The Sounds of Protest in Bangkok

Here is an amazing podcast by Ben Tausig on the sounds of protest in Bangkok (it’s the last in his series) that I think summarizes how sound works with the red versus yellow protests.


Materials for Week 8: Musical Resistance in S. East Asia

March in Protest of Red Shirt  Clash with Thai Police via AP

Anniversary March in Protest of Red Shirt Clash with Thai Police via AP

For this unit, we are mostly contending with issues of censorship and political resistance. The focus for week 8 is on Thailand and China. Here is the reading for Monday. The reading for Thursday is the essay by Brace and Friedlander in Rockin’ The Boat.

Music will be posted by Sunday evening. Here is a link to the music for Monday (Thailand), and here is the music for Thursday (China).

Cui Jian and his famous blindfold

Cui Jian and his famous blindfold

Presentation from The Arab Spring and Media Spectacles


Here is the presentation I used in today’s class on Music and “The Arab Spring.” You’ll notice that many of the videos express something of the balance between message and media spectacle that I was trying to address in today’s class.

For those of you looking for some elaboration on the behaviorist model of media reception and audiences, it comes from sociological studies of audiences. This is the best introduction that I can think of off the top of my head.

This blog post’s timing is especially prescient as we move from France to North Africa and the Middle East.

Africa is a Country (Old Site)

Post by Laurent Dubois

The French national anthem, La Marseillaise, is, if you think about it, a pretty nasty song. It dreams, in one of its more memorable verses, that the “blood of the impure” will “irrigate our fields.” It’s a rousing anthem, to be sure, and I myself can frequently be heard humming it to myself in advance of a match being played by Les Bleus, or as I ride my bike or do the dishes. I’ve found that it’s sometimes hard to find a French person (at least if you hang out, as I do, with too many intellectuals), who can actually sing it without irony. And yet, over the past 26 years, the question of whether a particular subset of French men – those who play on the national football team – sing the Marseillaise under certain conditions has been a rather unhealthy obsession in France (we’ve…

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Advice on Alternative History Assignment


By Sunday evening, I expect to receive 4-5 double-spaced pages that present an alternative history of one of the revolutions we have covered in this module. Since students have asked numerous questions on the nature of the assignment, I thought I would explain this in more detail here on the blog.

  • The task at hand is to present an alternative history. To do this properly, you need to demonstrate that you have a solid working knowledge of whatever revolution you want to discuss and its relationship to music. In Monday’s class, I recommended spending more or less a page explaining what actually happened. If you want to spread out this knowledge throughout your 4-5 pages, you may do so.
  • By their very nature, speculative assignments require a creative approach to history. There are satisfying ways to do this (in class, I cited Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds) as well as horrific (c.f. films on what would have happened if the South had won the Civil War). In general, there is a purpose to alternative histories that can be easily gleaned. In Tarantino’s case, a revenge fantasy is at work. You will not be judged on how creative or imaginative (or violent…) you can be, but rather on how you present the case for what your alternative would mean for the society in question. (FYI: There is a whole sci-fi subgenre dedicated to alternate history.)
  • Somehow, you need to talk about music. In class I described the general spectrum of approaches to talking about music and context. Overall, I would like you to push yourself towards a balance between sounds and context.

I know college courses tend to dissuade this kind of creativity. I’m hoping that the format allows you to experiment and think of what might have been, and further, what the consequences of that might be for the revolution at your focus.

Materials for Week 7

For Monday, we will be reading Chapter 2 from Drott’s Music and The Elusive Revolution (link for printer-friendly PDF, link for e-reader-friendly PDF). Since it focuses on the responses to the protests in French Chanson, there is an incredibly large number of songs to choose from. As you read, don’t be afraid to send me an email requesting that certain songs be distributed and discussed in class.

For Thursday, we will be discussing the so-called “Arab Spring” with two articles. Here is a link to Kendra Salois’ essay on rap’s role in Jihad on The New Inquiry’s website. For those of you who must read it as a PDF, try this (hint: the website is better). Here is Aaron Bady’s essay (alternative link here) on the role of Western spectators in the “Arab Spring.”

Update: Here is a dropbox link to the music that will be covered in class on Monday. Here is a dropbox link to the music for Thursday.

Update 2: GoogleDrive is being flakey so those procrastinating for Monday are in trouble. Thus: here is the Printer-friendly PDF, and here’s the e-reader friendly PDF

Materials for Week 6

For week 6, we begin our 3-day examination of music and revolution in France. For Monday, we will read Herbert Schneider’s “The Sung Constitutions of 1792,” an examination on music an propaganda in the late 18th century. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the French Revolution. Despite ending with Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, its effects were felt all the way through World War I (including countless additional revolutions in France and elsewhere).

For Thursday, we’ll be reading the first chapter from Eric Drott’s Music and the Elusive Revolution on the May 1968 protests. We’ll be continuing our examination of the effects of May ’68 in Week 7 as well.

ETA: Updated Music for Monday is available here.