2018 Downtown Lectures
In the first lecture of the series, Jake Harwood will explore why music is a fundamental human activity. Rather than an indulgence, music began as a means of communication and an expression of kinship, home, and emotion. From soccer chants to Snowball the dancing cockatoo, Harwood will explain music’s influence on a wide range of behaviors, including its role in coordinating movement through dance, signaling relationships, and acting as both a bridge and a barrier between groups with differing identities.
Jake Harwood is a professor in the UA Department of Communication. His latest book, Communication and Music in Social Interaction, explores how music conveys hidden messages, its emotional and physical effects, and how it relates to many forms of communication, including new technology. Musician Yo Yo Ma is a perfect example—he quoted from Harwood’s work on his Facebook page last summer!
Cultural Blending in Music
Music has long been a place of polyculturality, the blending of cultures. Tyina Steptoe will examine the complexities of cultural blending at work in gospel, rhythm & blues, rock & roll, and pop music, including discussions of race, gender, and queerness. Using examples from Little Richard to Selena and Beyoncé, she will illuminate how and where polycultural music emerges and how these sounds can shape the social and economic landscapes of communities of color.
Centering on the visual aspects of music culture, Maurice Rafael Magaña will discuss the role of urban youth culture in shaping collective identity, particularly where migration, cross-culture pollination and public artwork are involved. In highlighting the perhaps surprising exchange between the Los Angeles hip hop scene and youth activists in Oaxaca, Mexico, he will illustrate not only the communicative power of art in public spaces, but also the ways in which youth culture, art, and migration can intersect to shape collective identities and community histories of struggle.
Culture and Conflict in Border Music
Born, developed, or enjoyed in zones of frequent migration, border music has always been shaped by the intermingling of cultures and identities. Celestino Fernandez will relate the fascinating histories of musical genres performed in the Mexico-U.S. border region, including norteño, corridos, and mariachi, helping us see and hear the border in a new light. His talk will also incorporate a live corrido singer and a local mariachi band!