25 September 2011

Films on Schooling and Education

Schooling has become more or less universal in the contemporary world, with schools found in virtually every corner of the globe. The pervasiveness of modern schooling is remarkable in that it was for the most part introduced globally within the past century. Visitors to schools the world over would be struck by their similarities, the focus on rigid schedules marked off by bells, their age segregation, the arrangement of desks facing the teacher at the front of the room, behind whom is a blackboard and above which is a clock and the national flag. While everyone attends school, few analyze its origins and impacts, with most concerned with getting ahead in the system. One way to wedge open a discussion on schooling is compare and contrast it with education. Although used interchangeably, schooling can be thought of as the institutionalized side of education, which then points to questions of the impact of this institution on cultures and communities and the alternative views on education.

09 September 2011

Music and the Media Industrial Complex

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was engaged in a collaborative research project headed by Charles Keil on the question of 'participatory discrepancies' in music. Keil contended that the engaging elements of music were in the subliminal, subsyntactical, micro-timed details, that these minor variations or, as he put it, discrepancies, are evident over the course of a performance in the interactions between players. This offered a new way to think about music that was not tethered to the conventions of Western musicological scholarship and I was thrilled to be involved in a project that was questioning the status quo in academic research on music. Keil asked if I could demonstrate that these 'PDs' existed by using then current analog to digital converter technology to visually observe musical performances on the micro-timed level. The resulting research was published in 1995 in a special issue of the journal 'Ethnomusicology,' for which the editors solicited responses from a number of noted ethnomusicologists and rejoinders from Keil and I to those responses. What follows is my rejoinder, which begins by referring to the responses but then veers in another direction.