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Long Island Professor Deciphers Ancient Music

Dr. Lee Blackstone, a Huntington resident and SUNY College at Old Westbury professor, penned a chapter for "Music Sociology."

Dr. Lee Robert Blackstone, a Huntington resident and an associate professor of sociology at SUNY College at Old Westbury,  penned a chapter for "Music Sociology: Examining the Role of Music in Social Life."

The recently published book explores 16 musical genres and aims to demonstrate how music reflects social values, organizational processes, meanings, and individual identity.

Appearing as Chapter 19, Blackstone’s “Painful Listening: The Musical Noise and Cultural Transcendence of Southern Italian Tarantism” looks at music and its relevance to society, and the concept of “noise” and how it bridges concerns about music and deviance. It also covers the ancient music of the tarantism ritual, a ceremony to treat a supposed “spider bite,” found in cultural formation of the Salento region of Italy.

The music known as the “pizzica tarantata” allowed southern Italians to express, and endure, their conditions of hardship and alienation, according to press materials connected with the book.  As Blackstone describes in his research, music is a healing medium against social alienation. This music constituted painful listening that today has been superseded by cultural activism and commercialism, moving the once stigmatic music towards social acceptability.

“Music Sociology: Examining the Role of Music in Social Life” was published by Paradigm Publishers. The book was edited by Sara Towe Horsfall of Texas Wesleyan University, Jan-Martin Meij of Florida Gulf Coast University, and Meghan Probstfield of Indian River State College.

Dr. Blackstone earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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