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Music technology, instruments and gender production in music education
Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Department of Music Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7945-9794
2020 (English)In: The topology of music education as a field of researches, policies and practices, 2020Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Gender is fruitfully analyzed in music pedagogical research as a socially constructed position. Originating from a socialconstructionist perspective language is in other words given great power when it comes to studying meaning of a phenomenon such as gender. A large and growing number of studies have shown how musical instruments, as well as music technology, are discursively gendered and that historical, cultural aspects are incorporated in things like technology and instruments, which assumably affects the student’s choices of instruments as well as how they collaborates with each other in different ensemble and music making situations. Also, in my own dissertation I applied this theoretical framework at large. In this presentation though, I want to discuss whether it could be helpful to use theory from a new-materialist perspective in order to, in more detail, discuss how musical instruments and music technology affects student’s possibilities to express and become gender in pop-ensembles and music making learning environments? 

 

I will not argue against the value of an entirely social constructionist approach, but instead argue that a theoretical approach that help us understand music technology as well as musical instruments as part of a greater network of actors, to speak with Laour, could be helpful. Considering the possibility of agency in musical and non-musical objects and making collaborations between people and objects visible, could possibly help unfolding details that could be used as tools in order to change the music education to improve social inclusion in music education from a gender perspective. 

 

Social Constructionist perspectives have by new-materialist scholars been criticized of ascribing language to much importance and neglecting everything else. “Language matters. Discourse matters. Culture matters. There is an important sense in which the only thing that does not seem to matter anymore is matter.” as Karen Barad puts it. In this paper I will apply a theoretical approach in which matter comes to matter as actors in a large network.

 

In the presentation I will present material from my dissertation from different music education in secondary schools in Sweden and then reanalyze some of these situations drawing from different theoretical perspectives such as Karen Barad, Bruno Latour, Donna Haraway, Annemarie Mol and Jane Bennett. The material contains of video documentations of interactions between musicians playing and in other ways interacting in a music educational setting. Only some of the situations are selected in order to facilitate a primarily theoretical discussion about the fruitfulness of this approach at large.

Results from former studies, applying a social constructionist perspective, such as music technology being primarily gendered as masculine rather than feminine could be confirmed also in this material. This could be seen indirectly by how music technology attracts boys to interact with microphones, PA systems, loudspeakers etc. Although, apart from this attraction in itself, the actual interaction with particular instruments affects the students’ possibilities to express themselves in different ways. Playing the electric guitar, sitting on the amplifier for example, makes it easier to adjust the volume. Being connected to the PA system, as for the keyboard player or the singer on the other hand, creates difficulties adjusting your volume. Adding the risk of creating an acoustic feedback, together with a tendency rather to increase rather than decrease the volume in order to create balance between the instruments, diminishes the possibilities for the singer to claim space when rehearsing.

Some concluding remarks could be done from this. First and foremost, I find that focusing instruments as well as music technology is worth considering further research on in order to addressing questions of gender production in music education. Further, there is a need for further theoretical discussion about the status of discourses in a theoretical framework which at the same time have an ambition to assign instruments and music technology agency.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020.
Keywords [en]
music education, musik pedagogy, music technology, gender, positioning theory, new materialism
National Category
Music Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kmh:diva-3438OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kmh-3438DiVA, id: diva2:1427975
Conference
25th conference of Nordic Network for Research in Music Education at 3-5 March 2020
Available from: 2020-05-04 Created: 2020-05-04 Last updated: 2020-05-04

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