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Writing about Music

ENGL 0783.401
also offered as: COML 0783
Wedesday 1:45-4:44pm

When one writes about music what does one write about? Sound? Culture? Feeling (is feeling historical)? Technologies? Art? How can one approach the power of any of the above through writing, writing about record labels, cities, bands, musicians? Doing away with the presumption that “words don’t go there,” a statement that posits the incompatibility of sound and language and paradoxically positions music as more than words, we will listen to change our writing, and write to alter our ways of listening — to record being with music. Readings include music criticism, fiction, poetry, musicology and writings of musicians. Musically, in addition to your own selections, I will assign songs and/or records for group listening each week, to which everyone will respond in writing on a weekly basis. We’ll spend (a lot of) time working with rap, notoriously confounding for writers, and a wide range of other music including reggae/dub, raga, Berber music, and experimental/art music (jazz, classical, rock and noise). Requirements Weekly response posts (3 graded); one special project/presentation on one of a selection of autobiographies or cultural histories; final take-home exam (an annotated playlist). Possible readings include: Amit Chauduri, Finding the Raga dream hampton, selected essays Greg Tate, Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1&2) Michael Veal, Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Reggae Two Fingas & James Kirk, Junglist Jace Clayton, Uproot! Anthony Braxton, Tri-axium Writings & Graham Lock, Anthony Braxton and The Meta-reality of Creative Music (selections) Dan Charnas, Dilla Time Nathaniel Mackey, Bedouin Hornbook Margo Glantz, The Wake

English Major Requirements
  • Sector 1 Theory and Poetics (AETP)
  • Sector 2 Difference and Diaspora (AEDD)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
College Attributes
Additional Attributes