Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ANTH398D Meeting 8


  • Performances?
  • CRs
  • Projects

Next Week

  • Acoustic terminology
  • Notice connections
  • Timbre
  • Descriptions
  • Genres
  • Methodology
    • Applied acoustics
    • Culture and sound

Questions on terminology?




Music Concepts

Language concepts

  • Sound symbolism ("gl-": glistening, glow)
  • Arbitrary/motivated
  • Convention/similarity
  • Iconic
  • Metaphorical
    • Analogical
    • Symbolic
  • Metadiscursive
    • Discourse on discourse
    • Applied to music?
  • Diphthongs
    • Standard English, Mandarin...
    • Appalachia
    • Quebec

Boundaries speech and song

  • Acoustic
  • Codified
  • Universal
  • Localised
  • Sprachgesang
  • Rap

Voice on music

  • Influence semantic description on actual sound
  • Encoding aesthetics (boomy as undesirable)

Sensory Dimensions

  • Acoustics
  • Synesthesia
    • Neurological
    • Suggestion
  • Visual
  • Taste

Studio Production

  • Sound people
  • Music specialisation
  • DJs
  • Highly produced
  • Aesthetics
  • Precise acoustical models
  • Manu Katché and drums (Bob James and Earl Klugh) Harvey Mason Jr.
  • Session drummer
  • Studio session
  • Diana Ross Coming Out (Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, CHIC)


  • Poetic function
  • Heightened speech
  • Performance theory
  • Cultural specificity ("relativism")
  • Ethnocentrism in aesthetics
  • American Idol
  • Beautiful Instrument


  • Granularity
  • Ethnosemantics
  • Cognitive anthropology


  • Polyvocality
  • Popularise "voice" as literary technique
  • Literary fields (comp. lit.)
  • Writing and power
  • Identity politics

Social concepts

  • Shared understanding
  • Shared experience
    • Community of experience
    • Community of practise
    • Wittgenstein to Eckert
  • Oral Transmission

Social issues

  • Dispossessed
  • Reappropriation
  • sociolinguistics
    • Can't stand him singing in the rain w/ can't stand the sound


  • Get into cultural sound
  • Performative dimension


  • Musical Transcription
  • Drama
  • Grandiose writing
  • Music writing
    • Music critic
    • Sounds as if Tom Jones had a kid with k.d. lang
    • References
    • Show-offs


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Culture Shock?

As a Montreal preparing to move to Austin, TX, I might not have so much of a culture shock, at least if Euro-American Indie American is the main issue...
Podmodernisme: Austin, PQ

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Drag King at Sala Rossa (feb 17, $10)

Learned about this through Gary Dickinson (who happens to be an anthropologist!).
Should be really interesting.

dragkingsmontreal : KING SIZE

*King Size* perfoms at Meow Mix, February 17, 2007 at La Sala Rossa, 4848 boul. St-Laurent. 9:30 pm, $10.

Global Music Workshop


Are you a musician? Would you like to explore different musical styles and traditions? Join us for Global Music 2007, and learn to play and sing pieces from Arab, Turkish, and other Middle Eastern cultures. Our Artists-in-Residence are specialists in the music and instruments of this fascinating culture: the oud, the saz, the qunun, and the tabla. Learn how to express yourself in sound, and develop your skills in improvisation. Discuss what it means to be a musician in today's world, and how music can bridge cultures.

Whether you are an accomplished musician or just beginning to learn, this workshop has something for everyone!"
From a message to the mailing-list of the Society for Ethnomusicology:

Global Music Workshop 2007
July 15 – August 4, 2007 (for U.S. participants)
July 13 – August 4, 2007 (for international participants)
Invitation for Young Musicians

Schools, music teachers, orchestra directors, and parents are invited to nominate young people (ages 13-18) for a dynamic cross-cultural musical experience this summer at Legacy International's Global Youth Village.

Global Music 2007 is an innovative workshop offering young musicians the opportunity to expand their musicianship and explore cultural diversity in a summer camp setting. Students expand upon the musical skills they have developed in their home and school music programs by learning to perform the music of a different cultural tradition. Coached by expert instructors, students learn to perform repertoire from the focus culture in a stylistically appropriate manner. The workshop includes listening and discussion components designed to develop students' understanding of how people of different cultures express themselves through sound. As a result, the students gain a broader musical identity and become bolder and more imaginative musicians.

This summer's workshop will focus on musical styles of the Middle East, including Arab, Turkish and other musical traditions. It is a three week residential program. In 27 hours of workshop instruction, students will be introduced to the melodic and rhythmic modes common to these traditions. All participants will learn basic frame drum technique and a number of Middle Eastern rhythms. In addition, some students will be invited to study the oud (11-stringed fretless lute), saz (long-necked Turkish lute), qanun (78-stringed dulcimer), riqq (Arabic tambourine) or tabla (goblet-shaped drum). Strings players (violin, viola, cello, or bass) may bring their own instruments and will be instructed in specific techniques
characteristic of Middle Eastern musics.

The workshop is embedded within the Global Youth Village, a unique program in Bedford, Virginia which brings together young people from around the world to create a living, working model of the world community.
Participants in the Global Music workshop will live in cabins and enjoy their free time with 60 peers from different countries and cultures; developing friendships, discussing current events, and exploring how music can bridge cultural differences.

Instructors for Global Music are experienced performers and scholars with years of experience in the music of the Middle East. Anne Elise Thomas, Ph.D. in ethnomusicology, has performed Middle Eastern music for over ten years and recently spent two and a half years studying in Cairo, Egypt and Amman, Jordan. Michael Ellison, Ph.D. in composition, has devoted years of study to Turkish music and now teaches at the Dr. Erol Ucer Center for Advanced Studies in Music at Istanbul Technical University. Guest instructors who specialize in instrumental performance give students focused instruction on the instrument of their choice.

This program is targeted toward players of strings, percussion, piano or keyboard, and singers, with three or more years of musical experience. The cost for this full three-week experience, including room and board, workshop instruction, and other programming, is $1900 for U.S. participants and $2100 for international participants.
Some financial assistance is available. Spaces are limited
to ten students. Deadline to be considered for financial assistance is March 15, 2007.

For more information and to request an application: contact Innocentia Carr, (, or visit

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ruckus and Music Discovery Free Online Music for All College Students!
What this means is that any .edu address (but only a .edu address) can now be used to register for a free Ruckus account. (I'm a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University so I was able to register with my IU address.) Addresses from academic institutions don't work in this system.
So, faculty and staff at U.S. universities and colleges are also able to get free accounts. And, though the service is student-oriented, it can easily be used by teachers to listen to different types of music, including music appreciated by students.
I've tried the service and it does work fairly well for the purposes of music discovery.

However, it's more crippled than most music subscription services. For instance, you can't carry your music to any other device without paying for a subscription. Even then, I think it's only for the dying breed of MPFS players, so no iPod and no Dune-rhyming media player from MS. The player application is quite clunky.
It's also inefficient as hell. From the browser, downloads are put in a queue through the player application. This queue is very slow and it's quite difficult to get a single track to download fast when you have many tracks being transfered.
Though many people dislike the iTunes application, accessing the iTunes Store through it is a breeze when compared to the process of getting tracks from Ruckus.

So, I don't like and the Ruckus Player as much as I like iTunes. With plenty of memory, iTunes works quite well for me. Because it works on the same overall principle, Songbird is also a very useful tool for me, even though it's still extremely early in the development stage.
What are Ruckus's advantages over iTunes and Songbird? One is current and obvious, the other one is a mere possibility and could represent a sea change in the recording industry's approach to access control in music listening. Yes, really.
First, the obvious advantage: all-you-can-eat buffet. Ruckus is a subscription service like Napster and Rhapsody and unlike the iTunes Store, Calabash Music, or eMusic. For a variety of reasons, subscription services haven't fared really well so far. One of the main reasons is that those services restrict access to music files way too much. In this respect, Ruckus seems even worse. But another with subscription services is that they require constant payment. You stop paying, you lose access to the music files you had accumulated. Frustrating enough to make the whole system unpalatable to most.
Here, Ruckus is a bit different. Not only is the (unbelievably restrictive) basic subscription free for all owners of .edu addresses, but the "contract" is thought to run throughout the user's tenure at the academic institution. For a student, it basically means that the service is supposed to be maintained until graduation. Translation: get hooked to free access to music while you're saving money to study, start paying for access to music once you get a regular, non-student income. Sounds sneaky but Ruckus seems pretty honest about it and I can't say I find the whole thing absurd. In fact, I think it's a large part of the logic behind student discounts and other student-oriented services. Including Facebook. And even some academic programs!!
Again, obvious. And advantageous. If the goal is music discovery, it means that you can listen to all the music you want until you graduate by which time you're supposed to pay to access the music you've come to like.

The second advantage Ruckus could have is less obvious: peer sharing.
Call me naïve but I get the impression that the move to include all owners of .edu addresses may mean that it could be possible to share tracks between Ruckus accounts. If so, the service could have an interesting impact.
It could be so useful that I feel it might exist already. If so, I haven't seen it.
Because I like to compare music and food, I think of the all-you-can-eat buffet analogy with a specific implication. I know some people (especially some Protestant Anglo-Americans) may get disgusted but, "in my culture," sharing food at a buffet is perfectly normal. If my wife and I are eating at a buffet, we might try different things and share what we think the other will like. Now, when you go to a buffet with someone else, you may not share any food with someone who isn't paying. But it's usually ok to share something with anyone who is paying for the buffet. That way, less food is lost and it's easier to try most of the food available.
As most people know, much music discovery happens through recommendations. Online recommendations can work fairly well, for instance on Amazon and Netflix. But there's a huge difference between a recommendation and actually sharing something with someone else. Going back to the buffet analogy.
Case 1: A friend tried the tandoori chicken and liked it. She tells me that I really should go and get some. Once I'm done with my plate, I go get some tandoori chicken, sit down, try it, and find out I don't really like it. I've lost some time and, perhaps more importantly, some confidence in the compatibility of my friend's taste with my own taste.
Case 2: My wife gets a bite of tandoori chicken and likes it so much that she almost shoves a piece in my mouth. The power of suggestion is strong enough that I enjoy the chicken almost as much as she does. More importantly, I get to share this moment with my wife. Bonding is all about direct experience, not about delayed satisfaction.
Back to music.
Case 1: A colleague tells me that I really should check out such and such band. I put it in my queue of things to listen to, when I get the time. Once I finish what I was doing, I listen to a few seconds of a track recommended by that colleague. I can kind of hear what the colleague found interesting in the band's overall style but I'm not sure I'd want to keep it in my playlist. I wonder about reasons why this colleague felt a need to recommend that band. I become over-analytic and critical. I fail to enjoy the music.
Case 2: During a class discussion about shamanism, a student sends the class a track of a piece inspired by Siberian shamans. We get to listen to it together and comment upon it. "Skip to 2:23," the student says. Through the power of suggestion and the importance of context, we all get to share a moment of intellectual and musical stimulation. Listening to that first excerpt, a second student thinks about the perfect complement, diphonic throat singing from Southcentral Asia. We all listen to that second excerpt, thinking about connections between the two. Both students now feel validated in their approach to music, and everyone gets to think about music in a new way.

Part of the issue is the technology. If DRM-crippled files can be shared, we can better accept the need for access control but we still end up with crippled files. Obviously, non-DRM files are easy to share. But the Big Four (Universal, EMI, Sony-BMG, Warner Music) have been unwilling to release non-DRM files until very recently. It has thus created an artificial division of music based on access controls and has had a chilling effect on music innovation.
Another set of issues relates to the perception of music as a "commodity." Like LPs and CDs, music files are but a trace of a given set of music performances and/or of studio work. In my mind, music is located in the way human beings share, exchange, communicate, and think through sounds. In my humble opinion, listening to music with other people, like participating in a music session (regardless of "talent") can be much more "musical" in this sense than buying music files or even recommending a band name.

But that's just my opinion. ;-)

CFP: Perf Studies Conf (NYU, November)

Performance Studies International

Study abroad at the University of Ghana - folkwaysAliveWiki

Proof that ethnomusicology can get you places:
Study abroad at the University of Ghana - folkwaysAliveWiki