Caribbean Music

Final Paper and Proposal Notes

As the course shifts now to asynchronous modes of remote learning, we will be directing our energies over the next month towards developing final projects. This a chance for you to explore in greater depth one of the issues, topics, or musical cultures we have discussed in class, to purse one of the many which we were unable to address in our week course, and/or to find connections and conversations among and between multiple musical traditions. That being said, I ask that you concentrate in part on the various contexts, representations, and mediations by and through which individuals and communities encounter music. In order to answer this question, you will no doubt need to address your own listening practice and positionality. That said, I encourage you to draw on any of the critical perspectives we encounter in class, as well as those related to other academic disciplines.

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This project can take any number of forms: digital-ethnography, media-driven analysis, musical and cultural analysis, argument driven research or commentary, or a combination of these approaches. Regardless of the way in which you choose to express your ideas, I expect the project will include a written component of at least 1500 words and the discussion of at least two 2 musical examples.

Given the remote format we now have, I am looking forward to working with you individually in order to tailor this final assignment to your own interests, needs, and goals. We will be forming small 3-4 person working groups within the class in order to link you with other students researching similar topics and issues.

This proposal is a short (250 words) piece of writing which presents some of the questions and issues you hope to investigate in your final paper. (I’ve provided more specific details for how you will want to approach this final paper below). For this first step, you may wish to provide an outline, a list of materials, tracks, texts, etc that you may want to dig into further, or a range of possible claims you might want to investigate over the next few weeks. Think about what interests you and then think about how you might want to go about engaging with this in and through writing and argument.

You may in turn think of this as a precise of the questions and material you plan to consider, the thematic or theoretical perspectives which might inform your investigation, and some of the resources, experiences, materials (films, books, videos, etc) , and/ or individuals whom you plan to consult. You may wish for this proposal to take whatever form is most effective for you at this juncture: an outline; a general summary of plans; notes and bibliographic citations; provisional analysis followed by questions and concerns.

In order to help you craft your thinking and goals for this final assignment, I want to offer a few supplemental recommendations and comments to augment what has already been detailed.

For this final assignment, you are of course free to formulate and develop a topic of your choosing, in so far as it productively articulates with our course themes, issues, and ideas. That is, a large part part of this assignment involves you thinking reflectively on what we have learned and studied together and applying/ extending it in dialogue with a question of your choosing. Specifically, successful approaches to the final paper will demonstrate thoughtful engagement with our ethnomusicological approach to the study of expressive culture. Accordingly, you may wish to spend some time reviewing your class notes and some of the course readings and essays which you found particularly interesting.

If you still find yourself searching for a point of immediate departure may be: what questions, issues, and ideas seemed compelling, exciting, and/ or challenging to you? What material made you rethink assumptions and/or pre-existing ideas? What would you want to dive into in greater depth? How, why, and to what ends might you undertake this?

In specific terms this final paper a chance for you to explore in greater depth one of the issues, topics, or musical cultures we have discussed in class, to purse one of the many which we were unable to address in our course, and/or to find connections and conversations among and between multiple musical traditions. That being said, I ask that you concentrate in part on the various contexts, representations, and mediations by and through which individuals and communities encounter music. In order to answer this question, you will no doubt need to address your own listening practice and positionality. Furthermore I encourage you to draw on any of the critical perspectives we encounter in class, as well as those related to other academic disciplines.

While you final assignment can take many forms, there are however a few approaches which would be unsuitable for a college-level essay such as this: a “factual report” on a musical style, genre, or scene; a “summary/ biography” of an artist; or an “opinion paper.”

As with other college-level essays you have written, you will need to think carefully about how you use evidence of various kinds in order to support your claims and analysis. Additionally, you will need to consider what is at stake in the claims and questions you present in your writing.

Again, it is your responsibility to demonstrate thoughtful engagement with our course materials regardless of the particular topical direction you have chosen to take for this project.

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