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This class is a part of the ethnomusicology program at UCSB. Ethnomusicologists study the ways that music has meaning and purpose for individuals, families, and communities. This essay asks you to use some of the techniques of ethnomusicology to discuss the meaning of music for someone that you know.


For this essay, we ask that you interview a friend or a member of your family about their favorite popular music (“popular” as defined in class). Find someone whose musical taste is different from your own—preferably someone who likes music that you do not like. Sit down with this person and ask them to tell you about their favorite music. It is a good idea to audio record your interview so that you can write down exactly what they say. You can make an audio recording on many computers, smart phones, or with dedicated devices such as a tape recorder. If you don’t have an audio recorder, be sure to take careful notes. Although you are being asked to conduct an interview, we want your essay to be more than a transcript of your conversation. You are expected to synthesize the information from your interview with your own thoughts and analyses to create an informative ethnomusicological report.


Some useful questions might include: When did you first hear this music? How and why do you find this music appealing? When, and in what contexts do you listen to this music? How do you take part in this music culture? While these questions are good places to start you are expected to come up with questions of your own as well. Potential points of discussion include friendship, family, love, ethnicity, school, work, authority, religion, growing up, etc. Try to avoid being judgmental about your friend’s music. Even if it is not a style that you like, try to hear it from your friend’s perspective.


You must connect what you learn doing the interview to at least two of the readings assigned for this class. Cite these readings and include a References Cited section at the end of the paper. You should also cite your own interview using this format: (p.c., Bob Smith, 10 October 2011, Isla Vista, Cal.).* Think of prominent themes of the course: music and identity, politics, religion, technology, and so forth.


Make sure to give your essay a sensible title, keep your writing focused, support yourself with examples, and communicate your ideas clearly and effectively. Writing essentials like spelling, grammar, organization and style are of utmost importance.


Length: 1000 words, double spaced (e.g., three double spaced pages in 12 point Times).


Essay #1: 15%


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