Random Access: Your Role in Music History

By Litterst, George F. | American Music Teacher, December 2005 | Go to article overview

Random Access: Your Role in Music History


Litterst, George F., American Music Teacher


Of course you have studied music history in school and (hopefully) have continued your music history studies, either formally or informally, since then. But have you thought about the role you play in that history? How about the role your students play? Given the possibilities of new information technologies, your potential role might be bigger than you think.

What Is Music History Anyway?

We all know what the study of music history is: the study of the life, times, musical practices and culture surrounding musicians, as well as their contributions to the musical art form. But what, really, is the history of music itself?.

When studying music history or any other history, it is easy to assume we are studying actual events that took place. In reality, however, history is not the sum total of the events themselves but, rather, our record of those events. That record can be at times accurate, inaccurate or rather muddled, yet we still study it to find meaning. Whenever we study that record, we must remember that there is a story in history.

The Individual Roles We Play

As a record of the past, our musical history can be found in many places, including information passed on through oral tradition, print, historical artifacts, pictures, recordings and even musical interpretations. Indeed, there is no single place where the entire accessible record of our music history resides.

Whenever we teach our students, we participate in the ongoing documentation of musical history and an evolving interpretation of it. For example, when we teach a student how to execute a trill in Mozart's music, starting (or not starting) on the upper note, we are contributing to the history of music by passing on information that may take on a life of its own through our student and everyone who comes in contact with that student and his music. What we pass on to our student may or may not be accurate or insightful, but it does become part of music history.

Although it might be comforting to think that we can go to scholarly sources, such as Grove's Dictionary of Music" and Musicians, to get the facts, the actual history of music is a larger embodiment of the collective understanding of all mankind--and that includes the minds and the writings and the performances of many people--even those who do not necessarily have any expertise in this field.

We may think that articles written by scholars and printed in peer-reviewed journals are more important than our own contributions to music history, but it stands to reason that our own contributions are significant. In fact, our own contributions are very significant in the lives of our students. And, if we take advantage of new and easily accessible technologies, our personal influence may expand exponentially.

An Opportunity for You

The Internet and new information technologies make it possible for anyone to become a noteworthy contributor to the history of music. A good example is a relatively new, free and ever-evolving online encyclopedia called Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Main_Page).

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia writ ten by everyone who chooses to contribute constructively. Unlike a writer for Grove's, you don't have to be a pedigreed scholar to write for Wikipedia. All you have to do is post an article or edit an existing article.

The encyclopedia grows and evolves on a moment-by-moment basis. Currently, there are about 732,000 articles in the English section alone. Many more languages are represented, but to a lesser extent.

The notion that anyone can write or edit an article for Wikipedia may seem quite bizarre but before you completely discount what I am telling you, please suspend your disbeliefs for a few more paragraphs.

I first encountered Wikipedia a few months ago. I found some very interesting and helpful material in the form of text, images, sounds and so on. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Random Access: Your Role in Music History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.