Studying the world's music
By Jarmea L. Boone
Students working together in the World Music class.
Photo by Patrick Bowling.
The World Music class, taught at Kennesaw State University as part of the 1110 series, explores distinct features of music in various cultures around the globe. The course usually covers areas of music from India, Indonesia, Africa, Russia, the Balkans, the Middle East and Brazil, but can also include music from other regions.
The goals of the course are to broaden student awareness of other cultures across the world. “I would like students to realize that ‘our’ way of listening to music, as in, from the Western perspective, is not universal,” said Lecturer in Ethnomusicology Tammy Livingston, who teaches the course. “Music serves as a rich aspect of culture differently in different locations in the world. Students are encouraged to think critically about music.” Several guest speakers throughout the year provide first-hand knowledge of music and how it is used in other cultures to the class. “Students are fascinated, and take what they have gained in their own travels,” said Livingston.
The major assignment of the course is a research project in which students choose a performance group that they do not belong to, and examine examine the group as an anthropologist might study it, considering how this particular subculture works . Students interview members and officers, attend rehearsals and analyze one specific aspect of the group’s dynamics and/or structure, such as organization within the group, or ritual aspects of rehearsal and performances. “Rehearsals, for one, in the study of an organization, are used as a text,” said Livingston.
The course is highly rewarding for students and professor alike. “Students come to me every year and express their excitement in observing a new music culture that they learned in class,” said Livingston. “Their excitement makes me excited. And that makes teaching the course that much more worthwhile.”
Beginning in spring 2009, the World Music class will be open to non-music majors as a general education course.