THE AVID LISTENER is back: Sara Haefeli on “How Musicology Became That Town In Footloose”

After a brief summer hiatus, we at The Avid Listener are back to bring you another year of stimulating, interesting, and accessible essays about music and musicking. Welcome back to our avid readers, and hearty greetings to new friends!

Our first feature essay of TAL.2 is by Sara Haefeli, who has already written 3 compelling essays for us. (See, for example, her popular essay “If History Is Written by the Victors.”) As you may have guessed, this new essay, “How Musicology became that Town in Footloose,” is about dance and bodies, and more particularly, about how and why Musicology tends to ignore bodies. Here’s a teaser:

“We often make a distinction between music that is serious and music that is not, and this distinction is not—as one might suspect—about concert venues, instrumentation, or even the average age of the target audience. I think this distinction is often made between music we sit and listen to and music we dance to. Granted, this distinction between music for the brain and music for the body is not exactly the same as Guido’s bias for theory over practice, but the general idea remains and has had a significant impact on how we study and teach music. The study of music history is typically a study of music that engages the mind, and scholars are likely to dismiss music that is designed to move the body. The music history classroom is a lot like the town in Footloose: we can listen to and study music, we just can’t dance to it.”

Isn’t this the perfect topic for a lively classroom / book club discussion? Heck, we can have a discussion here, too!

If you are still putting together syllabi for fall and want to integrate The Avid Listener, don’t forget that we’ve compiled resources for you, as well as a digest of past and future essays to ease your planning. You can find links to the handouts and digest here.

Next week: “Adapting Flutes: Authenticity, Ingenuity, and Accessibility” by Andrew Dell’Antonio

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