Musical Solidarities: Political Action and Music in Late Twentieth-Century Poland

ISBN : 9780190084080

Andrea Bohlman
312 Pages
156 x 156 mm
Pub date
Jan 2020
New Cultural History of Music
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Musical Solidarities: Political Action and Music in Late Twentieth-Century Poland is a music history of Solidarity, the social movement opposing state socialism in 1980s Poland. The story unfolds along crucial sites of political action under state socialism: underground radio networks, the sanctuaries of the Polish Roman Catholic Church, labor strikes and student demonstrations, and commemorative performances. Through innovative close listenings of archival recordings, author Andrea F. Bohlman uncovers creative sonic practices in bootleg cassettes, televised state propaganda, and the unofficial, uncensored print culture of the opposition. She argues that sound both unified and splintered the Polish opposition, keeping the contingent formations of political dissent in dynamic tension. By revealing the diverse repertories-singer-songwriter verses, religious hymns, large-scale symphonies, experimental music, and popular song-that played a role across the decade, she challenges paradigmatic visions of a late twentieth-century global protest culture that place song and communitas at the helm of social and political change. Musical Solidarities brings together perspectives from historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and sound studies to demonstrate the value of sound for thinking politics. Unfurling the rich soundscapes of political action at demonstrations, church services, meetings, and in detention, it offers a nuanced portrait of this pivotal decade of European and global history.


About the Companion Website
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Action
Chapter 1: Sound
Chapter 2: Silence
Chapter 3: Song
Chapter 4: Voice
Chapter 5: Megaphone
Chapter 6: Chorus
Selected References

About the author: 

Andrea Bohlman is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research concerns sound, affect, and social movements in East Central Europe, as well as the history of sound recording-particularly tape. In 2017, she co-edited a special issue of Twentieth-Century Music with Peter McMurray on tape and tape recording. Her 2016 article Song, Solidarity, and the Sound Document in the Journal of Musicology was distinguished with the Alfred Einstein Award of the American Musicological Society for the best article by a scholar in the early stages of their career.

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