Let's Envision A Dissertation Topic...
As some of you know, I’m currently knee-deep in year two of a 5-year doctoral program in Ethnomusicology (sometimes defined as the anthropology of music). I’m getting close to the time when I should have an idea for my dissertation…and I don’t have a research project. That’s where you come in!
Ideally, I want my dissertation to serve as a meaningful contribution to the vibraphone community (and music education as a whole?), but I haven’t figured out how. I’ve spoken to a few people from the site for ideas and brainstormed a bunch, but my advisor doesn’t think any of the ideas are quite original enough for an ethnomusicology dissertation. However, she does like the idea of vibesworkshop.com and the community, educational opportunities, and musical developments that have emerged as a result of the site’s existence. She said there might be a unique, one-of-a-kind angle somewhere within that sphere and encouraged me to think more about it.
Now I’m reaching out to all of you. Can you help me envision a research project (which I’ll have at least three years to work on) that would be more than just facts and figures? For those of you who attended the World Vibes Congress, you might remember that we spent a good chunk of time discussing vibraphone innovation, education, development, etc. The fact that the vibraphone community is at a point where we devote whole weekends to gathering to discuss the future of this instrument, whole weeks attending workshops where we are immersed in all-things-vibraphone practically 24/7, and hours to watching “vibe hangs” online is incredible. The fact that we connect with players all across the globe, receive feedback from the pros, and share resources and achievements so easily online is incredible. The fact that the vibraphone is slowly making its way into university music programs, high school jazz bands, and school music competitions in incredible.
These are all incredible…but they’re not a research project or dissertation. The problem I’m running into is that most Ethnomusicology students study more (and I cringe as I write this word) “exotic” forms of music. For instance, students in my program are conducting research on protest music in Colombia, Mexican immigrant music in New York, music education in Venezuela, children’s music in Senegal, music and identity in Brooklyn’s Jewish communities, music’s role in Sufi religious ceremonies, etc. One student is doing his research on jazz music in New York, but he is primarily studying the role of identity and race in specific jazz styles.
So…if I can find a meaningful, one-of-a-kind angle, I may be able to write a vibraphone-related dissertation (or possibly another kind of dissertation such as a community project, digital platform, or some other alternative to a giant paper or book for publication). If you have any input or ideas (remember, I have three years to devote to research, so it has to be substantial) I would love to hear them. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave comments here on this post. Thanks in advance for your support!
Always for the vibes,