This project is an opportunity to explore your musical world from an intellectual perspective. Music is a cultural
product and is by nature interconnected with many facets of its cultural environment. Your task is to form an opinion
about what a music event means to the people who experience it, both performers and audience, and to discuss your
interpretation of how the music reflects its cultural setting. Brief example, what can you say about a street musician on
a crowded city block in New York City? Taking ten minutes to observe his musical activity, will lead you to many
questions. Most people will not pay attention to him. Why? Too busy? Superior attitude? Fear? Some people may drop pocket
change into his saxophone case, but continue walking. Why? They don’t like pennies in their pocket? They like the music?
They feel guilty for walking past the last time? Others will stop and listen, perhaps clapping at the end of the
performance. Why? Tourists? Friends? Impressed by the music? These kinds of questions are just the tip of the iceberg
when you start to analyze a music event. How about the perspective of the street musician toward his “audience?” What
about the music? Is he playing blues, jazz, pop tunes? Perhaps he plays one tune repeatedly. Why? Are people more apt to
give him money when he plays “When the Saints Go Marching In” versus “Amazing Grace”? If it is Christmas time, perhaps he
finds “Jingle Bells” more attractive to his audience than “Silent Night.” What happens when a policeman walks by? Does he
stop playing, or continue? Why? Many questions can be answered by asking the musician directly.
Inevitably, interviews lead to more questions, but you will learn much about the musician, the music, the context for
performance, and consequently the meaning of the musical event. How you get the information is dependent on you. You may
merely observe an event and find much to discuss. You may interview performers, audience members, concert promoters, bar
owners, etc., to gain broader perspectives. You may do outside research in the library or on the Internet. Maybe you’ll
even join the music ensemble or learn a new instrument in order to understand the musician’s experience directly.
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