It has been my pleasure to be a minor part of Simone Dennis’ Police Beat: The Emotional Power of Music in Police Work almost since its inception. As I have done phenomenological participant observation research of my own in casinos and as she and I are both heavily influenced by David Abram, I was invited to be a member of her dissertation committee, an assignment I accepted with pleasure and which gave me the opportunity to watch her research evolve into its present incarnation.
Police Beat breaks new ground in this real-world study of the nuances in the exercise of power both of the police, who hope to humanize their robotic personae through the creation of the police band, and of the music and musicians, police not themselves, who make up the police band.
In her 18 months of ethnographic research, she entered the worlds of both the cops and musicians in all their complexities and interactions. What emerges is this study, which transcends the cognitive and takes us into the sensuous realm of interconnections between the police and the public, musicians and their instruments and voices, audiences and performers, performers and performances, all of which make up the social body, all of which involve emotion. Of particular fascination to me are the relationships between musicians and their instruments and the ways in which their experiences differ, depending on whether they are in rehearsal or performance, the performances culminating in their becoming instrumentalized persons as the band coalesces into a whole, the members experiencing ‘seraphic’ joy.