Paper 1 (P1): Ethnographic Focus
MUS 114 is a part of the ethnomusicology program at UCSB. Ethnomusicologists study the importance of human listening, and how meaning and purpose emerge from these embodied and conceptual practices. Music features prominently in our field as a form of organized sound. This paper assignment asks you to use some of the research methods in ethnomusicology called “ethnography” to discuss the meanings that a certain kind of music has for someone that you know. “Ethnography” is just a clever word that talks about learning from people’s experiences and ideas directly from them and not from a book.
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 unfamiliar with. Conduct interviews in Zoom or in a safe, socially distanced manner.
Some useful interview 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(an integrated soundscape with accompanying human behaviors and values)? While these questions are good places to start, you are expected to come up with own questions 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 interviewee’s music. Even if it is not a style that you like, try to hear it from their perspective. Above all, get your interviewee to tell you stories about their experiences within their world of music. Oftentimes, these stories are insightful in telling us about the connections between people and music.
Ideally, you should record this interview so you can go back over the recording later and quote your interviewee directly. Make sure to ask their approval before recording! If you don’t have an audio recorder, take careful notes so that you can accurately paraphrase what was said during the interview.
Next, formulate a statement that emphasizes the perspectives of your interviewee in relation to the significance of that music for them. For example, your interviewee will enjoy a kind of music because of certain related ideas, and/or personal experiences or opinions. Sometimes, it is helpful to capture these ideas and experiences under one conceptual word, like “nostalgia” or “youthfulness” or “nationality.” These are issues or concepts. Ultimately, the main statement that you will write about for this paper will analyze this concept in relation to how your interviewee chose to discuss that popular music. Your paper may deal with any aspect of the music or music scene, but it should conceptualize the interviewee’s comments in some way that is related to social and cultural issues. If you are confused about what concept the interviewee might be relating to, feel free to use concepts that we have already discussed in class lectures, like technology, appropriation, or cultural production. Also, our class readings are full of critical concepts that connect to popular music.
After you have completed your interview(s) and have a concept in mind that ideally came up in the interview, supplement your analysis with secondary/library sources. As you are doing this task, use the P1 Pre-Writing Task in Eli Review to help you prepare to write a full-length analytical paper. You are required to reference at least one academic source (peer-reviewed book or journal) and at least two non-academic or journalistic sources (like newspapers, Rolling Stone or Billboard magazines). None of these three sources should be from the classroom readings. Include in-text citations for quotes or ideas that are not your own; and list these references within a “References Cited/Bibliography” section at the end of the paper. Format these parts with the resources that we have provided for you on GauchoSpace in the “Paper Resources” tab.
Make sure to give your paper 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.
Formatting: 1200 words (not including block quotes or “References Cited/Bibliography”), double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman, 1-inch margins on all sides, Word document (.doc or .docx).
P1: 25% of final grade