ethnomusicology readings


there are no accidents

great stuff!

first issue of 10 includes articles such as:

Standardization and Innovation in Mariachi Music Performance in Los Angeles

The Vocal Music Composer in a Nigerian Traditional Society and his Compositional Techniques

Chilean Nueva Cancion: A Political Popular Music Genre

Garba: A Social Dance of Gujarati Women

An Eighteenth-Century Notation of Indian Music
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est malade
nice, zhao. another wonderful resource for this sort of thing is smithsonian global sound, they have high resolution scans of old smithsonian folkways lps free to download as pdfs. find a release (this one, for example) and click the download liner notes button. if you don't know what you're after copy the pdf link and change the catalogue numbers.


there are no accidents
From the NYTImes today:
John Storm Roberts, World-Music Scholar, Dies at 73
Published: December 10, 2009

John Storm Roberts, an English-born writer, record producer and independent scholar whose work explored the rich, varied and often surprising ways in which the popular music of Africa and Latin America informed that of the United States, died on Nov. 29 in Kingston, N.Y. He was 73 and lived in Kingston.

The cause was complications of a blood clot, his wife, Anne Needham, said.

Long before the term was bandied about, Mr. Roberts was listening to, seeking out and reporting on what is now called world music. He wrote several seminal books on the subject for a general readership, most notably “Black Music of Two Worlds” (Praeger, 1972) and “The Latin Tinge: The Impact of Latin American Music on the United States” (Oxford University, 1979).

“Black Music of Two Worlds” examines the cross-pollination — in both directions — between Africa and the Americas, from the influence of African music on jazz, blues, salsa and samba to the popularity in Nigeria and Zaire of American artists like James Brown and Jimi Hendrix.

In writing the book, Mr. Roberts sought to connect a diffuse web of existing studies by ethnomusicologists. The studies typically appraised local musical traditions while ignoring the reach of Africa as a whole.

“It was like a landscape with a large number of artesian wells, and nothing linking them,” he told The New York Times in 1992. “And I conceived of ‘Black Music of Two Worlds’ being more like canals joining.”

In “The Latin Tinge,” Mr. Roberts trained his ear on the influence of musical forms like tango, rumba, mambo and salsa on a wide range of American pop styles, among them ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, rhythm and blues, jazz, country and rock.

Reviewing the book in The New York Times Book Review, Robert Palmer called it a “painstaking, pioneering” work, adding: “ ‘The Latin Tinge’ is an important addition to the literature of American music.”

John Anthony Storm Roberts was born in London on Feb. 24, 1936. His father, an accountant who often traveled abroad on business, brought him records that were then scarcely available in England: jazz and blues from the United States, Brazilian music by way of Portugal and much else. By the time he was in his early teens, John was irretrievably mesmerized by the sounds that leapt from his turntable.

A polyglot who came to speak more than half a dozen languages, including Swahili, Mr. Roberts received a bachelor’s degree in modern languages from Oxford University. In the mid-1960s he spent several years in Kenya as a reporter and editor on The East African Standard, a regional newspaper. Returning to London, he was a radio producer with the BBC World Service.

Mr. Roberts moved to the United States in 1970, becoming an editor on the periodical Africa Report. He was later a freelance journalist, contributing articles on world music to The Village Voice and other publications.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Roberts and Ms. Needham started Original Music, a mail-order company that distributed world-music books and records. In those pre-Internet days, Americans outside big cities found these almost as hard to come by as young Mr. Roberts had in postwar England.

In business for nearly two decades, Original Music also released many well-received albums of its own. Among them are “The Sound of Kinshasa,” featuring Zairian guitar music; “Africa Dances,” an anthology of music from more than a dozen countries; and “Songs the Swahili Sing,” devoted to the music of Kenya, an aural kaleidoscope of African, Arab and Indian sounds.

Mr. Roberts’s first marriage, to Jane Lloyd, ended in divorce. Besides Ms. Needham, whom he married in 1981, he is survived by two children from his first marriage, Stephen and Alice Roberts; three stepchildren, Melissa, Elizabeth and Stephen Keiper; two grandchildren; and three step-grandchildren.

His other books include “Latin Jazz: The First of the Fusions, 1880s to Today” (Schirmer, 1999) and “A Land Full of People: Life in Kenya Today” (Praeger, 1968).

In choosing what to release on the Original Music label, Mr. Roberts did not disdain modern, popular numbers: by his lights, a song simply had to be good. This distinguished him from musicological purists who, in ceaseless quest for the authentic, recorded only material seemingly untouched by modernity.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 1987, Mr. Roberts illuminated his selection process.

“I don’t care how esoteric it is, but it’s got to be terrific,” he said. “Not this ‘you-can’t-hear-it-and-it’s-terribly-performed-but-it’s-really-very-interesting-because-it’s-the-only-winkle-gathering-song-to-come-out-of-southeastern-Sussex’ attitude.”


there are no accidents
oh and this is amazing: Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos -- By Gary Stewart


Ably written by a published author of articles on African and Caribbean music whose work has appeared in "The Beat", "Option", "West Africa" and more, Rumba On The River: A History Of The Popular Music Of The Two Congos is an enthralling dissemination of how changing times and ancient traditions blended to create a distinctive type of music along the Congo River. From the currents of political struggle to the tides of self-expression, the history, vibrancy, and popularity of this music flowed, and its indelible impressions upon the human psyche are succinctly framed in an unforgettable prose.

Chapters explore music, dance, and evolving trends in Congolese rumba tradition and provide so much accompanying explanatory history that even ethnomusicologists and college-level students of African culture and tradition will find it fascinating.

a huge portion of it is available to read in the link above.


Well-known member

I've been reading "Mbalax Mi: Musikszene Senegal" by Cornelia Panzacchi (1996)


it's a study of senegalese popular music from the late 60s to the late 80s. it's in german (although very readable german ... not impenetrable academic prose) but for non-german readers it's useful anyway cos it has a very good discography at the back.


booty bass intellectual
This is a nice book about record collecting, a bit on DJing, in Cali. One of the interesting parts: the Calenos became such good dancers that the DJs started pitching up tunes, playing them at 45 RPM instead of 33. When bands started forming in Cali, they also played salsa at the pitched-up tempos.

Haven't read this, but it's on my short-list. Cartagena is where the crazy mixing goes down, the picodero soundsystems. Cali keeps it more old school with the salsa dura.



Well-known member
I've also just started on Sola Olorunyomi's "Afrobeat: Fela and the Imagined Continent" (2003):


I've been kind of skimming it, need to sit down and read it properly cos it's quite dense, there's plenty of interesting stuff in it including a sort of verbatim summary of Fela's "Felasophy" and lots of translations/summaries of lyrics etc.


there are no accidents
Sola Olorunyomi's "Afrobeat: Fela and the Imagined Continent" (2003)

this looks good. i would like to read a more complete account, if such a thing exists, of the Nigerian scene during the 60s and 70s; one that covers a broad spectrum of artists and goes into social context and touching on history...

lol felasophy :D


Well-known member
On another topic i just read that Tobias Rapp's book about techno in Berlin is being published soon in English. (The original, "Lost and Sound: Berlin, Techno und der Easyjetset", came out last year I think.) I've not read it all but I think it's mainly about post-2000 stuff, Watergate, Berghain, Bar 25 etc, with a bit of earlier history thrown in. There's an interview with Rapp in this month's Exberliner mag, and a discussion event later this week:


there are no accidents
thanks to PSB from SFRP:

mods: pretty sure this stuff is public property.

Ethnomusicology Forum Vol. 13 - 17
Routledge | ISSN: 17411912 | 2004 - 2008 | PDF | RS | 15 Mb in all

Ethnomusicology Forum, formerly known as the British Journal of Ethnomusicology, is the academic, refereed journal of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology. As the name implies, the journal seeks to provide a dynamic forum for the presentation of new thinking in the field of ethnomusicology, defined broadly as the study of "people making music", and encompasses the study of all music, including Western art music and popular music.

Articles often emphasise first-hand, sustained engagement with people as music makers, taking the form of ethnographic writing following one or more periods of fieldwork. Typically, ethnographies aim for a broad assessment of the processes and contexts through and within which music is imagined, discussed and made. Ethnography may be synthesised with a variety of analytical, historical and other methodologies, often entering into dialogue with other disciplinary areas such as music psychology, music education, historical musicology, performance studies, critical theory, dance, folklore and linguistics. The field is therefore characterised by its breadth in theory and method, its interdisciplinary nature and its global perspective.

Each volume comprises two issues: one focuses on a specific theme and is prepared by a guest editor; the other includes a range of articles covering a broader field of interest.

Volume 13 Issue 1 2004

*Introduction: Musical outcomes of Jewish migration into Asia via the Northern and Southern routes c.1780-c.1950
-Margaret Kartomi; Andrew Mccredie*
*By the rivers of babylon: echoes of the babylonian past in the musical heritage of the iraqi jewish diaspora
-Regina Randhofer
*Religious music traditions of the jewish-babylonian diaspora in bombay
-Sara Manasseh
*Tracing Jewish-Babylonian trade routes and identity through music, with reference to seven versions of a song of praise melody
-Margaret Kartomi
*Reconstructing the vanished musical life of the shanghai jewish diaspora: A report
-Tang Yating
*Cultural accommodation and exchange in the refugee experience: a german-jewish musician in shanghai
-Christian Utz

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Volume 13 Issue 2 2004

*Shoot the sergeant, shatter the mountain: The production of masculinity in zulu ngoma song and dance in post-apartheid South Africa
-Louise Meintjes
*The class and colour of tone: An essay on the social history of vocal timbre
-Grant Olwage
*Music and the disney theme park experience
-Charles Carson; Laudan Nooshin
*"Whole new worlds": Music and the disney theme park experience
-Charles Carson
*Circumnavigation with a difference? music, representation and the disney experience: It's a small, small world
-Laudan Nooshin
*Putting mano to music: The mediation of race in Brazilian rap
-Derek Pardue

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Volume 14 Issue 1 2005

*"Isn't This Nice? It's just like being in Bali": Constructing Balinese Music Culture in Lombok
David Harnish
*Azerbaijani Mugham and Carpet: Cross-Domain Mapping
Inna Naroditskaya
*An Interview with J. H. Kwabena Nketia: Perspectives on Tradition and Modernity
Trevor Wiggins
*Manufacturing and Consuming Culture: Fakesong in Singapore
Shzr Ee Tan

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Volume 14 Issue 2 2005

-Hiromi Lorraine Sakata
*Music and Identity in Central Asia: Introduction
-Razia Sultanova
*Power, Authority and Music in the Cultures of Inner Asia
-Jean During
*Musical Heritage and National Identity in Uzbekistan
-Alexander Djumaev
*Open Borders. Tradition and Tajik Popular Music: Questions of Aesthetics, Identity and Political Economy
-Federico Spinetti
*So Near, So Far: Kabul's Music in Exile
-John Baily
*The Edvacircr of Demetrius Cantemir: Recent Publications
-John Morgan O'Connell

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Volume 15 Issue 1 2006

-Rachel Harris; Tina K. Ramnarine
*Music, Memory and History
-Kay Kaufman Shelemay
*Remembering the Baroque Era: Historical Consciousness, Local Identity and the Holy Week Celebrations in a Former Mining Town in Brazil
-Suzel Ana Reily
*The New African Diaspora, the Built Environment and the Past in Jazz
-Carol A. Muller
*Locating the Past in the Present: Living Traditions and the Performance of Early Music
-Jonathan Shull
*Musical Archaeologists: the Revival and Reconstruction of Polyphonic Settings of the Latin Mass in Corsica
-Caroline Bithell
-Keith Howard

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Volume 15 Issue 2 2006

-Rachel Harris; Tina K. Ramnarine
*“La Habana que no conoces”: Cuban rap and the social construction of urban space
-Geoff Baker
*Composition Processes in Popular Church Music in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
-Imani Sanga
*Ethnomusicology in the Laboratory: From the Tonometer to the Digital Melograph
-David Cooper; Ian Sapiro

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Volume 16 Issue 1 2007

*Musical Performance in the Diaspora: Introduction
-Tina K. Ramnarine
*'Adieu Madras, Adieu Foulard': Musical Origins and the Doudou's Colonial Plaint
-Edwin Hill
*'I Take My Dombra and Sing to Remember my Homeland': Identity, Landscape and Music in Kazakh Communities of Western Mongolia
-Jennifer C. Post
*'Happy Diwali!' Performance, Multicultural Soundscapes and Intervention in Aotearoa/New Zealand
-Henry Johnson
*Diasporic Transpositions: Indigenous and Jewish Performances of Mourning in 20th-Century Australia
-Gay Breyley
*The 'Danza de las Cantildeas': Music, Theatre and Afroperuvian Modernity
-Javier F. Leoacuten

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Volume 16 Issue 2 2007

-Rachel Harris; Tina K. Ramnarine
*Music, Spirit Possession and the In-Between: Ethnomusicological Inquiry and the Challenge of Trance
-Richard C. Jankowsky
*Meaning, Power and Exoticism in Medicinal Music: A Case Study of MusiCure in Denmark
-Tore Tvarnoslash Lind
*(De)constructing Yiddishland: Solomon and SoCalled's HipHopKhasene
-Abigail Wood
*The Distribution of Authority in the Performance of North Indian Vocal Music
-John Napier
*Partnering for Social Change: Exploring Relationships between Musicians and Organizations in Nairobi, Kenya
-Kathleen Noss Van Buren
*The Study of Groove

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Volume 17 Issue 1 2008

-Andrew Killick; Laudan Nooshin
*The Marriage Relationship between Player and Kacapi Zither in West Java
-Wim van Zanten
*In Touch with the Earth? Musical Instruments, Gender and Fertility in the Bolivian Andes
-Henry Stobart
*Shona Women Mbira Players: Gender, Tradition and Nation in Zimbabwe
-Claire Jones

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Volume 17 Issue 2 2008

-Andrew Killick; Laudan Nooshin
*Lutes, Gongs, Women and Men: (En)Gendering Instrumental Music in the Philippines
-Manolete Mora
*Reading Music/Playing Music: The Musical Notations of the Kyoto Gion Festival and the Noh Flute
-Kawori Iguchi
*Obituary: Laurence Picken
-Richard Widdess

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there are no accidents
musicology article from Black Music Research Journal published by Columbia University, detailing the inherent contradictions and dynamics within 2 post-war British youth cultures centered around Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American music — the Skinhead movement and the Northern Soul experience.

Voices of Hate, Sounds of Hybridity: Black Music and the Complexities of Racism (PDF: 1MB)

probably nothing mind shattering and even if none of it is news to you, still some interesting first person accounts of what went on in London and other places in the 60s and 70s, perhaps giving us insight into the political dimension of music and its consumption in our own time.


Well-known member
Being reminded of gwo-ka makes me remember the David Murray Gwo-Tet album:

I think it had something to do with gwo-ka.