What Now?

Dartmouth music is such a core part of student life that it is worth stopping to ask ourselves, “outside of entertainment, how do these sounds impact the community?” This project attempts to answer that question but is in no way comprehensive. There is a litany of other music that exists within the student body: student bands, the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra, and the music played in fraternity basements on on-nights, to name a few. Simply put, the exploration of Dartmouth’s rich sonic history does not stop here. There is now a well-documented approach to accessing sources in Rauner and a bank of digitized sources that students can access online. The avenues for study that these resources provide open possibilities for work in the future that should not be ignored.

Upon reflecting at the end of this project, I have two introspective takeaways that I want to share. First, it is worth noting that my role as a student — as opposed to a scholar — was instrumental to my success. My peers were willing to talk to me candidly about music on campus, and I was able to easily access primary sources (e.g., scheduling an interview). This approach to learning about music within the community was thorough yet informal, and I view it as one of the greatest assets I had going into my honors work. Second, this project stands on a very important foundation: my own privilege. I ended my studies by rereading my honors proposal. In it, I use the word “voice” two times, notably by starting my concluding paragraph with the sentence, “Through this project, I hope to give a voice to minority groups on campus and outline a future where Dartmouth’s music is inclusive.” There is a critical criterion that had to be true for me to even begin undertaking this work: my voice had to be one that was already heard (and listened to). Luckily, I checked the box, but future research might probe the relationship between works in the vein of social justice and those carrying them out.

As stated in the Digital Content Warning, this project never endorses or agrees with the perspectives represented in these materials but does act as a critical eye turned on the past to create insights that develop avenues for social change. We, the Dartmouth community, must now help foster these avenues. For example, maybe a cappella groups start scheduling performances outside on the Green rather than in fraternity or sorority chapter rooms. Perhaps sports teams create new folklore, new musical traditions, that replace old, politically incorrect chants. These steps may seem small, yet this institution has a track record of implementing change only long after it is due. That can change with us because everybody deserves to participate.

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