Have you ever desired to discuss music freely and intellectually without necessarily having to take a class or lessons to do so? You now have the chance!
Music Soirée (
) has been conceived as part of a summer research experiment at Chapman University by Emma Plotnik, BA Music ’16 and
Dr. Jessica Sternfeld
of the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music. The main goal of the forum is to bridge the gap between fans of all genres and styles of music from Beethoven to Beyoncé.
During the Enlightenment and Romantic eras, people of all genders and economic backgrounds attended music salons in the courtyards of aristocratic palaces or even at foreign embassies to engage in musical, poetic, and literary analysis, while socializing, dancing, and playing card games at the same time. It has been observed that not many of these spheres have existed into the twenty-first century, aside from paid online music societies or music departments at universities. An aim of this experiment (aside from bridging musical gaps, of course) is to see which factors made salons so successful in the past, and why there has been a decline in salon occurrence and consequent musical discussion today. Music Soirée attempts to recreate the salon environment so that performers, music scholars, teachers, and people who took one guitar class in high school or simply enjoy listening to music may come together and chat about the one art form that happens to be ringing in the hallways of classrooms and workplaces all around us.
“When people ask me what my coursework entails when they hear that I am a Music Major, I sometimes get the sense that people feel that they can’t relate unless they’ve sung or played an instrument themselves. Yet, with almost any other field of study, it is easy to find common conversational grounds, since people have usually had a basic English or Biology class. Music is the same way; it just takes some breaking down of fancy words that people don’t necessarily hear every day into concepts we can all understand. Part of Chapman’s mission is to foster global citizens, and by reaching out to people of all ages and educational levels, Music Soirée fulfills part of this mission…that is, if there are enough people willing to participate,” Plotnik says.
Music Soirée is a website in question-answer format, where the salon hostess asks readers to comment and provide their own input, rather than a traditional blog consisting of articles to be read and not responded to. Over the course of the summer, topics covered will range from ’70s and ’80s pop/rock music to scientific and spiritual phenomenons in music to the music heard in Disney movies. Even if you don’t feel that you have enough experience or know exactly what you are trying to say, there is a tab on the website which guides you step by step as far as musical terminology is concerned (found under “Help! What Do I Write About?”). There is even a “Requests” page which allows users to come up with topics they would like to see discussed on the blog in the future. Topics discussed vary weekly or biweekly, and may be read about by liking the Facebook page,
, or by following the blog itself.