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Music, Identity & the Grass Roots Level.
Analysis of Category-work of an Amateur Musicians Group

Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

Helmi Järviluoma: Musiikki, identiteetti ja
ruohonjuuritaso. Amatöörimuusikkoryhmän
kategoriatyöskentelyn analyysi
Tampere 1997: Tampereen yliopisto
ISBN 951-44-4187-7

This work is an ethnomusicological ethnography on the identity negotiation of a group of folk musicians, called pelimanni, in Virrat, Finland. Theoretically, the study is based on cultural studies, sociology, and ethnomusicology. The field material was collected in the course of many years' participatory observation and with the help of documentation of both music and conversations at the rehearsals of the group. The music and photos of the group are also analysed.

The book includes a theoretical introduction and seven chapters: The first of it describes the applied analytical method, the membership categorisation developed by Harvey Sachs (so called MCD-method), the second investigates the power positions involved in field work, the third gives an historical overview on the folk music revival in Finland, particularly in Virrat, and the fourth analyses the way the "field" is discursively constructed in interaction between the researcher and the researchees. The last three chapters interpret the identity negotiation of pelimanni-musicians from the analytical perspectives of gender, locality, and clothing. The study ends with a coda which identifies two dominating themes in the conversations of the musicians: the speech of "crossing over boundaries" and that of "lacking respect". The musicians experienced that, while they are the only group which is willing to perform in any village event, they, at the same time, were not sufficiently respected by the villagers.

Järviluoma's study is interesting in many ways: it studies the meaning construction within every day musical situations aiming at understanding, from the actor-oriented perspective, the construction of socio-musical reality in today's Finnish village. It answers on the challenge to study identity constructions in everyday situations. The book includes a summary in English.

Pirkko Moisala
Department of Musicology
Abo Akademi University
FIN-20500 Turku

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