Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Announcement: Guest post for The Outline

Happy New Year! I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season. I’ve been busy writing. Fortunately (for me, but perhaps unfortunately for this blog), I’ve been working on articles for other sites. Unlike my post for Musicology Now, however, these articles are in line with the aim of this blog: busting musical myths.

Today, The Outline published my article, “You Dont Need Science to Tell You Why You Like a Song.” This essay is like a companion piece to one of the first posts on this blog, “Science Proves Your Favorite Music is the Best.” My earlier post explored how classical music media outlets tend to be self-congratulatory about scientific studies involving classical music. Since The Outline doesn’t focus on classical music, though, I wrote about why we place so much emphasis on scientific (or scientistic) studies of music in the first place. I still mention the Mozart Effect, but I pair it with a ridiculous formula that claims to have determined the “10 most uplifting songs ever,” which are astonishingly all Dad Rock Standards. Here’s a preview:
Art for art’s sake seems frivolous, especially in a culture dominated by the Protestant Work Ethic — but if aesthetic experiences can be shown to improve the bottom line somehow, they become acceptable. It’s not enough to say that some people find some music motivating, or relaxing, or comforting; the music must be dissected to find exactly what makes it so, so that those components can be isolated, harnessed, and put to work. This kind of utilitarianism disregards context and cannot accommodate ambiguity. 
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This essay is the first thing I’ve published on a non-music-centric website, so it’s opening up a new area of public musicology for me. One of my goals in this type of writing is to introduce a broader audience to the type of work that music scholars do, because actual music theory looks nothing like this neuroscientist’s hokey formula, and people should know that. I even provide one-sentences descriptions of music theory and musicology, which I’m sure won’t satisfy everyone.

I have another guest post coming up soon (the one I’d mentioned earlier about myths surrounding Beethoven’s deafness), and after that I hope to have something purely for this blog. We have a lot to look forward to in 2017!

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