PD, DH, Hi

lydia warren

Posted on 24 Sep 2015

Hey there, I’m Lydia Warren. I’m a second year Critical and Comparative Studies PhD student in the music department. In some ways, it seems totally weird that I’m in a PhD program. I wasn’t even sure what that meant or entailed five years ago, when I was playing music professionally and teaching lessons. In other ways, it seems totally natural. I’ve always loved learning and exploring original ways of thinking, pushing myself, and pushing the envelope.

I attended Middlesex Community College and then Smith College in my twenties, turning my love of and experience with live blues music into independent studies and papers. Ideas from anthropology and musicology, as well as American Studies and ethnomusicology, filtered into my musical understanding and analysis. I began thinking about the intersections of race, gender, authenticity, and class, constructions and perceptions of identities, regional specificity, participatory discrepancy, cultural tourism, and meaning in American music.

As a Smithsonian Folkways intern in 2013, I got my first taste of digital archive work. One of the tenants of Folkways is that nothing in their catalogue can ever be “out of print,” as dictated by founder Mose Asch. We worked hard to make sure each Folkways release was available digitally, which entailed checking legal and financial records, physically digitizing much of the artwork, double checking recording quality, working with online marketplaces to ensure correct content and metadata, and many other tasks. The company works hard to make music accessible, embracing new methods even though much of the catalogue is, well, old. And weird. But that makes Smithsonian Folkways releases still relevant, still talked about, used in movies and television shows, favorites of collectors and hipsters.

This experience sparked my interest in archival work. It also made me curious, investigating and dreaming about intersections between humanities and the digital world. So… this brings me to Praxis. I’m excited to explore, learn, grow, and built! I’m excited to see how my knowledge in musicology informs our project on time, and how our project will inform my future scholarship. Specifically, many of the theoretical underpinnings I find fascinating are about the beauty and valuable significance of irregularities in time, film, and life itself. I am thrilled to see how this will be incorporated in our work. Here we go!