Week 5 Part 2 in review

Summer Research Week 5 Part 2

Week 5: August 2nd-8th

Thursday, August 6th

I realize I haven’t mentioned anything yet about my music project, so here’s a little update. The music project has essentially 3 parts. The first involves the transcription and translation of the audio from videos that were recorded last summer of Creek-speaker J.M. singing hymns. My job has been to edit and segment the videos, and then provide transcriptions and translation of the hymns using SayMore, a transcription software. Part 2 involves musically notating the hymns, writing down music notes that match the melodies of the hymns. And Part 3, the part that’s going to take much more research back at school, involves drafting relevant and interesting interview questions, and interviewing community members about hymns, the hymn-singing tradition, and the speakers’ relationships to the hymns. I’m hoping to return to Oklahoma over winter break to finish this part of the research. I’ve realized (and maybe you have too) that as I go, the project develops and changes as I narrow my focus, my research questions, and my direction.

So back to Thursday, where I hit a bit of a wall/bump/whatever you’d like to call it. Jack, Ryan, and I drove out to Sasakwa to conduct a pre-interview with J.P.M., an 89-year old woman (turning 90 this November!). She invited us into her home and chatted with us about her life and what she would want to be interviewed about. As we were wrapping up, Jack asked me if I could explain my project to her. I was a bit caught off guard because I had never really explained the project to anyone else before, and I’ll admit, I didn’t do a great job of explaining myself or of asking her if she’d be willing to talk to me about hymns. I’d been wanting to interview people about hymns for a while, but hadn’t acted upon it yet. On the way back to Seminole, I realized that I needed to be more confident and have a better handle on and understand of my project so that I could explain it to others without stumbling or doubting myself. It’s hard to pitch a project to others convincingly, and it’s something I want to work on.


Friday, August 7th

Thinking about what had happened on Thursday, I went into Friday wanting to work on being confident with my research and being comfortable pitching the project to and talking with other speakers. In the morning I got an opportunity to prove myself. L. and M., who both work at the school, had some time free, so I got a chance to interview them about hymns. It felt awkward at first, as I wasn’t always sure which questions were the most relevant to ask or how to follow up on an answer or interesting lead, but as the interviews went on I got more and more comfortable. And I learned a lot! About the two women, about their favorite hymns, about differences between churches and the way they sing, about the ways in which hymns are passed down through the generations, and much more.

One of the most common things I heard when discussing hymns, both in the interviews I conducted and in the interviews that Jack and L. conducted, was the idea that certain hymns almost seem to “belong” to certain people. The interviewees would say that a certain person, for example, their grandfather, or their preacher, would always sing one certain hymn, and that when they thought of that person they would think of that hymn, and vice versa. It made me realize what a powerful took of familial and cultural preservation these hymns are. One hymn can have powerful associations with people, places, point in time, events, etc. The hymns help community members to remember those who have passed on and the music allows their memories to live on in those who remember “their” hymns.


  1. This project is fascinating. Observing and preserving language is important, and the connection that music has with language and cultural history/memory is integral in understanding any culture.