recently, i’ve been working on a paper for a panel with a few friends from back in chicago, who have a common post-grad school experience of working with and teaching artists. here at the berklee college of music, i’ve been teaching musicians. i also work closely with songwriters in my fieldwork. the perilous intersections of our practices thus keeps me thinking, whether at berklee or in taitung


i’m convinced that songwriters and ethnographers have a great deal to talk about and to learn from each other. figuring out how to facilitate this conversation has become one of my questions as i teach and do research

i have three basic areas where i think this conversation could occur, drawing from the practices of songwriters:
restraint, registration, and response

by restraint, i mean both a kind of reticence and an ability to keep within the boundaries imposed by genre, form, and voice. songwriters, unless named gordon lightfoot, have to capture an entire social situation through fragments of conversation or powerful images. their art depends on attentiveness and a kind of restraint through which they keep from saying too much

by registration, i mean the exploration of different social worlds through registering these worlds in sonic traces, particularly in a register that allows the songwriter to embody a perspective from that world

response refers to work that does not represent or even describe another social world but that provides a personal reflection, in which the songwriter leaves space for the listener to register this world without attempting to contain or speak for the Other. I’d like to explore this area more, as it seems to provide an avenue for deeper conversations between songwriters and anthropologists. see the attached pdf or listen to the podcast of my talk, “alone of the beach? intersections of anthropology and songwriting”

在作曲時,歌手受到樂種,形式,以及語態 (或聲音)的種種限制,所以歌手需要利用最簡明的詞描述社會形態或詮釋人際關係,他們節用文字,以對話的碎片和歷史的殘跡,觸摸一種可以充滿一整本書的故事,歌手的厲害,一方面來自他們的注意力,另外一方面也是歌手的restraint所形成的。



比如說,suming的pakaoraday a mapunengay a fayi的靈感的確來自都蘭部落的傳統祈雨祭典,不過曲調,歌詞,等並沒有代表,而更沒有模仿傳統祈雨祭典音樂,suming的歌也不會刻意為了祈雨的夫人述說,所以pakaoraday a mapunengay a fayi在詮釋祈雨祭典時,沒有採用古調新編的方式,卻是suming面對此祭典的個人回應,一個站在阿美族青年的立場,關注阿美族歷史和現在的對話….


pdf of “alone on the beach? intersections of anthropology and songwriting”