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Samba in practice: motivations for joining the UIUC samba ensemble and an explicit theory of practice for ethnomusicology

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Title: Samba in practice: motivations for joining the UIUC samba ensemble and an explicit theory of practice for ethnomusicology
Author(s): Smith, Benjamin
Advisor(s): Turino, Thomas
Department / Program: Music
Discipline: Music
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: M.A.
Genre: Masters
Subject(s): practice theory ethnomusicology samba ensemble theory ethnography
Abstract: This thesis addresses two primary topics. The first is an ethnographic study of the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign Samba Ensemble that took place in the spring of 2008 in the framework of the Department of Music as one of the offered “ethno ensembles”. The ensemble drew in people from the music department, from the university at large, as well as other community members with no university affiliation. The ethnographic study attempts to analyze the various motivations that the different participants had for joining the ensemble. The conclusion of the ethnographic study is that while each individual participant may have their own unique constellation of reasons for joining such an ensemble, the set of possible reasons for joining is quite limited. All individuals thus combine a certain number of these shared motivations and it is probable that this same set of reasons is applicable to other ethno ensembles. The second topic addressed in the thesis is the theoretical framework – practice theory – used to conduct the analysis of the UIUC Samba Ensemble. The thesis argues that practice theory, in its contemporary iteration, is a form of social theory that presents significant advantages, both moral and practical, over competing theories in ethnography. Practice theory claims that the ultimate site of the social is not to be found in the individual or in some supraorganic body such as culture, habitus, or structures, but at the very point where they intersect: in practice. As such practices are mind-body ways of doing and being that combine individual actors, background knowledges, built environments, and material artifacts. Given this understanding, practices are accessible to the ethnographer because their components are all part of the phenomenal world, they are anti-mentalist, they reject a dichotomy between the subject and the social, and they incorporate both dynamism and agency at their core. These are reasons argued in favor of practice theory and used in the analysis of the Samba Ensemble. Finally, a distinction between two types of practices – dispersed and integrative practices – is introduced. This distinction is utilized to understand how intense musical experiences can have a transformative effect on individuals beyond the realm of musical activity itself.
Issue Date: 2012-02-06
Genre: thesis
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/29688
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Benjamin Smith
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-02-06
Date Deposited: 2011-12
 

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