2019: A World on the Margins

Art & Music

Louder than Words

Guiding Questions

    • What, if anything, can art and music express that other subject areas—such as history and literature—cannot? What can they express more effectively?
    • Do evolving social values mean that we appreciate certain past works more than we once did? Are there others that we appreciate less?
    • Is it all right for works to make people uncomfortable? Are certain kinds of discomfort acceptable and others not?
    • Do we assume too much about the intentions and beliefs of artists? Do they assume too much about their subjects?
    • Do works of art and music express the ideology and values of the individuals most responsible for creating them, or of the larger group that may have supported them?
    • Has it been historically more challenging for members of certain groups to find success as artists and musicians?

In a Gallery of their Own: Isolation and Separation

A Light in Obscure Places: The Unseen, the Misunderstood

Unclear Creations: When the Who, How, When, and What Confound

The Arts as a Verb: To Help, Mayhaps to Hurt

Behind the Scenes

    • Consider each of the following roles in producing a work of art or music. What are some other occupations not mentioned here but still necessary for us to appreciate the arts?
      • curator | handler | restorer | concept artist
      • museum registrar | conservator | collection manager
      • sound engineer | producer | licenser | backup singer
      • orchestrator | record label | roadies | conductor

Additional Cases & Guiding Questions

    • Consider this example of what some might term the music of the marginalized: a genre centered on a traditional Indian drum called the parai. Along with watching the performance, you may want to read articles such as this one, on its significance. Can music be a way to empower or ennoble disenfranchised communities?
    • Consider instances in which photographers and the media are able to popularize images of marginalized groups, such as a starving refugee or a victim of violence. Discuss with your team: when is it appropriate to photograph people in times of pain and crisis? Is it ever acceptable for such photos to be staged? Should people win awards for taking them?
    • Consider the history of jazz music as a case study of the music of a marginalized group gradually becoming mainstream. Has the same process occurred for other musical styles? Discuss with your team: do we ever undervalue or overvalue music because of the group of people with which it is associated?
    • You may be familiar with the four most famous Beatles: John, Paul, George, and Ringo. A number of other contributors have claimed (or been given) the title of the “Fifth Beatle”. Discuss with your team: what would it mean to "deserve" this title? Do the most famous four get too much credit for the band’s achievements?
    • She’s the most famous Mozart you’ve never heard of. Read through the story of Nannerl Mozart and discuss with your team: what implications, if any, does this rediscovery of her work and talent have on our understanding of music history?
    • “We are the World” was one of the most famous and successful songs in the history of charitable fundraising, but its remake in 2010 to help victims of the Haitian earthquake was much less well-received. Consider the argument in this article, then discuss with your team: was the remake doomed to fail? What is the best way to raise awareness and funds in the social media era?
    • Consider this program meant to increase access to (and interest in) the arts among those in Brazil who lack the financial resources to explore them on their own. Discuss with your team: is this a plan you could support, or would you rather see these funds invested in other ways?
    • In Canada, the Canadian Content requirements stipulate that 40% of music played on radio stations must be created by Canadians. Discuss with your team: should governments regulate artistic expression to prioritize and ensure representation and inclusiveness, whether of their own national artists or of marginalized communities?