The assignments are 1200-1500 words, double-spaced and can be submitted up
to, and including, August 11. Please include a title page with the assignment
your name, course and date. There are five possible assignments, and some,
like the first one, contain options. Please choose one of the following assignments.
1. Write a report on a live concert that you attend during this semester. While
there is a broad range of concerts you can attend the concert must have
the instructor’s approval.
Whatever concert or musical event you choose to attend, you will be participating
in and observing a social situation in which music is an integral part. Rather
than focus solely on the music presented (the sound), you should regard the
entire event as the subject of inquiry. You might want to make use of a simple
of the model the late Alan Merriam offers in his book The Anthropology of Music.
He recommends examining all music from a three-point perspective: 1) as sound,
2) as concept, 3) as behaviour.
The following questions, organized according to Merriam's three concerns, should
help you focus your observations. As you organize your thoughts, consider how
your perspective on these concerns might change depending on whether you view
them from the standpoint of the performer, the audience (or any participant),
or the organizer(s).
Music as sound
• What music is presented? (styles, repertoire - i.e. selections of works
• How do the musical selections performed compare to examples discussed
in class and in your text? Make specific comparisons, mentioning titles of
works, composers, and relevant characteristics.
• Does the music encourage certain kinds of behaviour?
Music as concept
• Why do you think the performers have chosen the repertoire performed?
• Why do you think the organizers have chosen these performers, this music,
• Does this music, or its location, or the audience (or any combination
of these conditions) project a particular attitude or perspective?
Music as behavior
• How do people (all categories) act at this event?
• Who interacts with whom and when? (performers among themselves, performers
with other participants, participants among each other, etc.)
• What role does the music play in encouraging (or discouraging) interaction?
(dancing, sitting, etc.)
• Does there appear to be any prescribed or expected behaviours (rules)?
• What role does the locale play in determining musical behaviour?
• Are there important props for this event? (printed material, decorations,
etc.) How do people respond to them?
• How are people dressed? Does their dress match other features of the
2. Read Music: A Very Short Introduction by Nicholas Cook. Write a review of the book. Be sure you not only summarize his major ideas but thoughtfully evaluate them. Copies are available from the Calgary Public library, the University of Calgary, Amazon and Chapters.
3. Interview a musician or group of musicians, who perform music from a non-Western culture. You should seek my approval on this topic before
Your goal is to understand a music-culture or some part of it from a native’s
or insider’s point of view. What does that point of
view encompass? Jeff Titon, a prominent ethnomusicolosit, suggests four components:
- social organization
- repertories, and
- material culture
Most people will be happy to
tell you about their involvement with music so long as you show them you are
4. Cantos Music Foundation. Visit the Cantos Music Foundation. (www.cantos.ca) Tours are by reservation only so you may want to go with a group of friends or classmates. Write a report evaluating the effectiveness of their vision and mission.
5. Beethoven. In what ways did Beethoven change the symphony from a Classical to Romantic model?
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