Music Perspective on September 11: A Roundtable on Music, Community, Politics, and Violence

Sakata, Jairazbhoy, Racy, Questions

Responses to Roundtable

Discussion Board


Introduction by Timothy Rice
  1. I’d like to welcome you here this afternoon to participate in our roundtable on “Music, Community, Politics, and Violence: a Musical Perspective on the events of September eleventh and since.” Before we begin, I would like to thank the Ethnomusicology grad student organization for helping to organize and produce this event.

  2. If you're not from the Ethnomusicology Department, then you may be surprised that there are musical perspectives on the events of September eleventh. If you are surprised, I think it probably comes from the fact that in our popular culture music is construed, first of all, as a kind of entertainment, and therefore a distraction from the kind of serious events of everyday life. If it’s not an entertainment, then may be an art. And while that art requires a great deal of dedication—and even genius—to pursue, it’s often believed that the art exists completely cut off from everyday life, and that that’s one of it’s great joys.

  3. Ethnomusicologists would agree that music is an art and an entertainment, but we also know that music is much more than that. Music can be a therapy and can heal; it can be a commodity with great commercial and economic value; it can be the ground on which cultural and ideological issues are contested; it can be the place where people learn to form and enact important aspects of their social identity. And so for these kinds of reasons a musical perspective, I think, can be relevant to our understanding of these events of September eleventh.

  4. The fact that current events continue to demand some form of education is brought home to us daily, I believe, in the news media. We still see national network broadcasters feeling somewhat comfortable displaying their ignorance of this part of the world by joking about the “stans,” as if these countries and their cultures and their languages and their musics were perhaps too difficult to distinguish, and can therefore can be dismissed as the “stans.” And I just heard on the radio this morning a radio broadcast that in Orange County in the past month since these events, there have been twenty-six hate crimes committed against people who looked middle eastern: more hate crimes in one month in Orange County than in the entire previous year. So it’s clear that we all—we on the stage and you in the audience—have an ongoing responsibility, an educational responsibility to help ourselves and those we come in contact with, to understand the situation, not only in Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East, but also here at home. And that’s what this roundtable is dedicated to.

Sakata, Jairazbhoy, Racy, Questions

Responses to Roundable

Discussion Board

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