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Wood, Abigail (2008) Sounding the city: music, place and identity in contemporary Jerusalem. In: Hearing Israel: Music, Culture and History at 60, April 13-14, 2008, Charlottesville, VA. (Unpublished)

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Jerusalem is well known as a visual city: many of her historical sites have long been instantly recognizable icons, and her landscape is imbued with symbolic meaning. This imagery has frequently been alluded to in music, including the core repertory of Shirei Eretz Israel. Nevertheless, less attention has been given to Jerusalem’s equally unique soundscape. Since Biblical times, the city of Jerusalem has formed a stage for symbolic musical acts, which bring together music, place and identity, and reflect contemporary sociopolitical realities. Part of a wider project exploring the multifaceted relationship between music making and symbolic spaces in historical and contemporary Jerusalem, this paper will focus on three musical snapshots, drawn from fieldwork conducted between 2005-7. First, I will discuss the program of musical events sponsored by the Municipality during the celebrations marking 40 years of Jerusalem’s reunification, several of which used the monuments of the city as performance spaces, literally overlaying music over the Jerusalem landscape. Second, I will discuss music and space in religious processions held by Jewish and Christian groups in the Old City, which seek to evoke historical precedents within contemporary practices. Third, I will discuss a small choir of elderly Russian immigrants, who seek through music to express their identity as newly arrived Jerusalemites. Via these contrasting examples, I will suggest that considering musical performance as a spatial phenomenon helps build a sound-orientated map of Jerusalem, which sometimes markedly contrasts with the familiar visual topoi of the city. As such, this approach offers an alternative inroad into questions of music, culture and history in today’s diverse Jerusalem.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Music
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2008 15:45

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