My Music / Edition 1

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My Music is a first-hand exploration of the diverse roles music plays in people's lives. "What is music about for you?" asked members of the Music in Daily Life Project of some 150 people, and the responses they received — from the profound to the mundane, from the deeply-felt to the flippant — reflect highly individualistic relationships to and with music. Susan Crafts, Daniel Cavicchi, and Project Director Charles Keil have collected and edited nearly forty of those interviews to document the diverse ways in which people enjoy, experience, and use music.

CONTRIBUTORS: Charles Keil, George Lipsitz.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Whether they think [music is] occasional background, the meaning of life, or some unique amalgam of both, few of these informants pigeonhole neatly into one of those taste subcultures beloved of marketers, programmers, sociologists, and rock critics . . . With the most uncommitted users attesting to some degree of saturation, what comes through is how uncontrollably each bends music to his or her own semiconscious needs or well-conceived purposed." —Robert Christgau

The subjects here are the weirdest of the weird: ordinary people. The project interviewed people aged four to 83 on what music meant to them, using relatives, friends, ex-employees, and neighbors as questioners so that the answers wouldn't be the usual lies we tell about our tastes. It's staggering."—SF Weekly

"Not surprisingly, people listen to music for many different reasons and in many different ways, but the authors express pleasant surpise at most respondents' keen interest and intelligence about popular music in general and the astonishing range of individuals' interests despite the narrowcasting principles of radio specifically and the media in general."—Washington Post

"My Music presents a lively cross-section of lay commentary on music . . . The interviews are very rich, and not only for their musical content. There are miniature psychodramas, and some clouded glimpses into private lives . . . My Music is unique in its use of open-ended, more-or-less nondirective interviews, and its focus on the voices of ordinary people . . . I suspect it will prove especially useful in the classroom."—Postmodern Culture

Library Journal
This book could serve as a Rorschach test for the reader; many will applaud it as a celebration of diversity, while some may see it as further evidence of the decline of Western civilization. People of all ages from Buffalo, New York were asked, in essence, ``What is music about for you?'' The book offers 41 of their answers. While it is impossible to categorize the responses, a few generalizations can be drawn. ``Classical'' music is generally marginal to people's lives. Instead, people identify with different popular styles, depending on age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The Grateful Dead, New Age, Country and Western, and Rap music are all diverse, highly symbolic styles worn as badges by their devotees. This book makes an important, stimulating contribution to an exciting area of study: the sociobiology of music. Recommended for academic lib raries.-- E. Gaub, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819562647
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 6/18/1993
  • Series: Music Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreward by George Lipsitz
Children: Heather, “I dance to ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady’.”
Johnnie, “You have to have a lullaby before you sleep.”
Carley, “I just play with my songs…”
Billy, “I was stuck in the snow cave, and I felt like listening to music.”
Jennie, “They teach us so that we know what to do with our kids when we grow up.”
Molly, “I like to look for things that people don’t really recognize.”
Teenagers: Lisa, “What would the human ear do…?”
Matthew, “ They play weird songs you have to be so old to know.”
Connie, “ Rap is things you say fast.”
Edwardo, “Sometimes I think about life, and all the problems I have.”
May, “I still have my violin from when I was five.”
Anita, “I listen to other music and then I go see the Dead.”
Young Adults: Beth, “It’s the first remedy for trying to get out of my boredom.”
Mabel “… if I were to cuss someone out right after church, what does my singing mean?”
Alan, “I’m not gonna sit there and worship someone.”
Abby, “ It’s about aggression.”
Rhonda, “Roger Waters is really it for me.”
Gail “It’s hard to explain…it’s all feelings and emotions…”
Victor, “They feel it more because they created the instrument.”
Chad, “It is not the making sound…it is how one nation expresses its opinion.”
Adults: Neil, “Music is just part of life, like air.”
Ralph, “It’s a kind of critiquing…an enjoyable critiquing.”
Betty, “…I can’t wait to come home and get back to my Neil Diamond.”
Carl, “ I can’t give it up.”
Charles, “To be the creator of it is to participate directly in that point of coherence of the earth, of the universe, of humanity, of meaning; all else is darkness.”
Karen, “I like mood tapes, subliminals, and new age music. That really sets me free.”
Keith, “As I developed from childhood to adulthood, the music developed with me.”
Wanda, “…if I don’t think of music in terms of dance, I’ll think of it in terms of colors.”
Stan, “…if I don’t know it perfectly, I won’t do it.”
Older Adults: Richard, “I actually become what I hear.”
Stella , “…country and western is the only… adult music”
Sally, “It can make you cry, and then other times it can really perk you up.”
Frances, “…the types of music that sells today is for that age group that really doesn’t care about the words.”
Violet, “…if I were home cleaning by myself during the day I might put Pavarotti on and have it shaking to the rafters!”
James, “Regardless of what it is, somebody likes it.”
Steve, “I would say thirty percent of what I know about life today was gleaned from songs.”
Elders: Ken, “…when I was in the service, when we had the band playing, it instilled a lot of things in you.”
Anthony, “When you sing, you pray twice.”
Elaine, “…if anybody wanted to dance at a party I was at the piano.”
Helen, “Well, I was beautiful then and, boy, could I dance.”
Samuel, “It takes the fear away from you.”
Apendix: Music in Daily Life Guidelines by Charles Keil

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