ANT 324L • Global Soundscapes
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Sound is everywhere. It evokes memory and sensation, it mediates the experience of our everyday lives, and it travels across cultural, national and geographical boundaries. Until recently, cultural and social research focussed mainly on the visual aspects of culture. In the past decade, however, a new field has emerged that explores the ethnography of soundscapes. Poised at the intersection of multiple disciplines from ethno-musicology to cultural studies, the concept of soundscapes offers new perspectives on culture and identity in a globalized world.
In this course we will trace associations between people and sounds; we will research the soundtrack of our everyday life; explore musical cultures in different parts of the world and analyse the meaning of World Music. The course looks at exemplary studies of musical styles and soundcultures, such as the use of iPods, the sounds of cities, or the transatlantic flow of musical influences. Students will use readings and discussion as the basis for writing about the concepts of culture reflected in these soundscapes, and for analysing sound as one of the main features of our everyday life. A course with a substantial writing component, students will also learn writing techniques. In consultation with the instructor, students will make written accounts of our everyday soundscapes. Individual participants are asked to provide brief summaries of the previous class hour ('Minutes'), give an oral presentation on one of the class readings, and write both shorter and longer papers in the course of the semester. Students need not to have any formal musicology training to take the course. It is instead a course focusing on socio-historical processes and how we understand them.