As Western Art Music is known to its friends…
It’s a formulation that seeks to get away from the narrower “classical music” and to avoid privileging it (for The listening service on some of the issues, click here). Of course Western cultures, of any kind, shouldn’t be a benchmark for discussing other societies; on the contrary, it’s fruitful to integrate them into a “Martian” view of world cultures (see e.g. Musicking, Nettl, and Viola jokes and maestro-baiting).
At the same time, I find it a red herring to seek to valorize “classical” elements of other world societies (for China, see here). We won’t lift our blinkers merely by offering a few respectable genres membership of our elite club. Neither Western nor any other type of Art Music is any criterion for “excellence”.
Anyway, WAM is a regular topic under MY BLOG, with its own category in the sidebar—along with world music and ritual. Under the tags you can find various composers, as well as conducting, pop, punk, and so on.
Another fun acronym is HIP: “historically informed performance”, relevant to several posts on early music, including Bach—and Daoist ritual, and Taruskin. For China, posts such as those on qin (NB John Thompson’s thoughts here) and Recreation are apposite.
A related theme is historical ethnomusicology. See e.g.
- Richard Widdess, “Historical ethnomusicology”, in Helen Myers (ed.), Ethnomusicology: an introduction (The New Grove handbooks in music), pp.219–37
- Jonathan McCollum (ed.), Theory and method in historical ethnomusicology (2014)
- and the special interest group of SEM.
These are just some topics that intrigue me all the more since I ceased to perform professionally; but I come to WAM and HIP mainly from a performing background, my approach not setting forth from scholarly research.