Tuned Our Way: Music, Memory, and Heritage in East Tennessee

Full Metadata


Tuned Our Way: Music, Memory, and Heritage in East Tennessee
Hanson, Bradley A. (creator)
Titon, Jeff (Director)
Rankin, Tom (Reader)
Miller, Kiri (Reader)
Perlman, Marc (Reader)
Brown University. Music: Ethnomusicology (sponsor)
Copyright Date
Heritage designation is everywhere today—attached to buildings, monuments, landscapes, expressive practices, and entire ways of life. Official institutions hurry to stamp places, traditions, and people with the mark of heritage, a deceptively simple word that, at first glance, means nothing more than something valuable from the past. Largely absent from the scholarly literature, until now, are longitudinal, ethnographic case studies on how heritage abides in local communities and, especially, in individual lives. How is official heritage lived, and what does it do for, and to, the people and communities that earn such recognition? This dissertation portrays the experiences of musicians in Campbell County, Tennessee as they recently passed into, performed, and reckoned with their official designation as heritage. Once cast members of the Tennessee Jamboree, a hometown, barn dance radio show during the late 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, the musicians reunited yearly starting in 2007 to perform at a growing local heritage festival. The heritage moment, though, lasted far beyond the stage, compelling new modes of self-reflection and remembering that extended deep into their everyday lives, and across wider social, musical, and memory practices. While official heritage worked toward ennobling cultural presentations and displays of community consensus, the lived experience developed more ambivalently for those asked to realize heritage into existence. The emergent heritage consciousness proved both an honor and a burden, a gain and a loss. Settled ambitions and past desires were reawakened as the musicians performed the selves and sounds of a youthful past, rendered now though with aging forms, added value, and a prominent public showcase. Shaped in new collaborations with culture workers, and in renewed relationships with longtime musical partners, the heritage process unfolded for the musicians, on stage and off, in public and private, to reveal a greater complexity of motivations and consequences than any performance could contain or convey. Privileging the particularity of a local lifeworld and of individual experiences, this work grounds description, interpretation, and heritage theory in narrative ethnography.
lived experience
barn dance
narrative ethnography
Country music
Bluegrass music
Thesis (Ph.D. -- Brown University (2014)
xi, 808 p.


Hanson, Bradley A., "Tuned Our Way: Music, Memory, and Heritage in East Tennessee" (2014). Ethnomusicology Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://doi.org/10.7301/Z0RJ4GTG