About Me

My photo
Nashville, TN, United States
My name is McLean Smith and I am an observer of life. I like to create music, capture experiences, and refine expression through my observations. To me, music is a feeling. It is something that captivates one in the moment and releases reactions unknown. It is something I wish to create for the rest of my life. It is something I hope to share with the world.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Introduction for My Ethnographic Study

I will never forget the first time I was captivated by a song. I was twelve years old, frustrated with the world around me. Passionate for the pursuit of knowledge, I could not connect with my peers because they did not receive the same amount of satisfaction from learning. Discouraged, I ostracized myself from my surroundings because I could not cope with the world.
One day in the midst of my seclusion, I watched a silent movie that used background music to convey the words, actions, and emotions of the various characters. Throughout the movie, I experienced intense physiological reactions that invigorated my being. I could not look away from the screen; I was consumed by the movie.
Afterwards, I realized that the underlying music of the movie was the catalyst of my reaction. The music brought me so much pleasure that I forgot about my frustration; I became lost in the wonder of music. I was no longer disappointed because I had found my sanctuary from the world around me.
While my self-reliance taught me many things, economics showed me the need to work together. The cooperation of separate entities brings about advances in the quality of life that would not be possible by individual effort. Thus, I wish to become a songwriter someday so that I can attempt to captivate others in the mystery of music and enhance their quality of life.
Well, that's a nice notion, but how does one captivate others and enhance their quality of life through songwriting? As an outsider to the songwriting culture, I am unaware of the processes and techniques songwriters use to write songs. Although the previous statement is true, I studied the classical, baroque, and romantic styles of music in elementary, middle, and high school. Interested by the mystique of music, I leaped at the chance to play in a jazz band which taught me how to improvise and analyze musical styles. Improvisation led me to composition because it made me cognizant of the structure of a song, the importance of dynamics, and complex music theory. I may be an outsider, but I am aware of some of the rules.
One may think that I already know how to write songs and my study of the songwriting culture is unnecessary; I disagree completely. As previously mentioned, cooperation with others brings about insights that would not be possible through individual effort. Thus, I hope my study of songwriters at Belmont University will produce a greater understanding of the songwriting process, writer’s block, and the captivating nature of songs.


  1. Good intro, you definitely have a focus and a good idea of what you want to learn. you clearly identify the 5 w's and. You identify yourself with the question and how you fit into the picture very nicely. you provide a relatively good hook, that shows connection and emotion to the topic, which helps the reader want to connect and read more. overall, this is a very good quality into. Grammar wise, in your first paragraph you use tended to begin your sentences with adverbs and verbs, which made the sentence seem more passive. I would try to rearrange the words in that paragraph to make it seem more personal. You dropped this style after the first paragraph and i think that once you do the rearranging it will seem to flow and connect even better than it already does. Also, be careful about sentence length. There were a few spots where you had descriptions, especially in the beginning where it was just short statement after short statement. Try varying up the sentence length, to give it not such a choppy feel when reading it. I would suggest trying to incorporate multiple details into 1 sentence. this will help it flow, and bring more of a natural read to the paper. again, good job.

  2. I think that you have found the perfect balance between the "outsider" and "insider" perspectives. Having some background in this study will benefit you because you will know where to go/who to talk to, so that you can produce an even more in-depth analysis. You were very personal, and I have more of an idea of who you are and why you want to dive into the world of songwriters. I don't know, however, who you are at Belmont. Are you a music major or some major other than songwriting? I think that it would be a good idea to record why you're at Belmont, and perhaps why you didn't pursue songwriting in the first place, so that the average reader doesn't think you're some creepy dude stalking the songwriting/commercial voice/composition majors. I think you would be perceived as more connected to the study that way. Your introduction is great, just try to add these things and maybe look at the "economics" sentence. I think it could be worded a little differently so that it greater defines the sentence after it. Great start!