Hi. I’m Derek Smith. I am working with a CURI team at St. Olaf College on a project that is loquaciously entitled “The Musical Geography of Nineteen-Twenty Four Paris”. The goal of my peers is to essentially map the musical soundscape of this very specific time period on an interactive computer map and timeline, which will provide an accurate web based resource for musicologists, historians, connoisseurs, francophiles, and, of course, students. I am not a part of this team. Nor am I a francophile. Rather, I am their “first student” who will be using this map to write a musicological paper on a topic that is yet to be determined.
This will naturally interfere with my favorite summer past-time of eating Bonbons and watching HGTV for 7 hours at a time — honestly, who can resist House Hunters? You’re welcome for that.
But, I figure it could be as interesting, and, if I play my cards right, as intellectually stimulating. So, the question remains: what do I bring to the table besides a strange addiction to the finest in reality television?
I am a Junior Music Education Major and I think I will have a lot to offer in terms of insight and functionality of the website as a pedagogical tool. My historiography, skills in writing, French, and technological savvy are not to be desired, but hey, we have the specialists on the CURI team for that! So, my role will be both musicologist and student.
In this project, I hope to know every detail of every day in the year 1924 in the city of Paris. Unfortunately, I don’t have the TARDIS, so I suppose I’ll have to settle for some other, more pedestrian, goals.
First, I’d like to refine my research and writing skills in the field of music. I hope to become the master of Chicago style citations, annotations, and footnotes in the field of musicology. I already committed the Chicago Manual of Style to Memory. Second, I want to understand how the cultural/political/social contexts of 1920’s Paris affected the musical developments of the time. Why did Saint-Saëns trash talk Milhaud’s polytonality in Protée, calling it “lunatic aberrations”? Rude. Finally, I want to develop an argument based on the information we gather, and present it in the form of my final paper. This seems like a random, if not totally unrelated goal, but this will provide me and opportunity to put my skills and learning (or at least try) over the course of this project into something meaningful and relevant.
Anyway, I hope the musicologists out there who are reading this from their parents basement are watching HGTV and eating Bonbons while they use our interactive map to learn a thing or two about 1924 Paris, and the process of creating this informative lexicon. I know that’s how I’d be using it.