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In the Fall semester of 2014, I assigned ethnography projects to students in my two Music in World Cultures classes at Texas A&M University. Most students conducted participant observation in the College Station-Bryan region.The topic of the projects varied widely. Some students looked into the relations between ambient music and consumption at coffee shops and stores, others examined the importance of the Texas Aggie Band in performing institutional identity. Before conducting the ethnographies, students reviewed each others papers in a blind review system.
You can find information about each of the roughly 200 projects on this map [under construction]. Zoom out to see all the markers, and click on each to see the project title and description, and audiovisual material (if any).
All information will be uploaded in December 2014.
Two audio essays by Sound Studies students, Spring 2013.
On March 27 2013 the Sound Studies class conducted a soundwalk across the UT campus. The point of departure was our classroom at the School of Music. The point of arrival was the Plaza of the Radio-Television-Film Department, where we would meet Prof. Andrew Garrison (who would guide us inside the RTF building and talk about film sound).
Each student received a small notebook to write what they were hearing as we walked. I was particularly interested in hearing focusing and the amount of detail included in the hearing — writing process. You can see the results of this experiment below.
Inside the School of Music
This post presents essays by students currently taking my Sound Studies course. I thought it would be interesting to share (with their permission) some of their experiences and views on sound, memory, technology, and space.
Students were asked to briefly discuss one of the following topics:
a) My piece of technology: write about a sound/audio device (bass amplifier, guitar, iPod, magnetic tape, synthesizer, MP3, sound meter, car audio, microphone, etc.). Investigate the history of this piece of technology and describe how/why/when you use it.
b) Acoustic memory: some places (bedroom, house) and spaces (our neighborhood) tend to leave a strong sensory mark on us. Recollect and discuss some of the sounds and listening habits of your past. How do they relate with some of the topics discussed in this course?
c) My sonic environment in 3 days: in 3 days make a list of sounds you encounter daily according to type of sound, place (house, office, bar, restaurant, school, street, etc.), space (e.g., Nuences St. & San Jacinto), period (dawn, morning, lunchtime, afternoon, evening, and night), loudness (10 for extremely loud, 0 to almost soundless), and nuisance level (10 for extremely pleasant, 0 to extremely unpleasant). Briefly relate 2 sound sources with topics discussed in the course materials.
My personal anamnesis is related to signal sounds taken place in the comfort of my own home growing up. Weekends as a child were a time to sleep in and wake up with a big bowl of cereal to watch Saturday morning cartoons. There was only one factor that was in my way that would determine my plans for my Saturday and that was my mom. Being older now signifies more responsibilities and more work which during the week we are busy and the weekend signifies a time for rest and a chance to catch up with the chores that were left aside from the busy week. While I was thinking as a kid I’m going to watch cartoons and go out to play with friends, my mom was thinking laundry, moping, dusting, etc…; cleaning was what weekends were for according to my mom. Depending on the type of week my mom had and how tired she was on Friday was kind of an indicator of what to expect the next morning, but there was always one reassurance that would drive me crazy and not want to get out of bed, the sound of dishes being washed and clanking with each other in the morning. (more…)
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