MUSICALLY MISCELLANEOUS MAYHEM

Musicological Musings with a smattering of Miscellanea

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My two cents...eh, in this market, maybe only one.

I will be the first to admit that there are topics discussed on the AMS-List that interest me less than they probably should. Some topics stimulate such voluminous discussion that I feel more overwhelmed than inspired. But the joy of email is that it can be deleted with one click of a mouse. Gone. Forever.

Occasionally, however, when I can invest the time, I do like the check in with the list, which is why it is so disappointing when I see the list used as a forum for self-promotion and ad hominem attacks. And by self-promotion, I do NOT mean calling our attention to your new book on a musicological subject.

I rarely participate in the discussions because I don't care to get into debates that amount to "my Ph.D. is bigger than your Ph.D." (not a direct quote, thank goodness). Yes, yes...I know...part of it is just academia. But I don't have to like it. If, at the end of the day I don't gain notoriety and acceptance from the entire musicological community, but I still have a little bit of healthy idealism intact, I'd say I've stayed true to myself, my students, and my profession.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hello, again...Hello.

Well, I've been on quite a vacation, but believe me, the only vacation I have had has been in the virtual realm. My friends with whom I communicate via e-mail must think I've gone AWOL. I won't make any promises about the frequency of my posting, but let's just say I'm hoping to be more present, at least in my reading of wonderful musicological blogs. I devoted some time today to "catching up" with the blogging community, and discovered I missed this wonderful post by Phil Ford over at Dial M. I have watched my own writing develop, and can gladly say that I no longer feel it necessary to include the word "polemic" in every single piece of academic writing I produce. I'd like to think I use it with more discretion now. Writing, much like teaching, can always be better. Part of the "fun" is the revision process (although it is rarely fun in the moment) because you catch those entire paragraphs that probably made sense to your sleep-deprived brain at the time, but now read like a sermon in Swahili. Thank goodness for peer-reviewers and editors.

Before I tell you what has kept me from engaging with the blogosphere this summer, I have two bits of inconsequential but fun news to share.

First, I received my wonderful t-shirt from Soho The Dog. I'm wearing it proudly today as I'll be meeting with a musicologist colleague later. I prefer to think of it as "edgy coolness" rather than nerdiness.

And, this came in yesterday's mail. One down, one to go!

So what has Rebecca been up to? For the first summer in a long time, I have not left the state of my residence (and now that I live in Massachusetts, we will not be counting day trips to New Hampshire or Rhode Island). I did, however, receive a flurry of house guests all in the span of three weeks: friends, parents, and in-laws. I took a course in Marketing for Performing Arts Organizations. I've been organizing conferences, sitting on boards, doing some preliminary house-hunting, and trying to enjoy the summer offerings of Massachusetts.

Musicologically speaking, I'm working on several projects. One involves the Pittsburgh Symphony, but that is on hold until my dear friends move to Pittsburgh in a few weeks. M has just accepted a professorship at U Pitt (in physics), and he and his wife have bought a house...with plenty of room for guests. So, you see my strategy---free accommodations should never be rejected.

Secondly, it appears I'll be teaching a class entitled "Music in the United States" this fall. So, I'm going through the gratifying/frustrating process of constructing a syllabus. It is a general course for non-majors, and cross-registered with American Studies. I'll be using Richard Crawford's America's Musical Life, which I think will suit my class quite well. Of course I'm struggling with distribution and how much time to spend on the potpourri of musical styles I'll need to cover. I'm considering some overarching themes ( "Music and Religion," "Music and War," for example) to guide the course structure, rather than a strict chronological approach. I'd love to be able to talk about William Billings and William Schuman (New England Triptych) in the same class. Why does this feel so risky to me? (Not a rhetorical question---I'd like to hear your thoughts!)

It is my hope that my connections between ye olde American musicke and modernity will lend some kind of resonance to the subject matter. I don't think these students are taking this particular course so that they can recite some sort of canonized development of music in the United States. The timeline aspect is important, yes, but I think it is secondary to understanding the major interactions between society, culture, politics and music. Isn't that why I'm a musicologist in the first place? So, I'm going to continue to pull from the past and pull from the present, and hopefully the class will come to appreciate music history as part of a greater work in progress.