Tag Archive for ethnomusicology

Slobin’s Afghanistan Music Recordings, Field Notes Archived Online

Mark Slobin

Mark Slobin

Between 1967-1972, ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin was one of only four Western ethnomusicologists who managed to complete research in Afghanistan before the subsequent Soviet invasion, civil war, and anti-music Taliban regime.

During these five years, Slobin, who retired from Wesleyan 2016 as the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, completed a comprehensive documentation of music, culture, language and society in the Afghan North. Given the region’s volatile unrest, no further musical—and by extension cultural—studies have been undertaken since.

Slobin’s rare survey of this time period is now available online through Alexander Street, a producer of online educational resources. “The Mark Slobin Fieldwork Archive, Music in the Afghan North, 1967-1972” draws on materials deposited at Wesleyan’s World Music Archives, directed by Alec McLane. McLane brought Slobin’s work to the attention of Alexander Street. The site packages all of Slobin’s materials: the sound files of folk music recordings, films, hundreds of images and field notes. 

Slobin Elected Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Mark Slobin

Mark Slobin

On April 12, ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin, the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, Emeritus, was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is one of 228 national and international scholars, artists and philanthropic leaders who joined the 237th class.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing—and opportunities available to—the nation and the world. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies in science, engineering, and technology policy; global security and international affairs; the humanities, arts, and education; and American institutions and the public good.

Slobin, who retired from Wesleyan in June 2016, is an expert on East European Jewish music and klezmer music, as well as the music of Afghanistan. Slobin’s career started at Wesleyan in July 1971. He has been president of the Society for Ethnomusicology, president of the Society for Asian Music, and editor of Asian Music. He has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Seeger Prize of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award (for lifetime achievement) from the Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the Curt Leviant Award In Yiddish Studies from the Modern Languages Association (honorable mention). He was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for Chosen Voices (1989).

Slobin joins philanthropist and singer-songwriter John Legend; award-winning actress Carol Burnett; chairman of the board of Xerox Corporation Ursula Burns; mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani; immunologist James Allison; and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the 2017 American Academy of Arts and Sciences class. Other recipients are Pulitzer Prize winners; MacArthur Fellows; Fields Medalists; Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts recipients; and Academy Award, Grammy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award winners.

“In a tradition reaching back to the earliest days of our nation, the honor of election to the American Academy is also a call to service,” said Academy President Jonathan F. Fanton. “Through our projects, publications, and events, the Academy provides members with opportunities to make common cause and produce the useful knowledge for which the Academy’s 1780 charter calls.”

Slobin will be inducted at a ceremony on Oct. 7 in Cambridge, Mass.

Sumarsam Attends World Class Professors Program in Indonesia

Sumarsam, pictured third from left in the top row, joined 40 scholars for the "Visiting World Class Professors" conference in December.

Sumarsam, pictured third from left in the top row, joined 40 scholars for the “Visiting World Class Professors” program in December.

From Dec. 17-24, 2016, University Professor of Music Sumarsam and other 40 diasporic Indonesian scholars were invited by the Indonesian Minister of Research, Technology, and Higher Education (Ristekdikti) to participate in a program called “Visiting World Class Professor.” The program aims at enhancing human resources of higher education in Indonesia through various scholarly activities.

After the opening of the program by the Vice President Yusuf Kalla, the Minister of Ristekdikti and its Director General of Resources, the first day of the program consisted of seminars and workshops in Jakarta, attended by university rectors and academics. Each of the scholars were then sent to one or two of the 29 universities throughout Indonesian cities, holding a series of workshops, lectures and discussion with members of the faculty of the selected university.

Sumarsam was sent to the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI) in Surakarta (his alma mater).

Watch video clips (in Indonesian) of the event’s opening and news of the program online.

Graduate Student Khan Gives Sarangi Demonstration at UCLA

Suhail Yusuf Khan by Shiv Ahuja

Suhail Yusuf Khan (Photo by Shiv Ahuja)

Graduate student Suhail Yusuf Khan recently gave a lecture and demonstration at the Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Khan’s lecture focused on the sarangi and its use in popular music contexts.

Khan was invited to UCLA to lecture to a global pop music class.

“The idea was to show students some of my experimental and pop music,” Khan said.

During his demonstration, Khan spoke about the the sarangi’s role in Hindustani music and the relationship to the voice. He also showed different playing techniques, and shared his own musical story, including the challenges he faces as a classically trained musician navigating the global popular music industry.

Khan, from New Delhi, India, is working towards his master’s degree in music. He also is a composer, singer and songwriter. After graduating from Wesleyan, he is considering applying to PhD programs in ethnomusicology or will continue to perform around the world.

PhD Candidate Blejewski Speaks on Steel Pan and Festival Culture

Hallie Blejewski, a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology, delivered a talk at the Graduate Speaker Series on Oct. 12. 

Hallie Blejewski, a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology, delivered a talk at the Graduate Speaker Series on Oct. 12.

Blejewski spoke on "We Can Only Desire to Understand the Instrument: Steel Pan and Festival Culture in Trinidad, Nigeria and South Africa."

Blejewski spoke on “We Can Only Desire to Understand the Instrument: Steel Pan and Festival Culture in Trinidad, Nigeria and South Africa.”

Graduate Speaker Series lectures are open to the entire Wesleyan community and lunch is provided. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry '19)

Graduate Speaker Series lectures are open to the entire Wesleyan community and lunch is provided. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

Sumarsam, PhD Students, Alumni Present at Symposium

University Professor of Music Sumarsam demonstrated puppet movements at the 4th Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM PASEA), in Penang, Malaysia.

University Professor of Music Sumarsam demonstrated puppet movements at the 4th Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM PASEA), in Penang, Malaysia.

University Professor of Music Sumarsam and several PhD students and alumni recently presented papers at the 4th Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM PASEA). The symposium was hosted by Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, Malaysia, from July 31 to Aug. 6.

Sumarsam presented a paper titled, “Religiosity in Javanese Wayang Puppet Play,” and demonstrated puppet movements.

Slobin Honored for 45 Years at Wesleyan

Mark Slobin, second from left, was celebrated by colleagues, friends and family during a day long conference and concert April 16.

Mark Slobin, second from left, was celebrated by colleagues, friends and family during a day long conference and concert April 16.

Mark Slobin, the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, was honored April 16 with “Ideas on the Move,” a conference celebrating his career and many accomplishments. Slobin will retire from Wesleyan June 30.

Slobin is an ethnomusicologist who has written extensively on the subject of East European Jewish music and klezmer music, as well as the music of Afghanistan.

The daylong event featured talks by alumni from as far back as 45 years. Topics included “Mark’s Metaphors: Visual Poetics, Pedagogy and Theoretical Clarity;” “ONCE Upon a Time: Mark Slobin’s Experimental Ethnomusicology;” “How Mark Slobin Became an Ethnomusicologist;” and “Growing Up With Mark.” A concert, featuring Irish, Yiddish, Korean and other music, also was held in honor of Professor Slobin in World Music Hall. View a list of all speakers and musicians on this website.

Slobin came to Wesleyan on July 1, 1971. He has been president of the Society for Ethnomusicology, president of the Society for Asian Music, and editor of Asian Music. He has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Seeger Prize of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award (for lifetime achievement) from the Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the Curt Leviant Award In Yiddish Studies from the Modern Languages Association (honorable mention). He was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for Chosen Voices (1989).

In his blog, President Michael Roth said: “He is at home with all kinds of sounds, and his students (many of whom were present at the conference) work on everything from Mongolian throat singing and African funeral music to hip-hop and klezmer. He’s even written the book on music at Wesleyan.

“Mark spoke briefly at the conference about how Wesleyan has fostered groundbreaking research, practice and teaching in music for a very long time. Thanks to him, and to his colleagues and students, we expect that to continue far into the future.”

The evening concluded with a Javanese Wayang Puppet Play “Arjuna in Meditation,” performed with the Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble under the direction of I. M. Harjito and Sumarsam (dhalang) and guest musicians.

eve_markslobin_2016-0415110517

PhD Candidate Colwell Speaks on Throat Singing as Part of Graduate Student Speaker Series

Andrew Colwell, PhD candidate in ethnomusicology, presented “The Conditions of Audibility: Cultural Heritage, Pastoral Sensibility and Global Ambition in Mongol Xöömeí (Throat-singing),” a lecture based on his dissertational research, on Dec. 2 in Exley Science Center.

Andrew Colwell, PhD candidate in ethnomusicology, presented “The Conditions of Audibility: Cultural Heritage, Pastoral Sensibility and Global Ambition in Mongol Xöömeí (Throat-singing),” a lecture based on his dissertational research, on Dec. 2 in Exley Science Center.

In his lecture, Colwell focused on the performance of xöömeí, its conditions of audibility, and the critical questions it poses to ethnomusicology and Mongolian studies’ treatment of places, circulation and belonging.

In his lecture, Colwell focused on the performance of xöömeí, its conditions of audibility, and the critical questions it poses to ethnomusicology and Mongolian studies’ treatment of places, circulation and belonging.

In western Mongolia a project is underway to rehabilitate a once-sacred place into a “natural theater” for the promotion of xöömeí (throat-singing). According to elder generations, a nearby crevice called xavchig was once a venerated site for the pastoral community, due to a sonorous rivulet of mountain water that flows through it. But sometime during the socialist collectivization of herders’ pastoral encampments, the nationalization of their expressive practices, and the censorship of animist or Buddhist spiritual practices in the 20th century, the crevice fell into neglect.

In western Mongolia a project is underway to rehabilitate a once-sacred place into a “natural theater” for the promotion of xöömeí. According to elder generations, a nearby crevice called xavchig was once a venerated site for the pastoral community, due to a sonorous rivulet of mountain water that flows through it. But sometime during the socialist collectivization of herders’ pastoral encampments, the nationalization of their expressive practices, and the censorship of animist or Buddhist spiritual practices in the 20th century, the crevice fell into neglect.

Sumarsam Speaks on Javanese Puppet Theater at Museum of Puppetry

Sumarsam

Sumarsam

On Oct. 28, as part of its Fall Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut hosted Javanase musician and scholar Sumarsam for a presentation on “Javanese Puppet Theater and the West.” Sumarsam is the University Professor of Music at Wesleyan.

Sumarsam’s talk included discussion of the complex nature of Javanese wayang kulit shadow theater in the context of his recent research into the history of Javanese gamelan culture.

Professor Sumarsam’s work analyzes adaptations in gamelan art as a result of Western colonialism in 19th century Java, showing how Western musical and dramatic practices were domesticated by Javanese performers to create hybrid Javanese-Western art forms, such as with the introduction of brass bands in traditional court music and western theatrical idioms in contemporary wayang puppet plays.

The event included a book signing for Professor Sumarsam’s newest work, Javanese Gamelan and the West, hosted by the UConn Co-op Bookstore.

Sumarsam Writes Article on Gamelan Carabalen

University Professor of Music Sumarsam is the author of an article titled “Bali–Java Cultural Exchange: Gamelan Carabalen,” published in Interculturalism and Mobility of the Performing Arts, Sound, Movement for the Proceeding of the 3rd Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on Performing Arts in Southeast Asia.

Gamelan Carabalen is an ancient, processional Javanese ensemble whose creation was inspired by a processional Balinese gamelan.

“Ethnicity and cultural identity is the product of specific historical condition. Viewed in a context of history of ethnic relations, we find very complex picture, dynamic process, and multifaceted forms and meanings of ethnicity and its performing arts,” Sumarsam said. “With this perspective in mind, the article examines Java–Bali cultural encounters, its impact on the development of, ethnic identity, music and musical culture.”

Sumarsam, Students, Alumni Attend Traditional Music Conference in Kazakhstan

PhD candidate Ander Terwilliger, University Professor of Music Sumarsam and PhD candidate Christine Yong attended the International Council for Traditional Music conference in Astana, Kazakhstan.

PhD candidate Ander Terwilliger, University Professor of Music Sumarsam and PhD candidate Christine Yong attended the International Council for Traditional Music conference in Astana, Kazakhstan.

From July 14–23, two ethnomusicology PhD candidates — Christine Yong and Ander Terwilliger — along with five alumni —Tan Sooi Beng ’80, Donna Kwon ’95, Jonathan Kramer ’71, Sylvie Bruinders ’99, and Becky Miller ’94 — joined University Professor of Music Sumarsam at the 2015 conference of the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) in Astana, Kazakhstan. Tan Sooi Beng was elected to the ICTO executive board.

The International Council for Traditional Music is a non-governmental organization in formal consultative relations with UNESCO. It aims to further the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of traditional music and dance of all countries.

At the conference, Sumarsam presented a talk titled “Expressing And Contesting Java-Islam Encounters In The Performing Arts;” and Kwon spoke on “Glimpses Beyond The Curtain: Making Sense Of North Korean Musical Performance in the Age of Social Media.” Kwon also was a recipient of this year’s prestigious American Council of Learned Societies grant.

 

Scott Published in Routledge’s The Modernist Reader

Stanley Scott

Stanley Scott

Stanley Scott, private lessons teacher in music, authored a chapter titled “Modernism in South Asian Art Music,” published in the The Modernist World, part of the Routledge Worlds series, in 2015.

Scott traces modernism in South Asian art music from its 18th century roots to the 21st century. The examples, drawn from Pakistan, North India and Bangladesh, represent parallel developments throughout South Asia. The seeds of South Asian modernism were sown in 18th century Calcutta, with the emergence of British orientalist scholarship and the development of the urban South Asian intelligentsia. The orientalist discovery of India’s “golden age” allowed Hindu nationalists to find inspiration in an India that predated both European colonization and Islamic rule. North Indian music, in particular, served sometimes as an icon of national identity, sometimes of revived Hindu hegemony, and sometimes of an Indo-Islamic synthesis.