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Howard, Keith (2020) Songs of "Great Leaders": Ideology and Creativity in North Korean Music and Dance. New York: Oxford University Press.

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North Korea is often said to be unknown: a reclusive and secretive state. It behaves as if the whole country is a theatre that projects itself through performance. Song, together with other music and dance production, forms the soundtrack to the theater of daily life, embedding messages that tell the official history, the exploits of leaders, and the socialist utopia yet-to-come. Songs form the foundation stones of revolutionary operas, of instrumental and orchestral tone poems, and are rearranged in countless versions for use by children in kindergartens, for 50,000 young people who dance annually in celebration of the Eternal President’s birthday, and for the 100,000 participants of mass spectacles such as the Arirang Festival. North Koreans are reminded daily on state-controlled television news how their songs are beamed around the world by satellite, and songs are today routinely uploaded to YouTube and Youku. This is the first book-length account of North Korean music and dance in any language other than Korean. It is based on fieldwork, on interviews, and resources researched in private and public archives and libraries in North Korea, but also in South Korea, China, North America and Europe. It explores revolutionary songs written in the 1940s and pop songs from the 2010s, exploring in a critical but informed way not just songs, but also developments of Korean instruments, the creation of revolutionary operas that embed the state’s ideology of juche “self-reliance”, mass spectacles, dance and dance notation, and composers and compositions

Item Type: Authored Books
Keywords: North Korea, Music, Dance, Ideology, Socialist realism, Nationalism, Song culture, Musical instruments, Revolutionary Operas, Mass spectacles, Composers/compositions
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts
Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of Music
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions (Asia, Africa, Australia)
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
ISBN: 9780190077518
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2020 08:07
Funders: Leverhulme Trust, Other

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