Music as Labor, Music as Work – January 27th, 2020 (Campus Reflection)

On Monday, January 27th, 2020, from 4 – 5:30 PM at 18th Avenue Library, Dr. Sonia Seeman hosted an academic discussion based on the theme of migration, mobility, and immobility when it comes to the music industry from the early 1900’s to the present. Dr. Seeman specifically studies the past 100 years of Turkish-Roman musician family narratives. Turkish-Roman musicians typically view their work as what Dr. Seeman describes as “earning bread money” to feed their families and provide shelter. Dr. Seeman believes that their own perspective completely disregards the complexity of their training, extensive labor, and highly developed skill sets regarding the themes of in-family trade. The ideology of family trade is essential to their success as musicians, as they would marry in those instrumentalists that were missing from their groups. Dr. Seeman believes that at the time of “earning bread money,” the musicians viewed music simply as a way to survive. This talk explored the developments of the lives of Turkish-Roman professional musicians in their own stories, experiences, recordings, etc. Dr. Seeman plans to release a book about these themes and their importance to the economy, to family, and to the industry.

I found this event particularly interesting because I had never truly been to an academic discussion/presentation in my own industry because they are few and far in between. I found the work that Dr. Seeman was researching to be quite entrancing, even though some of it did go a little bit over my head, as I do not study music theory. In the future, I hope to attend more academic discussions regarding research in the music industry because I honestly didn’t even know that there were opportunities to do so. I hope that I will be able to conduct my own research in the industry as well because it is an essential part of growth and we have the tools to do research at this University.

I did find it interesting how much this event coincided with the ideology of International Affairs! A heavy portion of the hour and a half discussion focused solely on the migration of these families from the middle east to eastern Europe, as well as trading musicians throughout this area. The discussion gave me a new perspective on the economy in places other than the US, which is relevant to the business trends I study every day in the classroom.

Academically and professionally, this event was successful. Again, I was able to learn about things I never knew existed in my field, and I hope to get more involved. Although I love the concept of ethnomusicology, I would not necessarily want to study more of the Turkish-Roman trends. Perhaps in the future I will study the sounds of Africa and how they shifted to South America, and how they overlap with our own popular music today. These are the themes that interest me more so, but overall I do believe Dr. Seeman would be a great resource in order to guide my future research!

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