Weeks 6–7: Identity

Identity issues come to the fore in narrative media, where characters and settings need to be established in a limited amount of time.

Sep 26: Race and ethnicity

As we’ve seen, soundtrack composers rely on topics to quickly communicate elements of characterization and setting with the listener, but sometimes these usages veer into tokenization and stereotyping. This week’s readings focus on the role of exoticism in music and media.

Reading (due Wednesday before class)

  • Yee (forthcoming)
  • Buhler (2018)

Visiting expert: Thomas B. Yee (Assistant Professor of Instruction in Music Theory at the University of Texas at San Antonio)

Writing due Saturday at noon

Cultural appropriation is a difficult topic for a lot of musicians, since sometimes we think of music as something that should be freely shared with and practiced by everyone. Write a paragraph reflecting on this tension. Save as a PDF and upload to your homework submit folder.

Oct 3: Gender, sexuality, and disability

Reading (due Wednesday before class)

  • Buhler (2013)
  • Plank (2018), Chapter 5 (“Frightful Energy: Musical Madness in Final Fantasy VI“)

Writing due Saturday at noon

Watch the following clips. Write a few sentences on each character featured and discuss how the character is represented in the music. Make note of any aspects of race, ethnicity, gender, ability, sexuality, etc. that seem to be reflected in the music. Save as a PDF and upload to your homework submit folder.


Readings are always available in the Readings folder on Teams.

  • ———. 2018. “Critical Theory and the Soundtrack.” In Theories of the Soundtrack, 187–220. New York: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780199371075.001.0001.
  • Plank, Dana M. 2018. “Bodies in Play: Representations of Disability in 8- and 16-Bit Video Game Soundscapes.” Ph.D. diss., Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University.
  • Shinsky, Julissa. 2022. “The Post-Feminist Myth: Scores for Serialized Dramas.” Ph.D. diss., Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin.
  • Yee, Thomas B. forthcoming. “Racialized Fantasy: Authenticity, Appropriation, and Stereotype in Super Mario Odyssey.” In Music and Sonic Environments in Video Games: Listening to and Performing Ludic Soundscapes, edited by Kate Galloway and Elizabeth Hambleton. London: Routledge.