Sorry to be so absent lately. September is the new February. By that I mean it is now the busiest month of the year for me, as February once was. A lot has to do with various fellowship and university deadlines, but some of it is also my fault. After all, I am inbetween the first and second of two trips to Durham.
I have much to report, a little time at the moment, but here are some highlights:
Those books I was going to read? If you like ethnographies, they’re awesome. Beautifully written and very interesting. I said this at the conference last week, and I really do believe it: we’re on the cusp of something big in music studies. A generation ago, people like Steve Feld, Simon Frith, John Shepherd, Larry Grossberg Richard Leppert, and Susan McClary (slightly later) were getting tenure and setting up their shops. Now, we’ve got a whole new set of people installed in positions where they can help shape music study from outside the establishment mentality of musicology. People at the conference were reticent about naming, but if “The New Musicology” got a name, I don’t see why a diverse group of music scholars now couldn’t also. Unfortunately, I don’t have a name. But there is some kind of ferment that is crossing ethnomusicology, anthropology (the two fields most heavily represented at the conference–I was perhaps the only person who didn’t use “ethnography” to describe how I understand my method), popular music studies, communication studies, literature, sociology, history, and several other fields. In addition to all the sound studies stuff (and perhaps that’s the topic for another blog), it seems that there’s a group of scholars now working on what I’ll call non-elite musics who are either bringing in fresh questions, or bringing fresh perspectives on questions that music studies people thought had been done to death (like authenticity, an issue I thought was dead and pointless until I read Aaron Fox’s book). All this is to say that my conference was great and very edifying. The Saturday night concert also featured the hardest rocking triangle playing I have ever seen. I am not being melodramatic.
On my way out of Durham on Sunday, I met up with my friend Jj who works part time at a music store in Chapel Hill. I wound up stopping by to “see” the store, specifically to get a demo of how you can use the control voltage on a Moogerfooger low-pass filter to control any of a number of parameters on the phaser. Which is, simply put, sweet. But while there, I happened by the instrument room and fell in love with a ukulele. Technically it’s a tenor, which makes it bigger, but I’m trying to learn a new chord a day. It’s a very modern instrument — plastic body, synthetic strings, polycarbonate neck. Wood front though. The tone is actually great. Mine looks like the green one in the picture below:
I’ve got to run now (this entry has been written in snippets all day) but the only way to get back into the posting thing is to post. To those of you whom I owe an email — sorry! I’ll write soon.