For Jhanique Lovejoy ‘23, music is all about pushing the boundaries. Lovejoy played the B-flat clarinet in high school, and joined the College Jazz Ensemble her first year at Swarthmore. Up to that point, she believed that her musical journey in college would largely be defined by performing in ensembles, but as she advises any freshman considering music, “don’t put yourself into any boxes because you never know what could happen.”
Lovejoy was hesitant to declare a minor in music at first. The minor called for many requirements, including two music theory classes, not a favorite of hers. Still undecided, Lovejoy took a course in jazz history. She discovered she had a passion for ethnomusicology, specifically the history of music in the Black diaspora. The course, coupled with her new found excitement for the subject, convinced her to concentrate her minor in music.
Lovejoy is an art major, and for her, the worlds of music and visual art do not exist in a vacuum. In fact, they’ve become inherently intertwined due to her synesthesia. Synesthesia is a phenomenon in which stimulation of one sense triggers an involuntary experience in another. In Jhanique’s case, upon hearing music she sees colors in her mind. Various types of music are shaded differently. Many of Lovejoy’s art pieces are inspired by music. She explains that her favorite genres to create art for are Black experimentalism and house music because, due to her synesthesia, “the sounds are very easy to visualize.”
This past fall, Lovejoy was able to attend an ethnomusicology conference in New Orleans with fellow Swarthmore music students and faculty. The conference exposed Lovejoy to topics within ethnomusicology that she’d never before considered, like music and skateboarding, the music of video games, and gastromusicology – the study of musical representation of taste. Lovejoy developed a deeper appreciation for the field and got a sense of what a career in ethnomusicology could look like.
Lovejoy, both in and outside of the classroom, has devoted herself to decentering her education and enjoyment of music from conventional western thinking. While taking classes like Taiko and various Black ethnomusicology classes, she’s learned to expand her ways of thinking around rhythm, melody, and what should be considered music. She enjoys listening to a wide array of music, from alternative hip hop such as Doechii to 80’s Ethiopian musicians like Hailu Mergia.
Lovejoy wants to work in the visual arts after she graduates, but she thinks that her studies in ethnomusicology will aid her in her pursuits. She’d like to combine her two passions by working with art museums to curate music that will add an extra dimension to the experience of museum visitors.
What was your favorite music course at Swarthmore? Directed Reading with Professor Stewart about the history of rap, how Black women have impacted the genre, and the future of hip hop.
What was your favorite music making experience at Swarthmore? Playing Willow Crest in the Jazz Ensemble (but I’m also hosting a house music party later this semester, so this could change!)
What will you miss most about Swarthmore? Seeing the stars, being so close to my friends, and having food so readily available.
What sound or noise do you love? The sound of people laughing together and the humming of microwaves.
What sound or noise do you hate? Fire alarms and the drill outside of Mertz.
What's the last song you played on your phone? Stellar by Jamilla Woods.