Two UTSA Scholars Join New Music Theory Research Podcast | UTSA today | UTSA
What is the SMT Pod?
JB: SMT stands for Society for Music Theory and it is the first audio publication that features scholarships from around the world in the field of music theory. This is the first time our domain has done something like this. We have traditional print and online diaries as well as a video diary, but this year we launched the podcast.
How did the idea of creating something like the SMT Podcast come about?
JB: It was presented by a graduate student who is my co-chair. Her name is Megan Lyons and she’s working on her doctorate. in music theory at the University of Connecticut. These promising young researchers are truly changing the field. She presented it to the board and they were looking for someone in the field to oversee it, so they asked me to chair it.
I have a lot of experience with audio posts and flipped classrooms, so I had all the technology and resources available to do that, and I advocated for a more transparent and collaborative form of review by peers, which we have successfully developed at SMT-Cosse.
Besides you, what does the band behind the podcast look like?
JB: We have a board of about 13 members from across the country. I believe there are two associate professors at my level and the others are junior professors or PhD students. students. We are active in all the processes involved, from executing our RFP to sending it out to peer reviewers and sort of working between the production team and the peer reviewers.
Copyright is a huge issue because we are dealing with a lot of music clips. So far our episodes have had audio from artists like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan and they are highly watched clips so we always have to circumvent fair use and copyright clearances.
It’s very involved, from everything on the website to everything you hear.
People say music theory can be a bit daunting and a very complex subject. How will this podcast change that notion?
JB: We want to make it accessible to anyone who is interested in music or who wants to learn more about music theory. We try to cut down on the jargon so that if you listen, you’ll understand when we’re talking about styling skills. For example, you have an immediate explanation in layman’s terms followed by the sound of Jimi Hendrix’s sound, as well as how he is imitated by others.
The podcast tries to match friendlier words with immediate sounds in a way that a print newspaper avoids or is unable to do. The research is still very strong, but we are trying to ensure that it is delivered in a simpler conversational modality to a wider audience.
What kind of topics are you all hoping to cover?
JB: We have a wide variety of things. We have a seasoned academic in the field who talks about “making music when you’re old”. So he talks about what it’s like to be an old person, how old age is portrayed in music, especially opera, and how we perceive, listen to and play music in getting older.
We have information on Reddit communities and how it is changing the world of search. We have underrepresented female composers from the turn of the 20th century to post-millennium punk. It’s a bit of everything. It breaks down a lot of boundaries.
It’s so interesting to hear you all incorporate Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan music in there.
JB: That’s great! One of my favorite episodes was how composers use sad chords and pop in movies. He was watching “Love Actually” and “Star Wars” and Radiohead. It’s so effective because as soon as you hear them talking about the sad chord and you play it, you’re right in the middle of the movie or the song.
What excites you the most?
JB: It’s great to be on the cutting edge of what scholarship is doing. It seems so relevant and important and even necessary. Knowing that UTSA can be part of it is super cool. This puts us on the map as this is achieved in over 23 different countries around the world. I am integrated into my society in a way that I never imagined. I’m talking with the oldest of the senior PhD researchers. students who are eager to do what I do. It’s incredibly rewarding. I can also bring it to my class. Instead of a lecture, we’ll talk about what the podcast revealed and the type of research being done.
What was your student’s response to this piece of scholarship versus. a traditional classroom lesson?
JB: Oh, they love it. I think they find it harder than they thought. Listening to a podcast for fun is one thing, but listening to it and then following it up with a conversation is another. They’re committed to it, but then they have to think about what the argument was and re-articulate it. I think it shows deeper engagement than when I give them an article to read.
The fact that it is a scholarship, but presented informally, really resonates with students