The Multiplicity of the Exotic

W. Anthony Sheppard

in Revealing Masks

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780520223028
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924741 | DOI:
The Multiplicity of the Exotic

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Looking beyond the borders of one's own culture or discipline, and discovering correspondences and similarities as well as alternatives, can be a satisfying activity, reassuring and enriching. Such interloping ventures, however, have long since lost their glow of innocence. Instead, we are faced with the dilemma of how to encourage the identification of those features that interrelate cultures and—at a more parochial level—academic disciplines, while acknowledging the responsibility to respect difference and expertise. Works of modernist music theater, and studies that attempt to acknowledge their radical inclusiveness, are both inescapably burdened by this dilemma. In fact, the most common criticism of music theater is that the aspiration to include and to connect produces diluted, rather than transcendent, results. The creation of new forms of music theater was often influenced by encounters with exotic models. This use of the exotic is another clear indication of music theater's penchant for making connections and is its most striking expression of a trait central to twentieth-century music as a whole. The “exotic” exists in the mind of the beholder. An “exotic model” of music theater is one that an individual composer, dramatist, or choreographer considers to be beyond the boundaries of his or her culture.

Keywords: music theater; exotic models; culture

Chapter.  2006 words. 

Subjects: Applied Music

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