Welcome from the Editor


Even back in the days when ECHO was little more than a group of graduate students sitting around dreaming about what an online music journal might look like, we knew we wanted to provide a forum for interdisciplinary work that investigates music’s integral place in society. Indeed, our very first issue welcomed readers to “a journal dedicated to music and human experience.” The overwhelming experiences humans have endured in the past months have prompted new levels of self-reflexivity that have engulfed even those of us who hide in Ivory Towers. Worrying about musical texts and what they might mean can appear a little inconsequential when images of the rubble that once stood as the World Trade Center assail us at every turn. Even music itself starts to seem trivial when news reports are filled with eerily dispassionate accounts of “collateral damage,” “friendly fire,” and clinical diagrams detailing how America’s largest conventional bomb has wrecked devastation once again in Afghanistan. In a world where people can hijack planes and fly them into buildings, what role can music, musicians, and music scholars possibly play?

The discussion in the September 11 Roundtable serves as a timely reminder that music can assume great symbolic power. The task of interpreting musical symbols and interrogating music’s place in culture—music and human experience—is more urgent now than ever.

All three articles we present in this issue deal at some level with the question of music’s role in constructing and expressing cultural identity. Anahid Kassabian engages with the inescapable phenomenon of muzak and posits a new form of subjectivity—a “ubiquitous subjectivity”—that is the inevitable result of a world in which silence is increasingly difficult to find. Grounding their discussion in meticulous readings of musical details, Francesca Draughon and Raymond Knapp explore the knotty topic of Mahler and Jewish identity in fin de siècle Vienna. Tamara Levitz provides a model for interdisciplinary scholarship in her multifaceted examination of one historical event: Jaques-Dalcroze’s 1913 staging of Gluck’s Orpheus und Eurydice in the planned, utopian community of Hellerau.

Our photo essay explores another conception of utopia. For one week every year, the Burning Man festival strives to enact an ideal community in Black Rock Desert, northern Nevada. Sheila Masson’s pictures vividly capture a place where egalitarian individualist ideals often express themselves through music and dance.

We are grateful to Hiromi Lorraine Sakata, Ali Jihad Racy, Nazir Jairazbhoy, Timothy Rice, and UCLA’s Department of Ethnomusicology for allowing us to publish the roundtable they convened on music, politics, and the events of September 11. We present the discussion in its entirety, along with poignant responses from Anne Elise Thomas in Amman, Jordan and Gage Averill writing in New York City. Taking advantage of the capabilities of the World Wide Web, we have set up a discussion board and invite all our readers to participate in this important debate.

As we enter our third year of publication, we welcome Michael E. Cohen from UCLA’s Center for Digital Humanities as ECHO’s new technical advisor. Michael has enthusiastically supported ECHO from its inception, and we are delighted that he is now officially one of us. We also welcome José David Saldívar, professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, to our distinguished advisory board. Prof. Saldívar's scholarship in works such as Border Matters has provided rich historical and conceptual frameworks for the study of cultural texts and their relationship to U.S. nationalism. Musicologists are particularly indebted to his writing on musicians including Tish Hinojosa, El Vez, Los Illegals, Los Tigres Del Norte, and Kid Frost. This has laid an invaluable groundwork upon which we can build future studies of Chicano/a music. We are honored that Prof. Saldívar has agreed to support our project.

We are, as always, grateful for the generous encouragement and hospitality of the University of California Press and the Department of Musicology at UCLA, and our publication would not be possible without the financial support from UCLA's Graduate Students' Association Publications Fund.

I cannot let my first outing as ECHO’s editor go by without publicly acknowledging the woman who is, for the first time, observing the frenzy of late ECHO nights from the sideline: founding editor Jacqueline Warwick. Without Jacqueline's drive, vision, and enthusiasm, ECHO would have never advanced beyond the group of graduate students sitting around wondering what it would be like to edit a journal. Thank you.

Cecilia Sun
December 18, 2001
Los Angeles, CA



Ubiquitous Listening

Draughon and Knapp:
Mahler and the Crisis of Jewish Identity

Photo Essay

Review Essay

Allen Forte


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