Ethnomusicology

SEM Northwest Presentation

As well as a performer and teacher of music, I am an avid student of music culture. My fascination for the many diverse ways that people get together to make music led me to the University of British Columbia, where I recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ethnomusicology. My research interests include changing musical cultures of musicians in diaspora, the impact of technology on popular music culture, and cross-cultural musical appropriation. I blog about music culture at Music and World Blog, and have included links to my ethnomusicological works here.

Writings on Ethnomusicology

 Adaptation and Creativity in Montreal’s West African Music Scene

This is my Master’s thesis, written at the end of my time at UBC. I spent several months in Montreal doing ethnographic fieldwork, and wrote about the interaction between African and Québecois musicians and audiences there. My focus is on the adoption of Canadian musical conventions by African performers, the appropriation of elements of African music by Québecois performers, and the productive discourse that takes place between these two groups.


The Musical Assemblage at Work

Here I discuss the interaction between musical creativity and technology. I suggest that something more than an individul artist’s creativity and genius necessary to account for the production of musical works, proposing that an exapanded view of the agency of musical instruments and other technology might be able to fill that gap. I use the works of Bruno Latour and Jane Bennett to discuss the role played by objects such as the electric guitar, the recording studio, and a piece of paper in musical composition and creativity.


A Partial Musical Autobiography

This paper discusses my life in music by focussing on the relationship I have had with several kinds of music which are very important to me. Chapters on The Beach Boys and jazz music are used to discuss what music meant to me while a high school and college student respectively.


Drums 1-4

Drums, 1-4 Analysis

This work is both a musical composition and a written paper. I was challenged during a class discussing several African concepts in rhythm and conception of music to write a piece which reflected these concepts. The piece itself sounds nothing like the music it borrows ideas from, but hiding underneath lies a framework taken almost entirely from traditional Ghanian works. The piece is written for two pianos and bass, and I’ve included a score, an analysis, and a recording of it. If you’d like to learn or perform it, you should!


Alcohol Regulation and HIV in South Africa

This paper was a dramatic departure for me. Written as part of a class on Medical Anthropology while I was a student at UBC, it discusses the intimate and often insidious relationship between alcohol and HIV transmission in South Africa, a very serious issue there. The paper writes against attempts to simplify the issue by regulators who propose a western style tax regime on alcohol to curb the problem, suggesting instead that South Africa’s relationship with alcohol is complex and multilayered, requiring an individual, South African response.