Performing k(yopo)-rock: aesthetics, identity and Korean migrant ritual in Germany
ABSTRACT For a long time popular music and aesthetics have been considered as mutually exclusive categories within the musicological discourse. Based on the predominance of idealistic autonomy aesthetics, the concept of the (musical) ‘work of art’ at its core legitimised the exclusion of popular music from the realm of aesthetics. Since the concept of autonomy constituted the beauty of art as a sphere free from social functions and independent from interests of the culture industries, two antithetical strategies in researching pop music have recently emerged: on the one hand pop music has been described as art, on the other hand it has been considered as a cultural phenomenon solely explored through sociological approaches. This paper seeks for an alternative way, in order to overcome the dualisms of art and everyday life, aesthetics and society without neglecting the inherent aesthetic dimension of popular music cultures or the processes of identity-making of the involved people. For this purpose, concepts developed in theatre and ritual studies seem to be fruitful for describing pop music as ritual in social space (musicking), and in terms of an aesthetic of the performative. Based on participant observations and interviews, the paper discusses a rock concert the Yoon Band from South Korea held in Germany. In view of the event character and of liminal and transformative processes within the performance, it gives an example of how Korean people in Germany negotiate their identities and draw national boundaries through actively participating in and through music. Thereby, the way popular music constitutes the diasporic community can be detected in the underlying social, symbolic, and sound patterns of the performance.
Michael Fuhr is a PH.D. student in ethnomusicology at the University of Heidelberg, where he currently holds a fellowship of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe – Shifting Asymmetries in a Global Context". He previously worked as a lecturer and research assistant at the music archive of the EthnologicalMuseum in Berlin and at the Musicology Dpt. of the University of Cologne. He is interested in issues of identity and globalization, Korean popular music, aesthetics, cultural and popular music theory.