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WESTERN MUSIC SURVEY(?)

I’m working on a syllabus for a western music survey course, the course that music historians are still overwhelmingly expected to teach in music and musicology departments across the nation. The problem I’m having is the same problem that any self-critical music scholar has when faced with the assignment: the conflict between university expectations (to … Continue reading WESTERN MUSIC SURVEY(?)

TWO TERMS

No, not those kind. These are two concepts I’m working on at the moment. They should appear in a short piece soon. Compulsory Presentism: any condition whereby the past and future are prohibited from being ‘officially’ recognized by the rules of the discourse in question; the totalizing over-prioritization of the present, whether by the explicit … Continue reading TWO TERMS

HGTV

is an entire channel devoted to cruel optimism. What’s interesting to me is how neatly its form of cruelty fits into a seemingly prescribed genre of American mythology about home-ownership and upward mobility. As these notions become increasingly fanciful for more and more Americans, the teary-eyed “reveal” of HGTV becomes increasingly uncanny. What I would … Continue reading HGTV

BRIEF THOUGHT ON THE HIGH/LOW DISTINCTION

Brief thought: most cultural studies scholars, perhaps excepting those coming from a more rigid, Frankfurt-school perspective, accept that the modernist distinction between high and low art has completely collapsed. Question: is this collapse so forceful as to have inverted the equation? Follow up: particularly with the question of radical politics, it now seems that the … Continue reading BRIEF THOUGHT ON THE HIGH/LOW DISTINCTION

SMALL MUSIC (?)

Right now I’m thinking a lot about music that doesn’t reach many people. For many music scholars, one of the key reasons that music is important to study is in how it contributes to the battle over hegemony or the contestation over meaning. Music articulates what we might call its “meanings” (but which are complex … Continue reading SMALL MUSIC (?)

IMPROVISATION AND EVERYDAY PERFORMANCE

Yesterday I presented “Improvisation and Everyday Performance” at the Cultural Studies Association conference in New Orleans. Our panel was a part of the performance studies working group, so my main point was to try to understand how improvisation relates to questions of performance and performativity. Briefly put, my argument is that improvisation studies is overdetermined … Continue reading IMPROVISATION AND EVERYDAY PERFORMANCE