I love You Tube. Times have definitely changed in that I am using You Tube in my research! For those of you who don’t know me, I am an ethnomusicology student and am writing my Masters thesis on American Muslim musicians and the way they shape and are shaped by the culture of the surrounding American Muslim community (professional-sounding title coming soon, see last post).
I have had the privilege of interviewing several American Muslim musicians, and there are a few more interesting musicians that, for whatever reason, I was not able to interview, but I will be including them in my work. There is enough material published online and in newspapers and magazines to do that. That’s also where You Tube comes in. People have been generous enough to post recordings of the musicians’ performances, and there are also several music videos on there. Both of these are important.
The conduct of musicians during performances tells a lot about them. It tells more about the audience. For example, the fact that Kareem Salama uses musical instruments on his CD, but not at his performances at the ISNA convention tells a lot about the expectations that ISNA has of the musicians they allow to perform.
Music videos tell more about the musicians themselves and the identities they want to portray. Every detail that goes into a music video is carefully choreographed and orchestrated. Every note, every hand motion, every t-shirt or kufi, every facial expression, every hair in place. A musician at a live performance may be wearing jeans and a t-shirt because he planned it, or it could be because he was selected to perform at the last minute or lost his luggage. But if he does it in a music video, there is a reason for it, such as expressing an American identity.
In the next month or so, I will be including reviews here of some of the musicians that I have interviewed, or am including in my work (with links to you tube, of course). Also, I will be adding a set of links at the end of my blogroll where you can go to read more about them and listen to their songs.