I found “Sounds of a Community: Cultural Identity and Interactive Art” by Robert Gluck online at the Auraria Library with the search words “music, community, and identity”. My scholarly critique of this article found in the Leonardo Music Journal is the third of twelve to be explored in my Information and Learning Technologies Research course at CU Denver.

The author’s research engaged participants through an interactive art installation in Jewish culture and music, which was named Sounds of the Community. I thought my personal research on how music engages community identity could benefit from Gluck’s study.  I was attracted to the idea that people were interacting with ritual objects to create traditional Judaic sounds at their own rhythm and pace. The element of play allowed participants to explore sounds and objects without fear of judgement.

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Although specific research questions were not pursued in this article, the author expressed his objective, “My goal was to [explore cultural and religious identity] in a manner that was musically engaging, accessible and enjoyable” (Gluck, 2005, p. 42). To achieve his goal, Gluck created electronic devices, which he called sculptures in his installation. Sounds of the Community included nine elements.

Seven Interactive Sculptures:

  • eTallit1 & eTallit2—Wearable interactive instruments that created sounds by swaying and bending the body.
  • eChant—Instrument in the form of a sacred book where participant moves pointer along the text to create chanting sounds.
  • eHarvest—Stick-shaped interactive ritual object that acts as a musical instrument when shook.
  • eMenorah—Candle-shaped instruments that can be struck to play various pitches of “Mi Yemalel”, which translates to “Who Can Retell”.
  • eFloor—4-foot square of carpet that participants stepped on to trigger solo voices and massed sounds.
  • eSabbathTable—Listening station set up in the form of a Sabbath dinner table where each object played a Jewish family narrative.

Two Listening Stations:

  • sound pillow 1 & 2—Listening station where participants rested their head on a pillow to hear a range of sounds from the synagogue.

The study design was more about the art of participation and explanation of the sculpture design, construction, and programming than of quantifying results. Therefore, there was no concrete data. I would have found it beneficial to read what participants expressed during their interactions with the art and music. The closest evidence of participant commentary I could find was, “Visitors to eSabbath Table have commented upon the humorous juxtaposition of unusual narratives with the experience of placing food and table items against their ears” (Gluck, 2005, p. 42).

The research design did not specifically relate to mine, but offered insight on musical engagement and cultural identity. The author wrote, “Identity is a term that refers to a sense of belonging” (Gluck, 2005, p. 42). I had not made that connection before an plan to work belonging into my research methods.

Initially, I was confused that there were not results in this article, but then realized this was my own operator error. I have learned that in locating sources for my reference review, it is important that I make sure the studies I choose relate back to action research. I am now eager to refine my article selections in such a way that benefits my particular study and clarifies my action research agenda.

Thank you Robert J. Bluck. Your study was fascinating and I wish I could have experienced Sounds of the Community first hand.

References

Gluck, R. (2005). Sounds of a Community : Cultural Identity and Interactive Art. Leonardo Music Journal, 15, 37-43.

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