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Organological geopolitics and the Balaban of Azerbaijan: comparative musical dialogues concerning a double-reed aerophone of the post-Soviet Caucasus

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Title: Organological geopolitics and the Balaban of Azerbaijan: comparative musical dialogues concerning a double-reed aerophone of the post-Soviet Caucasus
Author(s): Kipp, Natasha
Director of Research: Buchanan, Donna
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Solis, Gabriel
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Buchanan, Donna; Turino, Thomas; Tempest, Richard
Department / Program: Music
Discipline: Musicology
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): ethnomusicology Azerbaijan balaban duduk timbre Eurovision Battlestar Galactica United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Caucasus
Abstract: This dissertation is about the power of sound, how sound influences and is influenced by emotion, how emotion influences national politics, and how those politics spill over into international and intercultural relations. Specifically, it is about a shared double-reed musical instrument found throughout the South Caucasus. In Azerbaijan this instrument is called the balaban; in Armenia, the duduk; and in Georgia it is known as the duduki. The value locally assigned to this instrument by citizens of these countries is most apparent through the discourses that surround it and the emotions that it evokes through its timbre. While my primary focus is Azerbaijan—my research site—the multiple layers of significance attached to both the body and sound of this instrument illuminate and have contributed to the complicated regional relations between Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. Likewise, the instrument and discourses surrounding it figure in intercontinental relations between Eurasia and Europe. The use of this particular musical instrument for cultural, socio-political, and nationalistic purposes that are directly related to the currently stagnant Nagorny Karabakh (Nag-OR-nii Kah-rah-BACH) conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia also necessitates an expanded scope for this dissertation. Hence, I address the region of the South Caucasus as a whole, as opposed to Azerbaijan alone. Because of its scope, the questions that guided this research were not simply, “What is the balaban?” and “Why focus on this double-reed in Azerbaijan?” but particularly, “What does the study of this instrument illuminate about the South Caucasus that will offer us a better understanding of the region as a whole?” A fundamental factor among these lines of inquiry is that all three countries—Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia—claim origin and ownership of this instrument, making it an object shared, as much as it is also contested. In addition to addressing the issue of conflict over this shared instrument, I include research and details on the construction of the balaban and the significance of its materials within Azerbaijan. The final chapters are then reserved for analysis of how the unique sound of this instrument has traveled across borders, or rather, how it has been trafficked. The case studies focused on this theme include analyses of UNESCO’s Masterpieces of Intangible Heritage Program, the Eurovision Song Contest, and an array of media productions (the movie Gladiator, a political ad for John McCain, and the Battlestar Galactica series) created here in the US.
Issue Date: 2012-09-18
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/34235
Rights Information: Copyright 2012 Natasha Kipp
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-09-18
Date Deposited: 2012-08
 

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