Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Asking good questions

This research blog has been a great help in getting some ideas on music and sustainability out there, and in getting some feedback. The seminar I taught last year at Brown in Music and Cultural Policy was also very helpful. At the moment what I'm thinking is this: what are the best, that is, the most fruitful, questions to ask about music and sustainability? As usual, in doing the kind of exploratory research a humanities scholar does, I've been following my interests and inclinations, rather than going along a predetermined route. This is new work; there is no predetermined route, and I believe it would have been premature to try to plan one when I started on this road years ago. As Theodore Roethke wrote, "I learn by going / where I have to go."

Of course, this blog is filled with questions, some asked, many implicit. What are the first ones, the ones that lead down the most promising paths, roads, highways? What are the ones that will help to run patterns and orders that will help us best theorize sustainability and music? This is another way of saying I want to start organizing this research in a systematic way.  I've been speaking out and writing about various aspects of the research for six years, and it's getting to be time to put it together in a book before books (or I) become obsolete. This semester is both busy and fortunate in that regard--busy because of my full load of classes and several invited lectures at other universities, and fortunate in that these invitations are to speak about music and sustainability. I look forward to learning a great deal from these interactions, all the while trying to settle on an order and patterned relationship in the questions to ask--and there are many. I'm hoping, through these invited lectures on music and sustainability, all during the next three months at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Portland State University, the University of Michigan, and Indiana University, to organize the questions that will best theorize the topic in an understandable and helpful way. And, of course, I'm hoping we can move further in developing some answers.

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