With a background in ethnomusicology, anthropology, percussion, and computer science, Brian Hogan fuses an aptitude for technology and design with a deep commitment to the theoretical projects of ethnomusicology and anthropology. Utilizing the many documentary and educational technologies that fall under the blanket category of new media, Brian Hogan has theorized the spiritual and culture-specific dimensions of ableism and disability in rural West Africa, while contributing to discourses on historical memory, speech surrogation, and global percussive practice.
In the U.S., he has conducted fieldwork with professional drummers on the east coast and west coast, framing the drum set as the locus of an extended ethnomusicological praxis, situated within an African American tradition of expressive culture. As a documentarian, he has released a short film shot in West Africa, developed an extensive web resource on Ghanaian Birifor musical culture, and is currently working on a full length documentary film on blind Birifor xylophonists.
2013 “Speech Surrogation as Historical Memory and Deep Knowledge in Birifor Funeral Xylophone Music.” FORTHCOMING paper and film excerpts to be presented at the 58th Annual Conference of the Society for Ethnomusicology. Indiana.
2013 “Blindness and the Enemy: Resisting Tropes of Disability as Spiritual Deviance in Birifor Xylophone Music” Paper and film excerpts presented at the Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies Authors Conference. CUNY, New York.
2012 “Enemy Music: Blind Birifor Xylophonists of Northwest Ghana.” Paper and film excerpts presented at the 57th Annual Conference of the Society for Ethnomusicology. New Orleans.
2012 “The Life and Music of Zena Bacar.” Radio interview for “Music Time in Africa” hosted by Heather Maxwell. Voice of America. (www.bhogan.com/radio/hogan_voa.mp3).
2008 “A Great Man Has Gone Out: The Funeral of Ghanaian Xylophonist Kakraba Lobi.” Paper and short film presented at the 53rd Annual Conference of the Society for Ethnomusicology. Wesleyan University.
2007 “Gendered Modes of Resistance: Power and Women’s Songs in West Africa.” African Activists Association Symposium, University of California, Los Angeles.
2007 Created and facilitated “Negotiating Gender in Fieldwork and Academia,” a UCLA Ethnomusicology panel discussion on the dynamics of gender in the discipline, University of California, Los Angeles.
2006 “Collective Endeavors: Jazz Performance as Critical Analysis.” Presentation at the Society for Ethnomusicology, Southern California Chapter, University of California, San Diego.
FORTHCOMING. “Blindness and the Enemy: Resisting Tropes of Disability as Spiritual Deviance in Birifor Xylophone Music.” In The Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies. Blake Howe, S. Jensen-Moulton, N. Lerner, and J. Straus, eds. New York: Oxford University Press.
2011. “Enemy Music: Blind Birifor Xylophonists of Northwest Ghana” Ph.D. dissertation, UCLA. (http://birifor.org/enemy_music/Enemy_Music.pdf).
2010. Book Review of The Garland Handbook of African Music, 2nd edition edited by Ruth Stone and Focus: Music of South Africa by Carol Muller. African Arts. Vol. 43/Spring 2010. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
2008. “Gendered Modes of Resistance: Power and Women’s Songs in West Africa.” InThe Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology. Vol. 13/Winter 2008. (http://www.ethnomusic.ucla.edu/pre/Vol13/Vol13html/V13Hogan.html).
2008. “A Great Man Has Gone Out: The Funeral of Ghanaian Xylophonist Kakraba Lobi.” Independently produced and published short film. (http://birifor.org/a_great_man_has_gone_out/index.html).
2006. “Ethnomusicology and the Drumset: Musical Experience as an Emergent Property of Performative Modalities” M.A. Thesis, UCLA. (http://bhogan.com/publications/brian_hogan_ma_thesis.pdf).
2006. “Locating the Chopi Xylophone of Southern Mozambique” in The Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology. Vol. 11/Winter 2006. (http://www.ethnomusic.ucla.edu/pre/Vol11/Vol11html/V11Hogan.html).
Academic courses and performance classes about musical traditions from around the world, taught at all levels, teach a fundamental understanding of the diversity of human experience and expression worldwide. They foster a cross-cultural and often humanitarian awareness, while rigorously mapping and critiquing what music is on the species-scale.
From this broadened perspective, students understand the music of their own daily soundscapes in relation to the richness and vast array of world musical cultures historically. Hints of these musical worlds have already reached students’ ears through global music networks, exposure we as professors and teachers often leverage to make our critical contextualization of music interface with students’ lived experiences, and ultimately to give our teaching greater resonance.
The challenge remains that while we can already significantly impact the learning experience of students who are either committed to learning or show a general aptitude for the subject matter, how do we generate an effective baseline for all students? How do we maintain the crisp clarity of the complex musical and cultural insights we have to offer, while ensuring that students who are struggling still walk away with both their general and specific schemas thoroughly stimulated?
While these questions are answered anew each quarter/semester, I believe that in order to make things “stick,” we must utilize multiple complimentary modes of representation to depict musical history, musical performance, and the complex of expressive practices that surround music making. My approach to teaching emphasizes the theoretical lineages of ethnomusicology and cultural anthropology as a kind of North star, pushing students to use them to triangulate their own relationship with the music being studied. Using my experience as a jazz drummer and classical/world music percussionist, I guide students through the experiential and kinesthetic aspects of world musical practice through videos, websites, applications, performances, participation, and musical training.