Labels With Academic Titles Comes Loaded Assumptions About Music Essay

Labels With Academic Titles Comes Loaded Assumptions About Music Essay

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Labels—With academic titles comes loaded assumptions about what the actual title is as an occupation and as an academic discipline. More specifically, the author suggests that although she studies music, it is not the sole conduit for her theoretical understanding and anthropological research. Therefore, ‘labeling’ herself as an ethnomusicology generates the idea that her focus is placed on music and not the culture that birthed the music or how the music serves as a soundtrack to the culture and the people that produce and create the culture being studied. Additionally, the ethnomusicologist label also implies that one automatically knows how to play music [and it is seen as unfortunate if they don’t] or participate in the playing of music in order to understand it. These assumptions can become absolute truths resulting in the idea that the fieldwork of those that “do music” is more significant than those that do not as the author states, “…Western ideologies about music, talent, giftedness, and so on-all points that should be under anthropological scrutiny rather than assumed as givens.” More succinctly, a researcher, specifically an anthropologist, does not have to be ‘of the culture or music they study’ to provide significant analysis and conceptual understanding according to the author. This way of thinking also reaffirms insider vs. outsider conundrums that are highly problematic due to the us vs. them languaging and its implications in research and data analysis.


Privilege: The author implies that ethnomusicologists who play music are afforded privileges in the form of a perceived “special awareness that there is much one can only know by doing,” separate from the privileges bestowed upon non performing anthropologists t...


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...s not an ethnomusicologist due to music not acting as her only form of study into culture to the natural ways in which music and culture connect people, who are the de facto symbols of understanding, these multiple knowledge branches ultimately all grow from the same tree. In this respect, her expressed ideas shape shift into an occupational-centric view placing anthropologists against ethnomusicologists as opposed to evaluating both based on their similarities as interdisciplinary information tools to further human understandings of music, culture and music and culture collectively.


Critical question:

If anthropologists do not study music, but rather study in music, should they be considered ethnomusicologists? What does ‘studying in music ‘mean in the context of this question and our understanding of the juxtaposition between ethnomusicology and anthropology?

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