Turns out, nobody has really done any research or writing in music and ethics. There is some work on how music serves as an anthemic tool for social movements with ethical import (civil rights songs). There is some work on the historical views of how different cultures have viewed music as a language with moral overtones. But there’s nothing current being done on ethics as an integrated tool for decision making in the life of a musician.
This is becoming something of a problem the more I dig into the preparation for teaching a course on the subject. I need to use books. They don’t exist. I need my students to trace the thinking of other people in the area. It hasn’t been done.
I went out looking for a course at a major university that tackled music and ethics, either as a “professional ethics” sort of course, or even from a more theoretical “philosophy of music” perspective. Nobody has one. The content just doesn’t exist.
Approaching a blank field in academia carries with it an odd sensation – you don’t know if you’re traipsing through virgin territory, or a nuclear wasteland. Is there nothing here because nobody has been here before, or is there nothing here because everyone who starting walking through it ended up with 3 legs and persistent boils, so nobody comes here anymore.
In other words, is it void because there’s nothing worthwhile to talk about here?
I hope that’s not the case. I don’t think it’s the case. But the other possibility is almost as terrifying. Every mountain gets to kill off a few dozen climbers before someone finds a route that works. Every “first voice in” to a virgin academic area gets to be the punching bag for the dozen or so “second voices in” that come to tango.
So, all that to say, you lucky people are going to be helping me pull this together. Prepare yourselves. Pray. Fast. Listen to music. Learn to write meaningless run-on sentences that are weighted down with redundant clauses, filled with obscure syntax, and imbued with a self-righteous sense of condescension. We’re going to create some Academic Content!