above: an example of a modern version of hocketing in an excerpt from Meredith Monk’s “Hocket” from “Facing North” (1990), performed by Emily Eagen and Peter Sciscioli, members of The M6, at Symphony Space in New York, March 2008.
So how does academic writing differ from an author’s use of two-bit words?
I want to contrast the writing of Michael Chabon’s with an essay by Michelle Kisliuk in Music and Gender, a collection of essays by musicologists studying the participation of women in the music of various cultures.
In the varied and impressive writings of Colin Turnbull (1961, 1965, 1978, 1981, 1983), Alan Lomax (1976), Robert Rarris Thompson (1989), and Simha Arom (1978, 1991), the yodeling, hocketing sound of pygmy singing has served as an icon of social and musical utopia and an image of egalitarianism. 1 (Kisliuk 25).
[ footnote 1: Kisliuk notes that she is referencing an essay, “Can There be a Feminist Ethnography?” from the book, Women and Performance by Lila Abu Lughod]
I read this book of music and gender essays while researching my own book about composer Amy Beach. The sample sentence I provide is typical of that particular essay, and the first example I would cite as to why academic writing is inaccessible to most readers. Often academic writers fill their sentences with so many dates and references in parenthesis that a reader must really strain to find the meat. It is like having to trip over stones thrown in the path of reader comprehension.