Sophomore wins fellowship to explore underground music in Korea
Music is the universal language of all mankind, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, and Emily Cowan ’21 wants to be fluent.
Cowan, a computer science and music and technology double major and scholar in the College’s Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, is particularly interested in the flourishing underground music scene of Korea. As a rising sophomore, Cowan was awarded a Rearden Travel Fellowship to attend the International Computer Music Conference in Daegu, South Korea.
“That experience—learning about music from around the world, electronic music and new developments in computer music from top international musicians—changed how I view the music I had been listening to and the people behind its creation,” she said.
This summer, as the 2019 recipient of Connecticut College’s Minor Myers Jr. Research Fellowship, Cowan will spend several weeks in Korea exploring niche and emerging genres of Korean music in the cities of Seoul, Daegu and Busan. The Myers Research Fellowship provides up to $5,000 to a sophomore or junior to conduct summer research—anywhere in the world—on a topic that reflects a student's passion and desire to learn outside of the traditional classroom experience.
In each of the three cities, Cowan will be attending musical performances, exploring venues and conducting interviews with artists, fans and local experts.
“In different areas of Korea, underground music varies based on the outside cultural influences that have impacted the societal norms and the individuality of the music produced there,” Cowan said. “I hope to gain a deeper understanding of Korean music’s influence on society.”
The research will inform Cowan’s senior integrative project, “The Effect of the Korean Language on Music Creation and Its Perception Globally,” through which she plans to create an original album of music in collaboration with Korean- and English-speaking musicians.
“With the Myers Research Fellowship, I am excited to learn about unique genres including trot, hybrid and gugak, and incorporate these styles into my project,” she said.