Asian Music Hum

Apr 2020

Do not take this class. Currently sitting in class, five minutes over when we should have gotten out. We have been talking about authenticity in life for the past hour and a half. This was supposed to be a class about modern Asian music. Instead, the topics have ranged from discussion tokenism in baseball and the abstract, almost philosophical difference between agency, identity, and authenticity. Last class, instead of discussing Japanese performance history and/or music, we discussed issues of gender in America for an hour. This class is NOT a music class. This class is NOT an Asian class. It is a class about identity and gender. It was easily the worst class of my Columbia experience. She goes on these meaningless tirades and ironically asks at the end "does this make sense?" It never does. It never does.

May 2011

This is one of the best courses I have taken here. Yes - you can expect to talk about how music makes you feel. Music is mediated by the body and therefore is, quite literally, touchy-feely. (Sorry to disappoint the previous reviewer!) You can choose to take this practice seriously or not, but, as for me, I took it seriously and found more in Asian music than I ever would have through chronologies and memorization alone. The class is not difficult per se, but it will challenge you if you will allow yourself to trust that there is a method to the process and see where it takes you. Reading texts and regurgitating ideas is easy - the touchy-feely stuff is much more complicated. And that's the best part! I found myself questioning my own views of Western pop music and other genres as a result; views that I previously thought were just "normal". But, ultimately, I also learned a lot about genres of music throughout Asia and, to some extent, how they have operated in peoples' lives. James is very passionate and knowledgable, and always responsive and willing to engage with questions or obstacles. This class brings such a refreshing approach to the study of music, and if that is something you are passionate about, I highly recommend this course with James!!!! If you want to sit in a room and memorize terms and dates, he's not for you.

May 2011

Ok- here's the thing. James is a really nice guy, and he's very fair, and he takes the class really seriously and is always prepared, and answers all questions and emails. But he had to defend his class and his methods three times during the semester, and took at least 20 minutes each time to explain himself. After getting a few skeptical comments from a small handful of students who thought the class was a little bullshitty (i was surprised that more people didn't find the class too touchy-feely), he explained to the class that getting us all skeptical and annoyed was his plan all along. Really? I'm not convinced. But he takes criticism well, and tries to adjust and be really flexible with the syllabus. We spent a lot of time in class discussions talking how certain music made us FEEL (literally), and whether we considered the sounds we heard to be music, and why. We spent most classes either watching youtube videos, listening to pieces, and discussing the readings or the listenings. Once we went to a gamelan workshop which was really fun. So in general, low stress, and you might learn something. if you don't mind the first few discussions, then you'll be fine for the rest.

Oct 2004

Rachel is a darling and a talented musician. Her knowledge on the subject is also stellar. The class will involve lots of lectures though and very little music. Additionally, you will be at a disadvantage without serious knowledge of Asian culture i.e. confucius, tao te ching, i ching etc.. On the flip side, you will learn a ton. Exam's are excrutiating, make no mistake. I can't believe I did well in this class because of the amount of stuff I was just unable to memorize - then again, it's how much time you have to read. Don't take this class to fullfill the req if you reg. too late and couldn't get into Western Music (which I hear is like community college level), take Asian Hum if you can handle it.