Ethnographic Ethics

Those 6 or 7 students in the class that are doing mini-ethnographies for their final projects might be interested in reading the Society for Ethnomusicology’s new position statement on ethnographic research and IRBs. It’s an interesting summation of the ways ethnomusicologists view their roles in relation to the communities they/we study.


Listening Responses


Since the last paper got pushed back due to my unplanned trip, the 2-page listening response will also be pushed back to Tuesday, March 12 by 11:59PM. Again, responses should be emailed in PDF format and should be approximately 500 words. Pick a song either discussed in class or in the reading from Iran or Cuba and discuss how it is or is not taking part in social/political protest. If you desperately want to discuss a song not covered in either class or the reading, please clear it with me first.

All papers in this class must have a point. Summary or description will result in an unsatisfactory evaluation.

Cuban Music Resources

As you work your way through the materials for this week, there are a few resources that might help you.

Ned Sublette produced an hour-long program for AfroPop Worldwide a few years ago on Cuban Music that is both entertaining and informative.

For those of you who want a more hands-on explanation of the interrelation between Cuban popular music genres, this page is part of the supporting materials for PBS’s Latin Music USA documentary.

Materials for Week 5

As discussed in class and on the syllabus, all of the reading for this week is available in Robin Moore’s book Music and Revolution about music in the Cuban revolution. For Monday, we are reading chapters 1 and 2. We’ll discuss chapter 4 for Thursday.

Here is a link to this week’s music. You’ll notice that the reading provided considerably more music to choose from this week. It was quite difficult to pare down the listening to just 12 examples.

Materials for Week 4

This is the final week of our introductory unit and the first week of unit 2: Music and Revolutions. For Monday, we will focus on warfare and conflict by reading two chapters from Steve Goodman’s Sonic Warfare and Bill Rolston’s essay about the Irish conflict in rock music. As you read these, I want you to focus on how their perspective on music’s efficacy differs from what we have read so far. Remember, every author we have covered in this unit has fundamental disagreements about how music acts in the context of resistance and social protest.

Thursday marks the beginning of our second unit on Music and Revolutions. We begin that unit with Part IV from Annabelle Sreberny- Mohammadi and Ali Mohammadi’s Small Media, Big Revolution on the Iranian Revolution. While this is the beginning of our Revolutions unit, this reading also acts as a theoretical text for how different media act in political revolutions.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the music.

Michael Warner on Publics and Counterpublics

In the title chapter from Publics and Counterpublics, queer theorist and literary scholar Michael Warner offers us a different rubric for understanding social resistance from what we have discussed so far in our class. (For an excellent general discussion on the thesis of his work, listen to this CBC podcast.) During today’s make-up class, 5 students and I discussed how his concepts differ from the Marxist subversion and resistance as described in the readings by Attali and Williams. For those of you who could not attend today’s make-up class, here are some ideas to consider as you approach his work on your own.

  • The chapter is divided into 7 main points about publics and counterpublics: 1) a public is self-organized; 2) a public is a relation among strangers; 3) the address of public speech is both personal and impersonal; 4) a public is constituted through mere attention; 5) a public is the social space created by the reflexive circulation of discourse; 6) publics act historically according to the temporality of their circulation; 7) a public is poetic world making. The last section is pivotal because that is where he offers up some details about how counterpublics work (starting on page 115).
  • Warner spends quite a bit of space describing the differences between different types of attention, circulation and discourse. In particular, he focuses on how personal correspondence, lyric poetry, gossip and sermons are not addressed to “publics” but rather depend on different engagement between social actors. What are the limits of this perspective? How is contemporary social media pushing at the boundaries of public and private?
  • Often the music of counterpublics is not immediately interpreted as such by the dominant public. What are some examples that you can name where artists have relied upon the coding and slipperiness between these categories? Do these artists depend on a certain illegibility?
  • How is this perspective on publics and social interactions informed by Warner’s background as a queer theorist? How is it informed by his emphasis in literary studies?

Readings for Week 3

This week is mostly theory. For Monday, we are reading two chapters from Raymond Williams’ Marxism and Literature, which can be found here. We’ll end our theory week with a chapter from Michael Warner’s Publics and Counterpublics (available here). Both are more involved readings, and I very much look forward to your thoughts. I’ll have more to say about both authors during the weekend.

Happy PCP / Inauguration weekend!!

Music for Week 2

The listening for this week is meant to elaborate on the theoretical concepts in the reading. Thus, it is more eclectic than it normally would be. You will notice that I have provided an audio recording of Wilhem Furtwängler and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra performing the end of the Finale of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 on April 19, 1942. Here is the accompanying video which should make the accompanying German introduction make more sense. (A recording of the full symphony as recorded one month prior is available on youtube.)