Music in Urban Spaces explores the ways in which individuals use music in their everyday lives and how music is used to construct larger social and economic networks that we call culture. We will read musicologists, cultural theorists, urban geographers, and sociologists who work to define urban space and the role of music and sound in urban environments. While the readings we do will inform our conversations and the questions we ask, it is within the context of our service to music programs in West Philly schools (one Elementary and one High School) that we will begin to formulate our theories of the contested musical micro-cultures of West Philadelphia.
We will first consider what the listening and performing culture was when we were growing up and how, if at all, this music reflected the local definition of our environment as urban, suburban, or rural. In addition to reading that will help us define the musical genres, styles, and aesthetics of recent urban music, we will teach and learn from West Philly students. We will ask, for example, how does the music the high school students present reflect, reject, or reinforce stereotypes about race, ethnicity, gender, or class? In what ways does the participation of elementary school students in classical music training contribute to or allow for social or economic mobility in urban spaces
Music in Urban Spaces explores the ways in which individuals use music in their everyday lives and music is used to construct larger social and economic networks that for some become agents of social change or personal advancement. The efforts between the University of Pennsylvania and two West Philadelphia schools will help Penn students to develop their musical and sociological skills in analyzing how music is a marker of cultural identification. The videos and research projects created by our class will provide evidence of the interconnected use of music in articulating the values, priorities, and essence of communities.