Advice on becoming an Ethnomusicologist?

hcrinkhcrink 8,729 Posts
edited April 2005 in Off Topic (NRR)
Does anyone know anyone who makes a living at this? This is something I'm interested in perhaps doing at some point in my life. I am sold on the aspects that would involve chilling with indigenous peoples & being involved in mind expanding rituals & whatnot. But, I fear the potential of overbearing acedemia & possibility of contracting hook-worm, etc...I would apprecited any enlightened view points, interesting links, stories, etc...
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  • The_NonThe_Non 5,686 Posts
    Get a PhD in anthro and make it your specialty.

    1
    T.N.

    PS World music is dying, people have access around the world to other people's music, thereby making world music a dying concept. Pacific Island music and New Guinea, as well as some parts of Africa, Asia and South America are seemingly the last vestiges. Kava kava allegedly tastes like crap btw, so hold your nose....

  • drewnicedrewnice 5,465 Posts
    I think owning the entire Folkways discography gets you an honorary degree, no?

  • hcrinkhcrink 8,729 Posts
    I think owning the entire Folkways discography gets you an honorary degree, no?

    I think it's called the "AP degree"

  • the3rdstreamthe3rdstream 1,980 Posts
    I think owning the entire Folkways discography gets you an honorary degree, no?

    I think it's called the "AP degree"

    Anthony doesn't actually sign it, he wipes it

  • hcrinkhcrink 8,729 Posts
    I think owning the entire Folkways discography gets you an honorary degree, no?

    I think it's called the "AP degree"

    Anthony doesn't actually sign it, he wipes it

    haha!!!

  • MorseCodeMorseCode 1,516 Posts
    I majored undergrad in anthro, ethnomusicology is no walk in the park. The chair of the anthro department was/is an ethnomusicologist, she spent 20 some odd years studying south east asian gamelan music. You gotta have a straight up life long dedication to it, and the academia is most certainly overbearing. Career anthropolgists write ethnographies and try and get them published to have some sort of impact, and usually end up being professors. But I think that would be good for you mayne, go back to school get focused and ethnomusicologize!!!

  • hcrinkhcrink 8,729 Posts
    Get a PhD in anthro and make it your specialty.



    1

    T.N.



    PS World music is dying, people have access around the world to other people's music, thereby making world music a dying concept. Pacific Island music and New Guinea, as well as some parts of Africa, Asia and South America are seemingly the last vestiges. Kava kava allegedly tastes like crap btw, so hold your nose....



    OK, just some more thoughts...



    I realize that this would involve much school, but I'm not really into holding some heavy degree - though the thought of being able to make people call me "doctor" has appeal. anyhow, I will soon be living relatively near a school that I have been told has one of the more "enlightened" music programs in the country. I realize "ethnic music" as it is known is a dying art. But, I think people look at this concept a bit narrowly. I mean, why has no one really been out recording the Mingering Mikes" of the last 50 years? Just trying to imagine how much music has died undocumented because of the head up it's a$$-ness of our music industry boggles my mind...




  • hcrinkhcrink 8,729 Posts
    I majored undergrad in anthro, ethnomusicology is no walk in the park. The chair of the anthro department was/is an ethnomusicologist, she spent 20 some odd years studying south east asian gamelan music. You gotta have a straight up life long dedication to it, and the academia is most certainly overbearing. Career anthropolgists write ethnographies and try and get them published to have some sort of impact, and usually end up being professors. But I think that would be good for you mayne, go back to school get focused and ethnomusicologize!!!



    radd! thank you!



    what about getting funded to do some sort of "rogue ethnomusicolgy", if you will?

  • The_NonThe_Non 5,686 Posts
    Learn how to grant write. I'm in the same position right now, no easy task. Know what you want to do, then try to write an abstract about the plan, how much you'd need, etc.
    Books galore about grant writing out thurrrrrr.

  • hcrinkhcrink 8,729 Posts
    dope!

  • This fall I will be starting an MA program in Ethnomusicology.
    I know most of the ethno professors, as well as the students who are already enrolled in the program. It seems like the default career path is academia, that is, you become a professor, you get to do your own research, you have to teach some classes. I know, academia sounds like snore. But i see the day-to-day lives of these people, and i have to say, it seems like a good living. I know they get paid pretty well.

    aren't you in SoCal? UCLA is a great school for this. But there do seem to be a lot of programs these days.
    I guess you could do what someone said and study Anthro with a music focus. The program i'm doing is in a Music dept. Be warned, if you're going to try to do the latter route, you'll have to prove your music theory mettle and take at least one theory-intensive class, the same one that the theory and traditional musicology students take.

    if yo'ure serious, and/or have other questions, feel free to PM me. I'm certainly no expert cause i haven't even started the program, but i'll do my best.

  • mylatencymylatency 10,475 Posts
    hah, I was about to post about UCLA leisurebandit

    here's the URL Crink, good luck

    http://www.ethnomusic.ucla.edu/

  • hcrinkhcrink 8,729 Posts
    This fall I will be starting an MA program in Ethnomusicology.
    I know most of the ethno professors, as well as the students who are already enrolled in the program. It seems like the default career path is academia, that is, you become a professor, you get to do your own research, you have to teach some classes. I know, academia sounds like snore. But i see the day-to-day lives of these people, and i have to say, it seems like a good living. I know they get paid pretty well.

    aren't you in SoCal? UCLA is a great school for this. But there do seem to be a lot of programs these days.
    I guess you could do what someone said and study Anthro with a music focus. The program i'm doing is in a Music dept. Be warned, if you're going to try to do the latter route, you'll have to prove your music theory mettle and take at least one theory-intensive class, the same one that the theory and traditional musicology students take.

    if yo'ure serious, and/or have other questions, feel free to PM me. I'm certainly no expert cause i haven't even started the program, but i'll do my best.

    radd, dude! Thanks & good luck!

    I'm not against academia, and realize that like you say it is the "default" career for liberal arts type things. I'll be moving to NorCal in the next month & the musci program at Mills has been spoken highly of to me...

  • hcrinkhcrink 8,729 Posts
    hah, I was about to post about UCLA leisurebandit

    here's the URL Crink, good luck

    http://www.ethnomusic.ucla.edu/

    phat!

    (do the kid's still spell it this way?)


  • the3rdstreamthe3rdstream 1,980 Posts
    Learn how to grant write.

    great advice for anyone looking for a job, this is something many employers need and few people want to do

  • BamboucheBambouche 1,484 Posts
    what about getting funded to do some sort of "rogue ethnomusicolgy", if you will?

    I believe they are holding several suspected rogue ethnomusicolgists at guantanamo bay.


    You wanna bloodshitter? Bring me the nightstick, Corporal Pearson![/b]

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
    HC,

    Deciding to pursue a PhD isn't something you go into lightly. Besides the pain in the ass of the application process, you're also giving up the next 6-8 years of your life to get that PhD and you're making a major career decision. It's cool that you think the work "is cool" but take it as a recovering academic - that cool factor won't seem like shit once you're neck deep in this shit.

    Also, keep in mind that EM is not just focused on so-called "ethnic" music from elsewhere. You can do ethnomusicology here at home on good ol fashioned American music. Joe Schloss, of "Making Beats" fame is an ethnomusicologist who looked at hip-hop producers for his field site. this is a more recent trend but the discipline is finally beginning to abandon its roots in colonial mentalities and is more accepting of research that looks at contemporary music rather than so-called "pure" sites.

    Just to put my two cents in on this but an MA degree won't get you very far in the marketplace. Time was when you could actually teach with an MA degree but not anymore and in a field like EM, it's not like there's a ton of private sector opportunities awaiting. If you make that decision, you're making a decision to go into academia.

    Choose wisely grasshopper.

  • SooksSooks 702 Posts
    You can do ethnomusicology here at home on good ol fashioned American music.

    Is Harry Smith considered an ethnomusicologist?

  • erewhonerewhon 1,123 Posts
    To me, ethnomusicology is strictly an acamdemic field, but it can be parlayed into a career of another sort like archivist, producer, music journalist, teacher, etc. I just don't know anyone that says "I'm an ethnomusicologist" when people ask what they do for a living. I do, however, know a number of people that majored in ethnomusicography.

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
    To me, ethnomusicology is strictly an acamdemic field, but it can be parlayed into a career of another sort like archivist, producer, music journalist, teacher, etc. I just don't know anyone that says "I'm an ethnomusicologist" when people ask what they do for a living. I do, however, know a number of people that majored in ethnomusicography.

    Yeah, I'm talking about getting a higher degree in it though. You don't really get a PhD in order to go into something other than academia. MAs are different but it really depends on the field. I suppose you're right though: there's more private sector flexability with EM then in other fields (like mine).

  • dsandersdsanders 495 Posts


    Is Harry Smith considered an ethnomusicologist?

    I'd say yes...and much more too...

  • faux_rillzfaux_rillz 14,343 Posts
    the thought of being able to make people call me "doctor" has appeal.

    Oh, jeez...

  • hcrinkhcrink 8,729 Posts
    the thought of being able to make people call me "doctor" has appeal.

    Oh, jeez...

    I might need to borrow your yacht for some of my field recording endevours. cool?

  • aleitaleit 1,915 Posts
    Also, keep in mind that EM is not just focused on so-called "ethnic" music from elsewhere. You can do ethnomusicology here at home on good ol fashioned American music. Joe Schloss, of "Making Beats" fame is an ethnomusicologist who looked at hip-hop producers for his field site. this is a more recent trend but the discipline is finally beginning to abandon its roots in colonial mentalities and is more accepting of research that looks at contemporary music rather than so-called "pure" sites.

    thanks for calling this...

    the discipline's roots like most anthropology are in the colonial mentalities... i agree completely. When we talk about "ethnic" "primitive" "exotic" "other" etc. Even engaging the term "world music" suggests a certain judgement that there is western music and then there is world music.

    i am captivated by music from various regions of africa, latin america, north america, etc... i'm also highly critical of how the collecting end of the hobby fetishizes the music and where it's from. On the one hand, i'm blown away by say senegalese music from the 70's/early 80's... the stuff is dynamic, creative, sounds like nothing else, has blazing guitars, deep vocals in arabic/wolof/french, psychadelic aspects, traditional aspects, etc. But there is also a way that by collecting/researching the music, I am exercising a certain privilege and cultural dominance... i've had many late night debates about this with friends... it's important to consider.

    so, no crink. you won't be on the hill, covered in mud, chanting to the sun god, tripping on pejote...

    but there's a lot of ways that the field is incredibly cool, amazing research comes out of it.... and like the shift in much socio-cultural anthro these days, its becoming increasinly self-reflexive... focused on studying local movements, culturally connected trends to the researcher.

    this post is scattered and I haven't quite gotten to the core of what i'm trying to say. but perhaps the bits and pieces make sense. too much happening on the work front that got me thinking.

    odub- what are you studying (or did you study)... you might be a good person to chat with about my constant going back to school to work for a PHd dilemma....

  • 'crink, you could start by doing some investigations of your own into areas that interest you. Write a few papers or articles, use those to get some opinions from people in the field, start a portfolio. You don't have to be an ethnomusicologist to write about music.

    My personal perspective is I'd rather keep writing on music as a hobby or semi-professional endeavor. There's some $ but whenever it comes my way it's a nice surprise, I don't rely on it. Aspects of musicology appeal to me, but like o-dub suggests, my enthusiasm for writing would be killed off if I were doing a PhD in it. Putting music in that kind of context takes away a lot of the magic for me. Besides, writing on music is the kind of thing I don't think I'll ever be fantastic at, but enjoy that charge you get from bringing to light something that would otherwise not get exposure, or presenting a unique opinion.

    And really, isn't re-releasing or writing about music in periodicals giving it as much life as being written about in some PhD thesis locked in a cabinet in ivy U.?

    A colonialist attitude is definitely at the core of ethnomusicology... depending on what text we're talking about. We are in a unique position to peer into peoples lives more than ever, without even visiting firsthand these places. I think we're getting past that, though, and getting into it from more of a sociological and anthropological perspective.

  • hcrinkhcrink 8,729 Posts
    so, no crink. you won't be on the hill, covered in mud, chanting to the sun god, tripping on pejote...



    I still plan on keeping it as a hobby.



    Really though, thanks all for the advice. Lots of good stuff to think about. My deal is that I'm being encouraged to go back to school & do not want to pursue what I have in the past (art). This is an idea I've had for some time now. And no, I'm not concerned with doing it "correctly", if you will. I am certainly not interested in a career in academia. I still believe it is the white man's lie. I would be going to school for this in order to: A. Learn for my own pleasure. B. make contacts in the field. C. gain a quasi-legit appearance to aid me in carrying out my perverse agenda.

  • aleitaleit 1,915 Posts
    despite not planning to return to the institution for it... i remember seeing some scans of your art up on the board.. and being pretty damn impressed. you got some talent.

  • hcrinkhcrink 8,729 Posts
    why, thank you!

    I must say, I've always thought you seemed like quite a serious record dealer - even though I've been told otherwise...


  • gambitgambit 906 Posts
    Hey hcrink,
    When I was looking for a new place to live here in Metro Detroit, I ran across a kid that considered himself an "ethnomusicologist" and he was only in grad school. He was writing a historical review of an old Detroit blues singer. I cannot for the life of me remember the lady's name that he was chronicling. I guess this supports what ODub was saying, because dude is writing about an American artist.

    If you're interested in speaking to someone who is actually doing it right now. I could connect you with him. I still have his contact info. He was a dual major in anthro and something else. His Dad is a big-time entertainment lawyer for big artists like George Clinton, Eminem and Bob Seger. Anyway, good kid regardless... plus he bought a house. I'm assuming the money in it must be substantial if he can afford to buy a home.

    A'ight... best wishes on your decision.
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