Musical Solidarities

Political Action and Music in Late Twentieth-Century Poland

Musical Solidarities: Political Action and Music in Late Twentieth-Century Poland is a music history of Solidarity, the social movement opposing state socialism in 1980s Poland. The story unfolds along crucial sites of political action under state socialism: underground radio networks, the sanctuaries of the Polish Roman Catholic Church, labor strikes and student demonstrations, and commemorative performances. Les mer
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Musical Solidarities: Political Action and Music in Late Twentieth-Century Poland is a music history of Solidarity, the social movement opposing state socialism in 1980s Poland. The story unfolds along crucial sites of political action under state socialism: underground radio networks, the sanctuaries of the Polish Roman Catholic Church, labor strikes and student demonstrations, and commemorative performances. Through innovative close listenings of archival
recordings, author Andrea F. Bohlman uncovers creative sonic practices in bootleg cassettes, televised state propaganda, and the unofficial, uncensored print culture of the opposition. She argues that sound both unified and splintered the Polish opposition, keeping the contingent formations of political
dissent in dynamic tension. By revealing the diverse repertories-singer-songwriter verses, religious hymns, large-scale symphonies, experimental music, and popular song-that played a role across the decade, she challenges paradigmatic visions of a late twentieth-century global protest culture that place song and communitas at the helm of social and political change.

Musical Solidarities brings together perspectives from historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and sound studies to demonstrate the value of sound for thinking politics. Unfurling the rich soundscapes of political action at demonstrations, church services, meetings, and in detention, it offers a nuanced portrait of this pivotal decade of European and global history.

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