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Matt Sakakeeny

Matt Sakakeeny is Associate Professor of Music at Tulane University. He is the author of Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans and co-editor of Keywords in Sound, both on Duke University Press. This year he will release his first solo album as The Lonely Birds.

"Brass Instruments are Gendered Technologies"
Brass instruments, cutting-edge technologies of the 18th and 19th century, have retained gendered associations with masculinity and mastery. Today, more and more girls are playing brass in school marching bands, but women continue to be largely excluded from professional performance opportunities in every style of music. In New Orleans, black girls who were once confined to the woodwinds section and the auxilliary team now consistently take up brass and percussion instruments in school. But in this musical city where the sound of brass remains central to jazz, brass band, and other styles of black popular music, only a tiny fraction of gigging musicians are women. At this particular intersection of race, place, and gender, what are the specific dynamics of sexism and patriarchy that keep girls in band from breaking the “brass ceiling” and pursuing careers as instrumentalists?