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Music Department Student Accomplishments

Congratulations to the following Music Department students for their outstanding accomplishments!

Nelsen Hutchison
Ph.D Ethnomusicology Student

Nelson Hutchison

"The Social Science Research Council Dissertation Development Program (SSRC-DPD) helps graduate students in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences develop their dissertation research. SSRC-DPD fellows attend a series of workshops that provide training in professional skills, introductions to a range of methodologies, and interdisciplinary feedback from graduate student peers and faculty. After attending workshops throughout the spring quarter fellows conduct summer research projects with a $5,000 grant from the program and discuss their results with their cohort in the fall.

The project I proposed is an ethnography of the San Francisco Bay Area Jazz Scene. My research asks how jazz musicians navigate temporary and precarious employment opportunities, understand their live performances as commodities, engage in a dialectic of creative autonomy and financial security, practice alternative forms of collectivization, and grapple with legislation meant to curb the employment of independent contractors. My ethnographic data would situate present conditions of labor and community in the context of Bay Area history particularly in relation to the increasing costs of living, the rise of the technology sector, the institutionalization of jazz in education and performance venues, and the region’s history of structural racial violence through urban renewal and gentrification. My original planned research methods included in-person interviews and participant observation in jam sessions and concerts. However, with the recent shelter-in-place orders and closure of music venues, my methodology and the focus of my project will need to shift to account for these recent developments. I look forward to working with faculty and peers in the SSRC-DPD to find creative ways of adapting my research project to address the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic."

Samuel B. Cushman
Ph.D. Candidate

Samuel B. Cushman

Grant title: Fulbright-Nehru Open Study/Research Award (nine months)
Project title: The Rhythms of North Indian Dance: A Study of Drum Accompaniment in Kathak

"This Fulbright project focuses on drumming traditions associated with kathak dance, a North Indian dance form that emphasizes rhythmic movement and storytelling in the context of bhakti (devotional Hindu) themes. In addition to studying kathak repertoires on tabla, the primary drums used to accompany kathak, I will also conduct research on three other drums: the pakhawaj, dhol, and dholak. By studying dance accompaniment on these multiple North Indian drums, I will examine how kathak dance has incorporated aspects of both elite and popular music traditions into its extensive repertoires.

For the first third of my nine-month Fulbright period, I will be based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where I will focus on intensive study of the multiple instrumental techniques associated with kathak accompaniment. I will then relocate to Delhi to use the resources of the American Institute of Indian Studies’ Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology, my sponsoring institution. With Delhi as a base for the remainder of my grant period, I will travel throughout North India working with drummers and dancers at multiple research sites. These sites will include Jaipur, Lucknow, Banaras, and Kolkata in addition to Delhi and Ahmedabad."

March 2020