Music and Ecology
This course addresses the increasing global awareness about the ecological realities of human life on this planet and how these are mediated through musical or sonic expressions. We will explore a series of case studies from the U.S. and around the world that take into account the diversity of ways in which people use music to frame their interactions, experiences, and frustrations with their local ecologies. The course will explore topics including: soundscapes of diverse environments; the overlap between music and animal sounds; music as protest against environmental degradation; cultural and musical framing of natural and technological disasters (e.g. Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, Fukushima); the concept of “place” and ways in which it is articulated in musical practice; and the connections between indigenous peoples, the environment, and healing (e.g. shamanistic practices in Tuva and the Amazon). In short, it asks how a given environment shapes social, cultural, and musical life. As such, the course is inherently inter-disciplinary in nature: it will draw on the work of ethnomusicologists, anthropologists, sociologists, biologists, sound recordists, and environmentalists.