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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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A Musical Trial

A Musical Trial

Chapter:
(p.85) 4 A Musical Trial
Source:
Acoustic Jurisprudence
Author(s):

James E K Parker

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198735809.003.0005

This chapter is about how Bikindi’s songs featured in the ‘judicial soundscape’. Every appearance of song during the Bikindi case, it is suggested, must be understood in light of the fact that the judicial soundscape is fundamentally oral and discursive, not musical. When Bikindi’s songs were played and witnesses sang at trial the kind of listening encouraged by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was far from neutral. It both depended on and helped cement the music/lyric, form/content distinction upon which so much of the Tribunal’s thought and practice relied and which left so much to be desired. The chapter ends by considering the one moment during Bikindi’s trial when a musical performance may have succeeded in resisting the Tribunal’s otherwise successful efforts at containment: when, having been offered the opportunity to make a ‘final statement’ at the close of his appeals hearing, for five and a half minutes Bikindi sang.

Keywords:   soundscape, courtroom, music, song, law, aesthetics, Rwanda, ICTR, listening

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