The Travels and Travails of Music


Non-Fiction - Historical
208 Pages
Reviewed on 01/31/2016
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    Book Review

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.

Vernita Naylor

The Travels and Travails of Music by Ruth Finnegan is about history, music, and culture surrounding beautiful Fiji. Ruth has taken an academic, cultural and anthropological approach to writing in The Travels and Travails of Music. Ruth displays the flow and the evolution of music and radio, along with its infiltration into the Fijian race and culture. Ruth goes on to specify how British culture has influenced musical culture in Fiji. The journey in The Travels and Travails of Music dates back to 1937 where she discusses the media in Fiji, the change in traditions of Fijian music, and answers the question as to whether music travels.

“But then a colleague's chance remark woke me up; it was based on the assumption that culture and radio overseas were necessarily dependent on, even controlled from, London's BBC broadcasts. There was a need for a more balanced - indeed a contrary – understanding,” says Ruth. Music is a universal language and, despite its genre, can be enjoyed or influenced by all. In The Travels and Travails of Music, the Glossary of Fijian and Indian Musical Terms, as well as the Radio Services in Fiji from 1937 to 2009 were extremely useful and helped to create a full fact list of information relevant to music in Fijian culture. If you are interested in finding out how music has influenced Fijian culture to where it is now, reading The Travels and Travails of Music by Ruth Finnegan is a great choice.

Tracy Slowiak

In a piece of research at its absolute finest, The Travels and Travails of Music by author Ruth Finnegan, an obvious expert in the field of music and communication, will take readers on an ethnographic and sociological journey all the way to the small island of Fiji. Tracing the history of music, culture and radio on Fiji, the story follows historically important moments in 1937, 1978 and 2009 to show that it isn't music that travels, but instead the people who use it are able to develop amazing applications. Delving deeply into an area that is little studied, the importance of musical contributions from island cultures in the South Seas, this book is a a real gem and a worthy educational read.

I very much enjoyed The Travels and Travails of Music. Author Ruth Finnegan further develops her credibility as an author and researcher of note in the field of communication with this book, and it is simply a joy to read. Any reader who has an interest in music, communication, or the geographical area of the South Seas would gain a great deal of interesting and useful information from this book. I highly recommend The Travels and Travails of Music to any readers looking to both be educated and entertained from the book they are reading. I hope that author Ruth Finnegan will continue her line of study and authorship. I, for one, will be keeping an eye out for her next great work!