Week 5 Open Thread

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Thanks for the constructive suggestions (and the kind words!) on the evaluation forms. We’ll talk about the suggestions next week in class, but I want to lay them out here so that we can think of ways to implement them ASAP. The first suggestion: a request for some in-class singing. This I’m working on, and I think we’ll get two singing sessions in before we’re done. What do people want to sing?

Next, a suggestion that we look more closely at the economic, social, and cultural settings of the songs. This is an excellent idea, but I’m not prepared enough in those areas to do any kind of heavy lifting. We’re going to look at some of the cultural issues next week when we talk about minstrels, but much of the rest we’ll deal with only in passing, unless some of you step up and do reports on the issues that interest you. I am happy to help out with topic selection and research.

Finally, a suggestion that we integrate the website and classtime more effectively. This is a tremendous idea, and I’m trying to come up with some creative ideas. I hope all of you will do the same.

Note that I’ve added a link to No Depression, a “magazine” devoted to American roots music. They recently stopped publishing a print edition and have instead greatly expanded their website. I’m not sure whether the music they cover qualifies as “folk,” but it does qualify as good music. We’ll hear a couple of the artists they’ve written about in Week 10 as part of our Carter Family survey. The magazine is even named after a Carter Family song, which is all the excuse I need to tack a video of it on to the end of this post. Caution advised: the video has some heartrending Great Depression images.

This is an open thread, so comments on any topic are welcome.

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