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Halloo! When I found out I could go to med school with a Humanities degree with an Ethnomusicology emphasis, I almost peed myself. Here's to me holding it in.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Annotated Source

So, I'm not really going to annotate this. It's just gross. It does make my project even more relevant, so I guess I can thank Zhu Weiqun for that.

Red rage: China to strip Tibetans of minority status?

Saibal Dasgupta, TNN Feb 24, 2012, 04.41AM IST

BEIJING: An influential Communist Party leader in China is asking for completely erasing the legal identity and minority status for Tibetans as a means to deal with escalating protests and do some damage-control for the country's image, dented by a spate of self-immolations by Tibetan activists and monks.
The official, an interlocutor with the Dalai Lama's envoys and a key Tibet policymaker, has suggested that the unrest could be quelled if the Tibetans were denied a sepa-rate legal identity in government documents.
Zhu Weiqun, deputy director in the Communist Party's United Front Work Department, asked the two houses of Chinese parliament - the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Cons-ultative Conference - to am-end laws concerning Tibetans during their upcoming annual meetings in March.
He said that mentioning the ethnicity and minority status on identity cards of Tibetans erodes the sense of nationalism and cohesion.
The proposal, which aims to dilute the Dalai Lama's influence in Tibetan areas, follows nearly 20 cases of self-immolation by protesting Tibetans, which triggered calls from several Western governments, including Washington and Paris, demanding that Beijing ensure that the Tibetans are treated fairly.
"Some of our current educational and administrative policies have unintentionally weakened (the minority people's) sense of nationhood and Chinese nationalism," Zhu said in an article. The best way to achieve 'national cohesion' is by stopping to give them separate status as an ethnic minority on identity cards, using ethnic labels in the titles of schools and autonomous regions, and giving them privileges reserved for minorities, Zhu said.

Classes Under Consideration

I just took a tour through BYU's entire course list, and I found some classes that might work for the other three credits of the field study (I've got 3 from IAS and 3 from music pretty much locked up). I'm not planning on necessarily taking any of these below, but the fact that they are taught means that there are some professors out there with expertise in areas that relate to my project. Here's the master list:

ANTHR 343 - Chinese Culture and Society
GEOG 272 - East Asia
GEOG 130 - Intro to Human Geography
HIST 347 - Chinese Cultural History
HIST 342 - 20th Century China
HIST 341 - Modern China since 1500
HIST 349 - Asian Religion and Thought
IHUM 240 - Intro to Humanities of Asia
IHUM 290R - Special Study in the Humanities
IAS 201R - Asia, China studies
PHIL 320R - Buddhism

I figure the Chinese scholars probably know a thing or two about Tibet, and the Asian Religion/Buddhism folks know something about Tibetan Buddhism. I'm having a hard time finding who does what by just using the internet, so I'll have to make some visits in the next few days. If organic chemistry would just leave me alone, I could work on it much sooner... Alas, organic chemistry is here to stay (for at least the rest of my college education!). If any of you out there know any professors at BYU interested in Tibet, ethnomusicology, musical geographies, or anything even tangentially related, let me know!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Annotated Source

Tell me about the music here.

What about here?
This article is short enough that I can put the whole thing here. I got the inspiration to look at and think about the commodification of music this way from several sources, one of which is very exciting to me and will result in free food. Lori works at Magleby's Fresh, a medium-food restaurant in Provo (medium food = not fast food, but not really a sit down place with servers who take you order at the table either ["slow food"]). The workers have grown very tired of the soundtrack - a playlist of 76 songs that repeats at least twice during a typical shift. I told Lori that I thought it would be fun to make them a new playlist, and she told her manager, who is all for the idea and will give me some gift certificates if I can make them something good. Now that I'm working on it, I've realized that I am recreating the place in the process - what people hear in Magleby's will influence how they feel and see the restaurant. If I put a bunch of punk and metal music, there would be a serious disconnect between the food, the customers, and the ambience. But if I put a bunch of sweet jazz standards and some fun, familiar, and rather low-key contemporary music, the place will start to make associations that elevate the mood the restaurant owners are looking for. So, I am, in a very real sense, doing an experiment in creating place through music, which relates 1 to 1 with my project. This article backs up my claims, and shows a contemporary writer's view (as opposed to a scholarly view) of how music and place relate. This is more germane to my purpose, as I don't really give a rat's behind what scholars think.


The Marriage of Music and Place

Glenn Kurtz

Posted: June 12, 2007 10:56 AM

I'd like to propose a new rating system for restaurants, cafes, and bars. Instead of the tired old star system, or some highly poetic, but thoroughly individual review of how the food or drinks taste and are served, my proposal is to rate all public locales by the music they play.
This rating system is based on the belief that music does not merely fill space and time, but shapes space and time. In other words, whether as foreground or background, ambient music is like the soundtrack of our experience, profoundly affecting how we feel about and relate to a place.
My system does not imply anything about the style of the music. There are plenty of places where screeching, screaming, thumping, pounding music is entirely appropriate and welcome, and which can therefore play this music with complete integrity for the delight of its customers. A dance club playing dance music seems like an excellent marriage of music and place.
The same music, however, played at the corner café, where people gather to talk, to read, and to write blogs, and where screeching, screaming, thumping, pounding music is played primarily to keep the staff from falling asleep over their cappuccino machines -- this would be an example, in my opinion, of irreconcilable differences between music and place. The music prevents you from enjoying the place.
My rating system, therefore, describes the relationship between music and place in terms of the emotional communication between the two. It has the following gradations, from best to worst:
1. Intuitive. ("You always know how I'm feeling!")
2. Friendly. ("Um, okay. I can see your point.")

 Neutral. ("I'm sorry, did you say something?")
4. Obnoxious. ("You don't care how I feel!")
It's a very personal kind of rating system, I admit. But I believe that if enough people subscribe to it, the demand for sensitive musical choices in public locations everywhere will increase, and life will improve for everyone.
One more category needs to be mentioned. If we understand the relationship between music and place in emotional terms, then this final category has many qualities of the best: it recognizes the moods and functions of a place, while seeking to delight and please the customers. But these qualities are passive-aggressive: they are used with ulterior motives, most often to sell you something. This final category, therefore, is:
5. Manipulative. ("You say you care, but I don't trust you!")
Two kinds of location define this category for me. Chain bookstores, especially during December (is there a limit to the number of times one can hear "Winter Wonderland" before suffering permanent damage?) and a certain ubiquitous "café."
How do your favorite places rate?

Methods Practice III
General Notes

Pipe organ used for instrumental accompaniment for congregational hymns. Piano used for choir number.
Female conducting the music. 30s, black dress with red belt and large necklace.
During sacrament hymn – 3 men at altar to left of rostrum, breaking bread. Sacrament prayer chant-like in recitation. Somewhat standardized oratory style – localized tradition?
Little boy walking quickly along hardwood floor behind last row of seats.
Choir – 7 men in back row, 7 women in front row. Conductor faces choir. All use sheet music. Male/female alternate verses, join on third voice for full harmony. All white performers, ages ~12 to 50, concentration of 20-to-30-somethings. No uniform worn, except that all were in the same kind of formal attire worn by majority of congregation.
Speaker after choir piece commented “What a beautiful hymn.” No comment on choir – just the hymn itself.
Most of congregation singing on congregational hymns. Less singing in the back – lack of hymnals?
Most singing melody. Some take harmony parts. Lack of musical training, laziness, preference for melody line?
Organization of organ pipes – three large clusters, center cluster tallest. In between, small pipes grow from center to meet either end. Symbolic of Trinity, or simply aesthetic choice?
Board on right for showing what hymn numbers will be sung. Empty. Why?

Hymnals green, numbered. Copyright 1985. 341 hymns.
Text and music of sung hymns follows. Four hymns in sacrament meeting, one by choir. One hymn sung in priesthood opening exercises, accompanied by piano (organ too powerful for smaller group? Or lack of an organist in the smaller priesthood body?)
Scatter Sunshine – Christian living, attitude

While of These Emblems We Partake – Sacrifice of Jesus, ordinance of communion, the life to come
Lead, Kindly Light – supplication, repentance
More Holiness Give Me – supplication, Christian living and values
Redeemer of Israel – praise, supplication (only in v. 4), the Christian condition and cause
Opening Hymn – Scatter Sunshine

Sacrament Hymn – While of These Emblems We Partake

Choir Hymn – Lead, Kindly Light

Closing Hymn – More Holiness Give Me

Priesthood Hymn - Redeemer of Israel

Omitted verses 5 and 6.

Analysis: The choices of hymns were very balanced. The core doctrines of the gospel were preached, and the opening hymn was a practical application typical of Mormon conceptions of how religion should be lived. In such a large ward, the back section having to go without hymnals is sad and rather expected, but many I noticed simply pulled up the words on their smartphones. The hymns remind me of the South Indian bhajan song form - the focus is in no way on musical performance, but rather on communal praise and solidarity. The choir song moved a little more toward being about perfection of performance, but was still focused on devotion through participation rather than devotion through technical perfection. Elders quorums usually just pick a song that everybody has memorized, which I actually appreciate because the elders sing out more, especially if it's a hymn they sang often in the mission field. The tempos are usually a little quicker, and using a piano rather than an organ contributes to the wonderful percussiveness of amateur all-male choirs. It would be nice to have a little more vocal training among the general membership - a 500 voice choir should be deafening, but experience in this and other sacrament meetings shows that many 25 voice choirs could easily out-decibel the typical sacrament meeting congregation. It is so interesting to watch the different degrees of obvious emotion displayed by singers of hymns, and even more interesting to realize that many who are being most touched by the sermons preached in that little green bible are not showing their involvement at all. It definitely made me more conscious of how I sound and look when singing the hymns, and also made me more emotionally connected to the beautiful words, melodies, and harmonies.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Proposal: What I've got so far

Music and Youth in Bylakuppe, India:
An Ethnomusicologic Cultural Geography
Field Study Proposal

A.    Statement of Intent
     Cultural geographies are concerned with people in places, and with the places in people. The refugee community in Bylakuppe, India has not yet been explored from a cultural geography of music standpoint. My purpose is to explore place, the sense of place, and emplacement as experienced and created by youth in Bylakuppe through coming in close contact with local modern musical expression, as well as by studying the rich Tibetan musical tradition and its connection with youth (or, rather, the connection of youths with it).
    As a Humanities major with an ethnomusicology emphasis, the way music influences and is influenced by culture is of deep significance to me. I had this particular emphasis created specifically to satisfy a longing for intercultural musical immersion. I have designed the coursework to cater to both academic depth and personal fulfillment. This field study is the core of the coursework. The hypothesis I will test is a basic one, “musical expression assists Tibetan youth in Bylakuppe in defining what it means to be a Tibetan-youth-in-exile.” This will, following Kong (1995), include examination of the musical texts (lyrics, sounds, rhythms), intertexts (clothing, album art, decoration), and contexts (political, familial, religious, social). Using this broad method will assist in beginning to understand the cultural geography of youth (place, sense of place, and emplacement) in Bylakuppe, and will yield more specific topics for further research.
B.    Background and Significance & Literature Review
     The term “ethnomusicology” may be broken down in several ways. One way to divide it is as “an ethnography of music,” seeking to understand people according to music they make. Another way to divide it is as “a musicology of ethnicity,” shifting the focus to understanding music according to the people who make it. In 1956, Alan Lomax suggested a rudimentary systematic approach to the study of folk song that incorporated elements from both angles. The world was split into broad musical regions and the general characteristics of timbre, rhythm, purpose, and mood were loosely grouped – understanding music according to the people who make it. He wrote, “Since there seems to be evidence that … unconscious but culturally transmitted … patterns are direct evidence of deepening emotional conditions, the study of folk music may then turn out to be a precise mode of analysis of the prevailing emotional temper of entire cultures. Thus ethnomusicology may bring us close to deep-lying aesthetic forces which have been dynamic in all human history” (Lomax 50) – understanding people according to the music they make. This vision for ethnomusicology has permeated the field in the years since, though the general trend has been from the broad to the specific, seeking not so much to understand the entirely vast categories of “Eurasian,” “Pygmoid,” or “Amerindian” musics, as Lomax did, but rather more localized categories such as Cornish, Igbo, or Hopi musics – and further, the Cornish, Igbo, or Hopi musics made in specific Cornish, Igbo, or Hopi cultural centers.
     “Cultural geography,” also known more generally as “human geography,” seeks to understand people in places and places in people. It is a broad field, taking in many types of human creation as well as considering the natural environment and the interactions and reactions of its inhabitants with and to it. The last fifteen to twenty years have seen the rise of a focus on music as an important factor in human geographies. The journal Progress in Human Geography, in its 2006 progress report on “Regions and place: music, identity and place,” by Ray Hudson, referenced twelve major works before the year 2000 (the oldest work was from 1978, and was noted for its singularity in the academic milieu, conceptual limitation, and focus on description), and referenced twenty-six major works from the 2000s – in a period of six years, about twice as many important works in musical human geography were produced than in the twenty-five years preceding, not counting the many studies that did not make it into the progress report. The expansion and ubiquity of the internet has given further relevance to musical cultural geographies, as musics categorized into such genres as “The Canterbury Sound,” “Bhangramuffin,” “British-Asian Pop,” and so on have become available worldwide for instant access (Bennet 2002, Jazeel 2005, Su 2009). The world as “global village” lends itself to the creation of musical genres based around increasingly specific locales as musicians and listeners seek to understand, differentiate, and imbibe the incredible variety of musics and cultures they find on the Internet, the radio, the concert stage, the home, and the street corner.
     Cultural geographies often focus on one or more specific aspects that inform the identities of people in the communities that are being studied. Twelve out of the thirty-eight references mentioned in Progress in Human Geography’s 2006 report explicitly mention identity or the production of place in their titles, and reading the texts of the others reveals that using music to understand place and identity is a central theme regardless of the title of the work.
     From this basic understanding of ethnomusicology and musical human geography we have the framework for constructing a study of the music and people in a place, as well as a corpus of research that lends relevance and importance to new studies in unexplored places. Ethnomusicology lends its expertise in musical methods, provides theoretical background for music as a core human expression, and gives precedence for the practice of learning a people’s music as a method of field research. Cultural geography gives techniques for understanding the broader context and places music as significant within the wide variety of human creations that locate us within a place and within ourselves. Having established the paradigms that inform the academic focus of the research, specific questions about where to conduct the research, whom to conduct the research with, and what kind(s) of music to research must be answered. This project will take place in a rural Tibetan refugee community in Southern India, where I will focus on youth and their interaction and identification with popular and traditional musics. Over the next few pages, these questions will be answered: Why Tibetan exiles? Why in a refugee community? Why in a rural area? Why youth? Why popular music? Why traditional music?
Why Tibetan Exiles?
     "I want to see Tibet as an independent country and all the Tibetans can welcome His Holiness inside the Potala [Dalai Lama's palace in Lhasa] with a great joy. Most of the time that is what I dream about."
     "I've been trying for a long time to get a picture of the old home but I think it is unrecognizable now. As an exile I suppose in a way I have never felt I have a home anywhere" (Thomas 2009).
     For more than five decades the Tibetan community has been split and scattered, a diaspora in the truest sense. Many Tibetans still live in Tibet, under the rule of a regime that is, at best, contemptuous of the traditional Tibetan religion and way of life. The rest live in outposts, camps, as individuals, or in small communities all throughout the world. The most visible and famous Tibetan, the Dalai Lama, encourages his people to maintain their religion and traditional art forms – before a monastery was built in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, the Dalai Lama instituted the TIPA, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. As the quote above indicates, “home” is a far away and probably nonexistent place. By learning the old art forms and incorporating them into a modern setting, the Tibetans are able to place themselves in the world and maintain their “Tibetan-ness.” This drive to preserve tradition while still moving forward in modernity places the musical practices of Tibetans at what might be called a crossroads, where tradition is strong, new ideas are exciting, and there is the real and institution-encouraged possibility of blending the two.
Why in this Refugee Community?
     One of the main reasons to study Tibetans in an exile community is simply that Tibet herself is just too hard to get into! The Chinese government distrusts foreigners, especially Westerners, who may be going to Tibet in order to paint the Chinese in a bad light. The university community generally discourages its students from going to any place that is so contested and possibly dangerous as Tibet. So, no one would let me go, and, once I got there, there is a good chance that no one would let me in or allow me to stay.
    Bylakuppe is a fascinating place in that it is the largest Tibetan community in the Indian diaspora, outranking even Dharamsala in occupancy (and, since Dharamsala is mainly a docking or pilgrimage point for refugees, much of its population is in some state of transiency). To stay in Bylakuppe requires a Protected Area Permit on top of the usual visa – the Indian government is very protective of one of its most sensitive communities, and refuses to allow any to go there who might disrupt the way of life. Therefore we have an almost entirely Tibetan population, situated in Southern India near Bengaluru, Mysore, Goa, and Trivandrum. All around, these powerful Indian cultures likely have a large degree of influence, and Internet brings in the West. Tradition is also likely strong, as Bylakuppe houses five monasteries representing each of the four major sects of Tibetan Buddhism (the Gelugpa get two). I say “likely” because no major studies have been published from research done in Bylakuppe, which is a compelling reason to explore the community there.
     Refugee communities, especially ones this old, are also interesting in that there is a mix of second and third generation refugees, who have only seen pictures of the homeland, aging and aged first generation refugees, who may have been children or teenagers when they fled, and brand new first generation refugees, still dusty from the road. Researching how musical production and interest in traditional and modern musics relates to the feeling of Tibetan-ness will most definitely be informed by the eclectic mix of people present in this singular Tibetan community. As was said, some might be straight from Tibet, and some may have parents who have never even seen the Himalayas. How do young people in these different stages of exile tend to view their shared culture and artistic heritage? That is an interesting question.
Why in a Rural Area?
     Conducting a study in a rural area is, similar to the first reasons noted for studying in a refugee community, wonderfully practical. Communities with less people that are more isolated provide the perfect ground for researchers getting their feet wet, and continue to provide interest for those more experienced. If the researcher can build genuine relationships of trust, the social network is more accessible and close-knit. Rural studies also provide unique challenges. The lack of a large population means that some of the people I was hoping to study with might not be there – there is probably a Tibetan percussion master living somewhere in New York, but there might not be one in Bylakuppe. Also, any mistakes or cultural faux-pas on the part of the researcher are likely to have greater impact, and it may well be that the contact that is crucial to the research might make him- or herself unavailable due to trust issues.
     From a musical standpoint, rural areas have much to offer. Rural music represents the lives, grievances, and celebrations of peoples in very particular localities. Folk or other cultural revival is sometimes more about inventing a past than preserving it, and is constantly evolving as a hybrid of ancient forms and current influences. These musics can only be understood by taking account of conditions of production, form of the song, readings, society and impacts – texts, intertexts, and contexts. For people in rural locales, music can play an important role in transcending the limitations of a people’s place in the world, of constructing trajectories across space. Music helps people 'become' something beyond their assigned dominant identities - to join 'others' via music. In Bylakuppe, it may well be the Tibetans still living in Tibet that are those ‘others’ being joined. Yarwood and Charlton made most of the above points in their Journal of Rural Studies article “’Country Life’? Rurality, folk music, and ‘Show of Hands’,” and concluded with the idea that a “realistic portrayal” of folk life is not as important as providing a “complex, shifting, and hybrid view of reality.” Going to a rural place to try to understand it from a musical standpoint without attempting to impose any idea of what “should be” or what is “authentic” is a vital contribution to the fields of both ethnomusicology and human geography.
Why Youth?
     Youth, more than any other demographic group, are involved in translating tradition in the face of globalization, and youth in places like Bylakuppe are they who must most fully come to terms with the presence of the West (Saldanha 2002). The younger generation is more likely to be conversant with the technologies that bring new musics and popular cultures into rural communities, and are under much pressure to both preserve their culture and navigate the future. The Karmapa, one of the most important figures in Tibetan Buddhism, is one of these youth. “From time to time I do enjoy listening to hip-hop because it has a very modern sound to it and even though I'm a Tibetan teacher representing these ancient teachings, I'm also a global citizen in the 21st century. Hip-hop perhaps is one way of me being a 21st-century person” (Lall 2009).
Why Popular Music?
     Lily Kong, one of the foremost cultural geographers studying music, cites two main reasons for studying popular music. The first is pervasiveness - every culture has popular music woven into its popular culture. If one is seeking to test the “prevailing emotional temper of entire cultures,” popular music is highly relevant.  "Whatever you feel from the music is what it feels like to be there" (Kong 1995, quoting David Thomas as cited in Jarvis, 1985:121). The second reason is that popular music is a medium through which people convey environmental experiences - creating social systems - and is also the outcome of environmental experience - recreating social systems. Popular music, then, produces, navigates, and comments upon culture.  It is one of the richest sources for understanding a particular people in a particular place. Even, perhaps especially, if the popular music that is being consumed is produced somewhere outside the study location, the way people in that location interpret and incorporate the music can only be done in a way that reflects the local temper (Saldanha 2002), and familiarity of the researcher with the source music in a different context (for example, having heard the rap music the Karmapa listens to) provides a rich source for comparison and contrast.
Why Traditional Music?
     Traditional music and culture, as has been noted, is of great importance to the Tibetans in the diaspora. Maintaining Tibetan-ness depends to a great degree on maintaining Tibetan art forms, if the efforts of the Dalai Lama are any indication of the diaspora’s attitude. If I am to understand where the Tibetans are coming from, as a researcher, an ethnomusicologist, and a person, it is imperative that I gain some familiarity with the various traditional musics produced in Bylakuppe. This is essential for practical as well as deeper emotional and spiritual reasons. If I am to hear Tibetan influence in the local productions of rock, hip-hop, or other musics, I need to know what to listen for. If I am to be conversant with the reasons Tibetans in Bylakuppe make music and how music preserves and creates culture, I will be greatly benefited by gaining more of an insider’s view and struggling to learn the instruments and forms just as the Tibetans have. Also, connection with traditional teachers will provide knowledgeable and invested contacts within the musical community.
     To conclude, a report of a few anecdotes will suffice to bring the reality of the situation into clearer focus. The first is from Vanessa Walker, a newspaper writer who published Mantras & Misdemeanors: An Accidental Love Story. She spent about a year in Dharamsala, and during that time was able to attend several weddings. As the night goes on at one of these weddings, the MC invites any who wish to come to the stage and sing songs, and several young men from Amdo (a region in Tibet) storm the stage and vigorously sing traditional shepherd songs. After the traditional repertoire is exhausted, a karaoke version of "Hotel California" is performed, and the rest of the night is spent bumpin' to techno. Tibetans lead all of this, quite without regard for any Westerners who might be in attendance. It is simply what that group likes (2007).
     The next anecdote formed the basis for an ethnomusicological monograph. Keila Diehl also went to Dharamsala (though her original plans were to study folk music outside the center of the government in exile, seeing a need as I do for studies to be done with Tibetans outside the mobbed tourist center that Dharamsala has become) and spent about a year with the people. She went intending to study music, and quite by accident became the keyboardist for the Tibetan rock and blues group “The Yak Band.” The band practiced in a concrete room high above Dharamsala proper, surrounded by the Himalayas and shepherds with their flocks. While overlooking the sights that had been inspiring yogis and lamas for millennia, she cranked up the amp and pounded out “Smoke on the Water.” Her book, Echoes from Dharamsala, chronicles her experiences and reflects on the ethnomusicological situation in both scholarly and contemporary discourse (2002).
     There are many Tibetans outside Dharamsala, and many of them are youth who are traversing the globe without taking off their headphones. It has been shown that the refugee community of Bylakuppe is an ideal place to undertake a study of place and identity amongst these youth.

C.   Methodology/Procedures
D.   Ethics and Approval
E.    Preliminary Plans for Post-field Application
F.    Qualifications and Limitations
G.   Faculty Mentors and Coursework
H.   Schedule
I.      Budget
J.     Works Cited
K.   Appendices
                        i.         Appendix A: Primary Faculty Mentor Form

                      ii.         Appendix B: Course Contracts

                    iii.         Appendix C: Methodological Tools (if applicable)
                     iv.         Appendix D: Address and Title of Online Portfolio
                       v.         Appendix E: IRB/IACUC Approval Letter and Application
                     vi.         Appendix F: Method Practices