Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Project Titles and Abstracts

E) Adams, David: Examining Malian Musicians and their Performances in Boston

The purpose of this research article is to document my experiences observing and participating in performances by Mande musicians in the Boston Massachusetts area, analyze musical elements and behavioral aspects of these performances, discuss the personal reflections shared during my interviews with Mande musicians, and provide detail about the traditions, culture, and musical influences of those interviewed. I will also refer to research studies, musical recordings, and historical research related to the Mande culture to contextualize my findings.

F) Baltrush, Katherine: Arab-America in Boston: Profile and Music of Composer Kareem Roustom

Based largely on an April 11, 2008 interview, this article provides a biographical profile of composer, Kareem Roustom, and discusses his cultural hybridity as an Arab American. Musical examples of his film scores, his chamber works, and his jazz/Middle Eastern album Almitra's Question are also discussed. This leads to considerations of how world music discourse and western perspectives affect how listeners conceptualize world music and its purveyors.

G) Felts, Megan: Gospel Singing in a Bostonian Music College

When discussing the current music scene in America, the body of musical genres is large, with many genres linking to one another through acts of musical hybridity. Gospel music is known to be the parent of most of our popular secular music, however, gospel music itself is a musical hybrid of African slave songs and European church music. Today, the Berklee Reverence Gospel Choir from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts exemplifies the hybrid musical culture that is gospel music today. With a varying student population from all over the world, this group is able to reach across racial, religious, and political lines to spread the word of "good news" through their music. By examining the history of gospel music, the ways gospel music has influenced popular American music, and the Berklee Reverence Gospel Choir, one will be able to trace this form of musical hybridity from it's infancy to the musical and cultural hybrid that it is today.

H) Hosseini, Sheerin: In Search of Meaning: Indo-Jazz Music in Boston

This paper is divided into two parts. In the first part, I attempt to provide general background regarding the interactions between Western jazz musicians and Indian musicians that eventually led to the fusion of the two traditions to what now is known as Indo-Jazz. I discuss similarities and differences between the two musical traditions that may have enabled such a fusion to occur. I also discuss several collaborations that have taken place between Indian and Western jazz musicians. In the second part, I turn my attention to Indo-Jazz fusions occurring in the Boston area with the hopes of discovering more about what Indo-jazz means to those who are performing and listening to this music. Research done by Warren R. Pinckney in 1988/1990 regarding the assimilation and significance of jazz and Indo-jazz in India found that jazz and Indo-jazz musics were generally reserved for the upper and middle classes. Consequently this music earned the reputation of existing primarily for the elite and educated rather than the common people. I would like to investigate if this also holds true in Boston. If so, I hope to propose ways through my discussions with Indo-Jazz musicians in the Boston area to bring Indo-jazz music to a wider audience.

I) Leggiero, Jane: Afrobeat for the 21st Century: "The Superpowers" in Boston

Afrobeat is infused with political and social ramifications. The genre came into being as Nigeria struggled to assert a new identity after gaining independence from colonial status. The music was pioneered by Fela Kuti, and is generally described as a fusion of traditional African styles, American and European jazz, funk, and the Nigerian genre of highlife. Often associated with issues of African identity, diaspora, and social protest, the music has also been embraced around the world by musicians of non-African descent. One such group is The Superpowers, a Boston, Massachusetts based band that describes their sound as "21st Century Afrobeat." While acknowledging that Fela's music is their primary influence, the band seeks to create something new out of the diverse musical styles confronting them on a daily basis. Given that social activism is a traditional feature of Afrobeat, a unique challenge facing the group is their lack of a vocalist. With no singer to relay a text, the group has found other ways of spreading their message of optimism and social change. In this paper, I will first present a history of the genre of Afrobeat in order to provide a backdrop to show how the music of The Superpowers fits (and does not fit) within that tradition. Next, I have looked at the band itself and their music, by observing performances and discussions with the band's leader, Adam Clark.

J) Liu, Yi: A Qualitative Study of a Chinese Dulcimer Ensemble in Boston

A qualitative study was conducted examining the interplay between traditional cultural authenticity and, hybridity, cultural identity, and diaspora as experienced by the director and students of the Boston Chinese Dulcimer Ensemble. Through interviewing the director, Professor Zheng Zhentian, and his students who are all 1st generation American-born Chinese it was found that there is a general sense that cultural identity is strengthened when aspects of ancestral musical tradition is combined with traditions of music they currently experience; resulting in yet new genre of music.

K) Yennior, Erica: A Mingling of Musical Hybrids: Ethio-Jazz and Boston’s Either/Orchestra

Over the last ten years, the ten-piece Boston-based jazz ensemble Either/Orchestra has embarked on an interesting musical journey, playing a style of music known as “Ethio-Jazz”. This term was coined by renowned Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke to describe his fusion of traditional Ethiopian melodies with American jazz. The Either/Orchestra has performed and recorded its own interpretations of Ethio-Jazz pieces, and collaborated with many well-known Ethiopian musicians. This study explores this unique musical collaboration by first outlining the characteristics of Ethio-Jazz, then presenting a brief description of the Either/Orchestra and the circumstances that led to the inclusion of Ethio-Jazz selections in the group’s repertoire. Finally, the study will, through song analysis, investigate the ways in which the Either/Orchestra has adapted Ethiopian musical traditions to fit their repertoire. Three specific models emerge, the performance of the pre-existing Ethio-Jazz arrangements of Mulatu Astatke, the creation of new arrangements of traditional and popular Ethiopian songs in the Ethio-Jazz style, and original compositions by band members that have been influenced by the Ethiopian musical styles.

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