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The place where I will regularly post thoughts and comments on any aspect of music.
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And you might check my other blog, Evert Listens to Dylan, if you would be interested what listening to the complete recordings of Bob Dylan does with (or to, or for) me.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On Culture

If you do not like blog entries about abstractions, skip this one. It is about 'culture'. Soon I will write about King's Day - much more fun, I promise.

Some time ago I was giving a guest lecture in a course on research skills for teaching staff. I do those guest lectures a couple of times per year, and I like it - it forces me to think about my own research and to explain it to others.

On the basis of earlier experiences this year, I had decided that I would focus less on content and more on methodological issues, and specifically on what is called Grounded Theory: a type of research in which you do not test a theory, but develop it on the basis of empirical data.

So in the lecture I was talking about one of the principles of Grounded Theory, which is called theoretical sampling. The fact that you start your research without a theory makes it hard to decide where to begin your sampling of data. So you simply start somewhere, without  fixed theoretical preconceptions.

One of the people present thought long and hard about this and then disagreed with me. In my specific case, I sampled interviewees only within the province of Groningen, which for the person present meant that at least I had a basic preconception of culture - a preconception that my interviewees, varied as they might be, at least shared a culture to some extent.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dolly Parton - A Review

The music critic has always fascinated me. He is the professional variant of something many people do continuously: talking about their musical experiences in an evaluating way.

I guess the music critic uses three ingredients: descriptions, judgments, and emotions. He describes what has happened: who was where when with whom, why, with which backgrounds, which history, et cetera. Then there are the judgments and the emotions. They are the equivalents of what I elsewhere called "judging talk" and "liking talk". Together they make up the discourse in which we describe our personal relationship to music. Music touches us - hence the "liking talk" with which we describe our emotions. And on that basis we pick the music we like to listen to - which leads to enormous amounts of "judging talk", in which we try to rationalize our musical choices. Of course that rational story is never convincing, precisely because it is the rational counterpart of the emotional process of liking music, a process which remains inexplicable and only expressible through - mostly material (often bodily) - metaphors: "It really entered"; "It touched my heart"; "It shook me"; et cetera.