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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 15 May 2021

A Musical Trial

A Musical Trial

(p.85) 4 A Musical Trial
Acoustic Jurisprudence

James E K Parker

Oxford University Press

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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