Shelemay, Kay Kaufman. Soundscapes: Exploring Music in a Changing World. 2nd Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2006.

Brian Martinez and Catherine Williams

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Shelemay, Kay Kaufman. Soundscapes: Exploring Music in a Changing World. 2nd Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2006.

Organization: 3 main sections:

  1. Listening to music
  2. Transmitting music
  3. Understanding music

Each chapter focuses on ideas relevant to the theme of the section. For example, in part 2–Chapter 4: Music and Migration

Chapters use case studies to illustrate key themes and ideas. They tend to be organized as follows:

  • Overview (table of contents)
  • Main points
  • Specific foci
    • Case studies
  • Conclusions
  • List of important terms

This applies to all chapters except for the first, which is a general introduction to music.

Strengths

  • Listening guides are thorough and helpful (contain date, performers, form, function, what to listen for (instruments), brief description by time (seconds)
  • Other side boxes have useful and interesting information
    • Looking Back [p. 7] (historical information)
    • Sound Sources [p. 100] (Information about instruments/ensembles)
    • Individual Portraits [p. 158] (Highlights important people)
    • Studying Music [p. 172] (Issues related to music research)
    • Color pictures (good quality)
  • Primarily concerned with overarching principals and concepts, rather than musical minutiae
  • Pronunciation guides within the text as opposed to in the margins

Qualitatively Ambiguous

  • Information is organized by concept, not by continent–for example, Irish music is discussed in multiple chapters.
    • May help avoid stereotypes (continental essentialization)
    • May not be suitable for institutionally-sanctioned curriculum
    • May be confusing for students who want to associate music by region, rather than concept
      • Especially for freshmen
      • Perhaps more geared toward upper-division students

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t list chapter numbers at the bottoms of pages (only lists titles)
  • It can feel as if the focus is disjunct because of rapid juxtaposition of different traditions, regions and genres. This can seem overwhelming
  • May be more digestible for students who are already familiar with musics from around the world
  • Bomba confused for bombo [p. 85]