Entanglements and Imperatives: Music Analysis Now
We live on a planet facing a multitude of existential challenges: systemic racism, religious intolerance, gender- and sex-based violence, climate change, violent assaults on democratic principles, pandemics, to name just a few. What possible role might music scholarship play—including music analysis—in addressing these challenges, in changing the world?
My paper addresses the roles that today’s music creators play in addressing the planet’s existential challenges. Further, I suggest that there is an imperative for music scholars to study music of the present while at the same time working to uncover the entanglements of our profession that sustain these existential challenges. I briefly address four musical works that resonate directly or indirectly with the existential challenges of the present to exemplify my analytical practice. The purpose here is not to define a new paradigm but rather to model a framework for proceeding. The works are: The Body of the State (2017) by Eliza Brown; Letters to George (2022) by George (John Hollenbeck, Anna Webber, Aurora Nealand, Chiquita Magic); Nyakinyua Rise by Jlin; and Everything Rises (2022) by Ken Ueno, Jennifer Koh, and Davóne Tines.