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In this thesis, I explore social and musical processes between participants of old-time jam sessions in Tallahassee, Florida. As an alternate perspective to the song-and artist-oriented scholarship of old-time music, I propose a contextual approach by examining how the informal nature of these jam sessions allows for active participation in the musicking activity and the community-building experience that grows out of the jam sessions. I present a series of ethnographic vignettes, taken from two-years of participant-based fieldwork experiences and include transcribed dialog and field note extracts, which are then followed by analytical commentary. The vignettes are grouped into three emergent themes: informality, familiarity, and embodiment. Through the theoretical lens of ritual theory, I investigate the egalitarian and anticommodification orientation of the jam session participants. Ultimately, by focusing on the musicking process (individual action and interpersonal interaction) over the musical product (how "good" or "bad" a particular song sounded), these musicians construct an alternate, transformative social reality that reflects an idealized notion of musical and social communities.
Sociomusicology, American Folk Music, Ethnomusicology, Ethnography
Date of Defense
March 24, 2006.
A Thesis submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music.
Includes bibliographical references.
Michael B. Bakan, Professor Directing Thesis; Frank Gunderson, Committee Member; Amy Koehlinger, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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