Music, Sports, and the Sound of Writing

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Deborah Justice

Abstract

Coming from a disciplinary background in ethnomusicology, I wanted to create an assignment outside of the norm in writing studies; rather than having the students understand sound as a text to be read, I wanted them to be able to read and respond to sound with sound. The majority of students in my “Music and Sports” course were journalism or music industry students who were fulfilling an elective requirement on the way to careers in sports broadcasting or news reporting. I wanted the students to experiment and enact our departmental goals of writing ethnographically about music and culture through well-constructed and well-referenced narratives that also would result in an interactive “real world” application beyond standard response papers or blogs. To this end, students had to respond to fairly open-ended prompts by recording three minutes of audio that included three citations to class readings and three audio clips of their choosing. The students grew dramatically in their ability to choose and contextualize the sound clips as effectively as article quotes in advancing their analyses. With technological developments like recording apps and free editing software, students can use sound itself as a primary source to propel their arguments. This assignment demonstrates how instead of describing sounds, we can now weave them into spoken narratives and then allow readers to hear them to support our arguments. We can now write with music.

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References

Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (1995). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes (1st ed.). University of Chicago Press.