Applied Sociomusicology

The word amateur in “amateur music” evokes complex and sometimes dissonant images in the minds of many music professionals. In this course, we will investigate the fallacies of the negative assumptions and discover ways of creating and maintaining vital and exciting prospects for musicians who have chosen not to pursue a musical vocation. This large body of musicians require guidance and mentoring and those professional musicians and music educators who offer that leadership, sometimes without remuneration, are often repaid with profound gratitude and deep personal satisfaction. In a greater sense, the reception of music produced by the professional music world is broadened and deepened by engagement with one of its most important consumers, amateur musicians.

In this course, students will be presented with theories and resolutions about the value of a-vocational music derived from Cultural Studies and Critical Theory. The lectures will begin with insights about community musicking provided by Christopher Small and his unconventional look at modern-day performers and audience members in the realm of Western European Art Music. This avenue of inquiry leads directly to an examination of High and Low art, its critics and its defenders, and their view of the often maligned world of amateur music performers. Proceeding beyond theory to praxis, we will then survey the massive and neglected demographic of amateur music-makers, especially the private world of piano instruction, and then ensembles devoted to Western Art Music and Ethnic Music. We will establish a triangulation by looking at garage bands and their passion for popular music. On the way we will see how such disparate composers as Georg Philip Telemann and Paul Hindemith devised music especially for devoted amateurs.  Procedures and programs for amateur performers will be reviewed in order to see how the selfless application of music skills by professionals can be used to improve and heighten people’s lives outside their traditional concert venues.

Our guideline will be provided by the new International Journal of Community Music. In the end, we will discovery that the subject is hyper cross-disciplinary, touching borders with Leisure Studies (usually located in Human Kinetics and Sports Faculties), Music Education Faculties, and not-for-profit arts organisations.


Pitts, Stephanie Valuing Musical Participation (Ashgate, 2005)

Lecture Schedule and Readings

Week 1 Applied Musicology (Sociomusicology) and New Musicology 

Locke, Ralph “Musicology and/as Social Concern: Imagining the Relevant Musicologist,” in Rethinking Music, edited by Nicholas Cook and Mark Everest (Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 499-530.

Turino, Thomas, “For Love or Money,” in Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation (University of Chicago Press, 2008), pp. 225-34.

Finnegan, Ruth The Hidden Musicians: Music-making in an English Town (1989; second edition, Wesleyan University Press, 2007)

Charles Keil, “Call and Response Applied Sociomusicology and Performance Studies,” in Ethnomusicology, volume 42, number 2 (Spring/Summer 1998), pp. 303-312

Week 2 Music as Process and Product

Small, Christopher Music. Society. Education (Wesleyan University Press, new edition with an introduction by Robert Walser, 1997)

Small, Christopher Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Wesleyan, 1998)

Cook, Nicholas ‘Making Music Together, or Improvisation and its Others’. The Source: Challenging Jazz Criticism, 1 (2004), 5-25.

Cook, Nicholas ‘Between Process and Product: Music and/as Performance’. Music Theory Online, 7/2 (April 2001)

Week 3 Serious Leisure 

Stebbins, Robert Serious Leisure: A Perspective for our Time (Transaction Publishers, 2007)

Rojek, Chris Leisure Theory: Principles and Practice (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)

Week 4 Alternate Views of Traditional Western Art Music Experiences

Weingarten, Gene “Pearls Before Breakfast: Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour?” in Washington Post, April 8, 2007.

Riley, Matthew Musical Listening in the German Enlightenment (Ashgate, 2004)

McVeigh, Simon Concert Life in London from Mozart to Haydn (Cambridge University Press, 1993)

Lebrecht, Norman The Life and Death of Classical Music (Anchor Books, 2007)

Week 5 Traditional Views of Amateur Music-making 

Washburn, Christopher and Maiken Derno, editors Bad Music: The Music We Love to Hate (Routledge, 2004)

Gans, Herbert Popular Culture and High Culture: an analysis and evaluation of taste (Basic Books, 1999)

Swartz, David Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu (University of Chicago Press, 1997)

Week 6 The dark side of Amateur music-making – mediocrity

Keen, Andrew The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of today’s user-generated media are destroying our economy, our culture, and our values (Broadway Business; Reprint edition, 2008)

Fleming, Paul Exemplarity and Mediocrity: The Art of the Average from Bourgeois Tragedy to Realism (Stanford University Press, 2008)

Week 7 Karaoke and Amateur Music-making

Drew, Rob Karaoke Nights: An Ethnographic Rhapsody (Altamira Press, 2001)

Mistui, Toru and Shuhei Hosokawa, editors Karaoke Around the World (Routledge, 1998)

Week 8 Amateur Music-making Testimonials

Schauffler, Robert Haven The Musical Amateur: A Book on the Human Side of Music (BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009)

Holt, John Never Too Late: My Musical Life Story (Perseus, 1978, 1991)

Driver, Christopher, Music for Love: An Anthology of Amateur Music-Making (Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd. 1995)

Kahn, Ada, Keeping the Beat: Healthy Aging Through Amateur Chamber Music Playing (Wordscope Associates, 1999)

Week 9 The Gebrauchsmusik of Telemann and Hindemith

Hinton, Stephen The idea of Gebrauchsmusik: a study of musical aesthetics in the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) with particular reference to the works of Paul Hindemith (Garland, 1989)

Zohn, Steven Music for a Mixed Taste: Style, Genre, and Meaning in Telemann’s Instrumental Works (Oxford University Press, 2008)

Week 10 The Sociology of the Solo Piano Student

Trillini , Regula Hohl The Gaze of the Listener: English Representation of Domestic Music-making (Rodolpi, 2008)

Kilick, Andrew, “Holicipation: Prolegomenon to an Ethnography of Solitary Music-Making,” in Ethnomusicology Forum, Volume 15, Issue 2 (November 2006) pages 273 – 299

Week 11 Ethnomusicology, Folk Music and the Amateur

Solis, Ted, editor Performing Ethnomusicology: Teaching and Representation in World Music Ensembles (University of California Press, 2004)

Foy, Barry Field Guide to the Irish Music Session: A Guide to Enjoying Irish Traditional Music in its Natural Habitat (Frogchart Press, 2009)

Smith, John L. “The Ethogenics of Music Performance: A Case Study of the Glebe Live Music Club,” in Everyday Culture: Popular Song and the Vernacular Milieu, edited by Michael Pickering et al. (Open University Press, 1987).

Week 12 Amateur Garage Bands

Green, Lucy How Popular Musicians Learn: A Way Ahead for Music Education (Ashgate, 2002)

Toynbee, Jason Making Popular Music: Musicians, Creativity and Institutions (Arnold, 2000)

Week 13 The Construction, Care and Maintenance of an Amateur Music Ensemble 

Judy, Stephanie Making Music for the Joy of It: Enhancing Creativity, Skills, and Musical Confidence (A Guide for Adult Beginning and Amateur Musicians) (Holt Associates, 1990)

Lamble, Walter Handbook for Beginning Choral Educators (Indiana University Press, 2004)

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