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Lecture 1

MUS200H1 Lecture 1: Ethnomusicology

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James Kippen

MUS200 – Week 1 Ethnomusicology • Study of music in/as culture • Study music as a thing and as a process • What do ethnomusicologists do? o Fieldwork –research methodology ▪ cultural experience from insider perspective ▪ participant-observation, interviews, deep hanging-out ▪ traditionally a long-term research methodology • you go and learn about people you’re interested about for several years to do research ▪ become a part of the culture being studied o Ethnography ▪ a book, that not only describe your experiences among those people but why those experiences were meaningful in terms of practices o Avoid ethnocentricism—privileging your own cultural awareness and experience as correct when studying a musical practice that is different to yours ▪ having an open mind of what you’re looking at o Music is an important aspect of how we define our humanity. Thus, ethnomusicologists study music in all of its diversity ▪ looking at ourselves as musicians and looking at practices from western, modern society o Self-reflexive thinking ▪ What are the researcher’s biases? ▪ What does the researcher bring to the people they research? ▪ Research as an interactive process o Understand how the researcher impacts the research by bringing a unique perspective o Ethnomusicologists define the ‘field’ and parameters of their study, but the people they research need to accept them and help guide research ▪ Interlocutors, informants, teachers, friends, etc. ▪ somebody who is recognizing that they have to learn • Inaccurate Stereotypes o music is the universal language ▪ it’s limiting what you observe and engage ▪ never write this o study of world music ▪ a discipline that looks at a wide variety of musical practices o study of music of non-western cultures • Solutions o “get out of our cultural skins” ▪ find things that break up your assumptions of the world o understand different music of the world on their own terms ▪ cultural context, why it’s important o Everyone has different ideas about what music is. This understand is influenced by culture and taste o We want to understand what music does and why it is a meaningful process for people Sound and Music • Sound, Music, Noise, Silence o Purpose: Think about these terms, destabilize notions, be self-reflexive about your musicality o Defining music ▪ John Blacking –“humanly organized sound” [a professor, known as 4 fathers of ethnomusicology] • music needs to be flexible • Is something that is purposeful, put together in a specific order because it was meant to be used as entertainment, purpose o Music must be defined within a spectrum of sound, noise, and silence. The following examples will help to illustrate this spectrum o Listening Example #1 ▪ “Postal Workers canceling stamps at the University of Ghana post office” ▪ Recorded in 1975 by ethnomusicologist Jim Koetting • he was at the university of Ghana and recorded at the postal office • Koetting’s understanding of music makes this example musical for us as listeners, not exactly the case for the workers • Work Song—function ranges from coordinating complex tasks to making boring and repetitive work more interesting • Humanly organized sound • Whistled melody—hymn tune [Ghanaian composer] ▪ Postal workers make drumming sounds as they cancel stamps and 2 workers whistle the tune of a hymn ▪ w
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