Dear 116,

I’ve been at UVic since 2010 and can say comfortably that I have enjoyed this class this term more than any other. And no, I don’t say that every year. I’m not alone as my colleagues also comment that there’s something open, curious, and generally warm about this current cohort. I barely teach at all. I just try to create a space where questions are asked and sometimes answered. That approach only works if there’s a shared trust and in my opinion, it’s there. Thanks for your big ideas and big ears.


Many first year courses I teach slightly change shape as we progress and this one is no different. As you know, I have tweaked the “interview” assignment to be the “Local Music” assignment. As well, two concert responses (instead of the original three) are required. That’s it. So here’s how it all shapes up:

3 Prompts (pass/fail):      60%

2 Concert Responses:       2 x 10%

1 Local Music Assignment: 1 x 20%


Mon Nov 20 – I will finally talk about Velocity in music

Thu Nov 23 – You will offer your Local Music info (short and sweet, see the post below)

Mon Nov 27 – How to Apply for Graduate School, How to Write a Music Bio, How To Construct the Beginning of a Grant Proposal

Thu Nov 30 – I will talk about Closeness in music and you can hand in anything outstanding that you have missed so far. Consider it Assignment Amnesty Day. This is the final deadline for anything missed. You can also hand in anything for the Local Music Assignment that day.

Mon Dec 4 – Last class. OPEN MIC TWO: TOKYO DRIFT. Please e-mail me your info by Mon Nov 27 to take part. Folks who have already played can also play again but I am going to prioritize folks who haven’t if time is an issue.

A (probably) FINAL WORD

This course is about ideas or at least starting to “think” about ideas. As you look at the evaluation for this course, you might think “wow, this is easy” and from a marks/grades perspective, perhaps it is. I do encourage you to hand things in. But thanks to you, the real value in the course (from my very privileged standpoint admittedly) is in the generation of those ideas and forging alternate perspectives on sound. No two sets of ears are the same. Understanding what you can hear and what you can’t involves a lot of self reflection and honesty. I took a ton of chances with you this term (e.g. does time exist? should you play at the old age home? how do you inhabit the music you play?) and I learned a lot and you’ve reshaped my own process. Thanks for sharing in whatever this is and let’s have a strong last couple of classes.


Interview Assignment and new Concert Response due dates



Interview Assignment: Local Music

 Local music is music of a larger genre – opera, singer-songwriter works, Greek dance music, string quartets, hula, choirs, punk, solo instrumentalists, powwow drumming, symphonies, jazz – that happens to have a local manifestation. “Local” includes the Pacific Northwest, but should be restricted to British Columbia and Seattle only. This project includes several steps.

Step One

Chose a genre of music from the list of List of Music Genres and Styles from Wikipedia.

Step Two

Go to the library. Look at in-print library resources like the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music to find out something general about the genre. Some of these genres have books written about them. Take some basic notes about what it’s like.

Step Three

 Go online and find out about where you might discover or hear or play this music locally. Take notes about this as well.

Step Four

Listen to recorded examples of it. We might have it in our campus library, or there might be examples online. Try describing it in writing.

Step Five

Find out who performs this music locally and see if any festivals or performances are coming up. Be as detailed as possible.

Write up just one page of notes with the information you have discovered: a basic description of the genre, three print resources, three links to online information, and the name of at least two recordings or online clips where one can listen to it.

On Thu Nov 20 you are expected to spend about tw0 minutes discussing what you have discovered. You won’t be able to play any examples in class, but this is a way of sharing good information with your colleagues in class. Your presentation needs the following information.

–       the name of the genre and a short description (don’t assume we know what it sounds like)

–       who plays it (basic demographic information)

–       where you might be able to hear it British Columbia or Seattle

–       a good resource for information about it

At the end of the presentation, turn in your write-up of 750 words, double spaced, 12 point font with your name on every page. Assignments must be stapled. Also include your notes, separate from the word limit.

It is possible that someone will be interested in doing further research on this subject, so your paper should have the right information on it. If someone approaches you with questions about it, be a good collaborative scholar and help the person out with more information. This small assignment is a taste of what graduate work in ethnomusicology can be.


PROMPT 3 and a few important items


First, my thanks to you all for your kind attention toward our fine TA Joshua Brooks. See below for all you need for the prompt based on that class. And along with Joshua we thank you for your energy and enthusiasm this term. It is such pleasurable group of folks to work with, folks with wide minds, great ideas, and, we suspect, big hearts.

I do offer some tiny housekeeping suggestions. Please arrive to class on time or not at all. I never take attendance. In fact, I wonder why any university class of adults takes attendance. We all have a tapestry of lives, jobs, children, spouses, responsibilities, of which this class is but one thread. But lateness is a drag and very distracting. Class is not a buffet.

Also, with respect, please staple your submitted work and put your first and last name on every page.


All genres welcome. Very loud sounds and large technical requirements are not. While this is called an “open mic” I truly mean it as an event where all the performers are known in advance so I can make a good running order. Please let me know by Mon Oct 23 at the latest a) what you will play b) who you are playing with c) running time d) tech requirements.


Choose one of the pairs of the “same music” from the list provided and describe their differences. How do they each make you feel? Speculate as to why.

As well, offer your cogent opinion on the experience of viewing all music as non-authorial. What if we tinkered with all past music because we didn’t see the creator as the artistic or legal owner. As if the music just came into their head from another source. What would be the positives? What would be the negatives? Would that world be better than our own? Why?

Rick Wakeman 1:

Rick Wakeman 2:

Take on Me 1:

Take on Me 2:


Lucky Chops playing Adele:


Art Tatum playing Humoresque:


Brad Mehldau playing The Beatles:


Apocalyptica playing Metallica:


Paul Simon:





Your Concert Response should be on a live performance of music that you attend. There are many venues/opportunities to experience music in Victoria or wherever you are. It is suggested that you get approval of your concert choice in advance; inappropriate concert choices will affect your grade. Of course, in light of Covid fears (which I gather are still there) there is absolutely no obligation for anyone to physically attend a concert/gig. Live streamed events are entirely fine. As always, check in with me if you have questions.


Write the first draft of your report as soon as possible after the concert so your impressions remain fresh, but I don’t recommend writing full sentences during the concert. If there was a printed program, use it to remind yourself of what you heard when you write your report. Use the program as a way to helping yourself use correct terminology. Do not use the program notes as a substitute for your own thinking and personal reactions; do not cram your report full of historical tidbits about the piece. Comment on matters of historical background only if they directly influence your personal experience of the music at the event you attend. If there was not a program (which is common in jazz performances for instance) then make your own by jotting down titles of tunes/composers during the show.

Concert Response Format

Introduction (10% in length and value)

Briefly identify the concert. Who performed? What pieces were performed? Where was it performed? Briefly describe the performance space, physical surroundings, and the appearance of the performers.

Objective Description of the Music (30% in length and value)

Describe instrumentation, dynamics, texture, rhythm and tempo, form & relationships between movements, principles of design in the compositions, etc. –– Note extremes or what is most striking. How do these elements work together? Does the performance relate to the music covered in class in a meaningful way?

Subjective Reactions to the Music (50% in length and value)

Where was your attention directed? Was your attention held at all? Did you like individual pieces? Did you have emotional reactions to any particular piece? Why did you react the way you did? Was it in the composition, performance, sound, or all three? Did your mood change in the course of the concert? Was the concert full of variety or was it all more or less the same? Could the performance be better? How? Could the selection of compositions performed have been more to your 2 taste? Was this a familiar or a new experience? Was there a theatrical dimension to the performance? Conclusion (10% in value) Did you like or dislike the experience overall? Why or why not? What do you think could have made it more effective?


1. While details are good, ensure that you are guiding the reader into the world of sound you encountered through your words.

2. Begin with a clear topic sentence and an introductory paragraph that tells me what you are going to tell me.

3. After giving a general sense of your impressions in the introductory paragraph, give details and specific examples. Which of the two following examples is more interesting to read?

On saturday, I attended a performance of the by Joe Blow ata club in Victroia. I enjyed watching the singers as they sang. It was a intereting performance.


On February 32nd, I attended a jazz performance by vibraphonist Joe Blow and his quartet at the Superior Café in Victoria. One of the most memorable aspects of this performance for me was the vivid facial expressions that I could see on some members of the quartet, which included piano, bass, and drums. One older gentleman, the drummer, in particular was striking to watch. Whatever the feeling was in the music, it was amplified in his rapid foot tapping gestures. He looked so relaxed during the up-tempo Charlie Parker tune Donna Lee. More peaceful, even joyous emotions seemed to register in his face when the music called forth those feelings of joy and peace, as in the beautiful ballad Body and Soul. Always try to be specific as possible. One could write, “the performance was exciting,” but is that entirely true? Surely some parts of the performance were more exciting than others and some were not exciting at all. Details give life and energy to writing.

4. If you have heard the piece before, especially on a recording, you may wish to compare the performance with the one with which you are familiar. Were some of the tempos faster or slower? Were some sounds more distinct or more blended? Is the balance within the ensemble different? Were rhythms more or less precise? Besides just listing differences that you noticed, tell me what those differences mean to you. It was 3 better because it was slower or it was less interesting because it was slower or louder or softer . . .


Y’all have been offering such interesting questions that I made a specific QUESTIONS page where I will post them, and any answers, anonymously. Right now there’s some stuff there from previous years that I imagine will be useful for this prompt. Thank you for your energy and attention thus far.

PROMPT 2 due in class mon sept 25

Please throw yourself fully into this thought experiment.

Imagine that a ghost arrives on Earth who erases all music of the past. Every score, every recording, every history book, every performance of every single piece of music written in the past is suddenly and mysteriously vanished. You can recall names of great composers (e.g. Mozart, Handel) but you can recall nothing of their artistic contributions. What is now available is only music of the present day in September 2023.

First, discuss any ethical implications of playing music exclusively of the past. Then please write about the music you would then perform on your instrument and include any links to this music, if possible. Why are you including the music you select? Finally, offer your cogent opinion on this quote from Nietzsche:

If you are to venture to interpret the past, you can only do so out of the fullest exertion of the present. Only when you put forth your noblest qualities in all their strength will you divine what is worth knowing and preserving in the past. Like to like! Otherwise, you will draw the past down on you.

Word count for entire prompt: approximately 350 words. Thanks as always for your contributions inside and outside of class.


For this prompt

  • no handwritten submissions
  • double spaced, 12 pt font
  • ensure it is stapled and clearly shows your FIRST and LAST name
  • this assignment encourages a wide mind however the deadline is strict

The Choreography Of Language



Please view the above film about the incredible artist and thinker Leslie Laskey.  You can use this link if you want to watch it away from the course site.

Using these questions as a point of inspiration, please offer a 300 word response on the film.

  1. Looking back at the “bones of summer” how have you engaged or created art? If you haven’t engaged or created art, please describe why.
  2. What things, if any, surround you that you consider powerful?
  3. Over the next couple of days, take note of the dominant sounds in areas that you consistently walk. What are the sounds you notice most of all? Be specific.
  4. How do you relate to the phrase “free time only works if you steal it?”
  5. Do you have any other takeaways from the film?


“Do we have to write 300 words on each question”

Answer: No.

“Is it 300 words overall or do we have to answer each question?”

Answer: I am looking for 300 words overall and no you don’t have to answer each question.