Tuesday, June 13, 2006

some drama


At these groups I go to, there are usually a handful of people who are what I call "vocational musicians" - mastered all the parts in the ensemble, familiar with several types of music, and play with a number of groups - and a large number of people who can play some of the instruments, but not all, and are poor soloists. (Actually, it's not rare for someone to able to play one and only one part.) Well, at one of my groups, there was a decision last week by "the board" that it was inappropriate for members to play music with more than one group. In this group, there are 4 vocational musicians; 3 of them (including the group's music director) decided to quit, taking it as an insult and an absurdity that multiple membership would be frowned upon.

From my perspective, this has pretty-much gutted the musicking potential of this group. I suspect that it will be possible for them to replace the members who quit, but also that it will be very difficult to find people that good who are willing to abandon other groups they may be associated with. I hope to be allowed to attend another group with these 3 who quit (aside from being inspirational players, they're super-sweet guys) and keep attending the first group's meetings. I'm curious to see what the first group will do about upcoming gigs.

It's not directly relevant to these developments, but I thought it might be interesting to say a few words about the gendering of music around here. I know of zero female vocational musicians. A good number of women can play background parts in their groups. I have never seen a woman take a solo on an instrument [since time of writing, I've seen one female drummer soloing]. Singing and dancing, unlike instrument-playing, seem to be equally open to both men and women. Whether men or women sing about different things, or in different styles, or at different times are questions I might be able to answer later after analysis of my data at home.

2 comments:

vi said...

hi simon,
i don't know if you remember me, but i'll be doing preliminary research in cameroon this summer, in buea. i just wanted to say hi and let you know i'll be in the country. hope your work is going well.
-viola

Patrick said...

Whether you continue to be allowed to float between groups might be an interesting gauge of your status in the community, no? Please keep your loyal readers posted!