Essay (paper) Assignment 1 on ethnomusicology (Music)

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Essay (paper) Assignment 1 on ethnomusicology (Music)


This class is a part of the ethnomusicology program at our school. Ethnomusicologists study the ways that music has meaning and purpose for individuals, families, and communities. This essay asks you to use some of the techniques of ethnomusicology to discuss the meaning of music for someone that you know.

For this paper, we ask that you interview someone (one person is fine) about their favorite popular music. We encourage you to consider someone who enjoys a genre of music you do not like or are at least not familiar with. Then you must use some of the ideas, personal experiences, or opinions expressed by this person as evidence to support some kind of argument that you are making in relation to the music. Your argument may deal with any aspect of the music or music scene but it must also connect in some way to the social issues and processes dealt with in this class (e.g. globalization, technology, appropriation, representation and politics of identity, etc.) Our weekly readings provide great examples of arguments that make these types of connections. If you have summarized these arguments well during weekly readings, you should be able to review your own responses to see how others have made these types of connections.

In this paper you SHOULD NOT simply describe a genre of music, or a music scene. You are expected to synthesize the information from your interview with themes from the readings in order to make a strong thesis statement that will guide your paper.

Some useful questions might include: When did you first hear this music? How and why do you find this music appealing? When, and in what contexts do you listen to this music? How do you take part in this music-culture? While these questions are good places to start you are expected to come up with questions of your own as well.

Potential points of discussion include friendship, family, love, ethnicity, school, work, authority, religion, growing up, etc. Try to avoid being judgmental about your friend’s music. Even if it is not a style that you like, try to hear it from your friend’s perspective.

Ideally, you should record this interview so you can go back over the recording later and quote your interviewee directly. If you don’t have an audio recorder, take careful notes so that you can accurately paraphrase what was said during your interview. You must also connect your discussion to AT LEAST ONE of the readings assigned for this class and THREE EXTERNAL SCHOLARLY SOURCES. That’s a total of FOUR scholarly sources. The interview is NOT one of those four. You must cite these readings using in-text citations as well as a “Bibliography” or “Works Cited” section at the end of your paper. You should also cite your own interview using this format: (p.c., Bob Smith, 28 October 2011, Isla Vista, Cal.).

Make sure to give your essay a sensible title, keep your writing focused, support yourself with examples, and communicate your ideas clearly and effectively. Writing essentials such as spelling, grammar, organization and style are of utmost importance.


Length: 1000 words, double-spaced (e.g., three double-spaced pages in 12-point Times).

****Please save to paper as a Word document if you can (not as a .pdf or in Pages)!


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