Music History and Theory/Ethnomusicology Forum: "Ecomusicology and Phenomenology" (Jeff Todd Titon, Brown University)

Event Date: 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 3:30pm to 4:45pm

Event Date Details: 

Event Location: 

  • Music Room 1145 (UCSB)

Event Price: 


Event Contact: 

Adriane Hill
Marketing and Communications Manager
UC Santa Barbara Department of Music
(805) 893-3230
folk instruments
Jeff Todd Titon, Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology at Brown University, will present a lecture titled "Ecomusicology and Phenomenology" on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 from 3:30-4:45 pm in Music Room 1145 as part of Music History and Theory Forum and Ethnomusicology Forum. 
In the ecological, post-human 21st century as we increasingly realize how everything and everyone is connected, questions arise about the relations/connections between humans making music and nonhuman animals making sounds. Behavioral ecologists study animal sound communication chiefly in terms of the sound signals, stimuli and response, and the functions of those different sounds. However, the animals are treated as objects of their study and not as subjects with consciousness, intentionality, reflective processes, and so forth. In this talk, I ask what if anything a phenomenological approach to animals (or plants, for that matter) making sounds might yield? Animals cannot speak to us about their experiences, as humans can. Animal bodies are subjects that express their being within their umwelt (environment or perceptual field), and in that sense they can be said to have experiences even if they are of a very different order from human experience. By theorizing a combination of direct social perception with empathy, phenomenology can contribute to human understanding of nonhuman animal and plant sound communication, but perhaps a more important contribution to sustainability (of the Planet) comes in considering animals as sound-making subjects related to all other beings, including human beings.
Jeff Todd Titon is emeritus professor of ethnomusicology at Brown University, a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, and part-time resident of Maine. Several of his scholarly essays may be found here. He is recognized for developing and practicing collaborative ethnographic field research based in reciprocity and friendship. He was the first to propose that musical cultures could be understood as ecosystems (Worlds of Music 1984) and has more recently developed an ecological approach to cultural and musical sustainability.
folk instruments