Of course, the reality has been much more complicated, and I write about the debates and problems that have arisen because of the clash between the ideologies and the realities of folk music.
David Fossum, graduate student in the Department of Music
I am nearing the completion of a PhD in ethnomusicology. My dissertation research focuses on the interface of folk music and intellectual property law in Turkey. I am interested in how ideologies about how music is produced inform cultural policy. My dissertation focuses first of all on institutional folklore at Turkey’s state broadcasting agency, which developed a huge official repertoire of folk music that was supposed to be anonymous, having emerged from folkloric processes during which folk songs were collectively reworked, their first authors forgotten. Of course, the reality has been much more complicated, and I write about the debates and problems that have arisen because of the clash between the ideologies and the realities of folk music. The development of a copyright regime in Turkey has brought its own twists to the story, as people claimed rights to folk songs, further inciting debate. I also document some of the complications Turkey’s music sector has encountered as they’ve tried to develop an effective system for administering copyright.
I arrived at this topic through serendipity, via a long, roundabout path. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkmenistan (2004-6), I became enamored with the local music in the town where I lived, spending countless hours learning to play it. When I returned, I entered grad school for ethnomusicology. I wrote my MA thesis about Turkmen music and have two peer-reviewed journal articles about it as well. When it came time to write my dissertation, I decided to switch to Turkey for a number of reasons, but knowing Turkmen, which is similar to Turkish, helped quite a bit when I began to prepare for Turkey as well.
David Fossum is a PhD graduate student in the Department of Music. For more about David, please see his academia.edu page.