World of Music, shorter version, 3rd ed. New York: Schirmer

The essay should be based on your experience at a live musical performance during this quarter, or a substantial recorded interview with a culture bearer of a particular music tradition. A key goal of this assignment (and this class in general) is to introduce you to music with which you are not already familiar. Consequently, concerts or performances of Western art music or popular music, or interviews with performers of these musical genres, will not be accepted for this review. Find something new – explore the rich cultural and musical diversity of southern California! Some concert options will be posted on the Blackboard website or announced in class as I learn of them, though I highly encourage you to find a performance other than those that happen on concert stages – those at community festivals, religious rituals, even backyard barbecues. If you have questions regarding whether a particular event would be appropriate for this review, please check with the instructor or TA before going. As you know, a big part of the ethnomusicological approach to studying music is evaluating sounds and performances within their cultural context (review chapters 1 and 11 of the Titon textbook for more on this approach). Consequently, if reviewing a performance, your paper should include information on where it took place, for what reason, who attended, who performed, for how long, how the audience reacted, and your thoughts on what the performance meant for all of these people involved. To the extent that you can, you should also provide some historical or background information on the type of music and/or the musicians. For instance, if you go to see an Argentinian tango performance, explain why that music and dance are so important to people from that country. If you don’t know much about the history of the music you choose, spend some time in the library researching its background. The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music or New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians are good places to start. You should have at least three bibliographic references to published academic works in the essay; additional sources may be drawn from online resources. If possible, even if doing a concert ethnography rather than a formal interview, talk to the performers! Ask them about the music they play, how they got started, if they make their living doing it – whatever you are curious about. I understand that not everyone will have this chance, depending on the kind of musical event you attend. If you do have the opportunity, though, it will make the performance that much more interesting and give you a clearer idea what to write your paper about. Though context is clearly important, the music itself is equally so. Be sure to describe and name any instruments that were played, or discuss the kind of vocal textures used if the music is sung. What were the songs about? What genres of music were performed? Was just one musical style used throughout the performance, or were many mixed together? Was the volume loud or soft, and why? Use your musical vocabulary – if it was heterophonic, mention that; if drones were involved, tell me about them. Dartmouth University has put up a terrific website that discusses what to aim for and what to avoid in writing about music; check it out: These points hold for those conducting interviews as well – ask questions about these matters, perhaps by jointly listening to a musical example from the appropriate tradition and discussing it with your interviewee.

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