Ethnographic Texts

Sarah Strothers
Jade Stagg

Bakan, Michael. 1999. Music of Death and New Creation: Experiences in the World of Balinese Gamelan Beleganjur. Chicago and London: University Of Chicago Press

Michael Bakan is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of Ethnomusicology and World Music at Florida State University, whose interests include the ethnomusicology of autism, world percussion, multicultural education and the ethnomusicology of autism. Combining his unique perspective as a scholar and percussionist, Bakan’s text provides insight into the world of competitive Balinese Gamelan Beleganjur.  Included in his research are political corruption, expression of creativity and musical identity.  A compact disc accompanies the book.

Clark, Walter Aaron. 2002. From Tejano to Tango: Latin American Popular Music. New York: Psychology Press.

This book is an expansive ethnography on several different styles of Latin American music and dance. The editor, Walter Aaron Clark, compiled thirteen essays from established scholars that address issues of politics, identity, and social institutions within the context of the particular Latin American music genres. Some of the genres that are discussed in the book include, but do not limit to, “Tex Mex,” Central American, Latin dance, and rock music from Argentina. Overall, the book provides a broad scope of the different discourses on Latin American music genres.

Cooper, David and Keven Dawe, eds. 2005. The Mediterranean in Music: Critical Perspectives, Common Concerns, and Cultural Differences. Maryland: Scarecrow Press.

This book contains articles from a series of contributors that address different aspects of music of the Mediterranean. Throughout the book, scholars use theoretical frameworks of identity and globalization to explore how different characteristics of Mediterranean culture and local traditions are transformed and reconfigured. Some of the different areas within the Mediterranean that are discussed include Greece, Crete, Turkey, Albania, Corsica, Italy, Spain, and Palestine. Overall, this book gives comprehensive ethnographic insight on the complexities of identity formulation in Mediterranean music cultures.

Dunbar-Hall, Peter. 2004. Deadly Sounds, Deadly Places: Contemporary Aboriginal Music in Australia, Sydney. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.

Ethnomusicologist and music educator Peter Dunbar-Hall is Associate Professor and Chair at the University of Sydney whose research covers contemporary Australian music and Balinese music.  This text was the first comprehensive book on contemporary Aboriginal music, and includes a discography of the numerous artists mentioned.  Issues analyzed include independence, identity, land ownership, tourism and the globalization of world music.  Dunbar-Hall’s research includes commentary on musicians such as Jimmy Little, Ernie Bridge, Kev Carmody and the Warumi Band.

Gaunt, Kyra. 2006. The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop. New York and London: NYU Press.

Kyra Gaunt is an Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at Baruch University, and also holds appointments with Sociology and Anthropology along with Black and Hispanic Studies.  She specializes in African American music, hip-hop, race, gender and cultural anthropology.  This text, winner of the 2007 Alan Merriam Prize from the Society of Ethnomusicology, analyzes how African American girls have a significant effect on popular music.  Gaunt’s fascinating research focuses on these girls, whose influence is enormous despite being minorities of gender, race and age.

Garfias, Robert. 1975. Music of a Thousand Autumns: The Tōgaku Style of Japanese Court Music. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

This book is a comprehensive ethnomusicological study of tōgaku, a genre of gagaku court music in Japan. The title of the book is a translation of a piece from the tōgaku repertoire called Senshūraku, a composition that is originally associated with funeral ceremonies (Garfias: 1975, 31). The author gives a detailed history of tōgaku, describes the instrumentation of the ensemble, performance dynamics within the ensemble, includes a discussion of how the tōgaku genre is transforming. The book also contains the author’s analysis of particular tōgaku pieces as well as his own transcriptions of tōgaku music.

Guy, Nancy. 2005. Peking Opera and Politics in Taiwan. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

Nancy Guy is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego.  This book analyzes Peking opera as a tool of the government.  Controlled by the Nationalist government after its 1949 retreat to Taiwan, Guy covers the movement from its creation, use as a propaganda tool and eventual demise.  Peking opera was supported by the Nationalist government as they ignored the preferred local traditions.  Guy’s consideration of government control ranges from broad statements to in depth details of how a melody was allowed to be ornamented or composed.

Keister, Jay. 2004. Shaped by Japanese Music: Kikuaka Hiroaki and Nagauta Shamisen in Tokyo. New York: Routledge.

Jay Keister is currently a professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Keister is one of the leading scholars of Japanese music and his ethnomusicological research focuses on the embodiment of musical traditions, traditional social structures in contemporary music practice, and Japanese music aesthetics. This book is an ethnographic analysis of the musical world of Kikuoka Hiroaki, a composer/musician/scholar of nagauta music (associated with kabuki theatre). The author provides a detailed account of Hiroaki’s career, an ethnographic account of teacher-student relationships when learning nagauta on shamisen, a contemporary account of nagauta, and discusses how nagauta forms a social institution. The book also contains three transcriptions of nagauta music.  

LeVine, Mark. 2008. Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Mark Levine is a professor of history at the University of California. This book combines his doctorate is in Middle Eastern Studies with his experience as a successful rock guitarist.  Through the subculture of Middle Eastern heavy metal, Levine provides an analysis of a wider movement: political upheaval, a renewed look at Islam, and a general desire for change.  Covering large portions of the Middle East, the author’s analysis of Middle Eastern rock as protest and resistance music provides unique insight into a largely unknown culture.  In addition to the book, Levine maintains a website with a continuing analysis as political situations evolve.

Muller, Carol. 2004. South African Music: A Century of Traditions in Transformation. New York: ABC-CLIO Publishing Company.

Carol Muller, born in South Africa, is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her text on South Africa covers a wide range of topics, from outlining radio broadcasting history, exploring music and apartheid, to music and immigration and jazz music in Cape Town.  Supplementing the text are a compact disc of musical examples along with maps of South Africa.  Several helpful appendixes explore topics like key dates in South Africa’s history, musical websites of interest and themes common to the study of African music from the 1980s to present.

Stevens, Carolyn S. 2008. Japanese Popular Music: Culture, Authenticity, and Power. London and New York: Routledge.

Carolyn Stevens is a professor of Japanese studies at the University of Melbourne in Australia. In the early 1990s she worked with a Japanese entertainment management agency where she was exposed to many different genres of Japanese popular music. This book is an analytical and anthropological result of her experience with the Japanese entertainment agency. Dr. Stevens includes six chapters that describe the history of popular music, explores the issues cultural identity and authenticity found in Japanese popular music, and discusses the different issues of globalization related to the popular music industry in Japan. This book also contains a glossary of terms and an appendix of major record labels that can be found in Japan.

Wade, Bonnie. 1998. Imaging Sound: An Ethnomusicological Study of Music, Art, and Culture in Mughal India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bonnie Wade, Professor of Ethnomusicology at University of California, Berkeley, examines musical change in Mughal, India by analyzing 16th century paintings of the period. Each painting that Wad discusses includes musicians and/or instruments from the era and addresses the different discourses that permeate from the artwork and Mughal music culture. This book utilizes a unique approach by fusing methodologies from art history and ethnomusicology together to develop an ethnography on the music culture of 16th century India.

Stuempfle, S. (1995). The steelband movement: The forging of a national art in Trinidad and Tobago. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

This is Stuempfle's dissertation, which has become the magnus liber of steel band. Beginning with Trinidad colonial history, traveling through the beginnings of steel band (1930s, 40s), the formation of a national identity (1960s) until the mid 1980s. This includes several fascinating historical photographs and newspaper clippings. The perfect resource for any class involving Trinidad.