernist activities were, and
still are, continuing. The onset ofpostmodernism
does not imply the end of modernism.
4.4.6 The essence of modernism
According to Harvey (1990:27), it still remains difficult to determine the essence of
modernism. He offers the following viewpoint for modernist reasoning in the following
sequence of logic:
•
The ideal of a universal approach to problems exists, in other words only one possible
and ultimately valid answer to each question.
•
This means that the world could be controlled and rationally ordered if we could
picture and represent it accurately.
•
This in turn means that a single correct mode of representation, which could be
scientifically and mathematically uncovered and would provide an answer to the
original question, exists.
Mitchell (1997:5) describes the chief characteristic of modernism as "the attempt to take
command ofhumanity's destiny and this world, in the interest of moving towards·a utopia of
some sort". This modernism can be found in:
•
the segregation of the individual's activity into isolated compartments of work,
leisure and belief;
•
a society of individual strangers rather than communities, the elimination of
difference or the deviant;
•
transformational technical achievements like the computer, television, car and
aeroplane;
•
the elevation of dispassionate professional judgement over that of intuition or "lay"
experiences; and
•
the enshrinement of the rights of the individual.
Between roughly 1910 and 1920, modernist trends underwent a radical transformation. The
viewpoint of a singular, fixed idea or answer was gradually and increasingly challenged,
reaching "its apogee shortly before the First World War" (Harvey 1990:28). It was during
this time that the arts entered a mode of experimentation and shifting of boundaries. A few of
the cultural benchmarks produced during this time were:
•
Literary wor~s such as Death in Venice (1912, T Mann), Sons and Lovers (1913, DH
Lawrence), and The Wasteland (1922, TS Eliot),4
•
Emerging importance of art works by artists such as Klee, Braque, Kandinsky,
Matisse and Picasso.
•
Music by composers such as Bartok, Berg, Schonberg, Varese and others,
incorporating different sounds, textures and techniques;
•
Psychoanalysis and Freud.
The radical nature of change that took place within this short space of time is notable. A
sceptical approach to previously set ideas and formulas came to the foreground. Harvey
(1990:29) provides t.woreasons for this changed perspective:
•
Political upheaval instigated by a class struggle resulted in a gradual loss of faith in
the Enlightenment mode of thinking. Furthermore, the effects of capitalism made the
disparities between rich and poor more and more evident. In some instances art and
artists were directly involved with radical political parties, in this way casting doubt
over the idea of "auratic art" (art that shrouded the artist with a certain exclusive
aura), and the artist as individualistic. Political parties, such as the Communist Party,
also strove to mobilise culture in the service of their aims.
•
The seeds of disorder and despair sown by Nietzsche, the scenario of political
restlessness and instability between the two World Wars, and the articulation by
Freud of "erotic, psychological and irrational needs" (Harvey 1990:30), further
necessitated a shift in the tone of modernism. Gradually a position of multiple
perspectives and relativism started to emerge, laying the foundation for a postmodern
view of the world.
To understand postmodern art and conditions, it is useful first to understand the roots and
trends of modernist art, together with influences that helped shape this culture. The reason for
this is that postmodernism and postmodern art may also be viewed from a post-modern
perspective - in other words, postmodernism did not signify a total break with modernist
principles, but a culmination of modernist developments.
Snyman (1995:67) describes the developments in the world of art in the nineteenth century,
starting with art being viewed as alternative discourse within the project of modernity. Art
retained the potential to act as agent for alternative forms of rationality, and to achieve this
the artist had to emancipate himself from the demands of social structures. But parallel to this
emancipation a new social elite, namely the financially well off art lovers, started to,
determine the marketability of art works. This meant that the autonomy of artists was
gradually subjected to the value of their art works in the market place. Art now turned into
events, with only the most interesting art works selling, and the artist posing as "the
individual who can afford to challenge social and aesthetic codes continuously and be seen to
do it" (Snyman 199~:68).
The role of the modernist artist, according to Baudelaire (as quoted in Harvey 1990:20-21),
was to "concentrate his or her vision on ordinary subjects of city life, understand their
fleeting qualities, and yet extract from the passing moment all the suggestions of eternity it
contains". The mode of representation became an important aspect of the artist's work,
therefore innovation was considered essential. The artist had to create new codes and
significations, sometimes using shock tactics, to bring home the message he wanted to
convey. But it also meant that artists had to struggle against each other and against their own
,
tradition in order to sell their products, resulting in an individual effort to produce a unique
work of art finding a unique place in the art market.
The era of "high modernism", according to Klages (1997:1) was roughly between 1910 and
1930. The founders of 20th century modernism and the major figures defining poetry and
fiction in this time were authors such as Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, TS Eliot, Mallarme
and Kafka. The author will mainly focus on this era of modernism in this chapter, as many of
the defining cultural activities were produced during this time.
•
an emphasis on HOW things are perceived, rather than WHAT is perceived; It
implies, in other words, subjectivity in writing and self-consciousness of the author;
•
a blurring o~ distinctions between genres, "so that poetry seems more documentary
(as in TS Eliot), and prose seems more poetic (as in Woolf or Joyce)";
•
a tendency towards a self-conscious creation of art, so that each piece calls the
attention of ~e reader to its independent stature as production, rather than fixing it on
the subject, for example the story, of production;
•
a rejection of elaborate and formal aesthetics, favouring minimalist designs, as well as
a movement away from formal aesthetic theories in order to advance discovery in
creation.
This atmosphere of change had inspired some of the 20th century's biggest achievements,
with perspectives and approaches drastically shifting and changing. Rosenblatt (1999:44-45)
describes this chain of events in Time Magazine:
Art's elimination of semblances to the physical world correspond vaguely vltith
Einstein's way of seeing time and space, but it really sprung from an atmosphere
of change, in which Einstein was yoked with Freud, Marx, Picasso, Bergson,
Wittgenstein, Joyce, Kafka, Duchamp, Kandinsky, and anyone else with original
and disruptive ideas and an aggressive sense of the new. By that tenuous
connection did the discoverer of relativity become a major figure of a world
consisting of individuals interpreting the world individually. He was similarly
associated with the pluralism of modem music and the eclecticism of modem
architecture.
The invention of photography, film, radio and television had a huge impact on the concept of
the artist's social and political role. Pop artists of the 1960s, for example, reflected the
ominous reality of the mass media in such as way that the image of the newspaper, radio and
television itself became a theme. By doing this, it was shown that these communication
media had radically changed the consciousness and perceptions, the sense and values and the
relationship of citizens with their surrounding world (Staudek 2001:3).
The technical ability to reproduce and sell books, the concept of an increased influence of the
media such as film, radio and television, also "radically changed the material conditions of
the artist's existence and, hence, their social and political role" (Harvey 1990:23). Art and art
possessions were no longer a sought-after luxury, meant only for the very rich, but made
accessible by means of the mass media and mass production. It now became difficult to
define the elements that classified a great work of art, because reproduction and technology
were accessible.
In this way art was gradually conforming to a culture of mass-production and consumption,
which characterised the 20th century. Snyman (1995:69) describes the de-mystifying nature
of art in a consumer society as seen by Benjamin - instead of being a diversion, it
participates in the class struggle; instead of being used as decoration, it is employed as a tool
to help change the world. Modernist authors such as Woolf and Joyce put into words the
view that the world of 1910 was felt to be much more complex than the world .of the 19th
century.
As a reaction to developments and changes before World War I, such as new conditions of
production (machines, factories), new systems of transport and communications, as well as
consumption (the rise of mass markets, advertising and mass fashion), modernist artists
provided ways to "reflect upon and absorb and codify these changes" (Harvey 1990:23). An
institution such as the German Bauhaus, for example, viewed the machine as a modern
medium of design, in this way influencing production and design to make it more attractive
to the masses for which the products were intended. "The [Bauhaus] design school itself
preached rational attitudes based on social needs and mass-production techniques" (Munro
1961:264). Le Corbusier took the possibilities inherent in the machine, factory and improved
transport system to create a utopian future. American households were, in this sense, depicted
as "a factory for the production of happiness" as early as 1910 (Harvey 1990:23).
Cubism, Dadaism, Absurdism, Surrealism and the other "isms" of the early 20th century
viewed formal and defined ideals as outdated. They moved away from traditional or fixed
viewpoints, sometimes even describing art as "nonsense activities", fusing high art with
popular culture and everyday commodities. "Behind abstract art lies a long history of
declining interest in subject matter of the traditional kind" (Munro 1961:259). Schickel
(1999:90) describes the drastically new direction of the arts as follows:
The shock of the new drew much of its re-shaping, revolutionary force from
frustration with outworn artistic conventions and had been gathering strength and
energy out of repression and dismissal for at least 50 years.
The music of the modem era reflected the changes in society accomplished by technological
inventions, the growth of a capitalist economy, and improved transport and communication
systems. An interest~g perspective is provided by Russolo, composer and spokesman for a
group of pre-World War I futurists (quoted by Ewen 1991:ix) to explain a new set of
aesthetics with which to express the modem world in music: "Life in ancient times was
silent. In the nineteenth century, with the invention of machines, noise was born".
Music as an interpretation of the machine of the industrial age, was an important theme in the
modernist idiom of Western art music. Examples of this are Honegger's
locomotive in Pacific 231 and Mossolov's
tribute to the
description of a factory in Iron Foundry. The
incorporation of extra-musical noises such as the clicking of typewriters, the whirring of
roulette wheels and the sounds of airplane motors in Satie's ballet Parade of 1917 (Ewen
1991 :x), as well as sirens and machine-produced sounds such as hissing or whistling sounds
in many ofVarese's
Furthermore,
compositions, were also exploited.
the explosive
growth of popular musicS is another important
modernist
characteristic:
Popular music, as we understand the term today, was a product of the modem era,
extending from the late eighteenth century through the first two-thirds of the 20th
century, or from the industrial revolution through late capitalism (Hamm 1995: 1).
American culture, especially with regard to popular music, was a determining force for this
culture in the rest of the world. The roots of popular music, at that stage the antithesis of
5
Popular music is used here as an umbrella term for a wide range of styles and sounds, including the so-called
sentimental ballads of the post-war era, other styles such as jazz, blues and rock-and-roll, as well as extreme
styles such as punk and rock.
serious music or "high art", were laid with genres such as jazz and rock-and-roll,6 which
originated in America. For this reason the perspective of this chapter will mainly focus on
events happening in the USA.
After the Second World War, "musical life in America was rich and complex" and "many
people lived with music most of their waking hours". Both light classical and popular music
flourished, and Hamm (1995:68), describes musical life in America during this time as
follows:
School, community and regional symphony orchestras were founded in
unprecedented numbers, as were amateur and semi-professional opera groups. The
locus of music instruction shifted dramatically from private instruction and
conservatory instruction to music schools and departments of music in colleges
and universities. Not only music majors but other students as well involved
themselves in choral groups, school orchestras, various chamber ensembles and
opera, performing for large audiences.
A division in the Western world between the music of the elite classes (so-called "high art"
music) and the technically less demanding music of the working class (or "low art" music),
was an important manifestation of culture in the modernist era. Because the social distinction
between the higher and lower social classes was even more distinct by the end of the 19th
century, these musical divisions also became even more rigid. In this regard, the classical
genre represented music of a more permanent and ordered nature, while the popular music of
the people "was taken to be regional and ephemeral", sometimes passed on orally more than
being notated and preserved (Hamm 1995:3).
Popular genres earl:)' in the 20th century, for example rock-and-roll,
were described as
important because of the role they played in voicing the social history of the people through
the use of lyrics and melody. The music itselfwas not considered by musicologists in general
as having much artistic merit or quality (something which Hamm [1995:7] calls the "myth of
inferiority"), but it was rather regarded as having value because of the combination of words
6
According to Henry (l989:vii), rock-and-roll originated as a fusion of black rhythm-and-blues
country-and-western
and white
music, with two early sub-genres being underground rock and punk-rock. Later
developments included glitter-rock (David Bowie).
and music describing the way of living and thinking, by catching the mood of an era in
history. Belz (1972:ix) mentions that the many essays available on the subject regularly
feature the exponents of the style, but generally fail to impose a critical view of its
characteristics.
Because the value o~music was considered, for the best part of the modem era, to rely on the
intrinsic residual value of the composition itself, and not in its reception or use, an ideal of
"higher" and "lower" music genres was developed by academics and scholars. The division
between the masses and the elite was pursued throughout the 20th century, with specific
powers within the discourse7 of modernist music reserved more for the academic elite than
for the exponents of popular music (Henry 1989:vii).
For the author, one way of reflecting on modem music is to view it from two perspectives,
namely
The true artist in the modem era was, ideally, obedient only to the laws of art, not adhering to
any prescriptive authority (Rossouw 1995:20). This meant that originality was of utmost
importance: the role of artist meant constantly shifting boundaries and constantly breaking
out of the traditional boundaries. The artist was, in other words, autonomous. The artist came
to be regarded as isolated and alienated from society, and "place[d] himself high and dry"
(McGowan as quoted in Piercy 1999:9). The creation of exclusive art had as its aim not to
satisfy the cultural taste of the masses.
This kind ofmodem,ist art has always been, as described by Harvey (1990:22) "auratic art, in
the sense that the artist had to assume an aura of creativity, of dedication to art for art's sake,
in order to produce a cultural object that would be original, unique and marketable at a
monopoly price". The artistic process, in other words, had to be characterised by a struggle
and creative dedication on the part of the artist, with the work of art finding a unique place in
the world. The ideal of the artist was autonomy, to be obedient only to laws of art, and free of
any prescriptions by external powers (Rossouw 1995:20). Sarup (1988: 133) explains that the
modem aesthetic was organically linked to the conception of an authentic self and a private
identity which can b~ expected to generate its own unique vision of the world and to forge its
own style.
One way to achieve this autonomy was to strive for originality, to do something that had
never been done or said before in a widely different way than before, and by doing this, to
find the hidden and universal truth concealed behind the veil of art (Hamm 1995:69). This
trend was intended as a reaction to popular culture, which was mass-produced, commercially
rooted, widely' available and affordable to the middle class. These highly individual works of
autonomous artists also served to interpret and re-construct reality through the eyes of the
artist.
During the first half of the 20th century this, in the opinion of the author, was one of the main
differences between popular culture and exclusive art. Exponents and consumers of mass
cultural art very often chose not to reflect the grim reality in their cultural products, but chose
to escape to a more ideal and imaginary existence. Exponents of "serious art", on the other
hand, reflected the stark reality using sometimes shocking techniques and subjects. This
power to interpret society was sometimes even used for revolutionary purposes by artists
such as the French Dadaist painter Marcel Duchamp, and architects like Le Corbusier and
Walter Gropius.
Music, as exclusive art, was also meant to explore the advanced and complicated state of
science, philosophy
and mathematics.
Hamm (1995:74), for example, quotes Babbitt, a
modernist American composer, in explaining the correlation between modem science and
contemporary music from a modernist perspective:
The time has passed when the normally well-educated man without special
preparation can understand the most advanced work in, for example, mathematics,
philosophy and physics. Advanced music, to the extent that it reflects the
knowledge and originality of the informed composer, scarcely can be expected to
appear more intelligible than these arts and sciences to the person whose musical
education usually has been even less extensive than his background in other fields.
hi other words, the complicated nature and content of science and related subjects had"to be
matched by music, which was viewed as another form of science by many modernist
musicians, composers and musicologists. Music, as ultimate cultural expression of a society,
could not be conceived as a simple or straightforward product, accessible to people of
average educational level, but had to reflect the current progressive status of science and
intellectual advances in a society. In this way, technological advances such as synthesisers
and tape recorders ~ere incorporated as new avenues of artistic endeavour, for example i~
the music of classical composers such as Varese, Boulez, Stockhausen and Penderecki.
In the genre of classical music, composers were moving away from the confining walls of
structure, tonality, rhythm, metre, harmony and traditional sounds while experimenting with
new sounds and compositional techniques. The first definable division of the first half of the
20th century arose between, what Pettitt (in Ewen 1991:xix) calls, the "serialists", those who
radically reflected the mathematical characteristics of music in their compositions8
(Stockhausen, Berlo) and the "non-serialists" (Bart6k, Hindemith).
Many approaches were used in the modernist style period; since 1945 ''the world of music
has seen such a bewilderingly rapid rate of change, at least until the late 1970's, that
observers have had no time to take breath and identify trends with any degree of certainty"
(Ewen 1991:xix). Electronic media, for example tape recorders, synthesisers and computers,
were"increasingly utilised by composers such as Babbitt, Stockhausen, Berio and Xenakis
(Ewen 1991:x). New instruments, such as quarter-tone instruments (quarter-tone pianos,
trumpets and clarinets) were also invented and used in experimental compositions. John Cage
concocted a "prep~ed piano", giving this instrument percussive qualities previously
unknown (Ewen 1991:xi).
Composers opened new areas of sound by combining tonalities, rhythms, metres
and notes which never before had been joined for artistic ends. Some composers
exploited noises from non-musical equipment, such as sirens and whistles and
8
Ewen (1991 :xxiv) uses the music of Xenakis as an example of serialist and computer-aided
uncompromising
composition" .
music: "[It] is
in its use of the laws of mathematics and physics, as well as computers as aids to
motors, and after that by enlisting the seemingly limitless resources of electronic
instruments to produce still newer noises and sounds.
This series of events, however, in the opinion of the author, alienated classical music from
many of its listeners. Music in this style is often conceived as difficult to listen to, and not as
accessible as music of the earlier styles such as the Baroque or Classical style periods. The
result was that audiences were gradually shrinking to the informed and curious, with the
general music consumer resorting to more accessible listening material, in spite of serious
composers trying to bridge the gap between audience and composer.
Kramer (1995:4-5) explains this process as the result ofa combination of factors, inter alia as
the result of an increasing professionalisation of musicology, music analysis, music
performance and music theory, as well as the increasing world of sound recording and mass
entertainment that led to a decrease in the culture of home performances. The net effect was
that classical music ~nthe sense of "high art" was gradually passing out of the public sphere,
and that the abyss ,betweenpopular and serious music was gradually becoming deeper.
In 1997 Larry Wilker, president of the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC, drew the
consequences of the scenario painted above when he explained that there are not enough
young people in the audiences. The reason, according to Wilker, was that a whole generation,
now in their twenties and thirties, have had no exposure to the performing arts. "It's not that
they reject the experience - its not on their radar screen" (Church 1997:32).
The modernist ideal of exclusive artists and intellectuals, consciously keeping a distance
from the average citizen and separated from a capitalist society (McGowan as quoted in
Piercy 1999:9), created a cultural vacuum, because their expressions in art were not readily
accessible to the general citizen. This vacuum was filled by mass or popular culture: "Mass
or popular culture inevitably springs up to fill the vacuum created by the elitist artist's
divorce from a wide audience" (Piercy 1999:9).
Thus it happened that the other side of the coin, with regard to modernist art, was the creation
of a culture accessible to the masses. Schickel (1999:90) describes this growing popular
culture as an antidote to serious artists who tried to acknowledge the "agony and horror of
modern life". He further explains this mass culture in the following way (SchickelI999:91):
It was not that tunes would suddenly disappear from music or realistic
representation of the world from art or narrative cohesion from fiction.
Increasingly, though, these comfortable and reassuring sources of pleasure were
segregated in a popular culture that was dismissed by finer sensibilities as
aesthetically retrograde.
In staying within the limits of a comfortable and ideal reality, Schickel (1999:91) describes
how practitioners of popular culture in modern art were helping along the "destruction of the
artwork's 'aura' or magic". This was done by keeping the content of films, popular music
and television "stubbornly locked to the 19th century traditions of melodrama and romance".
No artistic struggle or shocking originalities were utilised here, but exponents of popular
culture surrounded their products with a soft cloud of sentimentality, something that
addressed the masses much more effectively.
This situation gradually changed towards the second half of the 20th century, in other words
by the end of modernism. Styles such as rock-and-roll originated in the United States in the
early 1950s, exploiting rebelliousness and nihilism as themes. "Elvis Presley and James Dean
had become idols of a youth culture whose aim was sexual liberation and emancipation from
the constraints of a petty-bourgeois star cult which was subordinated to the cliches of the
Hollywood movie industry" (Staudek 2001:1).
The 1960s experience(l an even more aggravated form of rebelliousness - Kimball, for
example, describes the spirit of the Sixties in what it undermines more than what it
champions. It also encompasses protest, youth culture, a "new permissiveness together with a
new affluence: Dionysus with a bank balance and a cause" (Kimball 1999:1).
The Sixties is often called "the long decade", because the characteristics of this period started
during the late 1950s and only ended in the early 1970s (Kimball 1999:1-2). The contrast
between the moods of the 1950s and the 1960s may be captured by using the following
fragments, quoted by Kimball from The Sixties by Arthur Marwick (1974), and adapted by
the author:
Rigid social hierarchy
Subordination of women to men and children to
parents
Cliche-ridden popular culture, especially popular
music
Changes in personal relationships and sexual
behaviour
Black civil rights
Popular music based on Afro-American models
Cold War hysteria
Emergence of "the underground" and a
"counterculture"
Strict formalism in dress codes, language, etiquette
Youth culture and trend-setting by young people
Unquestioning respect for authority in the family,
education, government, law, religion, national
symbols
Protest
Optimism and faith in the dawning of a better world
Apart from protest' and the emergence of civil rights movements, the 1960s were also
characterised by a cultural phenomenon commonly known as Pop Art. This form of popular
culture evolved around consumerism and commercialism, often depicting these consumer
objects in a distorted, enlarged or decorated version, or using mechanical means of
production. The initial aim of pop art was to break down the barriers between art and life,
mirroring contemporary reality and involving everyday commodities in works of art.
Subsequently it resulted in the de-individualisation of art, giving it a mechanical and
anonymous quality. Visual artists of this style include Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein in
the USA, as well as David Hockney and Clive Barker in Britain (Staudek 2001:4).
By signifying the cultural choices of the working class as inferior, the elite class was trying to
achieve the opposite, according to MacDonald Smith Moore (as quoted in Harvey 1990:7),
namely to privilege the art of their choice: This art included films such as Citizen Cane,
music such as Strayinsky's The Rite of Spring, or literary works such as TS Eliot's The
Wasteland. The consumers of popular art, however, were gradually claiming their share of
both the economy and the arts, gaining support by the rapid spread of radio and the media,
and in this way dictating the content of both.
This stage is put in words by authors such as Piercy (1999:9): "The frenzied expansion of the
mass media is a mark of our postmodemity". In other words, if it made money, it was played
on the radio and heard by a nation. The resulting mass-culture with regard to music and
visual arts is described by Hamm (1995:7-10) as an important perspective on modernism and
modem art. This phenomenon was reinforced by two factors, namely that:
•
the masses dictated the content of the cultural goods because they were buying the
records and art works; and
•
the media, because their livelihood depended on the money spent by the masses,
produced the cultural content that was wanted by the masses.
Furthermore popular styles, such as rock and pop, were oriented towards the radio because
the music was generally and primarily meant for the recording industry rather than for live
performances
(Belz 1972:45). "F. Scott Fitzgerald had it right: Culture follows money"
(Schickel 1999:91).
4.4.11 Popular music in a modernist discourse
The emergence of popular music had its early roots in a post-war youth culture, and this
genre of music is often linked with delinquency, protest and rebellious youth, spreading
rapidly because of a·growing recording industry. The development of popular music was also
catalysed both by the post-war surplus cash and leisure time of the youth, as well as the
growing dimensions of the recording industry, placing recorded music well within the
financial reach of teenagers and young people (Hamm 1995 :21).
Popular music was regarded as inferior by music scholars, inter alia because of its
ephemerality. Classical music in the Western tradition was, however, considered superior,
one of the reasons being that it had its structure and material written down in a specific
notation system, therefore being fixed and accessible to all future generations. "High art" was
regarded as belonging to the classical genre, implying the tradition of Western art music.
The development of ways to preserve popular music and providing it with a permanent status
overturned this early modernist argumentation. The debate now turned to ways to distinguish
between higher and lower forms of art within a popular genre itself. Hamm even goes as far
as to say that the "c~assical" repertoire within the jazz genre was gradually being recognised
towards the second half of the 20th century, meaning those pieces that earned permanency
and status because of an inherent, artistically fine quality. Eventually more genres were
added to this classical defmition: "The notion that a canon of artistically superior and hence
'classic' pieces can -be identified within a given popular genre has now spread from jazz to
Broadway musicals, popular ballads, and even country-Western music" (Hamm 1995: 18-21).
It is interesting, once again, to note that these divisions of "classical" and "lower" repertoire
within the popular genre were imposed on the art by scholars and academics trying to
describe the music, and not by the mU&iciansand audiences themselves.
Popular music only became the subject of significant scholarly and academic interest in
1981, when the first issue of the journal Popular Music was introduced, and the First
National Conference on Popular Music Research was held in Amsterdam (Hamm 1995:2324). Before this year a handful of articles and books appeared on the subject, but no academic
discipline or profile was committed to the specific study of popular music or the inclusion of
popular music in the field of musicology. It was about this time that academics started to
debate the topic of popular music, because "one cannot deny that they [the exponents of
popular music] are. part of the rich, or at least multifarious,
pattern of American (and
everyone else's) life" (Mellers,9 as quoted in Hamm 1995:34).
In spite of the difference in approach between music from the classical repertory and popular
music (the former being considered mainly from the perspective of abstract musical concepts
and the latter mainly for its social interaction, political commentary and context), the musical
contents of popular music were increasingly being analysed by musicologists. Aspects such
as blue notes and syncopated rhythms in jazz and Renaissance harmonies were increasingly
being described in terms of the resulting expressionist qualities (Hamm 1995:33-34).
Still, the academic discourse on popular music was mainly practised by outsiders, and the
music that was being discussed normally excluded commercially successful products. It was
supposed that artistic value and commercial value are not the same, and that the second
usually excludes the first. The modernist narrative which views the cultural taste of the
masses as crude and unrefined was still very alive by the end of the 1980s and early 1990s.
This modernist approach to popular music was, according to Hamm (1995:37-40), restricting
the understanding of this genre in its social context. Because musicologists compared music
9
Wilfrid Mellers, American composer and historical musicologist, undertook a comprehensive history of
American music, Music in a New Found Land (1965). The revised edition (1987) included genres not only from
the "high art" music, but also topics on popular genres such as folk, jazz, country and pop_
from the classical repertory with music in the popular genre, using the same criteria such as
musical concepts and abstract analysis, the principle of viewing popular music as a valid
cultural product was misformed.
Belz (1972:8) offers. an alternative perspective when he explains that a particular song in rock
style must be judged for the specific and immediate realities (of experience) that it offers, and
not for the quality of musical or literary concepts within the song, concepts that are used to
judge classical music. He also alleges that the realities in a particular song carry greater
significance than the art of that song - rock music has been a confrontation with reality rather
than a confrontation with art.
Street (1993:4-9) also presents his readers with an alternative approach to judging and
analysing popular music. Because the criteria used in musicology do not accurately and
completely capture the characteristics of popular music, he offers the idea that the study of
popular music may be viewed either as an expression of cultural products, or as the product
;
of an industry. Both these options offer a sociological viewpoint of popular music more than
a musicological
one, in this way accounting for some of the problems experienced by
musicologists in the genre of popular music.
Music in the popular genre was not considered within the academic discourse, because it did
not contain any universal or higher meaning, appropriate for all people. Henry (1989:vii)
writes that the relative newness of a style such as rock-and-roll, together with the rebellious
and experimental nature of this genre, insulated it from serious scholarly study. In general,
the artistic merit of popular music was not (and still is not) considered to be on the same level
as music from the classical repertory (Hamm 1995 :6). One of the reasons for this, in the
opinion of the author, lies in the character of the audience - according to Belz (1972:ix),
juvenile delinquency,
drugs and mysticism were common amongst the rock audiences.
Scholars trained in the intelle~tual vigour of Western art music did not feel themselves at
home in a society of informally trained exponents of aggressive art.
The following quotation by Denis Stevens,lo one of the previous directors of graduate studies
in musicology at Colombia University and a noted writer in early music (in Hamm 1995:43),
serves to illustrate the viewpoints previously held by musicologists in general on the intrinsic
value of popular music as well as the audience of young people listening to this kind of music
during the second half of the 20th century:
Many immatUre quasi-illiterates understand perfectly the atavistic, hysterical and
social appeal of this noise. For noise most of it is, if you will consider the
deafening volume at which most of it must be produced, and the incidence of
permanently damaged eardrums among its practitioners. [It is] primitive vomiting
noises wallowing in over-amplified imbecility that typifies most "commercial"
non-music of today.
The followers of serious or high art used strong words to describe these "lower" form~ of art
practised by the masses. In this regard D.G. Mason,
11
professor of music at Colombia
University (as quoted by Hamm 1995:8-9), alleged that "It is a fundamental axiom that
majority taste is always comparatively crude and undeveloped. As an instance of this crudity
of majority taste one may cite the case of jazz". Serious music, or "high art", on the other
hand, was regarded as a rational and intellectual phenomenon, with serious musicians trained
at university or college, holding academic positions and publishing articles.
The modernist character of one central truth for all mankind was also evident in the popular
music of that time. "Most decisions affecting the lives of Americans were made by the
institutions of the ~ountry (political, religious, educational, economic, social), that people
were under the impression that they were offered freedom of choice but this choice was from
other options that were essentially the same" (Hamm 1995:47). The popular musicl2 of the
mid-20th century did not question the American way of life, or the principles regulating
society. The lyrics, mood and musical style were limited within a narrow field and listened to
by a homogenous group of people (affluent, mainly white Americans), while the content
II
D.G. Mason. 1931. Tune in, America. New York. According to Hamm (1995:9), Mason uses the term "'jazz"
in this context as a comprehensive term for the products of the music industry.
12
Popular music in this ~ense include ballads and songs by singers such as Perry Como, Doris Day, Frank
Sinatra and Pat Boone, in other words the non-eritical and soothing styles common to the years after World War
II. Belz (1972: I6) places artists such as Perry Como and Eddie Fischer in the style of Pop, and calls it an
extension of the ballad tradition of the I940s.
almost always included the theme of romantic love between man and woman. Styles such as
jazz, blues, rock, country music and folk music were performed and listened to by a minority
group living in poverty and repression, as the majority chose not to be disturbed by music
offering social commentary on American society, or deviating from the post-war consensus.
This situation changed after the second half of the 20th century, with Belz (1972:16) and
Hamm (1995:45) offering the year 1954 as a dividing line. Belz mentions that three general
fields existed within the field of popular music (in America) until roughly 1954, namely Pop,
Rhythm and Blues, and Country and Western. An interesting perspective is offered by Hamm
(1995:45,48), when'he quotes the list of the top ten songs of the years 1954 and 1970:
The songs of 1954 :were very alike regarding criteria such as content, style and lyrics, and
appealed to adult taste and values. The homogeneous nature of this repertory (which Hamm
calls "sentimental ballads"), also extends to the style of texture and orchestration: "Each was
sung by one singer, or occasionally
a small vocal group, to the accompaniment
of an
orchestra dominated by strings but making some use of winds and brass. Each used the same
melodic style (diatonic, tonal, and heavily dependant on sequential writing) supported by a
common harmonic style. Each is written in precisely the same form, in the same meter,
moving at more or less the same tempo" (Hamm 1995:46).
By the time of the gradual dismantling of this modernist axiom of popular music, the hit
songs of 1970 differ in important aspects from those of the 1950s. This change in approach
and sound represented the general disillusionment of a central rational truth or meta-narrative
offered by authorities, and is evident in novels, films and journalism, as well as in the popular
music of the time. Belz (1972:31) calls it a "protest art", because it rebelled against the music
of the past and of an older generation, as well as against the values of that generation as they
were expressed in the softer, sentimental style of popular music.
The content of the hit songs and the style of the popular music at this period in the century
was less concerned with romantic love, but instead offered different perspectives on
American life, love, relationships, religion, war, drugs and politics. The style, melody and
orchestration of songs moved away from the homogeneous sound of the mid-century hit
song, with influences from other styles such as black music, folk music, art music, country
music, electronic music, rock-and-roll, blues and jazz. These influences were also notable in
the equally wide range of musical forms (Hamm 1995:48-52).
Belz (1972:4) explains how the style of rock music for example emerged as a youth
movement in response to a series of changing values and as a reflection of a way of life
which radically changed from the 1950s. The character of music as the voice of the people
rather than an abstract expression of art was inherent to popular music of that time.
Another interesting observation provided by Belz (1972:18) is that the impact of rock
influenced not only the content and style of popular music, but also its commercial structure.
According to him, many people in the business felt that the music industry had been
transformed into chaos and unpredictability.
In summary, four general styles can be identified towards the final stages of modernism,
namely:
The training standard of musicians in the Western musical tradition was usually very high,
while (black) jazz musicians were largely untrained and usually could not read music. Even
when the genre of jazz became known to white audiences and played by white players, the
original character was largely retained, with an informal training based on oral traditions
(Hamm 1995:76).
According to Belz (l972:viii), the original character of jazz was rooted in live performances
(in contrast with, for example, rock, which primarily relied on the recorded music industry).
Furthermore jazz musicians had an unbroken improvisation
tradition, something which
classical music lost in the 20th century (Nicholson 2001 :50).
This informal and untrained character of jazz gradually changed as the 20th century advanced,
with some groups 13 even using formal structures such as the fugue, and formal dress for their
performances. The combination of Western classical musical elements, such as contrapuntal
techniques, and traditional jazz aspects was called third stream jazz (Such 1993:3). Western
influence served to ~roaden the technical and structural resources of this style of jazz.
By the end of the 1940s jazz was entering the arena of academically trained musicians, and
their audiences were listening quietly and seriously, rather than physically responding to the
rhythmic elements. Nicholson (2001:52) describes how jazz moved out of the dance hall
(with styles such as Swing) and into the club during the 1940s to 1950s, with styles such as
Bebop, hard bop and free jazz. These styles experimented with chromatic harmony, which
replaced the use of modes as basis for improvisation by the late 1950s.
The sudden and unexpected
rise of rock transformed
the jazz scene and the musical .
landscape (Nicholson 2001 :53). The reason for this was that rock took over from jazz in
13The Modem Jazz Quartet and Dave Brubeck can be mentioned as examples of this style, using similar
techniques, and having similar backgrounds. They also incorporated instruments usually found in Western
classical music, such as flutes, cellos and violins (Such 1993:3).
popular culture, re-articulating
the essence of popular music culture and thereby almost
casting jazz out into musical obscurity. Jazz musicians answered by fusing these two styles
and forming jazz-rock bands during the 1970s, combining jazz elements such as big-band
riffs with rock rhythm.
This fusion resulted in the jazz style being commercialised
and homogenised
into jazz-
influenced pop mus:ic. So-called free jazz survived mainly in artistic circles, returning to
more traditional styles (Nicholson 2001 :56).
Postmodem jazz, as Nicholson (2001 :56) calls it, started when the club The Knitting Factory
opened its doors in 1986. This provided the forum for musicians to transform practices,
fragments and "signifiers" from different musics and cultures and to relocate them within
their own expressionism. The new era in jazz was, according to Nicholson (2001:56), created
by the decontextualisation and juxtapositioning of these different references. Postmodern jazz
was characterised by the absence of a single, coherent style. "The sheer stylistic diversity of
postmodemism
resisted categorisation, so its impact was restricted to the recognition of a
single player" (Nicholson 2001:56).
The success of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who simultaneously won Grammy awards for a
jazz as well as a classical recording, encouraged record companies to sign up jazz musicians.
This resulted, during the 1980s and 1990s, in the rebirth and commercial
.
success of
.
traditional styles such as the hard bop style of the late 1950s and early 1960s (Nicholson
2001 :57). Commercial achievement meant that jazz was no longer exclusively steered by the
American musical scene. "Many thirty-something European jazz musicians set about putting
the pieces of the jazz puzzle together in their own distinctive ways" (Nicholson 2001:57),
thereby extending jazz as a global phenomenon.
Apart from being influenced by styles such as rock, jazz also provided for fertilisation in the
classical genre. Composers such as Gruenberg (1884-1964) and Shostakovich (1906-1975)
incorporated the stylistic features and techniques of jazz into serious concert music. As an
example Gruenberg's Jazz Suite for orchestra (1929) and Jazzettes for violin and piano (Ewen
1991 :328), as well as Shostakovich's two Jazz Suites can be cited.
Modernism had its roots in the critique against a simplified, linear world-view of the
Enlightenment and the previous era of Realism and Naturalism. The development of the
principle of relativity provided momentum towards the development of a broadened
awareness of relativism, eventually leading to a crisis in legitimisation during the postmodem
era (Muller 1992:397). In this new direction the visual arts, architecture and literary arts took
the lead.
The artist assumed a new role in the search for an accurate version of a complex world.
Because modernism proclaimed that it was no longer possible to pinpoint reduced essences
or simple, linear pro'gress in history, the recognition of a complex coherence of world-views
and the expression thereof often took on an appearance of provocative reactions on the one
hand, or the auratic isolation of the artist on the other. The place of popular culture, however,
still remained outside the academic discourse.
Lyotard,14who is considered one of the foremost philosophers on postmodernism, describes
the postmodern condition as the "condition of knowledge in the most highly developed
societies" (1979:xxiii). Jencks, one of the foremost spokesmen on postmodern architecture,
calls postmodernism a "social condition and cultural movement" (in Giroux 1994:1).
The use of the terms "postmodernity" and "postmodernism" must first be explained, because
these two words may easily cause confusion. For this chapter the author will chiefly apply
the latter term, as "postmodernism" usually refers to a social or cultural movement, while
"postmodemity" is normally used in the context of the condition in which the late 20th
century finds itself.
14
Peters (1999b:l) describes Lyotard's groundbreaking
work The Postmodern Condition: A Report on
Knowledge (1979) as an original interpretation of the status and development of knowledge, science and
technology in advanced capitalist societies. It is considered important because he "brought together for the first
time diverse threads and previously separate literatures in an analysis which many critics believed to signal an
epoch break with not only the 'modem' era but also with various traditionally 'modem' ways of viewing the
world".
The temptation here: would be to place modernism and postmodernism in opposition to one
another, because the "post" of postmodernism may be interpreted as a reaction to modernism,
Postmodernism,
however, cannot simply be viewed as anti-modernist,
but rather as the
conclusion of modernist ideas; it builds upon modernist culture and cannot be understood
separately (Bosman' 2001:7). Foster (1985:xi) is of the opinion that the deconstruction
of
modernism did not take place in order to close it off, but to open it and to rewrite it in the
postmodern idiom and to challenge its meta-narratives. Postmodernism is not, according to
Jencks (postmodern architect and theorist, quoted in Mitchell 1997:6), anti-modem, because
for the most part it accepts and builds upon many modernist achievements
medicine
and industrial
technology.
It rather amalgamates,
continues
in science,
and transcends
modernism.
The simplest, and in the opinion of the author an effective, definition of postmodernism is
coined by Adams (1997:2) when he argues that it is a way ofrecognising
that the world is in
a period of transition. The last thirty to forty years of the 20th century may most accurately be
described as an epoch that has ceased-to-be, but not yet assumed a new or definite character
of what it is.
Kwok (1998:15) states that the postmodern age was initiated by disappointment caused by
the two World Wars, environmental problems, and by the fact that man's longing for ultimate
meaning has not been fulfilled by the progress brought by science, technology and economic
growth. In other words, disillusionment with Enlightenment dogma gave momentum to the
advance of postmodernism, as modernism did not provide the final truth and freedom it had
promised. Postmodernism
is rooted in the perception that "there is no going back to the
certainties of the universalist project of modernism" (Mitchell 1997:5). Another momentumgiving factor was the emerging of a global culture in the last third of the 20th century
(Solomon 2001 :1).
Events paving the way to postmodernism were, inter alia, the 1968 student protests in Paris
and the Algerian War of Independence (Chagani 1998:2-3). Forerunners to the postmodern
way of thinking were philosophers such as Nietzsche (1844-1900) and Heidegger (18891976). These thinkers have, in the words of Chagani, led the attack on modernism and rooted
the alternative in the form of postmodernism,
to be taken up by confirmed postmodern
thinkers such as Lyotard and Baudrillard. Postmodem roots can also be traced to literary
criticism in the 1950s, rising to global conceptualisation in the 1980s (Kwok 1998:15).
Harvey (1990:41) considers the year 1968 as a starting point of the postmodem movement.
This year was characterised by global instability and, although not coherent, an accumulation
of the counter modem movement into a full-blown postmodem culture.
"Postmodemism [... ] has only emerged as an area of academic study since the mid-l 980s..
[It] appears in a wide variety of disciplines or areas of study, including art, architecture
music, film, literature, sociology, communications, fashion and technology" (Klages 1997:1).
Gablik (as quoted in Piercy 1999:10) explains that the origin ofpostmodemism in the arts
can be traced to the point near the end of the 1970s when it referred to a loss of faith in a
stylistic mainstream. At that point is seemed as if the whole history of styles had suddenly
become unstuck and uprooted. Therefore postmodernism has also been described as a
"constantly shifting condition" (Davies 1996:3). Sarup (1988:131) writes that some
philosophers view postmodernism as a concept whose function it is to correlate the
emergence of new features in culture.
A single definition of postmodernism is impossible, as it comprises a variety of
developments in art~, intellectual culture, literature and fashion since the 1970s and 1980s.
There are, however, certain trends that can be said to fit into the postmodem perspective, and
these will be briefly discussed.
4.5.1 Main aspects of postmodernism
A common ground for the main postmodem philosophers is the opinion that the project of
modernity has become questionable and is "now deeply problematic" (Foster 1985:ix,
Snyman 1995:63). Although this project is still at work where the purity of each art form and
the autonomy of culture as a whole are valued, it provoked aggressive reactions in the form
of avant-garde movements, this reaction returning (in revised form) in postmodem art (Foster
1985:x). Chagani (1998:3) describes this as a radical anti-essentialism or antifoundationalism, in other words not to be contained under one umbrella as ideally foreseen
by the project of modernity.
From the 1950s onwards a series of unrelated arts and political events started the gradual
dismantling of the modernist idiom. Matters such as human rights of individuals and
minorities, commentary on the negative effects of scientific achievements in the name of
technological progress, critique on the restricting of opportunities for women (particularly
married women), the importance of having meaningful inter-personal relations rather than
exclusively assisting the machinery of science, and criticism on war and war-related activities
were gaining more and more prominence. A growing consciousness that science was
destroying the natural environment was campaigned by artists and writers. "We, who are
creatures of modernity, must confront a crisis of faith in [science's] notions of progress and
universal social betterment" (Burbules 1995:2).
An essential factor in the developing of a postmodern condition, was the rapid spreading and
interaction of loc~
and global knowledge, made possible by the explosion of
communications technology. This led to globalisation processes, the shifting and even
dissolving of cultural boundaries, and manifestation in cross-cultural interaction (Weiss &
Wesley 2000:2).
Jencks (as quoted by Piercy 1999:8), in his critique on the postmodern debate, and Giroux
(1994: 1) offer a short summary of themes or aspects relating to this condition:
•
Philosophical principles of canonicity and the notion of the sacred have become
suspect.
•
Fixed boundaries of academic knowledge have been challenged by a "war on totality"
and a disavowal of all encompassing, single worldviews. Giroux (1994:1) also
maintains that the postmodern challenge involves a contextual discourse that has
challenged specific disciplinary boundaries in fields such as literary studies,
education, feminism, architecture, performance art and many other areas.
•
Rigid distinctions between high and low culture have been rejected by insistence that
the products of mass culture, popular and folk art forms, are proper areas of study.
•
The modernist faith in rationality, science and freedom has incurred deep-rooted
scepticism, as did the Enlightenment line of reason connecting history and progress.
•
History, as unilinear process that moves the West progressively
towards a final
realisation of freedom, is spumed.
•
The fixed and unified identity of the humanist subject has been replaced by a call for
narrative space that is pluralised and fluid.
Chagani (1998:4) and MUller (1992: 398) also explain that the clear distinctions between/act
and fiction have also been gradually dissolved, with no necessary relationship between words
and things, signifier and signified, subject and object. Harvey (1990:49) mentions that the
connection between the signified (what is said) and the signifier (how it is said) is continually
breaking apart and re-attaching, forming new combinations.
Porter & Grey (2001: 1) add
another dimension in this regard, namely that image and reality are blurred, for example in
the creation of television personalities.
Broadly speaking, these characteristics of postmodernism
may be put together under one
overarching concept, namely that of a pluralistic approach. This means that there is no longer
one universally acquired and singular stance, or meta-narrative, on any matter, be it science,
arts, literature or architecture, but a multiplicity in the acceptance of many other worlds,
cultures, possibilities, narratives and perspectives. The following paragraphs will explain the
impact of this approach in more detail.
4.5.2 Dismantling of "grand narratives"
According to Snyman (1995:63), the modernist quest for reason reduced the world into a set
of categories for the sake of control. This was realised as a trend of colonisation, suppressing
that which did not fit into the overarching categories of control. As illustration, the violence
of the Nazi gas chambers and the destruction of Hiroshima during World War II, as well as
the colonial impulses of the major Western powers, may be quoted (Mitchell 1997:7).
In contrast to the macro power structures and large-scale economies of the modern era, the
postmodern era is characterised by "fragmentation, discontinuity, ephemerality, and chaos in
economics, politics, social relations, and the arts" (Hamm 1995: 1). Those aspects that would
not fit into the mould of modernity now had to be identified. Totality has changed places with
fragmentation and pluralism. In the place of a set of comprehensive truths or meta-narratives,
postmodernism embraces what Lyotard (1979) calls "the infinity of heterogeneous finalities"
(Owens 1983:64).
Lyotard (1979:xxiv) provided a now-famous definition of the postmodem, namely as
"incredulity towards meta-narratives". Owens (1983:57) describes postmodernism as a crisis
of cultural authority, specifically of the authority vested in European culture and its
institutions. Narratives are rejected when they become associated with broad philosophies of
history. According to Sarup (1988:133), grand narratives have also become associated with a
political programme or party, with little narratives linked to localised creativity.
In postmodernism, as reaction to the overarching belief in meta-narratives, alternative
thought and local perspectives are valued. Priority is given to an inclusive, rather than an
exclusive viewpoint; the co-existence of mini-narratives or petites histoires, as Hassan calls
them (in Harvey 1990:43), is one of the main tendencies in postmodernism.
During the 1960's and early 1970's an era in American culture dominated by
institutional control over the minds and hearts of individuals and groups was
giving way to an era in which such imposed consensus was questioned and
resisted. Even more simply, the modem period was giving way to a postmodem
era.
Lyotard (1979:xxiii) defines a discourse as modem when it appeals to one or more of the
grand narratives (which he calls meta-discourses) for its legitimacy. These narratives could
be, for example, the hermeneutics of meaning, emancipation of the rational subject, the
accumulation of wealth, the belief in unlimited development and progress, or the classless
society.
In this context, the evaporation of the grand narratives of the postmodem era has an
important momentum - Klages (1997:4) describes postmodemism as the critique of grand
narratives. "Postmo~ernism, in rejecting grand narratives, favours mini-narratives, stories
that explain small practices, local events, rather than large-scale universal or global concepts.
Postmodem mini-narratives are always situational, provisional, contingent and temporary,
making no claim to universality, truth, reason or stability". The postmodemist also believes
that there is no single theoretical discourse that could offer an explanation for all forms of
social experience and relations, or for every mode of political practice (Sarup 1988:135).
One of the implications of the stance quoted above is that the power-discourse relation, the
question of who determines the direction and content of the discourse, is unstable. A central
theme is the relation between power and knowledge, a direction explored by Foucault
(Harvey 1990:45). When universally accepted meta-narratives are no longer taken for
granted by the postmodern citizen, it also implies that the positions of power within the
discourse, as well as the canon, or the content of the discourse, are being challenged.
Klages (1997:2) is of the opinion that postmodern art has many similarities with modern art,
especially the modern art of the first half of the 20th century. Those include rejecting
boundaries between high and low forms of art, not complying to rigid genre distinctions,
emphasising irony and playfulness, fragmentation, self-consciousness and discontinuity, to
name but a few. The difference between modernism and postmodemism, however, lies in the
attitude toward these trends (Klages 1997:3):
Modernism, for example, tends to present a fragmented view of human
subjectivity and history (think of T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland, for instance), but
presents that fragmentation as something tragic, something to be lamented and
mourned as a loss. Postmodernism, in contrast, doesn't lament the idea of
fragmentation, provisionality or incoherence, but rather celebrates is. The world is
meaningless. Let's not pretend that art can make meaning, let's just play with
nonsense.
Postmodernism bridged the gap between serious and popular art in a way that was different
from modernism, namely by embracing both and thereby legitimising the latter. Mitchell
(1997:7) refers to the dismantling of the distinction between "high culture" (for example
opera, literature, ballet and theatre) and "low culture" (such as film, TV, popular music, and
Mills and Boon novels), but shrouded more in a postmodem veil than Klages did. In this
respect the debate over canon, in other words, the question of power within the discourse and
especially who determines the canon, is relevant.
The phenomenon of Pop Art - a fine art style that has been directly stimulated by popular or
mass culture - provides another example of the fusion between "high" art and "low" art. This
movement in the fine arts has brought the utilities of everyday life, for example supermarket
billboards, comic strips and advertising banners into the realm of serious art, encouraging the
notion that the "entire panorama of life can be viewed as a work of art" (Belz 1972:4).
Wicks, however, is of the opinion that the "classical-music-only"
orientation is still dominant
in educational institutions world-wide. She claims in an article (1998: 1-2) on popular music
versus classical, European-originated
art music, that education authorities almost exclusively
focus on music generated outside their own culture, ignoring both the indigenous and popular
music traditions. She strongly advocates a widening of perspectives and inclusion of more
music genres in formal study, because these "academic elite perspectives run counter to the
wider American public's attitudes about music" (Wicks 1998:3).
The author of this thesis agrees that popular music is often neglected by many music
teachers. The world of the electronic media, a world familiar to the majority of learners, is
filled with an overwhelming proportion of popular music when compared with classical
music, and this has to be taken into consideration when teaching music in a postmodern era.
The 1960s were the .age of free speech, underground movements and permissiveness (Hamm
1995:87). This was the time of exceeding boundaries set up by institutions and administrative
powers, and this protest was carried by film makers, actors, feminist movements, student
movements such as the Hippies, and characterised by the general breakdown of blind faith in
education, churches and states. In short: individuals were starting to do their own thing,
breaking away from institutionalised authority.
Lyotard (1979:81) further describes the work of art of the postmodern time as not being
governed by pre-established
rules, and that it cannot be judged by applying familiar
categories or criteria. The postmodern artist and writer are working without rules, and in this
way the work of art takes on the character of an event.
Schickel (1999:91) provides an important perspective on this postmodern approach to art in
th
the medium of film or narrative genres. The generation born in the last third of the 20
century was "born with a TV remote in its hand, hip-hop on the CD player and a computer
screen on its face". Therefore this postmodern generation will not easily acknowledge the
traditional narratives or boundaries:
They will speed it [traditional narratives] up, scramble it - and render it in new
tonalities, using new palettes. You can see it in the way Pulp Fiction or Run Lola
Run toys with time. It's a kind of back formation from computer language, this
narrative revolution manifesting itself in film. It will extend to the other arts. It reorders our perceptions more surely than Matisse and Stravinsky did, for a pixel unlike paint, canvas or score paper - has no past to overturn, is radically innocent.
It has no tradition to draw on.
This protest extended to the arts. Giroux (as quoted in Piercy 1999:8) is of the opinion that
the postmodem condition constitutes a challenge to specific disciplinary boundaries in fields
such as literary studies, geography, education, architecture, performance art, feminism, and
many other areas. Mitchell (1997:7) describes the dispute of boundaries between disciplines
and between nation-states in the same breath as the segregation between the sexes. Vander
Dungen (1996:8) provides an example of this mode of thinking, when he states that the
sterile division between human and natural sciences is questioned. "The combination of
modern techniques with 'something else' which takes into account history, and which is able
to communicate
with its users is indeed typical of the postmodem
approach
and its
entanglement with art." This "something else" is very often a cultural approach, something
which Kramer (1995: 5-6) calls "cultural-constructed
way,
"postmodem
strategies
of understanding
subjectivities and objectivities". In this
are incorrigibly
interdisciplinary
and
irreducibly plural" (Kramer 1995:5). In practice this couId also mean that popular music
could make use of techniques
reserved for classical music, for example contrapuntal
techniques used in jazz, or jazz rhythms in serious music.
Literary science provides another example: postmodem literature often ignores boundaries
between author, character and reader, or the world of the story and that of the author, and
allows the text to fold in on itself (MUller 1992:399). In architecture
"traditional limits have
become indistinguishable, so what is commonly on the outside of a building is placed within,
and vice versa" (The Prentice-Hall Guide to English Literature as quoted in Piercy 1999:6).
Postmodemism
is even said to create and enjoy chaos and play as contrast to formal
intellectual structures: "It delights in excess, play, carnival, asymmetry, even mess, and in the
emancipation
of meanings"
(Piercy 1999:7). The boundaries
between play and formal
structures, in other words, are challenged in fields such as architecture, music and literature.
Therefore, in the words of Kramer (1995:10), the mandate ofpostmodernism
is to establish a
means of conceiving, valuing and practising that is very mobile and contingent in nature.
4.5.5 The nature of knowledge
The definition of knowledge is another important tool in discriminating between modem and
postmodern trends. For the modernist, knowledge was only true and valid when it was
acquired rationally, scientifically and objectively. Modernist theories such as Marxism were
based on referential truth, scientific fact and a belief in progress. Habermas (1985: 14-15)
explained that knowledge is always served by a specific interest, the interest of modemis~
knowledge being the discovery o(truth.
Rose (2000:2) provides an important perspective on modernist knowledge when he explains
that the epoch of mO,dernism became rooted in justification of reason because it overcame the
dictates of authority; knowledge was not to be justified by its origin of authority (for example
the state or the church), but by an appeal to reason by the individual himself. "For an
individual to accept the truth, he must reflect on it and see the truth for himself'.
The postmodem mode of thinking and knowledge contrasts with this modernist emphasis on
rational thinking, and is rather "committed to modes of thinking and representation which
emphasise fragmentations, discontinuities and incommensurable aspects of a given subject"
(Piercy 1999:6-7). Context determines truth. This means that several truths may co-exist at
the same time, because the contexts and their relevance to these truths differ. "Postmodernist
reason always serves interests other than truth, and by that means enables itself to serve truth,
however imperfectly" (Kramer 1995:7). One of the conditions of postmodem knowledge is
partial perspective, manifesting as local truths.
Kramer refers to the relative orientation of knowledge in the disciplines to which it is
subordinated, or the fields that produce and circulate knowledge. The contexts of different
disciplines are a determining factor of the relative truth or knowledge. Knowledge is also
inescapably "affected by and affecting the knower's position in a cultural, social or physical
matrix" (Kramer 1995 :6-7). This is the direct opposite of the ideals of modernism and the
European Enlightenment which called upon the impartiality of reason to know the world,
independent of and unintimidated by any social or religious context or authority.
"Postmodernity
is seen as involving an end of the dominance of an overarching belief in
scientific rationality and a unitary theory of progress" (The Harper Collins Dictionary of
Sociology as quoted in Piercy 1999:6). Instead, a certain reason is only "temporarily
considered to be true by a limited' set of highly specialised sign-interpreters, and their
conclusions are relative, fallible and open to refutations" (Van der Dungen 1996:9).
This belief in objectivity by modernists forms the essence of the reaction experienced in
postmodern thinking. Underlying this "avant-garde of the modernism", as it was called by
Eco (quoted in van der Dungen 1996:7), is the belief that no knowledge is absolute and
objective, but all propositions are time-bound and context-sensitive. This does not mean that
reason and logic are no longer valid, or that irrationalism is freely invited, but that the
importance of an overall coherence, complexity and interdependence of systems is
recognised. Postmodernism is not irrational, but a co-existence of a broader rationality and a
context-driven perspective is an inherent characteristic.
Rose (2000:1) describes the reaction to the modernist notion of legitimising all knowledge
through the constraints of universal reason as twofold:
•
The cultural relativist declares reason, but this reason is relative to one's tradition and
cannot be overcome.
•
The pluralist accepts that any form of truth is but a perspective and therefore not
absolutely or universally binding.
Modernist knowledge was controlled by the intellectual and political elite, who usually
underwent years of dedicated and specialised training. Because knowledge was power, the
diffusion of knowledge was strictly screened by the intellectual minorities (Adams 1997:4).
Postmodernism, however, brought along a momentous change. Satellite television networks,
computers with modems and fax machines, even in remote, non-Western countries, have
made both censorship and control obsolete. Knowledge is no longer controlled by the
intellectual and political elite, but is freely distributed by communications networks.
Influences on the way in which knowledge is acquired, classified, made available and
exploited are threefold, as offered by Lyotard (1979:4):
· As early as 1979 Lyotard offered more than a hint that modernism has changed because the
technical and social conditions of communications and knowledge have changed (Harvey
1990:49). In a discussion on education, viewed through the lens of performativity, Lyotard
(1979:49-51) argues that the goals of education should be to create the skills that are
indispensable to the social system. These skills can be broadly classified into two groups,
namely professional skills (for example doctors or teachers) and technical skills (in other
words a workforce that can address new domains of knowledge by means of new techniques
and technologies). Without the last group, the first group would advance slowly and with
difficulty.
This is because bOth the nature and communication of knowledge have undergone
considerable change between the modem and the postmodern era. According to Sarup
(1988:118) and Lyotard (1979:4), the impact of technological transformations has especially
led to this altered stance of knowledge in postmodern culture. Lyotard maintains that the two
principal functions of knowledge - research and the transmission of acquired learning - are
already feeling the effect of technological advances to such a degree that ''the transmittance
of knowledge is only possible if it can be translated into quantities of information" (Lyotard
1979:4). The ultimate will be that anything in the body of knowledge that is not translatable
in computer-based language will be abandoned, and the direction of new research will be
dictated by the possipility of the eventual results being computer-translatable.
In other words, the postmodernist, with the explosion of computer technology and global
communication starting in the 1960s, could regard anything that cannot be translated into a
form recognisable ~d storable by a computer, as irrelevant. Because it is not computermanageable it will therefore cease to be knowledge (Klages 1997:5). This definition of
computer-driven knowledge is, like the modernist idiom of reason-driven knowledge,
reductionist in character, although these two are the direct opposites of each other.
Computer-based knowledge was taken a step further with the development of the World
Wide Web and the Internet. Van der Dungen (1996:8) describes this modem method of
distributing knowledge as a "new type of global culture" facing the multi-cultural, pluralistic
and eclectic nature of a postmodern world and "challenging the fossilised limitations invoked
by societies which embraced (or were forced into) modernism". Added to this was the
growing influence of the computer with its manipulative capacity. In the words of Rosenblatt
(1999:114): "He [Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web] took a powerful
communications system that only the elite could use and turned it into a mass medium."
Lyotard (1979:5) even states that knowledge, as a form of informational commodity
indispensable to productive power, will perhaps be the major stake for competition for
power.
Furthermore, science no longer has as its only goal the discovery of truth, but rather the
empowerment of the subject. Science for the sake of science has no objective value any
more, but the performativity of the products of science are relevant. "The question now being
asked by the student, the state or the university is no longer 'Is it true?' but 'What use is it?'"
(Sarup 1988:125, Lyotard 1979:48-50). In the place of science being regarded as autonomous
and worthwhile in itself, the postmodern citizen wants to know to what use the scientific
advances can be put. Kramer (1995:11) quotes J.L. Austin when the latter suggests that
modernism privilege the constative, that which is judged true or false, over the performative,
that which is judged successful or unsuccessful. The postmodern privileges neither of the
two, but acknowledges that while all constative acts are also performative, not all
performative acts are constative.
The status of science in the postmodern idiom means that the natural sciences, especially
physics, no longer prescribe the model of scientific knowledge. Universal criteria for
scientific knowledge shifted to different academic disciplines, each developing their own
criteria for integrity (Rossouw 1995:38). Together with this, the postmodern citizen no longer
accepts that anything sprouting from scientific research is necessarily valuable, or that the
natural sciences hav~ objective value. Other sciences, such as social sciences, are gaining in
importance and validity.
Without the authority of Western meta-narratives, a plurality of perspectives and values is
left. In the place of a singular stance towards truth, knowledge or culture, postmodernism is
marked by a pluralistic approach. Giroux (1994:4), one of the foremost postmodern
philosophers, alleges that postmodemism pluralises the meaning of cu,lture,while modernism
firmly situates it theoretically in apparatuses of power. In a lighter tone, Adams, a theologian,
quotes a colleague in saying that postmodernism equates intellectual Velcro dragged across
cultures (Adams 1997:1).
An oversimplification of pluralism, in the sense that all positions in culture and politics are
open and equal, that anything goes, is however not part of the postmodern idiom, although
many writers use this stance to criticise it. This culture is rather marked by uneven
developments (Foster 1985:xi).
The roots of pluralism in the postmodern sense, were sown by the realisation that "the
concepts with which man thinks are not pure, nor can such a pure state be reached by the
suspension of our cultural identity" (Rose 2000:3). The categories and manifestation of
understanding are interwoven with our own tradition and language, therefore a meaningful
way of knowing is to know and to talk within the horizon of one's own tradition. No pure or
universal concepts, standing aside from tradition, are therefore possible. Where the
Enlightenment was; designed to eliminate uncertainty and to emancipate humanity from
mysticism and tradition, postmodernism has again resurrected these aspects (Mitchell
This means that, once no universally and rationally acquired knowledge is possible within a
postmodern culture, the only valid and possible forms of knowledge are local ones deriving
from local traditions. Authority is not derived from a universal truth, but within the
manifestation of one's own tradition, and the establishment of local knowledges.
This truth, acquired from the manifestation of a local tradition, is furthermore not absolute
and binding, but merely serves as a perspective. This implies that many perspectives within
different traditions are possible, and this opens up the way to pluralism, in other words,
accepting and respecting the different views and perspectives of other traditions. The
assertion of modernist theory that only one foundation exists upon which to build a critical
theory, was thus replaced by the assertion that there are many foundations (Grassie 1997:4):
The postmodern view of self comes as a natural consequence of its view of reality
and truth. Like the truth and reality, the modern self is also a social construction.
The problem of the modern self is not that it is a construction but that it claims to
be the only. valid one. To a postmodernist, there does not exist any given or
essential nature of man or self. Man constructs his own self. It is man who
wrongly put himself at the centre of the world. It is man who naively believes that
he is the master of this world. The constructed modern self is oppressive and
violent. Therefore, a postmodern man should deconstruct the modern self.
Postmodernism dismantles the humanism of modernity. Modernists are activist,
optimistic, and self-confident. Postmodernists are passive, cynical, and insecure.
A postmodernist welcomes the idea of a decentred self because in this way one can be
whoever one wants to be. There is no need to take on a fixed self. "The keyword here is
pluralism. Everyone should be in a process of constructing and deconstructing one's self. In
other words, the self becomes a carnival type of costumes and roles. We are all role-playing"
-(Kwok 1998:24).
The widening and loosening of boundaries is another characteristic postmodern phenomenon.
The canon of what constitutes the study material in the liberal arts is even widened to be
without boundaries - Mitchell (1997:8) provides a few examples of this process:
•
Novelists are enticed to explore juxtaposition and playfulness in their novels, to
confuse and to remain inconcl~sive. The reader is also invited to participate in
determining meaning rather than seeking the intention of the author.
•
Musical taste and consumption are eclectic in nature, encouraged by a choice-laden
radio-dial.
•
In philosophy, attempts to eliminate the mind, soul or God from the brain are cast
aside in favour of relativism.
•
Urban planners and engineers seek not only to provide housing, but to enhance a
person's or a community's sense of place and belonging.
•
Politics is no longer bipolar and ideological, but enmeshed in "murky tribal conflicts
and global terrorism".
Another example is provided by Harvey (1990:41) when he quotes McHale in arguing that
the postmodem novel is not characterised by an epistemological nature, but rather by an
ontological one. A singular reality has moved to the background in order to make space for
questions such as the co-existence, colliding and interpenetrating of radically different
realities - constituting pluralism.
A further consequence of the postmodem, pluralistic world is the labyrinth of choices that are
available. Mitchell (1997:8) regards television as the principal tool reinforcing consumer
culture, and Giroux (1994:4) warns educators that the mass media playa decisive role in the
lives of young people. In the current culture of consumerism the rampant virtues of choice
and freedom are sometimes marked by anxiety and doubt. This is vividly illustrated in the
following quotation by Joe Jackson (quoted by Mitche111997:8): "It's all too much for me to
bear, what kind of shampoo suits my hair, two hundred brands of cookies, 87 kinds of
chocolate chip. They say choice is freedom, I'm so free it drives me to despair".
Another aspect of pluralism is the possibility of different groups speaking for themselves,
"something the universalistic concepts of Enlightenment no longer allow" (Mattson 1990:4).
As a consequence of this post-structuralist
relativistic situation, one of the most valued
virtues in the postmodem world is one of tolerance. Because truth is relative, no judgement
should be passed, because no-one is in a position to advance one point of view above
another. In educational matters, postmodem culture for example requires instructors to teach
students how to think, rather than teaching the truth. Therefore teachers expose students to
different viewpoints on an issue without presenting one as the central truth (Kwok 1998: 19).
The postmodem world is, in contrast to the modernistic assumption, characterised by a notion
that one expert does not have the only or final word, and that minority groups may not be
represented by a singular power. It is also characterised by an interpretation of history not as
the mission to find tpe truth of the past as one story of powerful decision-makers, but as the
inclusion of the narratives of "everyday folk and oppressed groups, like ethnic and religious
minorities, and of women" (Mitchell 1997:8). Harvey (1990:49) explains that the pluralistic
stance of postmodemism implies the legitimisation of experiences and views of groups such
as feminists, blacks· and colonised people, and that these groups have acquired the right to
speak for themselves.
Feminism, as repressed and marginalised discourse, constituted one of the earliest forms of
critiques on authority and universal
claims (Foster
1985:xiii; Harvey 1990:48). Other
minority groups now being offered liberalising potential are for example ethnic groups, the
working class, religious groups, gays, ecologists, and various other groups or disciplines who
had little recognition in the dominant discourse of modernist culture. "The idea that all
groups have a right to speak for themselves, in their own voice, and have that voice accepted
as authentic and legitimate is essential to the pluralistic stance of postmodernism (Harvey
1990:48). The notio~ to legitimise the voices of marginalised groups can therefore be viewed
as an extension of the postmodern concept of pluralism.
The terms postmodernism and post-structuralism are often used synonYmously,for example.
by Sarup (1988:118), who views postmodernism in part as a description of a new type of
society, but also, in part, as a new term for post-structuralism in the arts. Postmodernism (as a
description of style in the arts) is also, according to Foster (1985:x), hard to conceive'without
the structuralist and post-structuralist movements (the latter two being language-based
theories).
The difference between postmodernism and post-structuralism, according to Kwok
(1998:15), lies in the fact that postmodernism had its origins in America, while the
association with post-structuralism started in France with deconstructivists such as Derrida
and Foucault. Post:structuralism originated from the resistance to ideological (such as
socialism and Marxism) and scientific grand narratives. The common ground is the attempt
to transcend what was seen as the self-imposed limitations of modernism; a position of
treating deconstructionism as the philosophical basis and theoretical formulations for the
postmodern worldview may be a valid one in this context (Kwok 1998:15; Jones 2001:1).
Post-structuralism is an extension of structuralism, which held that a work has intrinsic
meaning, and that this meaning is already there before it is discovered and identified (Lye
1997b: 4-5). Post-structuralism also prescribed that an ontological reality exists and can be
explored by means of empirical research, or that a central truth is locked away in social
constructions and could be uncovered by philosophical reason. This structuralist mode of
thought originated from scientific thought; the ideal of an objective science of epistomology
generated by the natural sciences and reason, held in the modernist era, was dominated by
scientific thought ~ a whole. The rejection of knowledge based on tradition and authority
(for example, as prescribed by churches such as the Roman Catholic Church in the premodern era), was now replaced by an epistomology based on reason and natural science
(Morley 2000: 1).
This meant that four criteria. derived from the natural sciences, were applied to the nature of
knowledge, namely that it should be:
For any science to be regarded as true, it had to conform to these four criteria.
The modernist sciences also used (and still use) the idea that truth is locked away in the
object, and that this truth may be discovered through scientific research. David Goodstein,
professor of physics and applied physics at the California Institute of Technology, was
quoted as saying at a conference in 1995, IS "All scientists have a fundamental faith - and it is
a faith - that there is a real world out there that has rules and that can be understood by
rational means" (Hoke 1995:2).
This ultimately meant that there is only one truth to be
discovered, and this could be done by closely analysing or investigating the object.
Postmodernism has many facets. A central theme is that the natural world cannot be
perceived directly and objectively. This has been reiterated in constructivist movements such
as social constructivism, radical constructivism and post-structuralism. These movements
state that perceptions pass though filters such as language and culture which define our
understanding of the world (Hoke 1995:2), The constructivist movement furthermore opened
the eyes of the scientific community to the fact that the scientist himself makes a constitutive
contribution to knowledge, in the sense that knowledge is perceived subjectively. The first
step in this direction was taken by the radical constructivists,16such as Ernst von Glasersfeld,
Gebhardt Rusch and Niklas Luhman, who stated that knowledge is formed to such an extent
by the mind-processes of the scientist/observer that it is impossible to speak of inter-
IS
This 1995 conference was sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences and called "Flight From Science
and Reason".
16
The tenn "Radical Constructivism"
was coined by Ernst von Glasersfeld in 1974, with the basic tenet that any
kind of knowledge is constructed rather than perceived through the senses (Riegler 2000: I).
subjectivity, or a sharing of knowledge. This implied that knowledge is purely subjective,
exists in the mind of the individual only and cannot be shared. It also ultimately challenges
the modern project of science as a whole because different understandings of reality may all
prove viable, with an infinite number of "real experiences and therefore realities" (Holtorf
1997:2-3). It is also impossible to find out whether a certain state of knowledge represents
reality, because the observer cannot step outside the conditions of mind and society which
determines knowledge.
The post-structuralists challenged this approach, moving away from such a radical
perspective. In language and communication, instead of a tight and identifiable relation
between· what was· said and how it was said (message and medium), post-structuralist
thinking sees this process as continually breaking apart and reassembling in new
combinations (Harvey 1990:49). Post-structuralism, however, retained the essence, namely
that "there is no direct experience of reality without interpretation; and all interpretation is in
some sense corrupted by the cultural and personal prejudices or pre-judgements of the
interpreter (Grassie 1997:3).
Another reaction to radical constructivism was to move the focus to a social construction of
knowledge (Kenneth Gergen, Lev Vygotsky, and others). "For the social constructivist, the
multiplicity of possible interpretations about an 'object', all socially justifiable, prevents
objectivity, because realities exist in the form of multiple mental constructions, socially and
experientially based, local and specific, dependent, for their form and content, in the persons
who hold them" (Mazzotti 1999:2).
The movement of social construction of knowledge resulted in the acknowledgement that
there is no objective knowledge; it also resisted the subjectivism of the constructionist
movement. Meaning in/of language is constructed by the speaking or writing subject, and is
not given or fixed (~wok 1998:17). Social constructivism means that knowledge is localised
within a specific community, and many local truths may exist at the same time. In this way
the claims of universal truth are avoided. The social construction of knowledge is therefore
not a subjectivistic process that only takes place in the mind of the researcher, but within a
community of scientists or researchers (or learners) sharing a common language. In this way
a network of local truths may be established.
The direct and extreme consequences of the post-structuralist view of truth and reality, in
other words by constructing it socially, are relativism and anti-foundationalism (Kwok
1998:18). That means that no universal objective foundation exists on which truth may be
discovered, and all ~th is relative, depending on the position of the subject. "Since there is
no objective foundation for knowing the truth, no truth can claim to be absolute" (Kwok
1998:18).
•
It has led to developments in the field of feminist research, psychoanalysis, literary
theory, anthropology, sociology and history.
•
It has also led to cross-fertilisation among different disciplines, as well as intellectual
advances in newly configured fields such as film theory, medieval studies, postcolonial studies, feminist and gender studies, queer theory, Afro-American and
Hellenistic stUdies,and cultural studies.
4.5.9 Affinities and differences between structuralism and post-structuralism
Peters (l999b:4) interprets post-structuralism as a philosophical response to the alleged
scientific status of structuralism, a movement which sought to decentre the structures,
systematicity and scientific status of structuralism, and to extend it in a number of different
directions while preserving central elements. Lye (l997a:2-5) and Peters (1999b:4)
summarlse its main theoretical tendencies in terms of affinities and differences with
structuralism, of which the author selected a few items relevant for this study:
Affinities:
•
Both share a suspicion of phenomenology's and existentialism's belief in autonomous
and accessible human consciousness as the sole basis of historical interpretation,
understanding and action.
•
A general theoretical understanding of language and culture interprets the
interrelation of constituent elements as more important than the elements considered
in isolation ftom one another.
•
A general belief that hidden structures in socio-economic forces and the Unconscious
(as clinically investigated by Freud) govern and constrain behaviour. Freud's study
especially undermined the notion of pure rationality and self-transparency of human
behaviour.
•
Post-structuralism challenges scientism in the human sciences, and seeks a new
emphasis on perspectivism in interpretation. It criticises the capacity of the
structuralist approach to identify universal structures of all cultures and the human
mind. Instead it offers a theory of culturally based and environmentally shaped
configuration of the self.
•
A critical philosophy of technology based on the writings of Heidegger, is also
brought to the foreground in post-structuralism, one that criticises the role of
technology in our existence as a system that can alter our mode of being.
•
A philosophy of difference characterises a post-structuralist approach. Lyotard (as
quoted in Peters 1999b:6) explains this as a "case of conflict between (at least) two
parties that c~ot
be equitably resolved for lack of a rule of judgement applicable to
both arguments". Post-structuralist notions of difference have subsequently been
developed in the field of gender studies and ethnicity.
•
Post-structur~lism rejects the concepts of canonicity, final vocabularies, and totalising
or foundationalist meta-narratives. Instead it sees "reality" as being fragmented,
diverse, ephemeral and culturally-specific.
Finally, the post-structuralists emphasise the local and contingent and "have a hatred of all
overarching theories" (Sarup 1988:150).
According to Rossouw (1995:19), the most spectacular effect in the sphere ofpostmodernism
took place in the arts. Extreme positions are taken by philosophers, some supporting
postmodernism as P9pulist and attacking modernism as elitist, others supporting modernism
as elitist (proper culture), discarding postmodernism as mere kitsch (Foster 1985:xi).
The postmodern architect Charles Jencks, according to Harvey (1990:39), dates the start of
postmodernism as "4.32 PM on 15 July 1972, when the Pruitt-Igoe housing development in
St Louis (a prize-winning version of Le Corbusier's 'machine for modem living', which was
built only twenty years earlier), was dynamited as an uninhabitable environment for the lowincome people it housed". According to the Encyclopaedia
Britannica
(1999:1) several
similar apartment blocks in Europe and North America were demolished in the following
decade, but it was at:St Louis that the postmodemist era was begun.
Architecture is considered one of the original and continuing roots of postmodern influence,
because (according to Solomon 2001:2) it is in architecture that the manifestations of this era
are most clearly visible, and therefore most easily described. Architecture is also viewed by
Jameson (1984, as quoted by Terranova 2001:1) as the privileged aesthetic language of
postmodernism. "Postmodern architecture seeks to be true to a particular place, to affirm the
unique environment, to borrow from many styles or traditions in order to create something in
harmony with the site and its uses. To add a bit of decoration or pastiche for its own sake
would also be an aspect" (Mitchell 1997:4).
Pastiche, central to postmodemism,
is often used in postmodern architectural designs. The
juxtaposing of different cultures in a contrasting and eclectic way, or the combination of a
style from the past together with designs for comfortable living, is described by Solomon
(2001 :2). In the visual arts, a collage of techniques and materials is more acceptable than
:
having to choose between them. Furthermore, the borders between disciplines and spheres
are transgressed
marginalised
to widen the meaning of art, including
groups in a society (Snyman
being social agent for the
1995:70-71). As such, postmodernism
may
represent a period of transition, because a uniform aesthetic style has not yet matured.
The avant-garde movements of the 1920s in the arts are seen by some as one of the
momentum-giving
happenings to postmodemism, because art, as an autonomous institution,
was criticised by groups such as the Dadaists and Surrealists (Sarup 1988:128-129). The past,
which culminated in World War I, was powerfully rejected and criticised by the ,challenging
of accepted techniques and media. According to Harvey (1990:59) movements such as Dada,
early Surrealism, Constructivism and Expressionism also attempted to bring art to the people
as part of a modernist project of social transformation. This rapprochement (as it is called by
Harvey 1990:59) between popular culture and what has once remained isolated. as "high
culture" had a revolutionary undertone, as it was meant to take down the pedestal on which
the artist had placed himself and bring art to the people. It is ironic to note, however, that the
anti-artistic protest of groups such as the Dadaists failed to such an extent that their
techniques are now being used for artistic ends and their works exhibited in museums.
When compared to movements such as the Dadaists, the closing of the gap between auratic
art and popular art in the postmodern sense of the word has completely lost the character of
social commentary.
It is, on the contrary,
often
described
as commercialised
and
commodified, answering a gap in the market of mass culture (Harvey 1990:59).
The 1960s saw several counter-modem movements with new values such as "individualised
self-realisation,iconoclastic
habits (in music, dress, language and life-style), and the critique
of everyday life" (Harvey 1990:38). The shift in cultural, social and economic orders was
such that it could no longer be ignored. Although the modernist sentiments were generally
rejected by this time, it was still not clear exactly what systems of thought and living replaced
them, and exactly what the postmodern
trends and styles entailed. The existence
of
postmodernism was gradually and generally accepted, but the nature of this change in feeling
and condition was still not quite clear.
The ~rst signs of p~stmodernism manifested in architecture, as a reaction to the "monotony
of universal modernism's vision of the world" (Harvey 1990:9) and the "restricting purism of
modernism"
(Encyclopaedia
Britannica
1999: 1). Modernist styles lacked the irony and
complexity that enrich historical architecture, and left modem buildings without meaning. It
is interesting to note· that an architect such as Le Corbusier was still, in 1961, regarded as "the
greatest architect of our century"
(Munro
1961:261V7
Approximately
ten years later,
however, his concepts were regarded as uninhabitable. In this respect the impersonal, abstract
and linear designs of architects such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd
17
"He built large Unites d'habitation (residential units), immense monolithic buildings standing on piers,
housing not only large numbers of flats but also all the shops and social facilities that are part of life" (Munro
1961:261).
Wrightl8 were opposed with trends to design for people rather than for man (Harvey
1990:40). The AT&T building in New York City (1978, Philip Johnson), the Vanna Venturi
House (1962, Robert Venturi) and the Disney Studios (1990, Michael Graves) may serve as
examples of postmodern architecture (Pennsylvania State University 1999:2).
This meant that the architectural trend moved away from abstract concrete blocks and glass
towers to user-friendly
buildings. Encyclopaedia
imitations of mediaeval styles, fishing villages and ornamented
Britannica
distinguishes
three styles that followed the purist
modern styles, namely:
•
a neo-rationalist or elementist approach that echoes the stripped classicism of the 19th
and early 20th century.
Capitalism,
especially the consumer capitalism of the second half of the 20th century,
generally provided the average man with more money in his pocket than the 19th century
citizen. This also meant that he had a greater say as to the nature of his likes and dislikes,
what type of house he preferred, the furniture he wanted in his house, the entertainment he
preferred and the clothes he wanted to wear. In this way the value of individuality came to be
highly regarded. This, in its turn, influenced the destruction of universal values and truths,
and the advance of postmodern axioms.
Individualism in styles of living manifested firstly in the habitat of living. In this same breath
the concepts of town planning moved from soulless, machine-effective
cities to a collage of
individualised spaces and structures. The process of urbanisation in a postmodern sense is
uncontrollable, even chaotic. Keep (1993: 1) describes this eclectic style as follows:
Modernism's valorisation of the new was rejected by architectural postmodernism
in the 1950's and 1960's for conservative reasons. They wanted to maintain
elements of modern utility while returning to the reassuring classical forms of the
18
Early modernist architects drew a lot of their inspiration from the "purely functional possibilities inherent in
the machine, factory and automobile age, and projected them into some utopian future" (Fishman 1982, as
quoted in Harvey 1990:23).
past. The result was an ironic brick-a brack or collage approach to construction
that combines several traditional styles into one structure.
Postmodern architecture (Pennsylvania State University 1999:3), evolved from modernism,
but is:
•
eclectic combinations of convention, collage and design; and
Because the subject of deconstruction is contained within a specialised field of philosophy, it
is not the intention of the author to embark on a discussion of philosophical matter. Therefore
only appropriate
aspects, characteristic
of a postmodern
approach to literature, will be
mentioned.
In literary discipline~ the postmodern novelist views the world not as exhibiting or containing
a singular reality and truth, but as a co-existence
of different valid realities. The set
boundaries between reality and fantasy may even be trampled over, with the reader led into a
world occupied by both. The postmodern novel is not regarded as, for example, a mastercode of a specific genre, but simply as an open text, containing its own rhetoric. Characters in
a postmodern novel often "seem confused as to which world they are in, and how they should
react with respect to it" (Harvey 1990:41). No universal truth, meta-theory or meta-narrative
is considered valid anymore and the possibility
of a superior rational prescription
or
description of reality does not have any foundation left.
Regarding literature, postmodern literary criticism, or structuralist hermeneutics, implies that
the writer does not have control over the text, once it is being read. "The text is radically
influenced by the author's
intentional construction
of the word, but also has its own
independence from the author, as a text always has a life of its own. Because the writer uses
the basis of all other previous texts read and encountered, the same can be said of the reader,
"who also has personal psychological and social~cultural presuppositions that radically
influence how the text is read and understood. So the reader operates within a context"
(Grassie 1997:3). This concept of intertextuality means that every text is conditioned and
influenced by a network of relations and experiences, which in turn affects the meaning of
that text (Adams 1997:5).
This means that communication of any kind is a series of intertwined texts and encounters,
producing
"intertextual
weaving
with
a
life
of
its
own"
(Harvey
1990:49).
Deconstructionism, as pioneered by Derrida, 19 means that no one texrO has a universal truth
to be discovered by the reader, but that the consumer must look into one text for another text,
either dissolving or building one into the other. The effect is to deconstruct the power that the
author has to impose meanings on his readers, or to offer a continuous narrative (Harvey
1990:51, Orban 19~8:2-4). It seeks to examine a text from all possible perspectives so that
individual bits of information are extracted and separated from each other (Adams 1997:5).
In this way the hermeneutical dynamic of understanding "explodes in complexity" (Grassie
1997:3), dissolving the idea of an overarching or single meaning. Kramer (1995:11-12)
summarises this approach effectively when he concludes that the author is sowing without
hopes of reaping a harvest.
The concept of different worlds within one space is another important trend in postmodem
literary and cinema art forms. The co-existence of more than one fragmented and contrasting
world is, for example, exploited in the groundbreaking film Citizen Kane (1941). Kobal
(1988:9) describes how the director, Orson Welles, discarded the conventional, linear and
chronological narrative style in order to construct his character like a jigsaw puzzle, using the
subjectivity of the various people who knew him. In this way multiple perspectives and
19
Jacques Derrida (1930-) is regarded as a post-structuralist and sceptical postmodernist. In much of his writing
he is concerned with the deconstruction of texts and the relationship of meaning between texts (Weiss & Wesley
2000:5).
reminiscenses of the: main character are gathered in order to understand him. Run Lola Run is
a recent example ofa film that "toys with time" in a postmodern sense (SchickeI1999:91)
as
it has three different endings.
The pop star MadOlma is considered by Newitz (1993:5-6) as a self-conscious postmodern
icon, especially in the way she represents herself in her music videos. According to Newitz,
she understands her own identity as a series of images and representations, distinguishable
from each other mainly by understanding
Monroe
personification
what they refer to (for example her Marilyn
or her fascist dictator
lesbian
image).
By displaying
multi-
dimensional facets of her image, she conveys different and contrasting reflections of her
character.
Another aspect of different worlds within one space is also illustrated by the Madonna music
video "Express
yourself'.
In this video
she presents
many
versions
of her image
simultaneously, inter alia with two frames being used at the same time. In one frame, for
example, she is shown "watching" herself in the other frame (Newitz 1993:4).
Another characteristic of postmodern art is the populist character it gained, according to
some philosophers by giving the masses the power to determine their own cultural identities,
finding a so-called "consumer culture". This meant that "auratic art" was largely replaced by
pop art, pop culture and mass taste (Harvey 1990:60). "The modem, romantic image of the
lone creative artist was abandoned for the playful technician (perhaps computer hacker) who
could retrieve and recombine creations from the past" (Keep 1993: 1).
One of the reasons for this was that the unrepeatable, for example a masterpiece such as Da
Vinci's Mona Lisa, could now be immaculately
reproduced,
achieving an exact image.
Postmodern artists, in contrast with modem art delving for eternal truth, are not concerned
with eternity and truth. They concentrate on the immediate and superficial reality, relating to
a consumer society (Rossouw 1995 :21).
This mass culture also implied that fashion, pop art, television and other forms of media
image were mobilised and became part of urban daily life. Klages' (1997:4) adds another
dimension to this reaction against "auratic art", namely the fact that in postmodern society
there are no originals - only copies. She names CDs or music recordings as examples, of
which millions of copies may be sold at roughly the same price, with no original being kept
in a vault. The concept of virtual reality, found in the world of computer games, such as Sim
City and Age of Empires, represents another version of this concept of non-originality,
because this reality is no reality, but only created by means of simulation.
The eternal and timeless character of masterpieces, which disappeared with the advent of
immaculate reproduction facilities, are instead, in the opinion of the author, being replaced
by the high esteem' in which artists in the different genres and styles are held. Auras of
celebrities, such as concert pianists or violinists, film, rock and television stars and, to a
lesser degree, visual artists, are instigated and kept alive by the very media that reproduce
their works of art, namely the communication media. In this sense the performing artists
became as important as the author or composer.
Expressions of art such as fashion, television, cinema, advertisements, the print media and
recording technology have imposed a significant influence upon daily life. The matter of
collage, for example, has manifested to a great extent in the way millions of people watch
television, namely in a fragmented, interrupted and superficial way. Television programmes
are mostly produced with this approach in mind, namely to entertain by putting together an
eclectic composition of images or situations. Magazines are read by people not wanting to
spend time and effort reading in-depth books, but rather wanting to be entertained by
fragmented and non:related information.
The death of the author is signalled by the interpretation of the spectator or reader being as
important as the intention of the creator or author.
Viewing the cultural environment from the perspective outlined in the previous paragraphs, it
is clear that the postmodern
process is one of "happening"
rather than "staying",
and
"participation" rather than "dictation". History, also, is being rid of continuity and progress,
and rather being viewed in a subjective manner, absorbing whatever is useful for the present.
This, in turn, leads ~o an eclectic style of architectural, literary and visual art forms, using
whatever is useful for the purpose and putting it together, rather than being dictated by genre
or style.
An aid to view the differences between modernism and postmodemism
is provided by the
. following schema df Hassan, one of the first writers to describe postmodem theory and
culture, as quoted by Harvey (1990:43), Weiss & Wesley (2000:9) and Solomon (2001 :3-5).
The author selected only appropriate comparisons, valid for a focus on postmodemism in the
arts, to use in this taple:
Table 4-3: Schematic comparison of modernism and postmodernism
(adapted from Harvey
1990:43 and Solomon 2001:3-5)
Design
Chance
Narrative / grande histoire
Anti-narrative / petite histoire
Form (closed)
Antiform (open)
Hierarchy
Anarchy
Art ~bject/ finished work
Process/performance/happening
Centred
Dispersed
Selection
Combination
Determinacy
Indeterminacy
Purpose
Play
Depth
Surface
Interpretation
Against interpretation
Genre, boundary
Text, intertext
Mechanical
Electronic
.
Multi-pathed
Reductive, analytic
Synthetic
Harmonious, integrated
Eclectic, non-integrated
Utopian, elitist
Populist
European, Western
Global, multi-cultural
Newtonian mechanics, relativity
•
The synthesis of classical and popular styles in the works of composers such as Philip
Glass;
•
Punk and new wave rock (The Velvet Underground, a punk group also associated
with Andy Warhol, Alice Cooper and the Sex Pistols);
Music in postmodern culture is, typically of this condition, fragmented in style and of various
genres. Styles as far apart as pop art, spiritually-inspired
Western art music, jazz, light
Viennese classical, ethnic music and punk all have achieved validity and supporting
audiences. An example of this eclecticism, in the opinion of the author, is the combination of
pop songs, opera arias and Gregorian chant on the same Top Twenty list of hits. A fusion of
styles is also very common. As an example, later developments in the jazz genre may be
cited: "While fusion seemed to dominate the jazz market in the 1970's and early 1980's. there
were other developments
as well. Some performers started borrowing from 20th century
classical music as well as African and other forms of world music" (Sabatella 1992: 14).
Kramer (1995:13) is of the opinion that modernist conceptions of music are profoundly at
odds with the postmodern ethos. The author agrees with this statement, in so far as the
legitimisation of a variety of genres, styles and traditions is concerned. This perspective will
be further explained in the following paragraphs by using three genres of music as illustration
of postmodernism in music, namely classical music, rap and punk.
The prelude to a postmodern
condition in (classical) music was, according to Hamm
(1995:88-89), first seen in the experimental mode of music notation accompanying avantgarde music explorations. A system of staff notation, acceptable for Western music for many
centuries, was challenged and alternatives subsequently offered. This was because composers
were creating music that could not always be notated in the traditional system, resulting from
an expanded exploitation of timbre, melody, texture and rhythm. "All such innovations call
for new kinds of musical notation which, in many avant-garde compositions, resemble plans
for guided missiles" (Ewen 1991 :xiv).
An important
performance,
change of direction
was to allow musicians
to merely co-exist
in a
defying any order imposed by aspects such as structure, barlines, key or
traditional tonal structures. In this respect John Cage, according to Bernstein (1999:1) played
an important role in "postmodernising"
music. He started as an exponent of the avant-garde,
but, according to Hamm (1995:xi) and Bernstein (1999:1), a transition from modernism to
postmodernism
occurred later in his work. Elements such as the co-existence of events,
which came to be typically postmodern, are characteristic of his work (Hamm 1995:xi):
[John] Cage imagined a non-linear universe in which things simply existed,
without the connecting tissue of cause and effect. His proto-postmodern aesthetic
proposed that an uncountable number of different events take place, none of them
privileged in significance of power over any others and none of them
understandable from the perspective of a single dominant system of meaning. This
is not rampant relativism, but rather an affirmation of the uniqueness and value of
each happening.
This view of postmodernism in music means that "every musical event is equally worthy of
attention" (Hamm 1995:xii), and ultimately legitimises the study and practice of any genre of
music, from Western art music through to popular music and world music. Porter & Grey
(2001 :1) note that, as different musical structures convey different forms of meaning, it is no
longer possible to operate notions of musical value from content alone - context must also be
employed to define meaning and value.
According to Kramer (1995:4), however, classical music is in trouble, losing its prestige and
popularity, with a shrinking and greying audience. One possible reason for this, according to
him, is the loss of
a viable
public discourse about classical music. Another reason, in the
opinion of the author, may be that the core repertoire of classical music is still associated
with the modernist narrative, and therefore poses a challenge to the postmodern citizen who
is exposed to daily d,oses of easily-accessible popular music.
New directions in classical music, however, started to emerge towards the 1970s and 1980s,
with many composers investigating sounds, structures and tonalities different from those
explored during the period of high modernism, as well as pre-modernist styles presented on
the same magnitude of popular music concerts (for example the successful concerts of the
Three Tenors). Any attempt to offer a streamlined summarisation of recent directions would,
however, be impossible, because of differing currents and continuous forking taking place
within classical music. Therefore the author will offer a few examples of various trends of
the last twenty to thirty years.
One of the trends is explained by Adams (1997:2) as the "unsecularization" of the world,
while Stephens (1999:134) calls it the creation of a timeless quality in surveying human
culture. Modernism, the search for new and sometimes radical approaches in music and the
arts, was constantly seeking a new language and purity of vision. Postmodernism, in contrast,
deviates from this singular stance and embraces elements from high and low culture, future
and past, secular and religious traditions. The revival and renewal of traditional religions are
undoing the rule of reason insisted upon by modernist philosophers and scientists, and
Adams (1997:2) even states that there is a direct relationship between the decline of
modernism and the rise of traditional religions.
Therefore an impo~t
direction followed in postmodern music is one that moves away from
complicated and mathematically inspired styles, such as serialism, to intuitive, spiritually
inspired styles. This last category includes styles that signify, according to Steinberg
(1992:6), the return to sacred foundations, some of which are influenced by religions such as
the Russian Orthod~x Church. The English composer John Tavener (born in 1944) is one of
the major exponents of this last-mentioned style. A brief overview of the titles of some of his
compositions will illustrate the nature of this music:
In his large oeuvre, the overarching theme of the music of John Tavener is one of spiritually
inspired, mystical influences, which is in stark contrast to the serial and mathematicallyinspired music of the early and mid-20th century. He often combines the long phrases of
eastern chant (of various orthodox traditions) with a more active spirit of western sacred
music; the' fusion of different spiritual styles and influences makes for a unique sound. The
Akathist o/Thanksgiving,
for example, is based on the Byzantine theory of musical tones, and
·draws on actual Russian chants. His treatment of orthodox tradition, however, is radical as he
presents traditional motifs and Orthodox spirituality in a freer form (Stephens 1999: 133).
In the same vein, much of the music of leading British composer James MacMillan (born in
1959) is also inspired
by religion.
Griffiths
(1999:32)
even calls him a "Catholic
expressionist". An example of this style is his Easter triptych Triduum (composed in 1997),
in which "his intense religious faith has found expression in his music" (Lambton 19~9: 18).
The symphony, forming part of this triptych, specifies the use of a battery of percussion,
including a large plywood cube, thunder sheet, and a piece of pipe struck by a metal hammer.
Harrison Birtwhistle (1934-), another major English composer, wrote music which is "rugged
and earthy, often dealing with ritual and myth" (italics by R. Bosman, Griffiths 1999:32).
One of his operas, The Last Supper, was also spiritually inspired. This opera was premiered
in 2000 by the Glynt/ebourne Touring Opera (Hayes 2001), and was also performed in, inter
alia, London's Queen Elizabeth Hall and Berlin's Staatsoper during 2001.
Within the perspective of postmodernism and Western classical music, the return to sacred
music - liturgically .inspired and accessible to a wider audience - is therefore an important
change of direction. Another shift was the cross-fertilisation
countries
and cultures
and Western traditions.
between the musics of other
The American
composer
Steve Reich
(integrating West African drumming rhythms) and the Chinese composer Tan Dun may serve
as examples of this crossing of cultural barriers (Stephens
1999: 133). Tan Dun mixes
Chinese sounds and traditions with Western ideas - in his Ghost Operd' (1994) a Western
string quartet performs together with the pipa (a Chinese lute), water, paper, stones, gongs
played with a bow, Tibetan bells and paper whistles.
It is interesting to note that Reich did not approve overt exotic connections or sounds in his
music, criticising the imitation of non-Western music in Western styles. Rather, the study of
(in his case) African music must be integrated with "the instruments, scales, and any other
sound one has grown up with" (cited in Griffiths 1981: 178). Glass has also, according to
Griffiths (1981 :178), in spite of a striking resemblance to Balinese gamelan music in some of
his compositions, started a process ofre-investigation
21
in his Western heritage.
In the Chinese tradition the performer in a ghost opera has a dialogue with his past and future life. In the
Ghost Opera by Tan Dun, the past life is China and the future life is the West (Stephens 1999: 134).
Eclecticism is illustrated in the music of the Russian composer of German descent, Alfred
Schnittke (1934-98), who developed a "startlingly eclectic technique of combining, adapting
and assimilating styles of the past" (Stephens 1999:134). His four string quartets, written
between 1966 and 1989, may also serve as an example of the transition from modernism to
postmodernism. "The first quartet is serialist (with a thorny serial complexity), the second
quartet more rhapsodic and intuitive. The fourth quartet, with its ineffable sadness, seems
like a summation, and so its poly-stylism is more extreme" (Schwarz 1998:1). His Concerto
Grosso no. 4/Symphony no. 5 (1988) embraces two styles in the very title of his piece
(Stephens 1999:134).
Minimalism, another different current in music from the 1960s with Philip Glass and Steve
Reich as two main exponents, is concerned with sounds or textures of long duration. The
nature of music in this style is therefore repetitive and drone-like in character, requiring
streamlined rhythmic precision (Griffiths 1981:177).
In England, as well·as in Europe, the scene of serious music bloomed since the late 1970s.
According to Griffiths (1999:32), the musical compositions of British origin have
proliferated to such a state of abundance that good pieces no longer have scarcity value.
Furthermore, Griffiths also mentions that the composers who dominated the scene in the
1960s and early 1970s were but a handful, but that he could now easily name fifty successful
composers of classical music in England alone.
Griffiths (1981:294) offers a common identity that sets the music of the modernist culture
apart from postmodernism, namely the concern of composers "not so much with musical
composition in the abstract, as with the effect of music on the listener." An important
dimension of the musical experience is therefore provided by the listener, depending on
factors such as where the listener is seated, sub-melodies heard within repeated melodic
patterns by individuals, or opportunities of analysing and forming perceptions while listening
to a performance.
4.5.11.2 Rap as postmodern genre
Mattson (1990:2) is of the opinion that rap music is postmodern art par excellence: "It relies
on media generated sounds which are then combined through high technology and tape loops
into a pastiche type of music with a grinding beat." Best & Kellner (1999:5) compares rap to
other postmodern
artistic products, because "rap
IS
eclectic and pastiche-oriented,
and
subverts modernist notions of authorship."
Rap, according to Toop (as quoted by Street (1993:11), originated from the project housing
slums in New York, as an indigenous ghetto expression. Audiences, however, gradually grew
into both black and white listeners, cutting across class and ethnical boundaries. He describes
rap as a combination of music, vernacular poetry, attitude and style, reflecting the conflicting
moods, strategies and experiences of young African-Americans.
As a postmodern form of
music, rap is a manifestation of games played with words and sounds without conveying a
clear and unambiguous meaning.
Best & Kellner (1999: 1) describe this genre as an articulation of "black rage" spilled over to
white audiences. It embodies a postmodern aesthetic because it absorbs widely different
musical styles while migrating to various national cultures. It has also influenced other
musical styles by laiocking down boundaries between music, spectacle and everyday life. Its
close relation with music technologies also placed the style in a postmodern approach. In the
words of Best & Kellner (1999:2), rap became "the flagship of the global popular, bringing
style, attitude and voice to marginalised groups".
Music videos of, inter alia, rap may serve as an illustration of the fragmented character of
postmodernism,
because of a random blending of unrelated visual images. These images
seldom represent the content of the music~ but rather attempt to reproduce the "structures of
feeling not easily reducible to words" (Coe 2001 :4).
Davies, in an article called "The Future of 'No Future': Punk Rock and Postmodern Theory",
investigates the connection between a postmodern culture and punk-rock style music. This
investigation was rooted in punk groups' approach to resist meta-narratives, their attack on
consumer capitalism by means of shocking their audiences, and their resistance to being
recuperated as heroes. The punks were the "progenitors of a plurality of petites histoires at
the same time that they wreaked havoc with the smooth self-image of corporate culture"
(Davies
1996:13). Van Dorston describes how the concept of the group, The Dream
Syndicate, was to sustain notes for two hours at a time, an endeavour that was undoubtedly
fuelled by the acid, opium and grass that the group was dealing in. Their aggressive worship
of drugs, sex and anything decadent further brought them to new heights of obscenity (van
Dorston 2001: 3,4).
The 1970s were even more rebellious in nature than the 1960s: the philosophy of "no future",
as taken from a song by the Sex Pistols (one of the most famous punk-rock bands), was
central to the music of this time and in this genre (Henry 1989:vii). Pessimism, nihilism and
political commentary
were also characteristic:
"Constituting
itself musically against the
bOring old farts of the mid 1970s hit parade, and politically against the post-war consensus,
punk deals with the issue [of consensus] explicitly" (Davies 1996:4). In this article it is also
noted that the punks' lack of musical skill removed barriers between performer and audience,
demystifying artistic production. "Punk had always been inseparable from working-classyouth rebelliousness. As a movement or a fashion it offered an oppositional identity" (Davies
1996:5). Van Dorston (2001:6) also describes the "musical ineptness" of the punk group
Dolls, with one of the band member's guitar as harmonically unstable and unpredictable as
the viola-player in the Velvet Underground,22 a punk group of the early 1960s, resulting in "a
sound like the screech of the New York subway". One of the characteristics
of a punk
performance was that the performers and audience could easily change places, because both
parties had more or less the same musical skills. The positive side of this genre of music,
however, was that it was capable of cutting across class, and ethnic and regional boundaries.
Music in styles such:as punk, rock and heavy metal no longer aimed to satisfy the sentimental
taste of the middle-class
masses, but chose to confront its (younger, more aggressive)
listeners with a stark version of reality. According to van Dorston (2001:12) the most
important aspect of punk was that "most of its significance lay within the barriers of language
and expression that were broken down. It was a breakthrough in free speech for underclass
youth who rarely have a voice, neither culturally nor politically".
22
According to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Paddison 2001 :384), Velvet Underground
became one of the most influential bands in the history of rock music. The Punk rebellion, the New Wave music
of the 1970s, art-rock and the phenomenon of "cross-over" can all "trace their origins to the radical
experimentation of the group's first three albums:' Influences were provided by, inter alia, rhythm-and-blues,
rock-and-roll, the avant-garde music of John Cage and Le Monte Young, as well as the pop art of Andy Warhol.
Extreme reactions, such as designing punk paraphernalia as trash or throwaway' art, or not
numbering fanzines (small magazines catering for fans), were common, in this way reflecting
the nihilistic philosophy of this genre. An aggressive viewpoint was adopted against the
cultural mainstream, even making punk and punk culture inaccessible for outsiders. British
and American punk originally represented working-class youth reacting against the bourgeois
status quo (Henry 1989:viii-ix; van Dorston 2001:12), claiming the right to speak in their
own voice.
In summary, the growth of a mass culture during the modernist period seems to be balanced
by a growth in accessible serious music in a postmodern era. The experimental mode of
expression in the classical music of the early and mid 20th century did not find a wide
supporting audience; on the contrary and in the opinion of the author, it gave momentum to
an audience preferring either accessible light classical music or popular music. However, the
wheel seems to be turning, starting in the last two to three decades of the 20th century, with
musical heroes in both broad genres of popular and classical music having a long line of
followers as well as commercial success.
One application is the collage of original and previously composed classical and popular
music, extensively
used in films. This form of entertainment
has done much to both
juxtapose different genres, and to popularise classical music previously considered elitist in
nature. An excellent example is the Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, primarily made
popular because it was used in the film Platoon. Furthermore, current composers in the
classical tradition such as Arvo Part, John Tavener, Gorecki and Andrew Macmillan "seem to
be among the most popular of our times" (Stephens 1999: 134).
Not all philosophers support the conditions of postmodernism
enthusiasm: "Postmodernism
with the same measure of
has many opponents. They see it as the ungrateful enfant
terrible of the Western intellectual tradition. It is destructive, relativistic, nihilistic,· and, worst
of all, it is trendy"; (Chagani 1998: 1). Hartman (1996:2) disposes of the relativism that
underlies postmodernism quite cynically: "Although nothing, according to the postmodernist,
can be 'determined to be 'true', postmodernism itself is, of course, 'true"'. According to
Giroux (1994:1), many theorists would, rather than come to grips with the new forms of
knowledge, experiences and conditions that constitute postmodernism, write its obituary.
A notion to reject all that is modernist, adopting postmodernism as the only viable
alternative, is, in the opinion of the author, short-sighted. "Tradition always operates as a
prejudgement in our reading of the present/ed moment. We adopt some critical lens~s,
through which to interpret the present/ed structures and projected possibilities of some better
future. Whatever change does occur is always continuous with the past" (Grassie 1997:7).
Therefore it would be naive to embrace postmodernism as the only viable approach in music
;
education, discarding everything modernist as outdated. A postmodern view can, however,
provide a wider and richer perspective to view the world, and especially the world of music.
It is therefore important, in the process of maintaining a balanced approach, to take note of
the problems within 'postmodernism as well.
One of the main objections to the postmodern condition is the notion to view everything as
relative. This, in its extreme form, could mean that NO truth or value exists any longer, and
all knowledge, truth and values are relative. On the other end of the scale it could also mean
that all alternative forms of knowledge, values and truth be regarded as equally valid. For this
situation, Giroux (1994:4) offers an alternative argument: "Rather than proclaiming the end
of reason, postmodernism can be critically analysed for how successfully it interrogates the
limits of the project of modernist rationality and its universal claims to progress, happiness
and freedom".
The fact that postnlodernism rebels against the scientific and universalistic approach of
modem thinking, and the relativism with which this notion was replaced, is criticised by
many writers on the subject: "It is not the case that all systems of knowledge are equivalent
and culturally relatiye. Some knowledge is truer than other knowledge" (Carleton 2001:5).
The replacement of one basis of universally accepted knowledge with a pluralistic stance on
the matter does not necessarily, in other words, constitute equally legitimate and valid sets of
knowledge.
Consensus is regarded as an escape route from postmodernism' s fragmentation and
relativism (Davies 1996:1,3). In a constantly shifting condition without set definitions and
parameters, such as postmodernism, consensus is regarded as one way to progress within
fragmented academic discourses. This would imply that a group of researchers (such as the
MEUSSA research group) construct or agree upon a version of reality as they see it.
Rosenau (in Weiss & Wesley 2000:8) sees contradictions within postmodernism. Not all are
relevant to the current area of study, but the following may be noted in this context:
•
Postmodernism
stresses the irrational, although instruments
of reason are freely
employed within the perspective.
•
Postmodernists
contradict themselves
by relinquishing
truth claims in their own
writing.
•
Postmodernists
criticise the inconsistency of modernism, but refuse to be held to
consistency norms themselves.
The trends of postmodernism are furthermore discarded by some philosophers as a fashion
hype, meant to be short-lived and not taken seriously. The author would here take the stance
of Giroux (1994: 13), who is of the opinion that a resistant postmodernism seems invaluable
in helping educators and others to address the changing conditions of knowledge production
"in the emerging m~s electronic media and the role these new technologies are playing as
critical socialising agencies in redefining the meaning of pedagogy."
The sediment of
postmodernism has been layered for too long to merely write it off as a fashion trend. For
educators, and music educators, to provide a meaningful approach and content to learners,
they need to come to grips with the world their pupils are living in. Postmodernism is to be
neither romanticised nor casually dismissed.
Adopting a postmodern approach to music education means that the musical events of not
only the modernist era, but all eras before that as well, must not be dismissed or discarded.
The current developments
in the music scene are built on a tradition of not only the
modernist time, but of many centuries before that as well. The postmodern culture urges
;
music educators to take cognisance of current trends and values in music, and to make those
available in education. But tradition accumulated in times before the postmodern also needs
to be taken into consideration in order to provide a balanced perspective. In other words, the
entire curriculum arid approach to music need to be reconsidered and re-structured, with the
parallel lines of all major and noteworthy musical events conceived as part of musical
encounters. Postmodernism is, finally, continuous with modernism.
The MEUSSA group, as a research group, has experienced the postmodern fragmentation of
discourse and the shifting intellectual stances among its members, learning to tolerate
differences and to adapt set modernist viewpoints.
Postmodern knowledge is not simply a tool of the authorities; it refines our
sensitivity to differences
and reinforces
our ability to tolerate the
incommensurable. Its principle is not the expert's homology, but the inventor's
paralogy (Lyotard 1979:xxv).
The MEUSSA project for music education in Southern Africa was initiated at the turn of the
20th century, roughly thirty to forty years beyond the modern era. This project endeavours to
be a postmodern research project in its broad approach as well in the detail of the research:
•
The project takes place within a specific research community that shares a common
language, namely music and music education.
•
Furthermore the project generates knowledge by a process of social construction.
New perspectives, definitions and structures were formulated by means of workshops
as well as bY,debating central issues. In this way, a new local concept of knowledge is
being constructed.
It would, however, be a simplistic perspective to view all processes within the musIc
education
community
of Southern Africa as postmodern.
Different
communities
find
themselves in different stages of the transition from pre-modernism to postmodernism. most
still largely relying on the narrative of universally generated truths, valid for all mankind. In
the same vein it would,
however,
also be narrow-minded
to expel all modernist
characteristics from the music educational scene. In the process of writing unit standards for
musics in Southern Africa, the MEUSSA group had to acknowledge both the modernist
roots, and take cognisance of the postmodern condition world-wide as well as in its midst.
The following aspects of this project illustrate the postmodern condition within the MEUSSA
group:
•
In the detail ;of the research output it acknowledges and embraces music genres and
styles that were formerly marginalised and suppressed. In this regard music that
formerly fell outside of the broad mainstream of what was regarded as worthwhile of
research is now taken into account and considered on the same level as music that was
previously regarded as mainstream, such as Western art music.
•
The reality of South Africa, with varied music practices within its borders, needed to
be accommodated
within a formal structure, resulting in a social construction of
knowledge. This was realised to be of importance because, in the words of Mngoma
(1988: 11) "the pooling of such resources would accelerate the kind of cohesion we
want in South[ern] African music education".
•
Because the group agreed that music, in whatever style or genre, must be viewed as
practical experience and treated as such, concepts, rather than genres, were used in the
model developed by Petro Grove, one of the group members. In this way the wide
array of styles and genres practised in Southern Africa could be accommodated.
Extensive discussions and lengthy argumentation during the various workshops on the
matter of Western music versus world music and popular music served to widen
perspectives of all group members regarding the inclusion of all music genres as a
basis for music education, recognising the principle of various local truths.
•
The fact that specialists from a wide cross-section of music practices were assembled
to co-operate
in this project furthered the construction
of a localised research
community. Music education in Southern Africa with its unique situation requires an
adaptation of research criteria and traditions, in order to fill the need for relevant unit
standards. This was applied in the MEUSSA group, with exponents of different music
styles and practices striving for one goal, namely unifying the microcosms of musics
in Southern Africa.
•
Facilities of e-communication and Internet information, the technology of post modern
culture, was extensively utilised. The author will even go as far as stating that without
these (postmodern)
technological
advances, this project would have been either
impossible or much more difficult to accomplish.
The group has experienced the diversity and pluralism of culture, characteristic
of a
postmodern condition, in the process of writing unit standards, and had to develop tolerance
towards widely different perspectives and towards each other. In this sense, the process of
social construction of knowledge is a first in this country for music education.
The mood of the time is reflected by the cultural content of a nation, of which music is one of
the essential expressions. For music education to be relevant, it is imperative to recognise the
different modes of expression in music and the current cultural shifts, and then to incorporate
these modes and shifts into the content of, or approach to, music education.
Giroux (1994:4) fixes the attention on the hesitation of modernist intellectuals to grasp the
contemporary experiences of youth and the wide-ranging proliferation of forms of diversity
within "an age of declining authority", economic uncertainty, the proliferation of electronic
mediated technologies and the extension of, what he calls, "consumer pedagogy". These
aspects are integral to daily life during a postmodern era, and must be acknowledged.
For music education to be relevant, it is necessary to understand the world in which both
music and education functions. Giroux (1994:3) provides an important motivation
for
understanding the culture of the current era:
[The postmodern condition] is a fundamentally important discourse that needs to
be mined critically in order to help educators to understand the modernist nature of
public schooling. It is also useful for educators to comprehend the changing
conditions of identity formation within electronically mediated cultures and how
they are producing a new generation of youths who exist between the borders of a
modernist world of certainty and order, informed by the culture of the West and its
technology of print, and a postmodern world of hybridised identities, electronic
technologies, local cultural practices and pluralised public spaces.
Southern Africa, in the constitution of its people, resources and skilled music educators,
poses a unique problem. The matter is not a simple one of treating all learners as
understanding and living in a postmodern culture, because a large number of learners are, for
example, not even computer-literate. The scope of resources such as the Internet varies from
pre-modem to postmodern conditions within the borders of the country, as many schools
have neither electricity nor computers at their disposal, and others have computers in almost
each classroom. The world that the majority of learners are experiencing
is, however,
changing, with the media reaching even the most remote villages in the form of radio and
television. It is therefore imperative that the nature of postmodern
especially the decentralisation
of meta-narratives
narratives in music,
in the form of the Western canon (as
outlined above) be taken into consideration, and the objectives, content of and approach to
music education in Southern Africa harmonised with these narratives. Educators must be able
to communicate with their learners in a meaningful way while trying to find common ground
between the learners' world after school and the school curriculum.
The dilemma here is, in the opinion of the author, that both classical music and education are
at odds with a postmodern condition, both functioning better in a modernist establishment.
The reasons for this will be explored in more detail in the paragraphs below. Opposite to that,
the dilemma is that the canon, as we understood it, is "changing, being renegotiated, or
disintegrating (depending on one's point of view), under the pressure of too many 'others'"
(Koskoff 200 1:546). The "others" entail, according to Koskoff, the valuing of many different
and often conflicting voices, a scenario that may result in chaos.
Koskoff approaches the aspect of widening the canon of music education from a different
angle. Instead of viewing this from the perspective of (multiple) canon(s), she suggests an
approach of problem solving in a two-stage process (Koskoff 2001 :538). The first part
involves becoming comfortable with moving effortless from "own music" to the music of
others, something she calls "living with likeness and difference". This implies that inherent
values and complexities of cultural systems have to be recognised and considered in the
content of syllabi, without loosing the foothold of one's "own music".
The second stage would be to help learners pass through the labyrinth of possible canons and
values "with an underlying bedrock philosophy that all values, just like all people and all
musics, have equivalent meaning to someone, somewhere" (Koskoff 2001 :538). This means
that the canon has to be de-canonised, resulting in, what she calls, a "superview" of all
possible canons.
In South Africa, the first stage has just started with the forming of three multi-cultural SGBs
for music and the resulting formulation of neutral unit standards for the musics of South
Africa. The canon of music education still centres around a core repertoire of Western art
music, while music educators have long been advocating the inclusion of more styles and
genres (Hauptfleisch
1997:10). The condition of postmodernism
in music education must
therefore, in the first place, serve to sensitise music educators to the values of all the "others"
practising music in this country before the second stage advocated by Koskoff, namely that
of helping learners to discover their own music, may be attempted.
The basic constitutional activities of education, in the words of Burbules (1995:7-8), pillars
on the following:
•
every teaching act implying a judgement on those things that will lead towards these
two aspects, constituting privileged knowledge and values;
•
authority, implying a decision-making
body, as an inevitable dimension of every
educational relation in which we encounter one another; and
•
education involving activities of bringing people to become more alike, at least in
certain respects, in other words normalising pupils.
Each of these dimensions, namely progress and betterment, privileged knowledge and values,
authority and normalising, are challenged by a postmodern approach. A valid question to ask
regarding postmodemism
and education, according to Burbules (1995:6), would then be:
"What sustains a commitment to education in the face of postmodern doubt? How does this
change in commitment change also our conception of education and of the activities that
constitute it?"
When adopting and integrating a postmodern, post-structuralist approach to music education,
the implications
are profound, both with regard to teaching and research methodology
(Mifflin 2001:1). A: myriad of education theories (for example by Piaget, Vygotsky and
,
others) are on the table, and it is not the intention of the author to present these in this study.
The aim is merely to provide a broad postmodern perspective to the approach to and content
of music education, .in this way supplying a basis for the project of writing unit standards for
musics in Southern Africa.
•
Firstly, he is of the opinion that the engagement among persons, and between persons
and the matters to be explored, must maintain a critical distance. Authority and
methods of inquiry must be interrogated, exploring both their usefulness and the
limits of their usefulness, as authority in itself is not blindly accepted by postmodern
youth.
•
Secondly, the purposefulness and direction of education must stay open to the
unexpected and multi-faceted moment. Having a certain purpose in mind must not
mean squandering other educational opportunities while slavishly following this one
direction, but sometimes to provide for the multiplicity of educational purposes not to
be all fully realised. Giroux (1994:14) refers to this as the production of new maps of
meaning to be understood within new cultural practices.
•
Thirdly, the conception of growth or development is also under pressure. In a
postmodern sense, growth is neither linear in nature, nor steady and unambiguous.
Here, a high tolerance of difficulty, uncertainty and error is valued. These three are
even viewed not as "flawed states to be overcome, but as ongoing conditions of the
educational process itself - indeed, as educationally beneficial conditions, when they
can serve as correctives to complacency or arrogant surety" (Burbules 1995:7).
•
The status of betterment, in the fourth place, is also being questioned. Apparent gains
and successes, when turned upon themselves, become ambivalent, partial and
provisional, so that ''when we attain a kind of betterment it is not unalloyed"
(Burbules 1995:8). Furthermore, the convictions of today may, from a future vantage
point, be seen as laughable or containing blundering errors.
These four guidelines are indeed, in the opinion of the author, valid points of challenge for
education in a postmodern era. The temptation for a postmodern educational system may be
to succumb to an extreme relativistic, pluralistic, fragmented and chaotic system - one that is
in line with the postmodern environment. Experienced teachers, however, will be able to
testify that a learning environment that is fragmented, succumbing to chaos and without
structure is not conducive to learning, exploring or experimentation, and as such may not
facilitate optimal personal growth or the acquiring of knowledge and skills.
Both sides of the coin have to be considered, however. A postmodern perspective built as
extension of modernist principles, pointing to the critical interrogation of limits, the
exploration of different perspectives on a matter, the construction of local and culturallybased truths, or the inclusion of different genres of so-called "lower" and "higher" art genres
in the classroom, may lead to an enrichment of curricula and the personal growth of learners.
Koskoff (2001:546), however, also points out that it is impossible to structure an ideal
curriculum, and that there is 'no way to add any more to the canon without leaving out
something important, something that has been taught up to now.
Giroux (1994:5) also considers the tension between schools as "modernist institutions" and
the fragmented nature of a postmodern culture, saying that this conflict must be increasingly
faced as it poses a challenge for critical educators. Giroux sees three problems here:
•
Firstly, there is the challenge of understanding
the modernist nature of existing
schooling, with a specific view of knowledge, culture and order.
•
Secondly, the background of a new generation of youth, influenced by postmodern
economic and cultural conditions, is to a large extent still being ignored by schools
and education authorities;
•
Thirdly, the significant
importance of critically integrating those elements of a
postmodern pedagogy that might be useful in educating today's youth is still more of
a challenge than a reality.
Rationality and the role of reason still feature and govern as modernist trends. Regarding the
first problem, Giroux describes the dominant features of public schooling as utterly relying
on instruments of reason, and the standardisation of curricula, seen in the rigid forms of
testing and sorting. Furthermore, the rule of reason "reveals its Western cultural legacy in
highly centred curricula that more often than not privilege the histories, experiences and
cultural capital of largely white, middle class students" (Giroux 1994:6).
Regarding the diversity of cultural expressions and the integral role of communications
technology and the mass media in a postmodern culture, Giroux is also of the opinion that
public schooling refuses to incorporate popular culture or take account of new electronically
generated
media
characteristics,
and
information
,systems.
Although
these
are typical
postmodern
it is, in the opinion of the author, also true that these two aspects of
postmodernism are being denied a formal educational position in South Africa.
Although the racial mix of schools in South Africa has drastically changed over the last few
years, and learners can no longer be viewed through a lens of cultural uniformity, a new
postmodern culture of difference, plurality and multiple narratives is still only theoretical in
nature. Already in 1988, Mngoma (1988:2-3) suggested an approach of "enrichment". While
the Western component of music syllabuses should be retained as a kind of lingua franca, it
should not be limited to that. Other types of music must be evaluated and interpreted in terms
of themselves, as part of the many styles of music performed in Southern Africa. The
heritage of varied musical styles "implies greater resources for the music educator" (Mngoma
1988:4), and therefore a richer music education.
The propagation of Western music (Popular and art music) is powerfully advanced by means
of the mass media, partly because it has developed an "advanced paleography that has been
stimulated by technological advances and advances in compositional techniques" (Mngoma
1988:2). But it is also true that musics that were positioned as minority musics in the
narratives of modeI:Il music education, has, in a postmodern culture, gained respect and
should be included in formal music education.
In the light of this, the entire curriculum of music should be rethought, reconstructed and
decentred in order to reflect the postmodern trends of the world around us and to open up
new pedagogical spaces. When generating unit standards for musics in Southern Africa, it
should be regarded as imperative
to include the aspects of pluralism,
diversity
and
fragmentation, characteristic of a postmodern time, and not to insist on a rigid framework in
which all learners and cultures should be forced to fit. Keeping pace with a postmodern
condition, the boundaries between different fields of study should be softened so as to
illustrate the extension of the canon.
The postmodern understanding of the future, not as part of a fixed meta-narrative, but as
uncertain, changing and open-ended, should also influence the approach and content of
curricula. In this sense, curricula should not be designed as closed and centred, but openended and sensitive towards differences and change. Postmodernism should be appropriated
as part of a broader pedagogical project while engaging the most progressive aspects of
modernism (Giroux 1994:7).
A critical stance towards postmodern trends should, however, be taken, in order to cancel out
the negative dimensions of postmodernism
aspects. A postmodern
pedagogy
while appropriating some of its more positive
must address the shifting
attitudes,
representations,
preferences and desires of a new generation of youth being educated within the current
junction of culture, politics and history. Educators need to understand how different identities
among youth are being produced in spheres generally ignored by schools and curricula.
Pedagogy needs to redefine its relationship to modernist and postmodernist forms of culture,
art, and canonicity, but it must also serve as vehicle of cross-fertilisation between these two
conditions. Furthermore, the mission of schools needs to be re-examined and adjusted to the
meaning of work and labour in a postmodern world.
•
to institutionalise conditions for change and plurality among postmodern youth, rather
than institutionalise set master narratives;
•
to balance these conditions for change with the most advantageous aspects of
modernism's order and structure;
•
to address the conditions of teaching and in the process taking note of a world in
which the youth lives that is vastly different from the situation offered in most
modernist versions of schooling.
Postmodern discourSes offer the promises, but not the solutions, to alert educators to a new
generation of "border youth" - youth that is growing up amidst postmodern uncertainty and
randomness.
The constructivist theory, one of the popular theories in postmodernism and discussed earlier
in this chapter, manifested .in educational theory in a very specific way. In educational
constructivist theory, two approaches have emerged, namely cognitive
or genetic
constructivsm (Piaget) and social constructivism (Vygotsky). These approaches are different
in emphasis, but have many common perspectives regarding learning and teaching. It does
not fall within the scope of this thesis to explore the detail of these educational theories, but
merely to provide a basis for postmodern education, using a constructivist perspective. A
more detailed consideration will be offered in another MEUSSA
team member's
contribution.23
23
The reader is referred to the work in progress by Elma Britz, one of the MEUSSA'team members, entitled
Unit Standards for Music Education within the context of Arts Education and Music as an elective sub-field in
South Africa. MMus in progress, University of Pretoria.
Constructivists view learning as the result of mental construction, fitting new information in
with what is already known, and actively constructing own understanding. "Constructivism's
central idea is that human learning is constructed, that learners build new knowledge upon
foundation of previous learning" (Hoover 1996: 1). The most important implication is that
learning, from a postmodem point of view, is student-centred.
Social constructivism
in
education also emphasises the critical importance of culture, as well as the social context for
cognitive development. This, in a postmodem reference, means that no overarching metanarrative or single truth may be offered, but that all knowledge
is context-driven
and
culturally related.
According to Mifflin (2001: 1), all constructivists share some common beliefs about the ways
of knowing:
•
Constructivist knowing assumes that learning and perceiving take place actively,
•
Prior knowledge and experience are the springboard for useful, personal knowledge
construction. There is no tabula rasa on which new knowledge is etched.
•
Learning experiences
of a constructivist
nature include reflective
thinking
and
productivity, authentic and original activities (individual projects as well as student
collaboration), and the consideration of multiple perspectives.
•
Teachers act as facilitators
between students'
worlds, creating learning environments
prior knowledge
and their active
that will help them develop increasingly
complex understandings, skills and knowledge.
The assumptions of constructivist learning are therefore that
•
Knowledge is active, situated in real and lived worlds.
•
The emphasis is on learning and reflecting, not teaching.
•
Individuals construct knowledge. Learning is therefore seen as a process, facilitated
by enquiry and critical experience by the learner.
•
Meaningfull,earning is built on what the student already knows.
•
The learning style and attitude of the student is taken into consideration, as well as the
context in which learning takes place (Hoover 1996: 1-2; Chen 2001: 1).
Teaching, then, cannot be seen as merely the transmission of knowledge from the informed
to the uninformed. The role of the teacher becomes that of mediator, facilitator and strategist.
In Southern Africa a shift in cultural narratives was, and still is, increasingly
being
experienced together with the change in the political scene. The shift from modernism to
postmodernism in Western societies during the last third of the 20th century also necessitates
a basic and fundamental
re-evaluation
of music education in Southern Africa. This re-
evaluation proved valid not only for the roots and principles, but for the content and approach
of music education as well.
The question of the validity of the arts, and more specifically music in education, has
experienced a revival during roughly the last two decades, with many relevant investigations
being undertaken by renowned researchers. As an example, the controversy and interest
aroused by the so-called Mozart effect, Undertaken by Rauscher and Shaw of the University
of California in 1993, may be cited.24 Music education as an academic discipline has acquired
a renewed status.
The members of the discourse now also include not only academic experts, but also teachers,
members of the music industry, exponents of popular as well as classical music, and the
community. In short, the canon, as well as the power in the discourse of music education, is
no longer clearly spelled out. According to Stephens (1999: 134), one of the results of the
modernist and avant-garde revolution in music during the early 20th century is that composers
(and educators) now have an enormously
wide choice of directions in which musical
language and education can be developed. This development is ideally suited for a multicultural society.
To stay relevant, a renewed content and approach of music education in Southern Africa need
to be considered. Giroux (1994:2), for example, says that "postmodernism
as a site of
'conflicting forces and divergent tendencies' becomes useful pedagogically when it provides
24
Other references to research projects on the effects of arts education, and specifically music education, are
provided in chapter 2.
elements of an oppositional discourse for understanding
and responding to the changing
cultural and educational shift affecting youth".
The meta-narrative of Western art music as the only valid framework in music education is
being challenged as a tool for teaching formal music in schools. At the beginning of the 21 st
century, it is still true that a restricted era in the span of music history, as well as a limited
choice of repertoire, is often used in the classroom. Although it is true that other genres are
being explored in class music, this is not considered valid for examination purposes. The core
of formal teaching seems to be avoiding quality music in genres other than classical Western
music (Wicks 1998).
When considering popular music as teaching tool in schools, traditional musicology must be
reconsidered and reinvented, because the conditions and context of popular music demands
and expanded approach to aspects such as composition methods and sound production.
Covach (2001:468-469) explores the issue of popular music, and he is of the opinion that the
study of popular music may enhance traditional musicology, because
•
The compositional process used in popular music (combining the creative input of
more than one composer, for example the Beatles' Lennon & McCartney) differs from
the accepted classical method. Alternative
versions of older hitsongs are often
included as "bonus tracks" on many CD repackaging, casting light on the process
musicians used to produce the final version.
•
The role of the recording producer has no direct parallel in art music. Covach
(2001:469) quotes the way the music of Elvis Presley, for example, changed when he
moved from Sun Studios in Memphis to RCA's Nashville studios, each with a
different producer. In this way the notion of an artist controlling all aspects of a
work's creation is conceived differently in the genre of popular or classical music.
•
The history of popular music is still largely unmapped. This field is very often
difficult for scholars of Western art music, because "tracing the history of any
popular-music style demands that the musicologist be immersed in the popular culture
from which the music arose" (Covach 2001 :468).
The implications of positioning oneself within the postmodern condition with regard to music
education in Southern Africa can be summarised as follows:
•
Music educators must take cognisance of the postmodern condition in terms of the
nature of knowledge, the importance of the arts, the increased role of minority groups
and their expression through music, as well as the diminishing role of broad or overarching meta-narratives. It is· imperative that educators be sensitive towards the
postmodern condition in the arts. The music educationalist must critically place himor herself within this condition, especially in the way it manifests in cultural
expressions such as music.
•
A discriminating distance must be taken both from the modernist and postmodernist
approaches in the arts. Everything that is postmodern must not blindly be accepted as
the norm and all modernist items be regarded as wrong or outdated. It is true that
different societies experience postmodernism in different measures, and that
acknowledging the postmodern mood of an era does not mean that a clean break with
modem trends has to be made. The author is of the opinion that the progressive
aspects of modernism are still very active in Southern Africa at the beginning of the
21sl century, both in styles of living and in music education. But it is also true, in the
opinion of the author, that the principles of modem culture underscore effective
education more comfortably than postmodem parameters. Therefore, in the words of
Giroux (1994:5), the relationship between modernism and postmodernism must
become "dial~ctical, dialogic and critical" in order for postmodernism to be relevant.
•
In doing this, music educators themselves must have a thorough knowledge of
different music genres and styles. This is necessary in order to acquire a balanced
position on the musical traditions of different peoples in this country, as well as trends
worldwide.
•
Music education policy and content must take the practices of minority groups into
account. To achieve this, teachers must have access to in-service training to
familiarise themselves with music practices outside their own field of expertise.
Music education in Southern Africa must, in order to stay relevant, take cognisance of the
cultural expression through different musics of all peoples in the country, the music in the
world of the learner outside school hours, and the music that may form part of the extension
of the canon. This may transpire while building on the backbone of an extended core
repertoire.
When writing unit standards for musics in Southern Africa, this perspective seems to the
author to be of utmost importance. Therefore, a sensitive, informed and discriminating
approach, with contents relevant to the world-owning youth of the 21st century, has to be
made available in the postmodern classroom.
The skill of performing on an instrument, often acquired by informal means or private
tuition, is, for the majority of learners, their primary point of active involvement with
music. Therefore it is of utmost importance to provide unit standards for performing on
all instruments, because the "how" of formulating unit standards is determined by the
"who" they are aimed at. Therefore unit standards should serve as guide to (SAQA
2000f:8):
•
the educator and/or assessor (defining the learning and acquiring of skills, as
well as the areas of assessment to be done); 1
•
the student or learner (describing the level of performance and enabling a
uniform but flexible system of education);
•
the provider and/or the materials designer (describing the learning content and
materials needed to assist in the learning process); and
•
the parent (knowing what to expect from the educational system and how to
assist his child).
The beneficiaries of the unit standards and qualifications, registered on the National
Qualifications Framework, are:
•
learners (who benefit from quality education and the provision of qualifications
that enjoy national recognition as well as, where appropriate, international
comparability);
• workers (who benefit from clear working paths in the qualification structure, to
facilitate and support life-long learning and career advancement);
I
Because of the limited supply of manpower in South Africa, the reality in the majority of schools means
that the roles of educator and assessor are very often performed by the same person.
•
employers
(who benefit from a work force which is competent in skills and .
attitudes required in a competitive global economy); and
•
society (which benefits from a learning nation).
As part of the MEUSSA team, the author will compile a set of unit standards for
Aerophones in this chapter, based on the model for music education developed by Petro
Grove, another of the members of the MEUSSA team. This model will be briefly outlined
later in the chapter.
5.2 Unit standards
for Aerophones
in the GET and FET phases
This section will oriefly explain the components of education and training relevant to the
generation of unit standards for Aerophones (performance).
5.2.1 Starting with an instrument
The tuition of instruments to children has different ideal minimum starting times. This is
due to:
•
the level of difficulty of acquiring skills on the particular instrument;
•
the level of physical maturity
and development of lung capacity or muscle
control needed to perform on the instrument; and/or
•
the level of music background.
When attempting an instrument such as violin or cello, the ideal starting time is as early
as possible, with an optimal starting age of between four/five to seven/eight years of age.
Piano or keyboard tuition may start later, any time between the ages of roughly four or
five years until well beyond primary school age.
Woodwind tuition should, ideally, only start when the child's physical maturity meets the
physical requirements of the particular instrument (Bosman 1999:28). Factors such as
breathing and lung capacity, the size of the hands and the stage of teeth development are
crucial factors in determining an ideal starting time. For this reason many children only
start a woodwind instrument from rougWy nine/ten years of age or later, taking advantage
of this extra time by learning the basic music rudiments while receiving tuition on another
instrument.
The aspect of aural training should receive constant attention, because it can be
considered one of the building blocks of music training. Therefore a pre-school learner
should be led to distinguish, for example, between high or low pitches, fast or slow music,
a sad or happy mood, or different basic timbres. These skills should be integrated into the
process of learning an instrument, as they are inseparable from other musical skills.2
According to Olivier (2000: 15), a standard is an acknowledged basis for measuring
attainment or criteria, with statutory organisations usually mandated to set standards.
Within the framework of the NSB, the bodies responsible for the setting of standards are
the SGBs. Three music SGBs (for GET, HET and Music Industry) have been recently
registered to start with the process of generating and registering unit standards.
A unit standard ,is defined by SAQA (2000b:4) as a "nationally registered statement of
desired education and training outcomes and their associated performance, with assigned
credit ratings on the basis of one credit equal to ten notional hours of learning" (SAQA
2000b:4). Unit standards originated in industry because of a need to formalise specific
skills and knowledge required to perform a task, for example to drive a large passenger
service vehicle safely and in a fuel-efficient manner (NZRT & ITO 2001:1).
Some unit standards may be considered compulsory because they describe core skills and
knowledge, and others will be regarded as elective because they may be achieved
supplementary to compulsory standards. The New Zealand system allows for some
additional, optional unit standards to be grouped as a strand, but this is not applied in the
South African system.
2
One of the MEUSSA team members, Annarine Roscher, generated unit standards for, inter alia, aural
training at the foundation phase. The reader is therefore referred to A. Roscher, 200 I: Music Standards for
the Foundation Phase and Teacher Training in South Africa. Doctoral thesis, University of Pretoria.
The decision as to what unit standards will be considered core and elective will be made
by the appropriate SOBs appointed by education and training stakeholders.
Unit standards and qualifications are predetermined SAQA-approved standards and
combinations of standards that must be achieved by means of learning and doing. This
learning will be verified by a quality assurance body, such as an ETQA, to either confirm
compliance or facilitate corrective measures.
5.2.3 Qualifications
Qualifications are compiled of unit standards in specific associations. SAQA (2000b:4)
describes a qualification as "a planned combination of learning outcomes which has a
defined purpose or purposes, and which is intended to provide qualifying learners with
applied competence and a basis for further learning".
Two types of qualifications, both equally valid, are provided for in the NSB regulations,
namely
•
qualifications based on exit-level outcomes (which capture the planned
combination of learning outcomes required for competence at the particular level
of the qualification); and
A learning programme (the sequential learning activities associated with curriculum
implementation) leads to the achievement of a particular qualification, partial
qualification (SAQA 2000b:5) or short course. A programme consists of a coherent set of
courses, and leads to a certain certificate, diploma or degree. Different ways of arriving at
a qualification are possible by means of a core curriculum and optional courses
(Vroeijenstein 1995, as quoted in SAQA 2000b:5).3
Three categories oflearning are described (SAQA 2000f:42-43):
•
Fundamental learning describes the learning that forms the basis needed to
undertake the education, training or further learning.
3
A more detailed discussion of the structure of SAQA and the National Qualifications Framework is
provided in the thesis of one of the MEUSSA members, J.P. Grove.
Credit structure: a minimum of 20 credits at levels 1-4 from the. field of
Communication Studies and Language, and a minimum of 16 credits in the
field of Mathematics).
•
Core learning describes compulsory learning required for a contextually relevant
qualification.
•
Elective learning describes a selection of additional credits at the specified NQF
level.
Credit $tructure: a minimum of 36 credits between the core and elective
learning categories at levell, and a minimum of 52 credits between them at
levels 2-4).
5.3 A framework for Aerophones, with specific application to flute playing
In this section, unit standards for Aerophones will be presented in two formats. Tables
illustrating the integration of generic and specific outcomes, and assessment, will be the
main form of presentation. The format that complies with the SAQA specifications entails
duplication when presented for all unit standards, therefore only one unit standard will be
presented as an example.
The present qualifications framework, as prescribed by SAQA and the NQF, requires the
first qualification only at the exit of the first level, namely at the end of grade 9, or NQF
level 11ABET 4. The MEUSSA group, however, agreed that it would be shortsighted to
present the first set of outcomes at this level only. Instead, a holistically conceived
approach is suggested, implying that outcomes for the stages before grade 9, and which
would gradually lead to acquiring the first NQF qualification, should be specified.
For this reason, unit standards for the foundation phase were, or are, in the process of
being generated by MEUSSA members, and the author of this thesis prepared a unit
standard for a preparatory level to be applied before NQF level!.
When designing a system of unit standards for music, it must always be kept in mind that
music consists of 'several conceptual layers that are being applied simultaneously. One
cannot, for example, single out the aspect of rhythm without regarding concepts of
melody, harmony, tempo, form or texture. It may well be possible to focus on one of
. these .conceptsat a time, but it is important never to lose sight of the broad application of
all music aspects. These aspects are valid for any genre, regardless of style or cultural
origin.
When the approach to unit standards in music is based on the accrediting of music
concepts, rather than music content based on one style or context (for example Western
art music or African music), the learner will be gradually equipped to value and judge any
style of music, using a firm set of guidelines. The ability to distinguish between higher
and lower quality music in any genre must, for example, be considered one of the
valuable outcomes of music education. This principle also forms the basis for a culture
. of
.
lifelong learning with applications in all spheres of life.
It must also be kept in mind that the NQF prescribed a set of critical outcomes, which are
"an additional mechanism through which coherence is achieved in the framework"
(SAQA 2000a:8). They describe the kind of citizen that the education and training system
should try to produce, and are common for all learning areas. They are the following:
•
Identify and solve problems in which responses display that responsible
decisions using critical and creative thinking have been made.
•
Work effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisation or
community.
•
Communicate effectively using visual, mathematical and/or language skills in the
modes of oral and/or written presentation.
•
Use science and technology effectively and critically, showing responsibility
towards the environment and health of others.
•
Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by
recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation.
In addition to these seven critical outcomes, five more aspects should underpin any
programme of learning (SAQA 2000a:8-9):
•
Participate
as responsible
citizens m the life of local, national and global
communities.
These outcomes must continuously be integrated with the specific and generic outcomes
for music education.
As the credit structure for NQF level 1 is provided by another member of the MEUSSA
team,4 the following structure is proposed for learners in NQF levels 2, 3 and 4 in the FET
phase, in other words, from grade 10-12. The reader must note that learners usually have
to take a minimum of six subjects between NQF levels 2-4, of which Music may be
currently assigned to one or two subjects. The author suggests that three options be made
available, namely
•
taking music as two subjects,
specialising
in performance
or composition
(GMAP and MPP or MCP);5 and
•
taking music as three subjects, specialising in performance and composition
(GMAP, MPP and MCP).
When three music subjects are taken, the author suggests that the third subject be taken as
a seventh subject.6 The reason for this is that learners still have to receive a rounded
education while at school, and a total of three Music subjects out of a maximum of six
presents an unbalanced learning programme.
4
The reader is referred to J.P. Grove, 2001. Music Education Unit Standards for Southern Africa: A Model
and its application in a General Music Appraisal Programme. DMus thesis, University of Pretoria,
Pretoria, p. 44.
5
MPP: Music Perfonnance Programme; MCP: Music Composition Programme.
6
The reader is referred to the discussion of the National Curriculum of England in chapter 3, where this
system is explained.
Table 5-1: Graphic illustration of one, two or three music subjects at NQF levels 2-4, or
grades 10-12
At least 15 credits
At least 21 credits
At least 21 credits
*Listening (1)
*Listening (1)
*Listening (1)
Conceptualising
(2)
Conceptualising
(2)
Conceptualising
(2)
Contextualising
(2)
Contextualising
(2)
Contextualising
(2)
Analysing (2)
Analysing (2)
Analysing (2)
Literacy (2)
Literacy (2)
Literacy (2)
First instrument at
NQF level 2-4 (6)
First instrument at
NQF level 2-4 (6)
First instrument at
NQF level 2-4 (6)
Second instrument at
NQF level 2 (4)
Second instrument at
NQF level 2-4 (4)
Composition at
NQF level 2-4 (6)
Group:
Group:
Group:
•
•
•
•
Ensemble (2)
•
Ensemble (2)
Choir (2)
•
Choir (2)
Revue (2)
•
•
•
Revue (2)
Revue (2)
Band/orchestra (2)
•
Band/orchestra (2)
•
•
Ensemble (2)
Choir (2)
Other art forms:
Other art fonns:
•
•
•
•
•
•
Dance (2)
Drama (2)
Visual art (2)
* Listening and appraising must
be integrated with other concepts,
but assessed separately.
Band/orchestra (2)
Other art forms:
Drama (2)
•
•
Drama (2)
Visual art (2)
•
Visual art (2)
Dance (2)
* Listening and appraising must
be integrated with other concepts,
but assessed separately.
Dance (2)
* Listening and appraising must
be integrated with other concepts,
but assessed separately.
Core standards are marked in bold. A minimum of 15 credits for GMAP and 21 credits
for MPP or MCP is indicated. In case of MPP, the core standards, marked in bold, add
up to 15 credits, and the learner must choose between the remaining options to earn the
minimum of 21 credits. This may be done by, for example, performing on a second
instrument and as well as performing in an ensemble.
Extra credits may be earned by choosing between the other remaining options. For the
MPP option, the learner may achieve the required 21 credits by electing any of the
available options, which does not necessarily have to include a
2nd
instrument. In this
way, recognition for extra work done will be reflected on the certificate earned at each
exit level, namely NQF levels 1-4.
Learners will further be able to perform on one or two instruments, depending on the
programme. For GMAP, one instrument is included as core standard, and this is referred
to as "first instrument". When doing the Music Performance Programme (MPP), one
instrument is considered as part of the core standards, with another as possible elective
standard. These are referred to as "first" and "second" instruments. The Music
Composition Programme (MCP) describes only one instrument as core standard, referred
to as the "first" instrument.
When following both the Music Performing and Music Composition programmes, no
duplication in the choice of instruments may be allowed. In this case, learners may
offer one instrument each for MPP and MCP, totalling two (different) instruments. An
option of performing on three different instruments is available when following the MPP
and MCP options. Offering three instruments for MPP is, however, not included.
Accommodating all genres, styles and practices in Southern Africa posed a challenge to
the MEUSSA group. The first step was to develop a suitable model for music education;
one that could be applied in a flexible way. The model for music education in Southern
Africa was developed by Petro Grove, one of the MEUSSA group members, and refined
during many work-shopsby the process of action research. A detailed discussion of this
model is provided in her thesis as part of the MEUSSA project.7 A brief outline will be
provided in the paragraphs below.
The model is in the form of a Rubik's cube, with six different sides, each side consisting
of nine smaller and moveable sections (Grove 2001:4). The possibility of changing
combinations by turning the surfaces of the cube, when applied to music education,
presents an almost endless array of potential associations. Such a variety of associations,
contained within one "self-contained whole" (Cube History, as quoted by Grove 2000:4),
was seen as poteRtially accommodating all the diverse music practices and styles of
Southern African music.
The aim of the model, according to Grove, is to "structure unit standards in an organised
and musically logical way." It does not attempt to prescribe syllabi, curricula or
methodology. The model is divided into two categories, namely music skills (composing,
performing and, appraising, according to the English standards), and music knowledge,
integrating styles and practices, knowledge and NQF levels/assessment.
A diagrammatic version, with the six columns representing the six flat surfaces of the
cube, may be presented in the following way (Grove 2001:5):
Table 5-3: Mapping the context of the MEUSSA modelfor music education in South
Africa (Grove 2001:5)
Coueeptualising
Contextualising
Idiophones
Conceptualise
Melody
S. African music
8
A
Membranophones
(Knowledge)
Rhythm
Art music
7
S
Aerop~ones
Contextualise
Dynamics
Indian music
6
S
Chordophones
(Style)
Texture
Folk music
5
E
Electrophones
Listening
Timbre
Popular music
4
S
Vocal
(Analysis)
Harmony
Jazz
3
S
Technology
GrouplEnsemble
Technology
Fonn
World music
2
I
Notation
Theatre
Notation
Tempo
Technology
1
N
Assessing
Assessment
Assessment
Notation
Notation
ABET
G
Improvising
Arranging
Composing
7
J.P. Grove, P. 200 I: Music Education Unit Standards for Southern Africa: A Model and its application in
a General Music Apprf/isal Programme. DMus thesis, University of Pretoria.
The three-dimensional
verSIOn of the MEUSSA
model will be illustrated
following two figures (Grove 2001:10):
Figure 5-1: MEUSSA model: Music knowledge, styles & practices and NQF levels
(Grove 200 I: 3)
,
,
;",,//
2
"
;"/,,,
3
,."
---------7~---------rf:--------,,"
//
"I'"
4
//'
/'
5
/'
ABET
"
I
------ ---,.,,:---------,!':-- ------,,"
,"'/
//'
,,,"
MUSIC
STYLES
:;
,,"
7
.
:.
1
I
~r"
8
,/'
...
/'l
"
/
.••.••
AFRICAN : ,..,
MUSIC /(
,,/"
:
ART
I
I
:
:
: ,,;/
.../
: MUSIC,..,f
.,'.,
t
,'1
/,"
OTATIOJ'J : ...-,,"
:
/f rECI"IN0- :
,/
,
,/
.•.
:
:
: LOGY
:
1
I
I
I
I
I,
POP
MUS1C'
&
PRACTICES
in the
The following diagram outlines the different components of the MEUSSA Model. As
guidelines, colours will be applied as explained in Table 5-4:
Table 5-4: Explanation of the components of the MEUSSA model, as usedfor Aerophones
STYLES AND
PRACTICES
NQF LEVELS,
ASSESSMENT
The nature of the model for music education in South Africa, as developed by the
MEUSSA team members, is such that it can be adapted according to the genre or style of
music applied in the classroom. Once the generic standards for the different components
have been met, the educator can integrate appropriate aspects, relevant to the specific
genre and style of music practised.
The aspect of improvising is included as a generic standard for all genres or styles in the
standards for Aerophones. Although it constitutes an integral part of genres such as
African music and jazz, it does not currently form part of the system of Western art music
as presently taught in schools. The reason for the inclusion of improvising
for all
Aerophones students is taken from a viewpoint that creativity should be nurtured and
encouraged. Improvising, as a component of unit standards, is one way of achieving that.
The aspects ofk.nowledge and appraising will constitute a smaller part in the standards for
Aerophones (Performance),
as they will be included in unit standards for History of
Music and other related areas. They will, however, be integrated to a lesser degree with
aspects such as contextualising and conceptualising.
The contents of the unit standards for Aerophones (performance) may be interpreted in
many ways, because the flexible nature of the MEUSSA model allows for the substitution
of some components with others, according to the specific geme and style that is chosen
for performance.
Ensemble is considered as one of the eight generic standards, therefore a part of each unit
. standard. It will al~o be possible to specialise in ensemble, and in this case the reader is
referred to standards generated by another MEUSSA team member, Antoinette Hoek.8
For this option, the focus will be on playing together using available instruments.
The MEUSSA model lends itself to different interpretations. Various versions supplied in
the following section will provide examples of its application to different gemes or styles
as it may be applied to performing on Aerophones. The general remarks in the following
paragraph must be read together with all applications of this model.
•
The different cells are divided by broken lines. This demonstrates the
interchangeable and flexible nature of this model.
•
Because of a lack of a standardised alternative, the grade levels of accepted
examining ?odies, such as ABRSM, UNISA and Trinity College of Music, are
used as reference for standard of performance, equalling eight levels of
assessment as well as a beginners grade.
•
History is captured by contextualising, and may be facilitated using oral
assessment on related aspects during the practical assessment.
•
Technique will contain all related scale and arpeggio structures, as well as other
appropriate technical exercises. These must be described in relevant range
statements.
8
A. Hoek., 2000: South African Unit Standards for a General Music Appraisal Programme and an
Ensemble Specialisation Programmefor Available Instruments. DMus thesis, University of Pretoria.
•
Ensemble means the combination of any number of instrumentali~ts, in a
combination of the leamer's own preference, and at a standard corresponding to
the standard of performance in the relevant NQF level.
•
The standard of sight-reading is usually two grades below the standard of
performance.
•
The open cells may be substituted with one or more of the options arranged
around each version of the MEUSSA model. According to the style or genre, the
other cells may also be interchanged with relevant cells.
•
Pitch and intonation is categorised as an appraising/listening activity, because it
involves accurate and trained listening and adapting to other players.
•
As the figures on the following pages only indicate one side of the threedimensional model, other relevant components, such as timbre, rhythm,
harmony or dynamics may be added as part of the unit standard.
5.5.3 Different applications of the MEUSSA model
In the following section, the MEUSSA model will be explored to exhibit the different
styles and genres of music(s) practised in Southern Africa. According to the flexible
nature of the model, the open cells in each cube may be substituted with anyone or
combination of the floating cubes.
NQF
LEVEL
,,
,,
,,
,,
,,
,
,
_____________
1
•
This version
of the MEUSSA
_
model utilises the generic
standards
for
Aerophones, as explained later in this chapter.
An interpretation of the MEUSSA model, such as explored in figure 5-3, may be mapped
using a diagrammatic version. Table 5-5 offers the basic application of the MEUSSA
model explained above and on the following pages in a diagram.
MUSIC KNOWLEDGE
MUSIC SKILLS
CREATING
PERFORMING
Improvise
Recital
Ensemble
Technique
Tone
Articulation
Revue/band!
orchestra
APPRAISAL
Pitch and
intonation
Contextualise
(style)
Conceptualise
(knowledge)
KNOWLEDGE
(Conceptualise)
Harmony
Dynamics
Form
Tempo
Notation
Melody
Rhythm
History and
composer(s)
Texture
Timbre
Western art music
NQF
LEVELS
(assessment)
Levels 1-8
lndian music
ABET 1-4
STYLE
(Contextualise)
Popular music
World music
African music
South African
music
NQF
LEVEL
•
Contextualising will depend on the music style(s) chosen to study, in this case
jazz.
•
Ensemble will utilise instruments typically used in a jazz band.
•
Conceptualising will include the building blocks of music, such as tempo, form,
dynamics, rhythm, melody and timbre.
This version utilises the unique concepts and practices of jazz, while utilising the generic
standards for Aerophones as basis.
~
,
,,
··· ··..·------- ·-1
,
i
§
TONE
CONTROL
.....................
_ _ _...............
~
TECH,.!
NIQUE·
1
;.....,;,;"....~ J
REVUE!
BAND
•
Improvisation, as one of the generic standards for Aerophones, is indicated as
one of the components in this interpretation of the MEUSSA model.
•
Notation may be applied to the component of knowledge (using the colour red)
or to the process of creating (using the colour green) when applied to
composition or improvisation.
•
~
Ie aIItI - pnwiatiD.
are gro
fDgdbec.,
bec;ame ememJ Ie playing
m dDisstyle odBien im~!va; creatiDg by meam ofimprovismioo.
./ IDhe ln~
'lMQfS
iinttr~
milii~Jflr~
c1f(£l!ilJllihiiotldl ~:mrdI
'dl
~
b tftre ~
tVXfAlii:iicml
~:nt1fue
~
~
.~
pqp <dluriilm a ~~
lUlIli~d'~.
iU; ~
Wllll
~ AIiiit:ma
R:$ Jl."!)'
1bl}y lM.t1kii ~~
... d!L
•
History will be captured by contextualising,
depending on the chosen music
practice and genre, in this case Indian music.
•
Sight-reading as well as improvisation and creating forms an integral part of
notation.
[."E::=G~
t
....
~
:
II
NQF
TONE
~
;:
LEVEL
CONTROL
SIGHTREADING
•
•
As the skill of arranging
is very often considered as component of popular
music, this is grouped together with composition,
with both concepts applied as
creative activities.
•
The history
of popular
music is captured by contextualising,
and will be
different in content from history as, for example, part of the genre of Western art
music or Indian music.
In this section unit standards for the MPP, or Music Performance
Programme strand
(Aerophones), will be provided. Unit standards for the GMAP strand are designed by
other members of ~e MEUSSA group, and must be read together with the unit standards
provided in this chapter. Unit standards for the MCP strand do not fall within the scope of
this thesis.
The following eight standards are proposed as general guidelines, or generic standards,
with specific application in the learning area of Aerophones (Performance).
For NQF'
levels 6-8 the 3rd outcome, namely that of technical dexterity, must be integrated with the
performance and not necessarily assessed separately.
The author consid~rs these eight generic standards as the point of departure for all aspects
of performance on Aerophones at NQF levels 1-8.
•
Deliver a balanced recital of varying time durations,
as described
In the
outcomes f?r each NQF level.
0
•
Demonstrate tone control appropriate for the level of study and the instrument.
•
Demonstrate sufficient knowledge and control over technical exercises and scale
I
structures.
•
Participate as member of an ensemble together with other instrumentalists
of
own choice, at an appropriate level of performance.
•
Demonstrate
understanding
of music
concepts
in relation
to repertoire
performed.
10 This constitutes the following aspects: the quality of the tone, breath control, appropriate articulation
technique, accurate and musical performance of dynamics, and control of intonation.
5.6.2 Specific unit standards for Aerophones
The following section contains the unit standards for Aerophones (Performance). Because
of a current lack of other suitable systems, range statements are explained in terms of
internationally accepted examination boards such as the Associated Board of the Royal
Schools of Music; Trinity College of Music, or UNISA. These boards share a general
standard of performance, and are widely used in South Africa in formal music education.
The National Qualifications Framework of England recently recognised the full range of
examinations offered by Trinity College of Music by accrediting it on the Qualifications
and Curriculum Authority (QCA). Corresponding regulatory authorities in Wales
(ACCAC) and Northern Ireland (CCEA) did the same (Trinity College of Music 2000:1).
With the majority of learners in formal music education in South Africa playing
examinations offered by either UNISA (the South African examination board), ABRSM
or Trinity College of Music, the standard of performance presented by these three bodies
may, in the opinion of the author, be considered and/or officially integrated in the
framework of music education in Southern Africa.
One of the advantages of doing this is that both the content and standard of all three
bodies are fairly ~ell-known amongst teachers and players, and could therefore present a
benchmark against which a common standard of performance throughout the country
could be measured. Another advantage is the fact that the ABRSM (2000/2001:1) offers
some examinations in the genre of jazz (currently limited to piano grades 1-5 and jazz
ensembles in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand), and candidates for Trinity College of
Music examinations may offer their own compositions as part of the performance for
grades 1-8 (Trinity College of Music 2000:3-6). Utilising these standards may present
valuable guidelines for the implementation of standards for popular music or composition
in a Southern African context.
A huge disadvantage, however, is that neither UNISA nor Trinity College provides
;
opportunities for formal examinations in jazz, with the ABRSM offering limited options
as described in the previous paragraph. Not one of the examination bodies that are
currently offering examinations in Southern Africa makes any provision for African or
Indian music.
Because the field of performance on an instrument constitutes a complex integration of
music skills, knowledge and appraising, each standard contains substantially more
outcomes than an; average unit standard. SAQA (2000f3) recommends that a unit
standard usually contains between four and six specific outcomes, but each unit standard
for Aerophones in this chapter presents' eight generic outcomes with specific outcomes
classified under each generic standard. Compiling this, the author followed the example
of standards generated for High School Concert Band and High School Jazz Band as
interpreted by Omaha Public Schools in the USA (Omaha 1997:1-8), which utilise eight
"topics" with one "goal" underneath each.
Each NQF level is initially explained in tables. An example of the format as required by
SAQA is provided for the first unit standard only, because the reproduction of all
standards for NQF levels 1-8 entails, in the opinion of the author, too much unnecessary
duplication.
Following the example of the New Zealand system, assessment may be done on four
levels, namely no credit, basic, proficient and advanced. Antoinette Hoek, one of the
MEUSSA team members, defined the three levels of assessment for South African
learners as follows.(Hoek 2001:5.11):
•
Basic represents the level of achievement expected by learners who made
distinct progress but have not yet reached the proficient level.
•
Proficient represents the (minimum) level of achievement expected of every
learner, according to NQF levels 2,3 or 4.
•
Advanced represents achievement above the advanced level, for example, gifted
learners.
She further classifies proficient and advanced achievement into different stages of
difficulty, for example:
Stage 1
•
•
•
Stage 1
•
Difficult
•
Requires advanced technical and
interpretative skills
•
Contains key signatures with numerous
sharps and flats
•
Irregular metres
•
Complex rhythms
•
Subtle dynamic requirements.
Easy
Easy keys, metres, and rhythms
Limited ranges.
Stage 2
•
Moderately easy
•
Moderate technical demands
•
Expanded ranges, and
•
Varied interpretative requirements.
Stage 2
•
Very difficult
•
Suitable for musically mature students of
exceptional competence.
Stage 3
•
Moderately difficult
•
Well-developed technical skills, attention to
phrasing and interpretation
•
Ability to perform various metres and
rhythms in a variety of keys.
For the sake of uniformity within the MEUSSA group, the author regards it as essential
that a common system of assessment be utilised for the ranges of NQF level 1 (grade 9,
and ABET level 1-4) and levels 2-4 (grades 8-12). Therefore it is suggested that the three
levels of assessment
(basic, proficient
and advanced)
be implemented
in the unit
standards provided further in this chapter, as well as by the rest of the MEUSSA group.
This means that the standard of performance be assessed on one of these three levels for
all styles and genres.
According to SAQA (2000f:40) not all specific outcomes or assessment criteria require
range statements. This is also true for outcomes in the field of music, specifically
Aerophones.
The minimum
statement of performance
standard,
where relevant,
is
partially provided :within each standard under the heading of specific outcomes. Range
statements for technical requirements,
summarised in Table 5-7.
with specific application for flute players, are
5-25
Table 5-7: Range statements/or
scale structures (flute)
MAJOR
Harmonic:
MINOR
MeIodk
'MINOR
CHROMATIC
D, E (2 oct)
D, E (2 oct)
D, E (2 oct)
D, E (2 oct)
"WHOLE
TONE
?
. Pr~p(l-st)
th
G, A (12
)
B flat, B
th
G, A (12
D (2 oct)
th
G, A (12
)
G (1 oct)
)
B (1 oct)
B (1 oct)
D (2 oct)
D (2 oct)
F (I oct)
(1 oct)
D (2 oct)
E,F,G
th
( 12 )
E, G (12
F, G (1 oct)
D (I oct)
F (I oct)
D, E, F (2 oct)
D, E flat
(2 oct)
D,E
th
th
E, G (12
)
)
B (1 oct)
B (I oct)
B flat (Ioct)
Gr,~(1st)
C, D, E flat,
E, F (2 oct)
C,D,E,F
(2 oct)
C,D,E,F
(2 oct)
'NQFlevel
11 ABET
level 4
G, A (12th)
G, A (12th)
G, A (l2
B (1 oct)
B (1 oct)
B (1 oct)
C, D, E flat,
E (2 oct)
C,D,E
(2 oct)
C,D,E
(2 oct)
F,G,A
th
( 12 )
F, G A (12
(2 oct)
th
th
)
)
D, E flat (2 oct)
D (2 oct)
D (2 oct)
D, E flat, E, F,
F#, G (2 oct)
E, F,
(2 oct)
C,D,E
(2 oct)
D, E flat, E
D, E flat (2
oct)
E,F
(2 oct)
F#,G
(2 oct)
C,D,E,F,
G
(2 oct)
th
F, G A (12
)
B (I oct)
B (I oct)
C,C#,D,E
flat, E, F, G
(2 oct)
C, D, E flat,
E,F,G
(2 oct)
C, D, E flat,
E,F,G
(2 oct)
A, B flat, B
th
(12 »
A flat, A, B
th
(12 )
A flat, A, B
th
(12 )
C,C#,D,E
flat, E, F, G
(2 oct)
C,C#,D, E,
F (2 oct)
C,C#,D,E,
F (2 oct)
G, A (12th)
G, A (12
B (l oct)
B (I oct)
C,C#,D,E
flat, E, F,
F#, G, G#.
A, A flat, B
(2 oct)
C,C#,D,E
flat, E, F,
F#, G, G#.
A, A flat, B
(2 oct)
B flat, B
(I oct)
G":I0(lst}
NQFlevelZ
Gi"io (2P~1
. Prep (1st)
A, Bflat, B
(12th)
C,C#,D,E
flat, E, F.
F#,G,A
flat, AI B
flat, B (2
oct)
(2 oct)
th
)
C, C#, D, E flat,
E, F, F#, G, G#.
A, A flat, B (2
oct)
5-26
D, E flat, E, F,
F#, G (2 oct)
E, F (2 oct)
D, E(2
oct)
C#-B (2 oct)
C#-B (2 oct)
C (3 oct)
C (3 oct)
C (3 oct)
C (3 oct)
C,C#,D,
E flat, E, F
(2 oct)
C, C#,D, E
flat, E, F,
F#,G
(2
oct)
C,C#,D,E
flat, E, F,
F#, G (2 oct)
C, C#, D, E flat,
E,F,F#,G
F#,G
C,D, E,F
(2 oct)
(2 oct)
C,C#,D,E
flat, E, F, G
(2 oct)
C,C#,D,E
flat, E, F,
(2 oct)
C,C#,D,E
flat, E, F,
(2 oct)
A flat, A, B
flat, B (12th)
G, A flat, A
(l2th)
G, A flat, A
(12th)
B flat, B
B flat, B
(1 oct)
(1 oct)
C#-B (2 oct)
C#-B (2 oct)
C (3 oct)
C,C#,D,E
.flat, E, F,
F#, G (2 oct)
;
A flat, A, B
flat, B
(2 oct)
A flat, A, B
flat, B (l2th)
A flat, A, B
flat, B (12th)
Table 5-8: Range statements for arpeggio structures (flute)
ARPEGGIOS
MINOR
MAJOR
DlMINISHED
"7TBS starting on
D, E (2 oct)
D, E (2 oct)
th
G, A (12
DOMINANT
7msin
,the key.of
D (2 oct)
G, A (2 oct)
D (l oct)
G (1 oct)
D, F (2 oct)
A, B flat (2 oct)
D, F (1 oct)
G, A flat, A (2 oct)
D, E flat, E (2 oct)
F, F#, A flat, A, C,
G, A (12th)
)
B flat, B
B (1 oct)
(l oct)
D (2 oct)
D (2 oct)
th
E, F, G (l2
Gr:'de_~ (l~
NQFJevelil
ABETlevei4
)
E, G (12th)
B flat (loct)
B (l oct)
C, D, E flat, E,
F (2 oct)
C,D,E,F
G, A (12th)
(2 oct)
th
G, A (l2
)
B (1 oct)
B (1 oct)
Grade 9 (200)
C, D, E flat, E
(2 oct)
F, G, A (l2th)
C, D, E (2 oct)
F, G A (l2th)
B (1 oct)
B flat, B
(1 oct)
GrlO(l~
NQFleveU
,
C, C#, D, E flat,
E, F, G (2 oct)
C, D, E flat, E, F, G
(2 oct)
A, B flat, B
th
(l2 »
A flat, A, B (l2th)
(2 oct)
5-27
;\( ';::
»i>'?',t,
-: '.~ ';':':,,'
GrtO <24't '(J
·P~p(lst) .
C, c#, D, E flat,
E, F, G (2 oct)
A, B flat, B
(12th)
C, C#, D, E, F (2 oct)
D, E flat, E (I oct)
A, B flat, C (2 oct)
F, F#, G (2 oct)
F, F#, G, A flat, A,
B flat, B, C (2 oct)
G, A flat, A (2 oct)
G, A (12th)
B (I oct)
C, C#, D, E flat,
E, F, F#,G,A
flat, A, B flat, B
(2 oct)
C, C#, D, E flat, E, F,
F#, G, G#. A, A flat, B
(2 oct)
C, C#, D, E flat,
E, F, G (2 oct)
C, C#, D, E flat, E, F,
(2 oct)
D, E flat, F, G flat
A flat, A, B flat,
B (12th)
G, A flat, A (12th)
(2 oct)
B flat, B
(I oct)
C#-B (2 oct)
C#-B (2 oct)
C (3 oct)
C (3 oct)
C, C#, D, E flat,
E,F,F#?G
C, C#,D, E flat, E, F,
F#, G (2 oct)
(2 oct)
A flat, A, B flat, B
(12th)
A flat, A, B flat,
B (12th)
A, B flat, B (2 oct)
All keys (2 oct)
F, G flat, G (2 oct)
F, F#, G, A flat, A,
Unit standards for a preparatory level for Aerophones
B flat, B, C (2 oct)
are provided, using the same
outcomes as for NQF levels 1-8, in order to prepare learners for formal qualifications, as
outlined from NQF level 1.
The following table will illustrate the integrative nature of generic outcomes, specific
outcomes and asse~sment criteria. Duplication in the explanation of the different levels is
unavoidable, as it may be necessary to extract a specific set of outcomes in its complete
form.
Deliver a balanced recital of a
total duration of 7-10 minutes.
11
Demonstrate basic tone control,
appropriate for the level of study
and the instrument.
Demonstrate sufficient
knowledge and control oYer
technical aspects of performance.
Perform at a standard of an
internationally accepted body
grades 3-4 (151 instrument) or
grades 1-2 (2nd instrument).
Assess the recital in formal
examination or public concert
conditions.
Demonstrate the ability to
perform in different styles and/or
genres.
Assess the performance regarding
different styles and/or genres.
Perform a balanced programme
with understanding and
musicality.
Assess the content of the
programme, as well as the
standard of performance.
Demonstrate a basic ability to
play with a focused tone, relative
to this standard of performance.
Assess tone control, whether
being clear and reliable, while
controlling aspects such as
projection, intonation and clarity.
Demonstrate appropriate breath
control, basic understanding of
phrasing and corresponding
breathing opportunities,
depending on the level of study
and instrument.
Assess the musical approach to
breathing and phrasing.
Demonstrate a basic control of
tongue technique and articulation
in using legato and staccato.
Assess the accurate musical and
technical control of legato and
staccato tongue technique, as well
as articulation indications.
Demonstrate a basic ability to
perform with a good tone and
so.me degree of dynamic control,
without negatively affecting
intonation.
Assess intonation and dynamic
control at a basic level,
appropriate for the specific
instrument, style and genre.
Demonstrate technical fluency
over selected scale and arpeggio
structures. Technical exercises
may substitute scale and arpeggio
structures where appropriate.
Assess the technical control over
scales and arpeggio structures or
technical exercises, appropriate to
this level of playing.
Assess the tone control and
musical approach to scales and
arpeggio structures.
Demonstrate understanding of
context according to style, genre
and history.
Research basic contextual aspects
relating to repertoire performed,
such as information on composer,
style and history, form and key.
Assess understanding of context
relating to style, instrument and
genre.
Participate as member of an
ensemble together with other
instrumentalists of own choice, at
an appropriate level of
performance.
Demonstrate the ability to
perform in an ensemble with two
or more instrumentalists of own
choice.
Assess the ability to perform as
member of an ensemble.
Demonstrate a developing ability
in improvising.
Improvise in a style chosen by the
learner at an elementary level.
Assess the improvising
proficiency at an elementary
level. .
Demonstrate sight-reading ability
at a level of two grades below
performance standard.
Perform music read from sight
accurately up to a standard of an
internationally accepted
examining body two grades
below performance standard.
Assess the accurate version of a
piece read from sight, up to a
standard of an internationally
accepted examining body two
grades below performance
standard.
Research the application of basic
music concepts to repertoire
performed.
Assess knowledge on basic music
concepts in relation to repertoire
performed.
:
Demonstrate understanding of
music concepts in relation to
repertoire performed.
Assess the musical outcome of an
ensemble.
When interpreted in the format required by SAQA, outcomes described in the table
presented above will be offered in the following version.
Preparatory level
PURPOSE AND RELATIONSHIP TO QUALIFICATION
This unit standard is a preparatory standard towards a General Education and Training
Certifica,tein Music Performance on the National Qualifications Framework level I. It
provides learners with the opportunity to access learning and experience in Music
Performance, with specialisation in Aerophones. The learner must be prepared to further
hislher studies in focused music education from grade 9 onwards.
Learners will be able to integrate fundamental,
contextual
and focused learning
outcomes, as well as to exercise accurate judgement as to the quality, structure, music
elements and technical contents of repertoire which have been studied.
Learners will, at the end of this qualification, be able to demonstrate competence in their
instrument by means of a satisfactory tone production, and competent technical skills, as
well as by integrating these skills with music content such as theory and history. A short
performance, in concert-type or formal examination circumstances, of differing lengths at
different levels, will serve as demonstration of musical and technical skills acquired.
Repertoire of different genres and styles will have been studied, and the learner will
demonstrate sufficient understanding of these genres and styles. Contextual aspects such
as cultural background, historical information as well as conceptual music knowledge will
be integrated with music skills.
Learners will have a choice of the following elective areas, w1)ere they will be able to
apply knowledge and skills outcomes in:
•
oboe and re.1atedinstruments;
•
bassoon and related instruments;
•
euphonium~
•
other instruments determined by the needs of the performer, and which may be
categorised as Aerophones.
The fundamental h~arning acquired will be applied in the sub-field of Music, preparatory
level.
•
Learners will have attained a working knowledge of an appropriate notation and
theory of .music system applicable
to the style and genre of the chosen
performance instrument( s).
•
Learners will have attained language and communication
proficiency
at a
satisfactory and workable level.
•
Learners will also have an elementary knowledge of the elements of sound, for
example pitch and dynamics.
•
Learners will have a workable knowledge of history and style appropriate to the
chosen genre( s), and appropriate to this level.
•
Perform at a standard of an internationally accepted examining body grade 3-4
(1st instrument) or grade 1-2 (2nd instrument).
•
Demonstrate a basic ability to play with a focused tone, relative to this standard
of performance.
•
Demonstrate appropriate breath control, basic understanding
of phrasing and
corresponding breathing opportunities, depending on the level of study and the
instrument.
•
Demonstrate a basic control of tongue technique and articulation in using legato
and staccato.
•
Demonstrate a basic ability to perform with a good tone and some degree of
dynamic control, without negatively affecting intonation.
•
Demonstrate technical fluency over selected major, harmonic minor, melodic
minor and chromatic scales, as well as corresponding arpeggio structures and
diminished sevenths. Technical exercises may substitute scale and arpeggio
structures where appropriate. Optional: whole tone, blues, pentatonic scales and
dominant sevenths.
•
Research basic contextual aspects relating to repertoire performed, such as
information on the composers, styles, history, form, key and character of music.
Participate as member of an ensemble together with other instrumentalists of own choice,
at an appropriate level of performance.
•
Demonstrate the ability to perform in an ensemble consisting of three or more
instrumentalists of own choice.
•
Perform music read from sight accurately up to a standard of an internationally
accepted examining body, grade 1-2 (1st instrument) or beginners level (2nd
instrument).
•
Assess tone control, whether being reliable, while controlling aspects such as
projection, intonation and clarity at a basic level.
•
Assess the accurate musical and technical control of legato and staccato tongue
technique, as well as articulation indications.
•
Assess overall intonation, appropriate
for the specific instrument, style and
genre.
•
Assess the technical control over scales and arpeggios appropriate to this .level of
playing.
•
Assess understanding of context relating to style, instrument and genre.
•
Assess the accurate version of a piece read from sight, two grades below
performance standard.
•
Anyone assessing a learner against this unit standard must be registered as an
assessor with the relevant ETQA.
•
Any institution offering learning that will lead to achievement of this unit
standard must be accredited as a provider through the relevant ETQA by SAQA.
•
Moderation of assessment will be overseen by the relevant ETQA according to
the moderation guidelines in the relevant qualification and the agreed ETQA
procedures.
The minimum standard of Performance will be that of an internationally accepted
examining body beginner's level (2nd instrument) to grade 2 (1st instrument).
Suggested range statements for scale and arpeggio structures will be provided separately
for different instruments, and may deviate from or enrich the scale ranges used by
internationally accepted examining bodies.
The following table will illustrate ·the integrative nature of gene~c outcomes, specific
outcomes and assessment for NQF level 1:
Deliver a balanced recital of a
total duration of 10 to 12
minutes. 12
Demonstrate tone control
appropriate for the level of study
and the instrument.
Demonstrate sufficient
knowledge and control over
technical aspects of performance.
Perform at a standard of an
internationally accepted
examination body grades 4-5 (l Sf
instrument) or grades 2-3 (2nd
instrument .
Demonstrate the ability to
perform in different styles and/or
enres.
Perform a balanced programme
with understanding and
musicality.
Demonstrate the ability to play
with a clear and focused tone,
relative to this standard of
performance.
Assess the recital in formal
examination or public concert
conditions.
Assess the performance regarding
different styles and/or genres.
Assess the content of the
programme, as well as the
standard of performance.
Assess tone control, whether
being clear and reliable, while
controlling aspects such as
projection, focus and clarity.
Demonstrate appropriate breath
control, understanding of
phrasing and corresponding
breathing opportunities,
depending on the level of study
and instrument.
Assess the musical approach to
breathing and phrasing.
Demonstrate a basic control of
tongue technique and articulation
in using legato and staccato.
Assess the accurate musical and
technical control of legato and
staccato tongue technique, as well
as articulation indications.
Demonstrate a basic ability to
perform with a good tone and
some degree of dynamic control,
without negatively affecting
intonation.
Demonstrate technical fluency
over selected scale and arpeggio
structures.
Assess the overall tone,
intonation and dynamic control,
appropriate for the specific
instrument, style and genre.
Assess the technical control over
scales and arpeggios appropriate
to this level of playing.
Assess the tone control and
musical approach to scales and
arpeggio structures.
Demonstrate understanding of
context according to style, genre
and history.
Participate as a member of an
ensemble together with other
instrumentalists of own choice, at
an appropriate level of
oerformance.
Demonstrate a basic ability in
improvising.
Research basic contextual aspects
relating to repertoire performed,
such as relevant information on
the composer, style, history, form
and tonality.
Demonstrate the ability to
perform in an ensemble in a style
and with two or more performers
of own choice.
Improvise in a style chosen by the
learner at an elementary level.
Demonstrate a sight-reading
ability at a level of two grades
below performance standard.
Perform music read from sight
accurately up to a standard of an
internationally accepted
examining body two grades
below performance standard.
Demonstrate understanding of
music concepts in relation to the
repertoire performed.
Research the application of basic
music concepts to the repertoire
performed.
Assess the understanding of
context relating to style,
instrument and genre.
Assess the ability to perform as a
member of an ensemble.
Assess the musical outcome of an
ensemble.
Assess the improvising
proficiency at an elementary
level.
Assess the accurate version of a
piece read from sight, up to a
standard of an internationally
accepted examining body two
grades below performance
standard.
Assess knowledge of basic music
concepts in relation to the
repertoire performed.
Table 5-11 will illustrate the integrative nature of generic outcomes, specific outcomes
and assessment for NQF level 2:
Assess the recital in formal
examination or public concert
conditions.
Deliver a balanced recital of a
total duration of 12 to 15
minutes. 13
Assess the performance regarding
different styles and/or genres.
Demonstrate improved tone
control appropriate for the level
of study and the instrument.
Demonstrate developing breath
control, understanding of
phrasing and corresponding
breathing opportunities,
depending on the level of study
and instrument.
Demonstrate a developing control
of tongue technique and
articulation in using legato,
staccato and mezzo staccato.
Demonstrate appropriate
knowledge and control over
technical aspects of performance.
Demonstrate an improved ability
to perform with a good tone and
some degree of dynamic control
without negatively affecting
intonation.
Demonstrate technical fluency
over selected scale and arpeggio
structures, as well as technical
exercises where applicable.
Assess the content of the
programme, as welI as the
standard of erformance.
Assess tone control, whether
being clear and reliable, while
increasingly controlling aspects
such as projection, focus and
clari .
Assess the improved musical
approach to breathing and
phrasing.
Assess the accurate musical and
technical control of legato,
staccato and mezzo staccato
tongue technique, as welI as
articulation indications.
Assess overall intonation,
appropriate for the specific
instrument, style and genre.
Assess the successful and musical
application of dynamic control.
Assess the technical control over
scales and arpeggios appropriate
to this level of playing.
Assess the tone control and
musical approach to scales and
arpeggio structures.
Demonstrate understanding of
context according to style, genre
and history.
Participate as member of an
ensemble together with other
instrumentalists of own choice, at
an appropriate level of
performance.
Demonstrate a developing ability
in improvisin2.
.
Demonstrate a sight-reading
ability at a developing level.
Demonstrate understanding of
music concepts in relation to the
repertoire performed.
Research contextual aspects
relating to repertoire performed,
such as information on composer,
style, history, form and tonality.
Demonstrate the ability to
perform in an ensemble in a style
and with two or more performers
of own choice.
Improvise in a style chosen by the
learner at an improved level.
Perform music read from sight
accurately up to a standard of an
internationally accepted
examining body two grades
below performance standard.
Research the application of music
concepts to the repertoire
performed.
Assess understanding of context
relating to style, instrument and
genre.
Assess the ability to perform as
member of an ensemble.
Assess the musical outcome of an
ensemble.
Assess the improvising
proficiency at an improved level.
Assess the accurate version of a
piece read from sight, up to a
standard of an internationally
accepted examining body two
grades below performance
standard.
Assess knowledge of basic music
concepts in relation to the
repertoire performed.
Table 5-12 will illustrate the integrative nature of generic outcomes, specific outcomes
and assessment for NQF level 3:
Deliver a balanced recital of a
total duration of 15 to 20
minutes. 14
Assess the recital in formal
examination or public concert
conditions.
Assess the performance regarding
different styles and/or genres.
Demonstrate improve4 tone
control appropriate for the level
of study and the instrument.
Demonstrate an improved breath
control, understanding of
phrasing and corresponding
breathing opportunities,
depending on the level of study
and instrument.
Demonstrate an accurate control
of tongue technique and
articulation in using legato,
staccato and mezzo staccato.
Demonstrate an improved ability
to perform with a good tone and
dynamic control, without
negatively affecting intonation.
Demonstrate the improved ability
to control dynamics without
negatively affecting other aspects
of performing.
Assess the content ofthe
programme, as well as the
standard of rformance.
Assess tone control, whether
being clear and reliable, while
increasingly controlling aspects
such as projection, intonation and
clari .
Assess the improved musical
approach to breathing and
phrasing.
Assess the accurate musical and
technical control of legato,
staccato and mezzo staccato
tongue technique, as well as
articulation indications.
Assess overall intonation,
appropriate for the specific
instrument, style and genre.
Assess the successful and musical
application of dynamic control.
Demonstrate appropri~te
knowledge and control over
technical aspects of performance.
Demonstrate technical fluency
over selected scale and arpeggio
structures.
Assess the technical control over
scales and arpeggios appropriate
to this level of playing.
Assess the tone control and
musical approach to scales and
arpeggio structures.
Demonstrate understanding of
context according to style, genre
. and history.
Research contextual aspects
relating to repertoire performed,
such as information on composer,
style, history, form and tonality.
Assess understanding of context
relating to style, instrument and
genre.
Participate as member of an
ensemble together with other
instrumentalists of own choice, at
an appropriate level of
performance.
Demonstrate an improved ability
in improvising.
Demonstrate the ability to
perform in an ensemble in a style
of and with two or more
performers of own choice.
Assess the ability to perform as
member of an ensemble.
Assess the musical outcome of an
ensemble.
Improvise in a style chosen by the
learner at an improved level.
Assess the improvising
proficiency at an improved level.
Demonstrate a sight-reading
ability at an improved level.
Perform music read from sight
accurately up to a standard of an
internationally accepted
examining body two grades
below performance standard.
Assess the accurate version of a
piece read from sight, up to a
standard of an internationally
accepted examining body two
grades below performance
standard.
Research the application of music
concepts to the repertoire
performed.
Assess knowledge of basic music
concepts in relation to the
repertoire performed.
:
Demonstrate improved
understanding of music concepts
in relation to the repertoire
performed.
5.6.4.5 NQF level 4
The following table will illustrate the integrative nature of generic outcomes, specific
outcomes and assessment for NQF level 4:
Deliver a balanced recital of a
total duration of20-25 minutes.
Demonstrate advanced tone
control appropriate for the level
of study and the instrument.
IS
Perform at a standard of an
internationally accepted body
grades 7-8 (IS! instrument) or
grades 5-6 (2nd instrument).
Assess the recital in formal
examination or public concert
conditions.
Demonstrate a developed ability
to perform in different styles
and/or genres.
Perform a balanced programme
with developed understanding
and musicality.
Assess the performance regarding
different styles and/or genres.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
to play with a clear and focused
tone, relative with this standard of
performance.
Demonstrate advanced breath
control, understanding of
phrasing and corresponding
breathing opportunities,
depending on the level of study
and instrument.
Assess the content of the
programme, as well as the
standard of performance.
Assess tone control, whether
being clear and reliable, while
increasingly controlling aspects
such as projection, intonation and
clari .
Assess musical approach to
breathing and phrasing.
Demonstrate advanced control of
tongue technique and articulation
in using various forms of
articulation, specific to the
instrument.
Assess the accurate musical and
technical control of tongue
technique, as well as articulation
indications.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
to perform with a good tone and
dynamic control without
negatively affecting intonation.
Assess overall intonation,
appropriate for the specific
instrument, style and genre.
Demonstrate appropriate
knowledge and control over
technical aspects of performance.
Demonstrate technical fluency
over selected scale and arpeggio
structures.
Assess the technical control over
scales and arpeggio structures
appropriate to this level of
playing.
Assess the tone control and
musical approach to scales and
arpeggio structures.
Demonstrate understanding of
context according to style, genre
and history.
Research contextual aspects
relating to repertoire performed,
such as information on composer,
style, history, form and tonality.
Demonstrate the ability to
perform in an ensemble with two
or more performers and in a style
of own choice.
Assess understanding of context
relating to style, instrument and
genre.
Participate as member:of an
ensemble together with other
instrumentalists of own choice, at
an appropriate level of
performance.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
in improvisin~.
Demonstrate a sight-reading
ability at an advanced level.
Demonstrate advanced
understanding of music concepts
in relation to the repertoire
performed.
Improvise in a style chosen by the
learner at an advanced level.
Perform music read from sight
accurately up to a standard of an
internationally accepted
examining body two grades
below performance standard.
Research the application of music
concepts and compositional
techniques or harmonic devices to
the repertoire performed.
Assess the ability to perform as
member of an ensemble.
Assess the musical outcome of an
ensemble.
Assess the improvising
proficiency at an advanced level.
Assess the accurate version of a
piece read from sight. up to a
standard of an internationally
accepted examining body two
grades below performance
standard.
Assess knowledge of advanced
music concepts, compositional
techniques and harmonic devices
in relation to the repertoire
Derformed.
Because NQF levels 5-8 consist of after-school programmes and qualifications, a higher
level of minimum requirements regarding content, notional hours and standard of
performance necessitates a separate structure for the accumulation of credits. The
allocation of credits was calculated using two guidelines, namely
•
A percentage of the total number of credits for the qualification, based on 120
credits per year for all learning programmes, was calculated.
Table 5-14 provides descriptions of possible credit allocation for NQF level 5. It is
important to keep in mind that this, as well as the suggested credit allocation for NQF
levels 6-8, is onl~ a proposed distribution of credits, because the compilation of the
complete qualification was not yet available at the time this thesis was completed.
Solo instrument
(35)
at NQF level 5
Composition
at NQF level 5 (20)
Group:
First instrument
(20)
•
ensemble (5)
Group:
•
orchestra/band (5)
•
ensemble (5)
•
accompaniment
•
orchestra/band (5)
•
accompaniment (5)
(5)
Second instrument at NQF level 5
(18)
* Listening
and appraising must be
integrated with other concepts, but
assessed separately.
16
at NQF level 5
* Listening and appraising must
be integrated with other concepts,
but assessed separately.
The accumulation of credits is based on one hour contact time and nine hours non-contact time a week.,
for an average of 40 weeks per year. A total of 240 credits, equaling 120 a year in all learning areas, is
expected at this level.
The following table will illustrate the integrative nature of generic outcomes, specific
outcomes and assessment for NQF level 5, which indicates programmes and
qualifications that may be achieved after the school career (NQF levels 1-4) is finished:
Table 5-15: Specific outcomes and assessment for NQF level 5 - Aerophones
Deliver a balanced recital of a
total duration of 45-60 minutes. 17
Demonstrate advanced tone
control appropriate for the level
of study and the instrument.
PeIfonn at an advanced standard
appropriate to the field of
specialisation.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
to peIfonn in different styles
and/or genres.
PeIfonn a balanced programme
with refined understanding and
musicality.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
to play with a clear and focused
tone, relative with this standard of
peIfonnance.
Demonstrate an advanced breath
control, understanding of
phrasing and corresponding
breathing opportunities,
depending on the level of study
and instrument.
Demonstrate an advanced control
of tongue technique and
articulation in using various
forms of articulation. specific to
the instrument.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
to ~Ifonn with a good tone and
dynamic control without
negatively affecting intonation.
Assess the recital in formal
examination or public concert
conditions.
Assess the peIfonnance regarding
different styles and/or genres.
Assess the content of the
programme, as well as the
standard of peIfonnance.
Assess tone control, whether
being clear and reliable, while
convincingly controlling aspects
such as projection. intonation and
clarity.
Assess musical approach to
breathing and phrasing.
Assess the accurate musical and
technical control of tongue
technique, as well as articulation
indications.
Assess overall intonation and
dynamic control, appropriate for
the specific instrument, style and
genre.
Demonstrate advanced
knowledge and control over
technical aspects of performance.
Demonstrate appropriate
technical fluency and control in
performance.
Assess the technical control over
scales and arpeggio structures
appropriate to this level of
playing.
Assess the tone control and
musical approach to scales and
arpeggio structures.
Research contextual aspects
relating to repertoire performed,
such as information on comJX?ser,
stvle, history, form and tonality.
Demonstrate the ability to
perform in an ensemble with two
or more instrumentalists of own
choice.
Assess understanding of context
relating to style, instrument and
genre.
:
Demonstrate understanding of
context according to style, genre
and history.
Participate as member of an
ensemble together with other
instrumentalists of own choice, at
an appropriate level of
performance.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
in improvising.
Demonstrate a sight-reading
ability at a developed level.
Demonstrate understanding of
music concepts in relation to the
repertoire performed.
Improvise in a style chosen by the
learner at an advanced level.
Perform music read from sight
accurately up to a standard of an
internationally accepted
examining body two grades
below performance standard.
Research the application of music
concepts and compositional
techniques or harmonic devices to
the repertoire performed.
Assess the ability to perform as
member of an ensemble.
Assess the musical outcome of an
ensemble.
Assess the improvising
proficiency at an advanced level.
Assess the accurate version of a
piece read from sight, up to a
standard of an internationally
accepted examining body two
grades below performance
standard.
Assess advanced knowledge of
music concepts, compositional
techniques and harmonic devices
in relation to the repertoire
performed.
Table 5-16: Credit structure/or NQF level 6
MUSIC PERFORMANCE
PROGRAMME
(MPP)
Solo instrument
at NQF level 6 (54)
Composition
at NQF level 6 (30)
Group:
First instrument
•
ensemble (6)
Group:
•
orchestralband (6)
•
ensemble (6)
•
accompaniment (6)
•
orchestralband (6)
Second instrument at NQF level 6 (30)
•
accompaniment (6)
*
* Listening and appraising must be
integrated with other concepts, but
assessed separately.
Listening and appraising must be
integrated
with otHer concepts,
but
assessed separately.
at NQF level 6 (30)
The following table will illustrate the integrative nature of generic outcomes, specific
outcomes and assessment for NQF level 6:
Deliver a balanced recital of a
total duration of 60-90 minutes.
18
19
Perform at a standard comparable
to an international performing
arts standard.
Assess the recital in formal
examination or public concert
conditions.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
to perform in a wide range of
different styles and/or genres.
Perform a balanced programme
with refined understanding and
musicality.
Assess the performance regarding
different styles and/or genres.
Assess the content ofthe
programme, as well as the
standard of performance.
A total of 360 credits, equaling 120 a year in all learning areas, is expected at this level. Performance was
calculated at one sixth of the total amount of credits for this qualification.
Demonstrate refined and
advanced tone control 'appropriate
for the level of study and the
instrument.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
to play with a clear and focused
tone, relative with this standard of
performance.
Assess tone control, whether·
being clear and reliable, while
convincingly controlling aspects
such as projection, intonation and
claritv.
Assess musical approach to
breathing and phrasing.
Demonstrate advanced breath
control, understanding of
phrasing and corresponding
breathinJi!:opportunities.
Demonstrate an advanced control
of tongue technique and
articulation in using various
forms of articulation, specific to
the instrument.
Demonstrate an advanced and
refined ability to perform with a
good tone and dynamic control
while accurately manipulating
intonation.
Research contextual aspects
relating to repertoire performed,
such as information on composer,
style, history, form and tonalitv.
Demonstrate the ability to
perform in an ensemble with two
or more instrumentalists of own
choice.
Assess the ability to perform as
member of an ensemble.
Assess the musical outcome of an
ensemble.
Improvise in style chosen by the
learner at an advanced level.
Assess the improvising
proficiency at an advanced level.
Demonstrate a sight-reading
ability at a developed level.
Perform music read from sight
accurately up to a standard of an
internationally accepted
examining body two grades
below performance standard.
Demonstrate understanding of
music concepts in relation to the
repertoire performed.
Research the application of music
concepts and compositional
techniques or harmonic devices to
the repertoire performed.
Assess the accurate version of a
piece read from sight, up to a
standard of an internationally
accepted examining body two
grades below performance
standard.
Assess advanced knowledge of
music concepts, compositional
techniques and harmonic devices
in relation to the repertoire
performed.
Demonstrate understanding of
context according to style, genre
and history.
Participate as member .of an
ensemble together witli other
instrumentalists of own choice, at
an appropriate level of
performance.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
in improvising.
Assess the accurate musical and
technical control of tongue
technique, as well as articulation
indications.
Assess overall intonation and
dynamic control, appropriate for
the specific instrument, style and
genre.
Assess understanding of context
relating to style, instrument and
genre.
5.6.5.3 Credit structure/or
NQF LeveL7
As this level constitutes an advanced level of study, the performance unit standards as
part of a possible qualification will require substantially more time of study and therefore
offer more credits to the student.
At least
240 credits20 (60 per year,
over 4 years)
over 4 years)
Solo instrument
(200)
at NQF level 7
Group:
•
ensemble (40)
•
orchestra (40)
•
accompaniment (40)
Second instrument at NQF level 7
(60)
*
At least 240 credits (60 per year,
Listening and appraising must be
integrated with other concepts, but
assessed separately.
Composition
(150)
at NQF level 7
First instrument
(80)
at NQF level 7
Group:
•
ensemble (10)
•
orchestra (10)
•
accompaniment (10)
* Listening and appraising must
be integrated with other concepts,
but assessed separately.
The following table will illustrate the integrative nature of generic outcomes, specific
outcomes and assessment for NQF level 7:
S~~N~;';:
~!~~~;D~~;j
Deliver two balanced recitals,
each of a total duration of 60-90
minutes.21
Demonstrate refined and
advanced tone control"appropriate
for the level of study and the
instrument.
Demonstrate understanding of
context according to style, genre
and history.
Perform at a standard comparable
to an international performing
arts standard.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
to perform in a wide range of
different styles and/or genres.
Perform balanced programmes
with refined understanding and
musicality.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
to play with a clear and focused
tone, relative with this standard of
performance.
Demonstrate advanced breath
control, understanding of
phrasing and corresponding
breath in 0 ortunities.
Demonstrate an advanced control
of tongue technique and
articulation in using various
forms of articulation, specific to
the instrument.
Demonstrate an advanced and
refined ability to perform with a
good tone and dynamic control
while accurately manipulating
intonation.
Research contextual aspects
relating to repertoire performed,
such as information on composer,
style, history, form and tonality.
Assess the recitals in formal
examination or public concert
conditions.
Assess the performances .
regarding different styles and/or
genres.
Assess the content of the
programmes, as well as the
standard of performance.
Assess tone control, whether
being clear and reliable, while
convincingly controlling aspects
such as projection, intonation and
c1ari .
Assess musical approach to
breathing and phrasing.
Assess the accurate musical and
technical control of tongue
technique, as well as articulation
indications.
Assess overall intonation and
dynamic control, appropriate for
the specific instrument, style and
genre.
Assess understanding of context
relating to style, instrument and
genre.
Participate as member of an
ensemble together with other
instrumentalists of own choice, at
an appropriate level of
performance.
Demonstrate an advanced
ability in improvising.
Demonstrate the ability to
perform in an ensemble with two
or more instrumentalists of own
choice.
Assess the ability to perform as
member of an ensemble.
Assess the musical outcome of an
ensemble.
Improvise in style chosen by the
learner at an advanced level.
Assess the improvising
proficiency at an
advanced level.
Demonstrate a sight-reading
ability at a developed level.
Perform music read from sight
accurately up to a standard of an
internationally accepted
examining body two grades
below performance standard.
Assess the accurate version of a
piece read from sight, up to a
standard of an internationally
accepted examining body two
grades below performance
standard.
Assess advanced knowledge of
music concepts, compositional
techniques and harmonic devices
in relation to the repertoire
performed.
:
Demonstrate understanding of
music concepts in relation to the
repertoire performed.
Research the application of music
concepts and compositional
techniques or harmonic devices to
the repertoire performed.
5.6.5.5 Credit structure/or NQF level 8
As part of the unit standard for NQF level 8, a student has to offer three recitals of a time
duration of 60-90 minutes each. In order to achieve this, a substantial amount of
preparation (contact and non-contact) time has to be spent. Therefore the credit allocation
is considerably more than at NQF level 7.
Solo instrument
(350)
at NQF level 8
Group:
•
ensemble (50)
•
orchestra (50)
•
accompaniment (50)
Second instrument at NQF level 8
(150)
* Listening
and appraising must be
integrated with other concepts, but
assessed separately.
22
Composition
(300)
at NQF level 8
First instrument
(100)
at NQF level 8
Group:
•
ensemble (20)
•
orchestra (20)
•
accompaniment (20)
* Listening and appraising must
be integrated with other concepts,
but assessed separately.
A total of 600 credits, calculated at a total of 120 credits per year for five years, are described for NQF
level 8 (Grove 2001:4-4). A minimum of two thirds (or 400 credits) of the complete qualification must, in
the opinion of the author, consist of performance credits.
5.6.5.6 NQF level 8
The following table will illustrate the integrative nature of generic outcomes, specific
outcomes and assessment for NQF level 8:
Deliver 3 balanced recitals, each
of a total duration of 60-90
minutes.23
Demonstrate refined and
advanced tone control appropriate
for the level of study and the
instrument.
Demonstrate understanding of
context according to style, genre
and history.
Participate as member of an
ensemble together with other
instrumentalists of own choice, at
an appropriate level of
performance.
Perform at a standard comparable
to an international performing
arts standard.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
to perform in a wide range of
different styles and/or genres.
Perform balanced programmes
with refined understanding and
musicality.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
to play with a clear and focused
tone, relative with this standard of
performance.
Demonstrate advanced breath
control, understanding of
phrasing and corresponding
breathing opportunities.
Demonstrate an advanced control
of tongue technique and
articulation in using various
forms of articulation, specific to
the instrument.
Demonstrate an advanced and
refined ability to perform with a
good tone and dynamic control
while accurately manipulating
intonation.
Research contextual aspects
relating to repertoire performed,
such as information on composer,
style, histo , form and tonali .
Demonstrate the ability to
perform in an ensemble with two
or more instrumentalists of own
choice.
Assess the recitals in public
concert conditions.
Assess the performances
regarding different styles and/or
genres.
Assess the content of the
programmes, as well as the
standard of performance.
Assess tone control, whether
being clear and reliable, while
convincingly controlling aspects
such as projection, intonation and
c1ari .
Assess musical approach to
breathing and phrasing.
Assess the accurate musical and
technical control of tongue
technique, as well as articulation
indications.
Assess overall intonation and
dynamic control, appropriate for
the specific instrument, style and
genre.
Assess understanding of context
relating to style, instrument and
genre.
Assess the ability to perform as
member of an ensemble.
Assess the musical outcome of an
ensemble.
Demonstrate an advanced ability
in improvising.
Improvise in style chosen
by the learner at an advanced
level.
Assess the improvising
proficiency at an
advanced level.
Demonstrate a sight-reading
ability at a developed level.
Perform music read from sight
accurately up to a standard of an
internationally accepted
examining body two grades
below performance standard.
Assess the accurate version of a
piece read from sight, up to a
standard of an internationally
accepted examining body two
grades below performance
standard.
Assess advanced knowledge 0
music concepts, compositional
techniques and harmonic devices
in relation to the repertoire
performed.
:
Demonstrate understanding of
music concepts in relation to the
repertoire performed.
Research the application of music
concepts and compositional
techniques or harmonic devices to
the repertoire performed.
The unit standards offered in this chapter form part of a new dispensation in music
education for Southern Africa. For music to become relevant and part of general
education, and to assist in producing rounded, civilised, creative and responsible citizens,
it is imperative that the canon of styles and genres be widened to include the music
practices of all learners in the country in formal education, while striving for high
standards. This approach was followed when generating unit standards for Aerophones,
with the aim of aCGommodatingas many learners as possible.
.Generating unit standards for music(s) in Southern Africa entails an ongoing process.
Because relevant SGBs for Music, namely for Music Industry, Music GET and Music HET,
have been officially positioned only months before this study was concluded, it means that
the standards written in this thesis may be heeded as suggestions towards the future direction
of music education in Southern Africa and not as the final format or content of unit standards.
6.2 Answering the main research question
The main research question for this study was:
What outcomes are desirable for performance on Aerophones, and how would
this translate into unit standards for Southern Africa?
After studying the content of relevant unit standards in the USA, Australia, New Zealand and
England in chapter 3, the most progressive aspects, appropriate for the South African context,
were utilised in the generic and specific outcomes for instrumentalists.
considered· by the author as desirable for Aerophones (Performance),
The outcomes,
were subsequently
outlined in chapter 5'.
During the process of exploring and describing desirable outcomes, a philosophical basis for
widening the canon to include music of various cultures and genres, as well as the potential
to include Aerophones that are not part of the Western Classical practice (for example
African or Indian instruments and styles) were explored in chapter 4.
Action research conducted during many workshops and discussions within the MEUSSA
group, analysis of relevant standards generated in other countries, as well as the author's own
experience in the field of performance
and teaching of Aerophones,
sedimented in the
formulation of a set of generic standards for Aerophones. These were used to form the
backbone of specific outcomes for the different NQF levels. The author concluded that the
following generic outcomes are essential for each unit standard, namely
•
Deliver a balanced recital of varying time durations, as described in the outcomes for
each NQF level.
•
Demonstrate sufficient knowledge and control over technical exercises and scale
structures.
•
Participate as member of an ensemble together with other instrumentalists of own
choic~, at an appropriate level of performance.
The following sub-questions were formulated in the process of generating unit standards and
outcomes for Aerophones as part of the MEUSSA group:
To answer this question, the author will briefly refer to the performance standards of the four
countries studied in ~hapter 3.
I
This constitutes the following aspects: the quality of the tone, breath control, appropriate articulation
technique, accurate and musical performance of dynamics, and control of intonation.
The USA frameworks differentiate between content and achievement standards, the latter
upgraded gradually to reflect an increase in difficulty. Of the seven outcomes into which
music is grouped, performing on an instrument and improvising, both utili sed by the author
for the unit standards generated in this thesis, comprise the 2nd and 3rd outcomes.
The content standard for performing is formulated as follows: "Performing on instruments,.
alone and with others." The achievement standards for performing in the K-4 phase include:
•
performing on pitch and in rhythm (using appropriate dynamic levels and maip.taining
a steady tempo);
•
performing in groups (blending instrumental timbres, matching dynamic levels and
responding to the cues from the conductor); and
•
An accurate and independent performance, alone and in small ensembles, on at least
one instrument.
•
An expected minimum difficulty of 2 on a scale of 1 to 6 for at least one string, wind,
percussion or classroom instrument (for example recorder-type instruments, chorded
zithers, mallet
instruments,
simple percussion
instruments,
fretted instruments,
keyboard instruments and electronic instruments).
•
Participation in instrumental ensembles must be on a level of difficulty of 3 on a scale
ofl to 6.
•
Performing on a difficulty of 4 on a scale of 1 to 6 with adequate technical accuracy
and expression.
•
The demonstration
of well-developed
ensemble skills while performing in small
ensembles with one student per part.
The petj"orming achievement standard for grades 9-12 (advanced standard) consists of one
standard:
In the opinion of the author, the content of the achievement standards for grades 5-12 does
not constitute a clear enough guide to the interpretation of this standard. Therefore the set of
eight generic standards provided by the author in chapter 5 were applied in the same way as
the content standards in the USA structure, while increasing the grade of difficulty and
minimum expectations from NQF level 1 through to level 8.
The method of indicating performance standard by using, for example, a minimum level of
difficulty on a scale of 1 to 6 may prove useful in a South African context. It is the opinion of
the author, however, that the scale of difficulty may comprise more levels to make room for
both disabled and gifted children. Therefore the author made use of the standards of existing
examination bodies, comprising 8 levels of gradation, with levels that are well known to
music teachers throughout the country.
In the Australian framework, no specific unit or achievement standards for performing could
be found. Of the four outcomes applicable to the five arts strands (Dance, Drama, Music,
Visual Arts and Media) the 2nd outcome seems to present the logical slot for this area of
music education:
•
Arts skills and processes, which are the skills, techniques, processes, conventions and
technologies used to generate art works.
A possible reason for this lack of focused unit standards for Performing could be that the
Australi3.Q structure: is still undergoing construction
and development,
with the different
states in different stages of implementation. Therefore the author did not utilise any of their
unit standards or outcomes for the area of Aerophones (performance).
The education structure in New Zealand applies two kinds of standards, namely achievement
standards and unit standards. Achievement standards provide for a moderated assessment as
well as four levels of assessment (no credit, credit, merit, excellence), while unit standards
are assessed internally only with assessment done on a level of credit or no credit. The
assessment of standards on different levels of achievement is considered by the author as a
particular aspect that may be explored in future endeavours.
Performing is slotted into the first of four domains, namely Making Music. In this domain
aspects such as performance
on a first or second instrument,
composing,
arranging,
rehearsing, conducting, ensemble playing and improvising are described at random, and the
author of this thesis could not utilise the content of specific unit standards for performing.
The aspects of performing on a 1st or 2nd instrument, improvising and ensemble playing were,
however, integrated into the unit standards generated in chapter 5 of this thesis.
From key stage 2, or years 4-6, it is considered important in the English frameworks to
present rhythmically
accurate and controlled
performances
with an awareness of the
audience (refer to chapter 3, section 3.9.8). This aspect, namely performing in front of an
audience, is also considered by the author as an important part of performing. Therefore the
first generic unit standard in chapter 5 prescribes a recital which may be assessed either in
front of an audience .or in formal examination circumstances.
In the English system, an increased technical demand in instrumental or vocal performance is
prescribed from key stage 2, and an "increasing control of specific techniques" is expected in
key stage 3. In the AS level, musical ideas should be performed with technical and expressive
control, a sense of style and awareness of occasion and/or ensemble (chapter 3, section
3.9.11). Eight attainment levels as well as a level for exceptional performance are used to
assess learners at the end of a key stage, but no specific indications for performance
standards are indicated. In the opinion of the author clearer indications for performance
standard could be provided, for example a scale of 1-6 (as in the USA frameworks), or the
equivalent of an internationally accepted examining body, as used by the author in chapter 5.
The duration of recitals are furthermore used as an indication of the expected standard of
performance in the AS and A2 years in England, with a 20 minute recital prescribed in the
specialist option during the 13th year. Because the author of this thesis considers the
assignment of recital duration to different performance levels an effective method of grading
performance standards, the same principle was also applied in chapter 5 to indicate the
gradual increase in technical ability expected between the different NQF levels. Therefore a
recital of7-10 minutes is suggested for the preparatory level, a 20-25 minute recital for NQF
level 4 (the equivalent of the AS level), and finally three balanced recitals of 60-90 minutes
each for NQF level 8.
What role did the current philosophical climate, such as postmodernism, play in the forming
of a project such as the MEUSSA project?
Postmodern inclinations, when used as a tool to refine our senses towards music practised
outside the current music education discourse, may encourage a qualified widening of both
the power and the content within the discourse. Musicology is challenged with a paradigm
shift to include, for example, popular music within its discourse. Different approaches have
been proposed to achieve this, and it is the opinion of the author that a musicology that is
context-driven, in other words one that derives its criteria from the text at hand while locating
it within the context of origin, should be encouraged.
The MEUSSA project of the University of Pretoria was initiated early in 2000. The present
developments in restructuring education in Southern Africa had a direct influence on the
forming of the MEUSSA group, as it was a foreseen absence of unit standards for music(s)
that initiated the project. In character as well as in detailed research content, this project
represents the broad outlines of a postmodern condition. The challenging of accepted metanarratives in music education formed part of the dynamics within the group, and the project
endeavoured to include more than a narrow repertoire of Western Classical music in a new
structure for music(s) in Southern Africa, representing a widening of the accepted canon.
Postmodern tools of communication, such as the Internet and e-mail facilities, proved to be
essential equipment within the group, and the author is of the opinion that the project would
not have been possible without these technologies. This statement is substantiated by the fact
that it was often difficult to network with the few MEUSSA members who did not have ecommunication. Contrary to this situation, those members with e-mail facilities formed a
lively communication system, discussing and exchanging ideas in cyber space.
What is the influence of postmodernism on the widening of the canon in music education in
Southern Africa?
The hesitation
of many modernist
intellectuals
and educational
experts to grasp the
contemporary experiences of youth within a period generally known as postmodernism,
prompted the author to investigate the influence of this era on music education. If the general
characteristics of postmodernism may be formulated as a wide-ranging proliferation of forms
of diversity, a mood of declining authority, economic uncertainty, the extended nature of
electronic mediated ;technologies, alternative methods of knowledge accumulation and the
challenging of meta-narratives, this condition must certainly be acknowledged as having a
profound influence on (music) education.
The potential effect" of postmodernism on music education is impossible to capture in one
sentence, in the same way that it is impossible to provide a simple formulation of this
condition. Therefore the author will, while suggesting that this needs to be explored
substantially in further studies, reflect on the current scenario in very broad lines.
It is not possible to treat all learners in South Africa, and therefore music education in
general, as part of postmodern culture. Depending on available resources, ways of living in
South Africa may be considered on a continuum from pre-modernism to postmodernism. It
is, for example, not possible to explore postmodern
approaches to knowledge without
electricity or the Internet.
The other side of the coin, however, is furnished by international
movement such as postmodernism
trends, of which a
invites music education to acknowledge changes and
shifts on the music scene. If the validating of marginalised groups is considered, it means that
other genres, such as world music and popular music should be deliberated within the
discourse. The dismantling of meta-narratives urges the widening of a canon currently
consisting of a narrow range of repertoire spanning roughly 350 years of history of Western
art music.
Applying these suggestions would entail a context-driven musicology, one that could include
relevant criteria for the study of more genres than Western art music. While retaining
Western art music a$ the backbone of serious music studies, positive elements from different
styles and genres could be applied to benefit the learners in Southern Africa, for example:
Because a project of this nature is a first for South Africa and Southern African musics, not
all possible problems could be envisioned, and some had to be addressed during the course of
time.
The members of the MEUSSA group are situated within the vast borders of South Africa and
Botswana. This means that an effective and reliable communication system was one of the
critical conditions for the capable functioning of the group.
Three ways of communication have been used, some extensively. The main system of
communication, and the one that proved to be most effective, was using the Internet and email facilities. Problems were, however, encountered as not all members of the MEUSSA
group had private e-mail facilities, and a further portion of the group did not respond to their
e-mail correspondence timeously and regularly.
Apart from regular workshops that were held at the University of Pretoria, telephone
conferences with members who could not attend these workshops proved to be very
effective, and were held on a regular basis. In this way the Pretoria members could exchange
opinions with members in Durban, Botswana and the Drakensberg. Video conferencing was
also utilised, but was found to be more expensive than the telephone conference, while not
more effective.
The fact that the MEUSSA group had wide differences with regard to background and
practice in the music field proved to be both problematic and enriching. In this regard the
group divided naturally into a Western-orientated group and a group practising other musics
such as jazz, Indian music and African music. For the success of the project it was realised
that these two groups had to find common ground, and much discussion and e-mail
communication was utilised to achieve consensus. A joint mission and vision were also
formulated and described in the theses of other members of the MEUSSA group.
Widening the field .of music education by including musics of all genres and cultures in
Southern Africa, is, in many respects, still undefined and unstructured. Therefore the main
challenge for the author was to structure the research. For this reason a chapter on modernism
and postmodernism was included, because the process of inclusion and breaking away from
the "main truth" or meta-narrative of Western art music is understood better when viewed as
part of the postmodern condition world-wide.
Another problem was the relatively unknown field, within the formal scenario of music
education, of African and Indian music. As the Western-oriented approach to music
education was challenged within the group, it was realised by the author that inclusive unit
standards, encompassing specific styles and genres, had to be generated. For this, the
expertise of appropriate members within the group was utilised extensively.
Unit standards are,' in nature, non-prescriptive in the sense that they do not stipulate a
curriculum. It is the task of each provider, for example schools, colleges or training
institutions to compile learning programmes, and in this process to specify a curriculum
using the unit standards as benchmark. It is, however, necessary to prescribe a minimum
standard of performance when designing unit standards for focused music performance. In
this, the author recommends that the criteria applied by the most successful providers be used
as backbone for the generation of unit standards, and not the average or below-average
schools or educational institutes. The emphasis on skills-based education, encouraged by an
economic recession, must also not result in a (world-wide) lowering of the value of music
education. The aim must not be to produce average scholars, but to allow learners to excel
themselves while striving for high standards. This approach would result in a schooling
system that could compete with world standards.
Furthermore, the current practice of "fixed music", or music strictly prescribed by the printed
page, must be expanded to include creative aspects such as improvisation
and 'musical
creativity. The tragic truth is that a rigorous discipline such as Western art music very often
stifles and subordinates young musicians' natural musical creativity, and this vacuum may be
addressed by allowing more freedom of expression in terms of improvisational explorations.
A postmodern approach to music education also entails an encounter with a diverse range of
styles and genres. It is therefore the opinion of the author that:
•
The content of the Classical repertoire should be broadened to include a wider span of
history,
investigating
pre-Baroque
as well as very recent
developments
and
compositions .
.•
Examples of high quality music from the popular music scene, as well as the history
of popular music, may be included in formal music studies.
•
Learners should be given the opportunity to formally study music from their own
culture, such as Indian or African music, from the first year at school.
•
Music education of a high quality should be made available to all learners from their
first school year. Employing skilled and motivated teachers, therefore providing
quality training and sufficient resources, are essential in achieving this goal.
Music from a variety of cultures may be included in formal music studies while working
towards quality education, because that would be in line with the postmodern condition
active in Western societies.
The content and approach of music education in Southern Africa is in need of urgent readjustment and re-evaluation. Music in all its facets and sounds must be deliberated and
considered while addressing the musics of all nations forming part of this country. To
achieve this, Western art music may, in the words of Mngoma (1988:3), be used as a "lingua
franca", but the canon needs to be widened to include popular music, African music, Indian
music, other world musics and Music Technology. The sources of music practices available
in Southern Africa may, in other words, be mined to enrich the content of music education,
while keeping the foundational concepts and components of a quality education in music
alive.
The process of generating unit standards for music(s) in Southern Africa has only just begun.
The set of standards for Aerophones (performance), provided in this thesis, indicates the
commencement of a new process of restructuring music education. In doing this, music
educators must utilise the opportunity to integrate the after-school environment of the
. learners during school hours, thereby helping them to make sense of their world while
benefiting from all the advantages that a quality music education can offer. This must be
done without sacrificing the achievement of high standards, and by exploiting prime music
examples.
The following themes may still be explored for future research:
•
How can a common ground for music education, applying to both Western art music
and popular music, or Western art music and African/Indian music be found?
•
What does a systematic and practical application of postmodernism to music
education result in?
•
What does a comprehensive history of popular music entail, and how would that
differ from History of Music, as currently understood?
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