MUSC 950.002, Seminar in Musicology: The Work and Power of Tape

“Audiotape Recording Audio devices NYC Magnetic tapes” by Nxr-at [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]
This graduate seminar uses a focus on one media format—magnetic tape—to think about the power relations inherent in sonic practices, especially recording. The focus will shape our theoretical field (media/empire, technology/gender, sound/disability, archive/race) while simultaneously challenging us to reconsider core questions for music studies. How has listening been construed as learning, knowing, and capturing? What is musical content, what can it be? Above all: What is creative work? What is our relationship to it as scholars/students of sound? The seminar is structured in three units. We first lay the stakes of the seminar by grounding ourselves in recent scholarship. Second, we dive into key case studies that allow us to consider the intimate and institutional affordances of tape as practice and discourse: the history of ethnomusicology/anthropology (fieldwork), sound art (location recordings), popular music (loops, mixtapes), and more (audiobooks, espionage). Finally, we will listen to and against a bountiful tape archive at the Southern Folklife Collection, that of Mike Seeger. This work will become the basis of a final tape project—research paper, podcast, sound composition—for seminar participants to thread their own research interests through tape.

This graduate seminar is taught by Assistant Professor Andrea Bohlman on Thursdays from 2:00-4:50 pm.

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