Out West student blog

Sounds of the West: Researching 19th Century Music for Galatée Films

Max in Olympic National Park. (Photo credit: Nicholas Peña Brown)

By Maxwell Klotz '20, '21 MA
Hometown: Stanford, CA
Major: Human Biology B.A., Earth Systems M.A.
Production Researcher, Galatée Films

Why did you want to do this internship?

I was drawn to the internship at Galatée Films because I have a passion for work that combines environmental/historical research with creative expression. The prospect of helping on a film about exploring the American West was exciting in itself. I was particularly intrigued when I saw that the research would focus on music from the time, as I am passionate about music of all genres. 

How does your role support the host organization’s mission?

My role is to provide background research on music in America from the late nineteenth century. I am researching both indigenous and white settler music with the goal of providing the filmmakers with historically accurate information for the movie. Galatée Films aims to create a movie that accurately reflects the American West in the 1870s, and my work will aid in shaping this world for the camera. 

Describe one project you will be working on this summer.

My main project for the summer has been researching nineteenth century music from many different cultural groups in the American West. Up to this point, I have focused on Shoshone music in particular. I have been researching Shoshone instruments: how they were made, what they sounded like, when they were used, etc. I have also looked at different types of Shoshone songs used at different occasions. One such song type is the Sun Dance, a religious ceremony performed in summer months to promote healing. 

How does this project relate to  your studies and/or career goals?

My project this summer allows me to examine both music and environmental history. Throughout my time as an undergraduate at Stanford, I have been drawn to interdisciplinary work involving the environment. As a senior, I wrote an honors thesis comparing the environmental histories of Yellowstone and Zion National Parks. This fall, I am starting a master's program in Earth Systems, with a focus on environmental policy. In the future, I hope to continue doing this sort of work that merges environmental studies with other creative and academic fields. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

On my own time, I enjoy hiking in wilderness areas near my home in California. I particularly enjoy trails on the Russian Ridge Preserve, which is within an hour of my home. I am also passionate about music, playing drums and piano in my spare time.


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