Posting for 10/2/14 Class

Now Playing:  White Light/White Heat by The Velvet Underground

The Ames article was the more interesting one for me, mostly due to its length and its simultaneous documenting of German/European history (which I think is very interesting).

In the article, Ames discusses how sometimes fieldwork for the Berlin school would be done within the city, or by researchers travelling to the locales of their source material. This raised questions for me about the value of documenting music in its original location or transporting it to where the researchers are. Even if researchers do travel to the source of music, the invasion of equipment and foreign peoples will have some effect on the purity of the performance. I’m not sure if there is a perfect substitute for being a member of a culture and experiencing your own music. For purposes of studying culture though, I think either fieldwork method has its ups and downs and can be appropriate.

The evolutionary aspect of music was also interesting. Science’s lasting search to explain everything, especially why certain things exist in the grand evolutionary scheme, struggles to explain some things such as music. I’m no expert in evolution, but human beings’ ingenuity and invention skills have secured our food chain position so well that we have been allowed to flourish and develop in ways that are somewhat different than the usual survival of the fittest scenario. Emotional complexities and developments of the brain may be the new frontier for human competition, with music being a part of this. There is of course a part of me that also wants music to be taken for its artistic value only, removed from the spotlight of dissection.

Ames talks about how the phonograph technology allowed new levels of exploring music, and I think this has implications for modern research using digital software and hardware. Fieldwork can probably be explored in much more detail, opening possible new avenues in the comparison of musics from across the world.

Nettl’s exploration of definitions and the history of ethnomusicology was less gripping to me, but I do appreciate how an abstract field of knowledge was humanized in the form of names, dates, and debates. I appreciate a definition of ethnomusicology that is very simple and broad, allowing practitioners to find their niche and speciality. Something like “studying music’s connection the identity in the small and large scale.” Fieldwork is a topic that excites me as it ties to the final project for this class. I cannot wait to document or discover already documented musical performance and add it to the library system for access.

That’s a wrap,

– William


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