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Acoustic JurisprudenceListening to the Trial of Simon Bikindi$
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James E K Parker

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198735809

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198735809.001.0001

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The Musicology of Judgment

The Musicology of Judgment

Chapter:
(p.63) 3 The Musicology of Judgment
Source:
Acoustic Jurisprudence
Author(s):

James E K Parker

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198735809.003.0004

This chapter considers how Bikindi’s songs were understood by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on the way to judgment. It begins with the initial presentation of Bikindi and his songs by prosecution and defence, which it is suggested was invariably in one of two ways. As a matter of rhetoric, Bikindi’s songs were consistently treated as either seductive or civilizing. Bikindi himself was either a Siren or Orpheus. The chapter then shows how, in spite of this rhetoric, by the time it came to judgment, music had nevertheless become irrelevant as far as the Trial Chamber was concerned. Doctrinally, all that mattered was the songs’ ‘meaning and interpretation’, and this was taken to be discernible entirely at the level of their lyrics, quite apart from their sound, setting, or performance. The final section of the chapter argues that both approaches involve a profound misunderstanding of how song works.

Keywords:   genocide, incitement to genocide, freedom of expression, ICTR, Rwanda, song, musicology, music, lyrics

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