Loud Sirens #1: Meghann Wilhoite
October 9, 2015
The First Episode of Loud Sirens is HERE!
The First Guest: Meghann Wilhoite:
Meg(hann) is a music theorist by training, an amazing musician (Faulkner Detectives, Death of Codes, and our unnamed metal project), and one of my closest friends IRL. We became friends at Columbia in 2007 under circumstances that bring out a cynical laugh from both of us, as is evidenced by the first section of the podcast.
Meg is, in many ways, the inspiration for this podcast (the other inspiration is that I’m tired of male rock critics talking with male artists and generally ignoring women, which is an eternal issue; the other other inspiration is the 50 or so women that I know who I want to have on the podcast). We’ve been talking about music since we met, often from very different perspectives. As a (former?) ethnomusicologist, I’m often more concerned with the cultural implications of a piece of music than I am with the notes; my friendship with Meg often reminds me that, well, those pesky notes are important, too.
Our discussion is a little more free-ranging than most of the interviews I have done since, and I probably talk 50-75% more than I would with anyone else (fair warning!). But don’t let my blabbermouthed-ness in this episode scare you away, because Meg is a brilliant person. We talk about leaving academia (which both of us have done), the sunk costs of research, Morton Feldman (the subject of Meg’s graduate research), and playing music as women in our 30s.
I had a very hard time choosing a name for the podcast. So I asked Twitter. I got a ton of puns, most of which were excruciating. (Verily, I had continuous puns for days, which have still not stopped but only slowed to a trickle.) However, within that pile of puns, I got a few good ideas. Among the first was from Heather Wheat, who suggested that I incorporate “Sirens.” And Jamie Varriale Velez, a guest on a future episode of the podcast, seconded that idea. And then someone else thirded it, and I knew that it probably should be part of the name.
And now comes the second part of the name. Earlier this week, in preparation for my interview with Liana Silva, I read her brilliant personal essay on women’s voices, volume, and ethnicity on the Sounding Out blog. The essay reminded me, although women’s voices in general are not supposed to be loud, those implications are amplified by race, ethnicity, class, etc. As a white woman with a VERY loud voice, I’m rarely punished for it in a way that “blames” my racial and ethnic background. So, it made me think a lot. In this podcast, I want to reach out to other loud women, and I want to explore complex issues of identity, like Liana does in her essay, with other women who are very smart about music.