MUSI E-194 Performing Musical Difference
Spring Term 2017 CRN 24714
Taught in cooperation with musicians of the Harvard-affiliated Silk Road Ensemble, this course explores the social processes and ethical challenges of intercultural musical exchange, composition, and performance. With an articulated humanistic goal of creating "unexpected connections, collaborations, and communities in pursuit of meaningful change," the Silk Road Project provides a rich laboratory for appraising how dimensions of difference have been conveyed through artistic performance as well as the many issues that such initiatives raise. Critical and reflexive theoretical approaches from ethnomusicology, anthropology, and performance studies, among other disciplines, are used to frame selected case studies relevant to the Silk Road Ensemble experience. Topics include the cultivation of cultural difference through the arts, the ethics of intercultural musical collaboration, the potential of social engagement to mitigate pressing social and political problems, and the role of the arts in community building. The course includes a mix of lecture, discussion of assigned readings and listening examples, and dialogue about issues with musicians from the Silk Road Ensemble who serve as interlocutors and provide insider perspectives of the ensemble's work. This course provides a rare opportunity for students to address important cultural issues in the performing arts while taking into account the perspectives of distinguished performers involved in this work. The recorded lectures are from the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences course Music 194r.