Taken by Strum: Ukuleles and Participatory Music-Making in Hamilton, Aotearoa/New Zealand
This chapter applies Thomas Turino’s account of musical participation to an 2018 ethnographic study of ukulele groups in Hamilton, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Ukulele playing can occur in many contexts, from solo to small friendship-based groups meeting privately, to tuition (classes), to large semi-public “jams.” Turino regards participatory music as a means of creating and sustaining group identity, in contradistinction to live “presentational” performance. However, most ukulele groups also perform live and this can conflict with the participatory model. Moreover, most ukulele groups use written scores, not mentioned by Turino, who defaults to an idealised model of oral, participatory culture. Scores introduce questions about how ukulele groups relate to modernity, the Internet and “participatory culture,” and also power and hierarchy that stretch Turino’s model.
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