October 15, 2008

Sent In By You - No More World Music

One Mads reader is concerned over the recent decision to eliminate World Music courses from the Music Department.

He writes:
"Can you please cover the recent decision to eliminate World Music classes from the music dept... Fernando Rios, the (fantastic) professor is leaving (because of budget cuts?). If this goes through it means that we will have an entirely Western-centric music curriculum that ignores 99% of the world's music (which isn't western classical)."

Update: The course listings for Spring '09 were just put online and World Music with Fernando Rios is being offered. Did he tell his students otherwise?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

this really sucks! they can't eliminate world music!

Anonymous said...

MADS
give us info on jimmy kelly's vandalism email!
those picture were difficult to interpret. broken glass? moved furniture?
give us the scoop!

love you

Anonymous said...

6:29 - that's basically what happened. as one of your house team leaders for more info

Anonymous said...

*ask

Anonymous said...

Although my knowledge of college budgeting in general is almost nonexistent, I can't help but shake the feeling that cuts could have been made elsewhere. I understand that a school can't just cut from any random place to fill in budget holes somewhere else - that would be a blow to the accountability of the college. However, I feel that perhaps we might be able to get rid of someone in the English department (I'm an English major, by the way), which has a massive faculty, in order to preserve an important element of the less-popular but still very significant Music department.

Anonymous said...

western music is not 1% of music

Anonymous said...

But world music is So good!

Oh, and two of the pics were in Main, and the rest were Cushing

Anonymous said...

I dare the college to increase tuition.

Anonymous said...

7:29 said "western music is not 1% of music".

I disagree. First of all it would leave only western CLASSICAL music and a minuscule jazz dept that isn't nearly what it should be.

There are COUNTLESS styles as intricate if not more so than western classical. Take Arabic art music for example. We have twelve chromatic notes in a scale. They have somewhere around 24, making it much more "precisely" pitched. Persian, Turkish, and central Asian music has around 72 notes compared to our meager 12!

How about india!? They have a huge number of genres that have been under development for far longer than western classical.

THIS IS A HUGE MISTAKE! Don't get rid of the world music classes!!! If anyone else is pissed off... go talk to Libin! Lets make some (polyrythmic and microtonal) noise about this.

Anonymous said...

There is a hiring freeze throughout the entire college. Each department has its own budget and makes its own decisions on whom to cut. Many of the English professors (especially the ones who teach classes that never fill up) are tenured and can't be fired. The ones that aren't tend to be newer ones that teach things that nobody else does (Native American lit, etc), and without them we'd only have a brit/american lit curriculum.

Anonymous said...

maybe they should force them to teach something else

Anonymous said...

i was in that class today, and i didn't get the impression that world music is going to be dropped, just that professor rios (who is fantastic, i'm in love with him) is being dropped. i could be wrong.

if world music is being dropped... maybe if an extreme amount of people signed up for rios' two classes next semester they'd change their mind.

Anonymous said...

I'm a music major and while I love our department and Western classical music I thought the whole point of going to a liberal arts college was to expand your horizons. I'm in his class and it's not my favorite class in the world but I really do think it is important for us to have a different take on music at this school. And from what Rios said, it sounds like they are cutting the salary for world music professors so much that we wouldn't be able to hire anyone good to teach the world music classes if we could get anyone at all. We haven't had much success with profs hired last minute in the music department before. (Musicianship with Miriam Charney was a *disaster*.)

Another reason to keep classes like world music is the interest in music here at Vassar. Most of the music classes we have are really tailored for the music majors and non music majors aren't allowed in. The two music classes I have taken that let all majors in (Anth of Music and History of Jazz) were huge classes. There is a demand for this.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify: the aim is not to eliminate World Music from the department, but the position of ethnomusicologist. It's a fine-line kind of distinction, but it's not a move to cut World Music altogether.

Anonymous said...

it might be that professors from other interdisciplinary departments can cover some of the college's needs in terms of world music...

i know dennis reid is very knowledgeable in terms of not-so-western music... and i'm sure there are other professors in other departments ready and willing to step up.

it seems like most departments at the college have a hard time balancing tradition v. popular demand. just look at the course requirements for majors and what tenured profs teach right now.

we're going through a sea change... ask any tenure track prof willing to speak his/her mind. they're chomping at the bit to get a better balance of the white, western, colonial tradition and everything else that should be taught, too. slowly but surely, the old boys will retire and the college will get better and better.

i also think the music dept. has had a particularly tenuous relationship in the past in terms of west v. the world... i can't help but think about the fact that they refused to let musicians not studying/practicing more "classical" techniques rehearse in skinner... (ok, so they let jazz ensembles and jazz musicians, but let's get real... when asked why a campus rock band or a sitar player couldn't rehearse in the music building, i'm pretty sure the music dept's answer involved that the music would be "noise"... without any attempt at working out a practice time once a week... perhaps 2a.m.-5a.m. on a monday night when the building could be surrendered to less classical sounds).

you just get a sense of the department as a big, old, white, western machine. most departments on campus. so it's easy to think of ways to fight against the canceling of a class or the firing of a certain professor (think Ed Pittman, if you're old enough, if not, do your research on how the community can come together to create positive change on campus) or a pay cut for people teaching less traditional subjects.

but maybe it's best to know what you're up against... and size up your goals... before you plan accordingly.

i guess you should also know that you're not alone in the fight... and that there are frequent meetings between groups of students, professors, and administrators that are planned to talk about things like this.... so talk to everyone, and get people involved.

Anonymous said...

he didn't tell his students otherwise. he's gone after next semester.

Anonymous said...

Rios told us he would be gone next fall, not this spring.

Anonymous said...

That is MESSED UP. That's one of the few classes that's even close to increasing the well-roundedness of the music department. Western classical music overload is not healthy for Vassar chilluns and other living things!