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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
The Travels and Travails of Music by Ruth Finnegan is aptly summarized in the sub-title: A tale of music, culture, and radio in the South Seas. I first came across this author when I read her scholarly and insightful work, Communicating: The Multiple Modes of Human Communication, a work that is as interesting as it is educative. Now, in this new work, Finnegan brings in her years of experience and expertise in anthropology and ethno-musicology to write about music and how this not-so-obvious element contributes to cultural change and expression. In the author’s own words: “As more often, envisaging ‘music’ itself as ‘migrating’ or 'travelling', far less as only existent under the misleading label of ‘world music’, the book focuses instead on the musical actions of individuals and groups in a context of changing media (with radio as one recurrent link), political divisions and multilateral transnational connections.”
Finnegan’s The Travels and Travails of Music is a work that will most certainly appeal to anthropologist and anyone interested in the cultural mutations that have been taking place in the South Seas, a work that clearly recognizes the place of music in the cultural identity of Fiji. Although she writes about the South Seas, this book is an important study that offers tools required to understand music in other cultures and regions. Finnegan writes with clarity, and her experience comes across in her message, giving her work power and authority. This book will help both readers and tourists get a beautiful picture of how music has contributed to the cultural language of the South Seas. Finnegan knows how to make her readers fall in love with a topic. She doesn’t waste words, and it’s the way she gathers facts and interprets them that is most amazing.