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Social Anthropology: Events


Music and the rituals of war

Music and the rituals of war
Speaker: Dr Morag Grant # University of Edinburgh
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Date and Time
20th Oct 2017 15:00 - 20th Oct 2017 17:00
Seminar Room 2, Chrystal Macmillan Building

Warriors performing a dance before battle commences; the playing of drums, shawms, trumpets and other instruments while battle is underway; bards who quite literally sing the praises of those who triumphed there: war is suffused with musical practices of many kinds. In this seminar I want to explore some of these musical practices of war in connection with the idea of war as ritual. Even in today's highly secularised societies, the military is one of the most ritualised and musicalised of professional organisations, though the music concerned has, over the years, receded more and more from the site of battle itself. Is this simply a side-effect of changes in the strategic and technological bases of warfare? Or is it indicative of more fundamental changes in the way we think about music, and about war? As a basis for answering these questions, I will look at a number of musical practices of war from different cultural contexts, and offer suggestions as to their practical and ritual functions.

Edinburgh Students