Music is one of those courses where everyone basically just expects you to be doing constant musicology. As in, the study of musical scores, analytically. It turns out that that’s only a tiny little part of it. There’s ethnomusicology (the study of music within culture), theory and analysis (sort of self-explanatory), performance, creative performance, history of music, contemporary debates in music, and then my usual favourite, historical musicology.
I generally really enjoy the musicology module because it touches on difficult issues. Things like: where are all the women in music history? What’s up with the letter ‘B’? Why are all the famous composers dead? Why is it that even though there are only four guys in this lecture hall, they seem to be doing all the talking?
We tend to cover topics roughly by week. (not… roughly. Roughly on a weekly basis. We’re not rugby-tackling feminism, although that might be fun) Last week was feminism, this week was music and race, and next week is queer music.
On the face of it, that’s fine. And it probably will be fine. I obviously can’t comment on the lecture itself until I get to the lecture itself. And it could be pretty awkward, because the lecturer is my personal tutor.
It’s just this reading that we have to do. It started with her trying to avoid separating gender and sexuality, i.e. not discussing one without the other. And that’s the first place the Charlotte-train-of-utter-fury stops. Because … this.
What’s sexuality got to do with gender, exactly? Because what she’s actually saying is, I won’t not talk about these people’s sexuality without mentioning that they’re female. Just to emphasise that they’re lesbians. Well, first of all, how do you know they aren’t trans/genderqueer/agender/literally any other gender apart from the traditional gender binary? And therefore how do you know they aren’t bicurious/bisexual/heteroromantic and homosexual/other? You’d literally have to say “what gender are you?” and “what sexuality are you?”
So.. good start, I suppose.
Next, many of the ‘female’ jazz musicians were unwilling to come out to a random interviewer they’d only just met as lesbians and the author got huffy.
No seriously WHAT?
For goodness sake, later in the article YOU YOURSELF acknowledge that being recognised as a lesbian at that time would basically signal career suicide! If someone chooses to associate their sexuality with their music, ok, great! If they choose not to, also great! And if someone chooses to inform you of their sexuality, be honoured! And if they don’t, FOR GODS SAKE IT IS NOT YOUR OVERWHELMING RIGHT TO KNOW THIS.
And that’s when I stopped reading. Because I just couldn’t keep going anymore.