This semester I will be researching the Phi Mu Alpha Jazz Festival (JazzFest). JazzFest is an annual event that began in 1968 when the Upsilon Phi chapter of Phi Mu Alpha, a national music fraternity, was founded at Truman State University (then known as the North Missouri Normal School). February 27, 2016 marks the 48th annual JazzFest.
The key objective of this project is to research and analyze the JazzFest’s patterns, rituals, participant behavior, values, status hierarchy among individuals, gestures, body language, clothing, vernacular speech, etc., using ethnographic and anthropological methods in order to understand the festival’s cultural and historical significance. Over the next three months, I will be conducting oral interviews and archival research, and experiencing the event for myself from an ethnographic perspective. I will then synthesize this information to create a public website, to be published in May.
Since JazzFest 48 will take place in the middle of the semester, I am fortunate to be able to attend both the public concerts (an informal show at the Dukum Inn on February 26 and the formal performance on campus the following night). In addition, I will sit in on the somewhat exclusive rehearsals, clinics, and competitions that are offered to the music students on campus (especially those in jazz combos and big bands) and the visiting high school and middle school groups from around the Midwest.