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Performing Ethnomusicology

Performing Ethnomusicology: Teaching and Representation in World Music Ensembles

Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 329
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  • Book Info
    Performing Ethnomusicology
    Book Description:

    Performing Ethnomusicologyis the first book to deal exclusively with creating, teaching, and contextualizing academic world music performing ensembles. Considering the formidable theoretical, ethical, and practical issues that confront ethnomusicologists who direct such ensembles, the sixteen essays in this volume discuss problems of public performance and the pragmatics of pedagogy and learning processes. Their perspectives, drawing upon expertise in Caribbean steelband, Indian, Balinese, Javanese, Philippine, Mexican, Central and West African, Japanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Jewish klezmer ensembles, provide a uniquely informed and many-faceted view of this complicated and rapidly changing landscape. The authors examine the creative and pedagogical negotiations involved in intergenerational and intercultural transmission and explore topics such as reflexivity, representation, hegemony, and aesthetically determined interaction.Performing Ethnomusicologyaffords sophisticated insights into the structuring of ethnomusicologists' careers and methodologies. This book offers an unprecedented rich history and contemporary examination of academic world music performance in the West, especially in the United States. "Performing Ethnomusicologyis an important book not only within the field of ethnomusicology itself, but for scholars in all disciplines engaged in aspects of performance-historical musicology, anthropology, folklore, and cultural studies. The individual articles offer a provocative and disparate array of threads and themes, which Solís skillfully weaves together in his introductory essay. A book of great importance and long overdue."-R. Anderson Sutton, author ofCalling Back the SpiritContributors:Gage Averill, Kelly Gross, David Harnish, Mantle Hood, David W. Hughes, Michelle Kisliuk, David Locke, Scott Marcus, Hankus Netsky, Ali Jihad Racy, Anne K. Rasmussen, Ted Solís, Hardja Susilo, Sumarsam, Ricardo D. Trimillos, Roger Vetter, J. Lawrence Witzleben

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93717-8
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction. Teaching What Cannot Be Taught: An Optimistic Overview
    (pp. 1-20)

    It is rather remarkable that, in spite of the proliferation of world music performance programs and the importance of such activities in ethnomusicologists’ professional lives, so little has been written about the academic world music ensemble. We aim to fill that lacuna. My fellow contributors and I, in the words of Anne Rasmussen, “hope that this volume, by problematizing our performance in the language of the academy, will provide models for our colleagues and their institutions who are trying to make a place for world music performance and its evaluation.”

    During a break in a graduate seminar on ethnomusicological issues,...


    • Chapter 1 Subject, Object, and the Ethnomusicology Ensemble: The Ethnomusicological “We” and “Them”
      (pp. 23-52)

      This chapter is both subjective-personal and objective-general. It is my opportunity to reflect upon more than four decades of personal involvement with world music ensembles, initially as a student, then as a (sometimes reluctant) teacher, and finally as an ethnomusicologist overseeing such projects. Although I focus here upon the ensemble within an American academic setting, we should acknowledge and appreciate similar activities outside academe, such as at the Naropa Institute (Boulder, Colorado), the World Kulintang Institute (Los Angeles, California), and Gamelan Sekar Jaya (El Cerrito, California), as well as outside the United States, including at the Chinese University of Hong...

    • Chapter 2 “A Bridge to Java”: Four Decades Teaching Gamelan in America
      (pp. 53-68)

      Ted Solís: We wanted to talk to you about your experiences, which are extensive in this country and also in Java. How did your journey to UCLA begin?

      Hardja Susilo: Yes, that was rather interesting. First of all, I got interested in gamelan music early in life, although I didn’t have a chance to learn it until I was eleven. I became instantly attracted to it the first time I heard it in the palace, and in the princely residence across the street from my house in Yogyakarta. It was so elegant. I wanted to be in some ways involved...

    • Chapter 3 Opportunity and Interaction: The Gamelan from Java to Wesleyan
      (pp. 69-92)

      It has been more than four decades since gamelan performance was first incorporated into the ethnomusicology program at UCLA. Today, interest in studying gamelan performance remains strong in American colleges and universities: discussion of various gamelan topics and announcements of gamelan events appear almost daily on gamelan@ listserve,¹ and the falling value of the Indonesian currency since 1997 has encouraged many institutions and individuals to buy gamelan instruments.² An announcement that preceded the 2000 Music Teachers’ National Association (MTNA) conference calling for the development of a David Letterman–style top ten list of reasons for establishing gamelan study also indicates...

    • Chapter 4 “Where’s ‘One’?”: Musical Encounters of the Ensemble Kind
      (pp. 93-112)

      All of these layers of “performativity” were intended to call into question the boundaries and the tensions between participatory revelry and spectacle in Carnival.¹ This may seem a bit heady for a carnival concert, but its connection to my style of ensemble pedagogy will, I hope, become a little clearer by the end of this chapter. Other performances that night challenged the right of the performers, most of whom were North American by birth, to speak for and represent the cultures on display. The most obvious infraction of this sort was the “Three Carmen Mirandas,” a trio of singers dressed...


    • Chapter 5 A Square Peg in a Round Hole: Teaching Javanese Gamelan in the Ensemble Paradigm of the Academy
      (pp. 115-125)

      I have had the good fortune over the past twenty-nine years to integrate into my studies, research, and teaching an involvement with the performance of central Javanese gamelan music. For nearly that entire time span I have been aware of the significant impact my gamelan-centered activity has had on my personal and intellectual development. Through my studies, performance activities, and collaborations with Javanese artists I have forged friendships with individuals from a distant culture. My studies of relevant foreign languages have allowed me to live for extended periods among my Javanese friends and teachers in their homeland. I have experienced...

    • Chapter 6 “No, Not ‘Bali Hai’!”: Challenges of Adaptation and Orientalism in Performing and Teaching Balinese Gamelan
      (pp. 126-137)

      Four interdependent questions seem fundamental when considering the teaching and directing of non-Western music ensembles at institutions: 1) How does one become a director? 2) How does one teach the music? 3) In what context does one present the music? 4) How does one adapt to the institutional environment in which one finds oneself? All four questions are deeply intertwined, and both the first and last inform ways we approach the second and third. To succeed, we must adapt to our teaching and performing environment, just as we might adjust to situations during fieldwork. In doing so, we adjust our...

    • Chapter 7 Cultural Interactions in an Asian Context: Chinese and Javanese Ensembles in Hong Kong
      (pp. 138-152)

      Most discussions of the study of performance in ethnomusicology have concentrated on Western students learning non-Western traditions. We have Mantle Hood (1982) to thank for emphasizing the value of performance study as an important component in the training of ethnomusicologists, but the termbimusicalityitself presumes that one is already literate in a Western musical language.

      The increasing prominence of intra-Asian cross-cultural study of musical performance—including the study of traditions from other regions or social settings within one’s own country—is a phenomenon that also deserves our attention. However, the phenomenon has so far generally been ignored, despite the...


    • Chapter 8 “Can’t Help but Speak, Can’t Help but Play”: Dual Discourse in Arab Music Pedagogy
      (pp. 155-167)

      Ted Solís: Give us some general history of how you got into the field, progressed, and came to this country, how that all happened.

      Ali Jihad Racy: I was born in Lebanon on July 31, 1943, and grew up in a musical family. My mother played the violin. My maternal uncles played the˓ūd[short-necked fretless lute] and violin. Although they studied Western music, they mostly played Arab music. Both sides of my family were musical, but also valued education. In fact, I have many highly established relatives at universities, scholars in Lebanon as well as in England, Brazil, and...

    • Chapter 9 The African Ensemble in America: Contradictions and Possibilities
      (pp. 168-188)

      The study and performance of African music in the United States might seem to be an apolitical activity that is focused on making good music, learning about unfamiliar music-cultures, and fostering international good will. But global relations of power and issues of social justice simmer beneath the optimistic humanistic surface. Especially in the United States, the study of African music tends to raise political issues because of the nation’s history of African slavery and its troubled race relations. At the same time, African music is also remarkably popular. Composers seek creative ideas from its musical structures; players find that their...

    • Chapter 10 Klez Goes to College
      (pp. 189-201)

      In the last quarter of the twentieth century the Jewish wedding-music tradition known as klezmer reemerged in America (and, later, internationally) as a popular ethnic musical style and as a creative point of departure, especially for younger musicians. In this chapter, I will share some observations about my experience during the past twenty-four years as one of the perpetrators of the music’s revitalization and as a leader of academic klezmer and Yiddish music ensembles at the New England Conservatory of Music and several other colleges.

      An orphan of a culture that affords its dance musicians a status only a small...

    • Chapter 11 Creating a Community, Negotiating Among Communities: Performing Middle Eastern Music for a Diverse Middle Eastern and American Public
      (pp. 202-212)

      We teach that music is specific to its culture, so it should come as no surprise that ethno performance ensembles tend to be unique entities. Each individual ensemble is a dynamic world representing vibrant and in finitely complex music cultures. Although one would intuitively assume that most of the defining aspects of a given type of ensemble are dictated by the cultural and geographic focus, a variety of other forces help to shape each group. Many elements are determined by the ensemble’s director, others are affected by the environment of the home university, and still others come about because of...


    • Chapter 12 Bilateral Negotiations in Bimusicality: Insiders, Outsiders, and the “Real Version” in Middle Eastern Music Performance
      (pp. 215-228)

      In the summer of 1998, I wrote a statement for my tenure file entitled “A Philosophy of Teaching, Performance, Scholarship, and Service.” The subsection “Performance in Academia” explained to senior colleagues how music performance can occupy a crucial position in the scholarship, teaching, and service of an ethnomusicologist. Following a brief introduction to “bimusicality,” one of the cornerstones of my education at UCLA,¹ I explained how musical performance has been integral to my research methodology among both Middle Eastern and Indonesian musicians (see, for example, Rasmussen 1997b, and 2001b). Learning about music through lessons and informal apprenticeships as well as...

    • Chapter 13 Community of Comfort: Negotiating a World of “Latin Marimba”
      (pp. 229-248)

      My goal in writing this chapter is to help myself understand the reasons I have developed and teach a “Latin marimba ensemble.” I articulate the ways in which my teaching is informed, not necessarily by a self-assumed ambassadorial role in conveying culture to my students, but by the desire for an aesthetically satisfying, collaborative, emotionally comforting performative world. I also discuss ways in which the ensemble provides a means of furthering my ideas on performance philosophy and performer/audience relationships that have evolved partly in reaction to the Western concert paradigm. It would appear, moreover, that while I am striving against...

    • Chapter 14 What’s the “It” That We Learn to Perform?: Teaching BaAka Music and Dance
      (pp. 249-260)

      What social and musical negotiations take place among diverse students at the University of Virginia who learn to perform BaAka (“pygmy”) music and dance? Can or should once-distant sensibilities (from Bagandou, Central African Republic, and Charlottesville, Virginia) be melded, considering their radically different social contexts? Or, when our performances feel like they work, are the social contexts (and the sounds) so radically different after all? Michelle Kisliuk conducted field research in the Central African Republic between 1986 and 2001 (see Kisliuk 1998b). She initially modeled her teaching after that of American scholars of West African music (her teacher David Locke,...

    • Chapter 15 “When Can We Improvise?”: The Place of Creativity in Academic World Music Performance
      (pp. 261-282)

      Let me begin by describing my experience when teaching the first session of a beginning Javanese gamelan class one recent September. For two hours we went through the basics: etiquette, instrument names and roles, basic technique, playing a simplelancaran(sixteen-beat structure), and so forth. Afterward, one student came up to me and asked, somewhat plaintively, “When can we improvise?” It turned out that he felt the time for improvisation wasnow.

      His audacity at hoping to improvise within a tradition he had studied for a mere two hours was, if interpreted charitably, only a reasonable request for a chance...

  9. Afterword. Some Closing Thoughts from the First Voice
    (pp. 283-288)

    The following exchange derives from a conversation in early October 2002 (forty-eight years to the month since the inception of the first ethnomusicology performing ensemble at UCLA) between Ki Mantle Hood (b. June 24, 1918), the earliest pioneer of the world music ensemble in U.S. academe, and Ricardo Trimillos. Mantle had been cleaning the swimming pool when his wife, Hazel, called him to the study and the conversation began. The exchange was a relaxed “talk story” by telephone that linked Ellicott City, Maryland, with Hawai’i, mentor with student. Mantle sat in his study late in the afternoon, observing a doe...

    (pp. 289-302)
    (pp. 303-306)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 307-322)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 323-323)