Music and Young Adults 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 Tibetan 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 young adults 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 young adults (or, rather, the connection of young adults 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 that fulfills the credit requirements of my emphasis to cater to both academic depth and personal fulfillment. This field study is the core of the coursework. The question I will ask is a basic one: how does musical expression assist Tibetan young adults in Bylakuppe in defining what it means to be a Tibetan-young-adult-in-exile, or does it at all? This will include examination of the musical texts (lyrics, sounds, rhythms), intertexts (clothing, album art, decoration), and contexts (political, familial, religious, social) (Kong 1995). Application of this broad text, intertext, context methodology will assist in beginning to understand the cultural geography of young adults (place, sense of place, and emplacement) in Bylakuppe, and will yield more specific topics for further research. It will also contribute to my personal interest in world musics and cultures. Lastly, it will provide a foundation for intercultural discourse and understanding that will be invaluable as I go on to work in the medical field (I am completing pre-medical coursework in addition to my Humanities degree) in an increasingly small and diverse world.
B. Background and Significance & Literature Review
Introduction – Ethnomusicologic Cultural Geography
The title of this proposal requires some explanation. I have combined two related fields of study in an effort to play the strengths of both, and will therefore explain ethnomusicology and cultural geography as methods of studying the musical aspect of the human condition and justify my involvement with both. Then I will examine individually my reasons for undertaking research among this particular population in this particular place focusing on a few particular subjects. First, a definition of ethnomusicology.
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 and interact with. 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 then 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.” (Lomax 50). 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. The focus is rather on 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 must next be defined, and its relationship with music explored. 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 compared to 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 young adults 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 young adults? Why popular music? Why traditional music?
Why Tibetan Exiles?
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 this Refugee Community?
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). Bylakuppe has 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 another compelling reason to explore the community there.
Settled, stable refugee communities such as Bylakuppe 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. 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 a Rural Area?
Rural communities are singular in the opportunities and difficulties they afford. 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. Small populations 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.
Rural musical expression is fascinating and important for several reasons. 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 Young Adults?
Young adults (~18-24 years of age) are involved in translating tradition in the face of globalization more than any other demographic group, and young adults 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 a publicly visible example. “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). No member of the Tibetan exilic community can avoid some type of confrontation with the dichotomy of modernity and tradition, and the young generation is at the forefront of this exchange.
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. It is certain that young adults in Bylakuppe are consuming western popular musics, and it is likely that new forms of popular music are being created for local performance. Exploring the texts, intertexts, and contexts of popular music in the community while seeking the reactions of individuals through unstructured and semi-structured interviewing will be central to testing the hypothesis that this music, along with traditional music, plays a key role in defining identity among young Tibetan exiles.
Why Traditional Music?
Traditional music and culture is of great importance to the Tibetans in the diaspora. Maintaining Tibetan identity 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, on a most practical note, connection with traditional teachers will provide knowledgeable and invested contacts within the musical community.
Conclusion to Background and Significance
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 a published 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).
If these two anecdotes are any indication of the incredible mix of musical cultures informing the creation and preservation of a uniquely Tibetan identity, it is certain that the community in Bylakuppe is traversing much of the same ground and dealing with the same issues. My research will break new ground by combining ethnomusicological and cultural geographical methods in a location that has been largely neglected by the scholarly community. There are many Tibetans outside Dharamsala, and many of them are young adults who are traversing the globe without taking off their headphones. A study of the way music informs the identities of refugee young adults in Bylakuppe is therefore a relevant, timely, and important undertaking with significant benefits to both the scholarly community and the refugees in Bylakuppe.
Plan for entry and building rapport
I will employ several pre- and in-field methods for entering the community and building rapport. The Tibetan online community is vibrant. With the help of my faculty mentor I have made contact with several Tibetan musicians through social media. Email and video-chat has proven to be an effective method of building rapport and learning about the Tibetan musical community. These contacts have yielded contact with the foremost Tibetan opera master in the world, Kundeling Thupten, who is a gatekeeper in the musical community and who will also oversee my instruction. Through continued networking and snowball sampling, I will find other qualified teachers of Tibetan music before I ever set foot on Indian soil. While in Bylakuppe, I will focus on being friendly and of service, especially to my host family and music teachers, in the hopes that we can build relationships based on trust, respect, and friendship. My Tibetan contacts assured me that my being a tall, white, blond American will only be positive in my efforts to enter the community, as Tibetans have a long history with the West and are used to and generally appreciative of “us,” but my ascriptive characteristics will undoubtedly have both positive and negative effects. Any efforts to function as a “fly on the wall” at musical events will necessarily be abandoned forthwith, and the novelty of having a white music student must be kept in mind if I am to seek any kind of authentic experience. Accepting the strangeness of my presence as a foreigner in a foreign place is the first and most important step to successfully navigating the culture. Apart from time spent with musicians, I also will spend time with the monastic community, taking dharma lessons as appropriate in order to understand both the people and the theological underpinnings of the music. Lastly, I will accompany my wife as she works in the fields and markets, hoping to be an asset (and a little bit of free labor) and see what place music has in the lives of farmers in this agrarian community. Additionally, the more people I can meet from different walks of life, the better chance I will have at finding musicians through word-of-mouth.
Description of informants
The focus of my project is young adults, but “young adult” is a problematic term. The definition of adulthood in Bylakuppe need not be the same as the definition of adulthood in the States, and will need to be negotiated upon arrival. I will spend most of my time with youth between the ages of 18 and 25, but the specifics of this demographic depends on who is actually making/most involved with music.
Plan for sampling and recruitment
I plan on finding individuals to work with through social media and snowball and convenience sampling. Knowing whom to reject is difficult, because this is a seminal project in this community. It is certain that there are some populations that would yield more information than others – perhaps certain monasteries or neighborhoods have a stronger musical culture – but that will necessarily be determined on the ground. I will focus on normal, everyday people living in the community and their interaction with the musical culture, but the lessons I will take will be from trained individuals with a vested interest. Recruitment will be an informal process, based on open communication and honesty in my purposes for being in the community as a researcher. From among the friends and teachers I meet I will select those whose responses would be most useful and ask to conduct a semi-structured interview at their convenience.
Description of method
There are several methods I will employ for obtaining the two basic types of data I am seeking. I am first seeking to learn as much as possible about the Tibetan musical tradition, and second, to understand how Tibetan identity and sense of place might be molded by this tradition and other musics in the modern day. The two types of data will be drawn from research in three broad categories: 1) musical text, 2) intertext (defined below), and 3) context.
• Text, here, refers to the music itself, lyrics, instrumentation, and any written forms. Methods include:
· Taking music lessons in traditional Tibetan music from qualified teachers
· Dedicated personal practice time
· Detailed pedagogical journal, including contexts and personal reactions to teaching methods, song forms, aural phenomena, etc.
· A portable, hi-fidelity recording device used constantly, with consent, during lessons and practice
· Attending as many diverse musical events as possible, and, with consent, making audio and/or video recordings.
· With the help of native Tibetan speakers, translating and analyzing important lyrical content
• Intertexts include any images, fashion, album covers, etc. associated with the music. Intertexts are largely the visual culture that accompany the music, but could also include particular phrases or actions associated with particular styles, movements, or musicians. Typical examples include raising the “rock hand,” in which the index finger and pinky are raised while the other fingers make a fist (frequently represented in type as \m/), and “soo woo,” a phrase associated with the Blood gang and used frequently by rappers with Blood affiliation. The history and meaning of these images, phrases, and actions reflect the broader musical culture and help to place it in a broader context. I will determine local intertexts by:
· Taking pictures as frequently as possible without seeming touristy or out of propriety, noting the effect musical cultures have on dress and appearance.
· Collecting flyers, album cover art, t-shirts, etc.
· Interviewing – see Appendix C for sample questions regarding intertext
• Contexts, the realities of the local political, religious, social, and other pertinent environments, will largely be determined through:
· Informal interviewing
· Participant observation, paying close attention to the various social and political situations connected with the community
· Using a field journal to take and code copious notes about music as well as every day life, using the assignments from the in-field IAS class as appropriate
I will combine information from the research in text, intertext, and context with information from 15 semi-structured interviews. The participants for these interviews will be selected for experience with and interest in local musical culture, and will range from professional musicians to listeners and those who frequent musical events. This will yield a broad survey of the musical culture and the interaction of young adults with it.
Probable barriers include difficulties adapting to the pedagogical style of the Tibetan musicians, especially due to cultural differences and possible language barriers, having too little time to absorb adequately the variety of traditional Tibetan musics, lack of cohesiveness of local musical culture (too much variation would make conclusive results impossible without a much longer study period), misinterpretation of context, lack of locally produced intertext, etc. In preparing for learning how to learn as a student of Tibetan music, playing in BYU’s Balinese orchestra (Gamelan Bintang Wahyu) has been valuable. Tibetan pedagogy and Balinese pedagogy may have nothing in common, but taking a year to step outside of the Western musical teaching culture has opened my eyes to the advantages and frustrations of alternate teaching and learning methods, and has made me more aware and accepting of different pedagogical ideologies. I am prepared to do nothing the way I am used to doing it, and these pedagogical differences may prove to be rich sources of insight into the musical culture as a whole. Lack of cohesiveness of the local musical culture may also prove to be a rich source of insight, especially if the variegated musical interests of individuals are traced to their sources and documented. It may be, however, that there is cohesiveness in the musical culture and several groups of mainstream musical interest exist. Misinterpretation of context is unavoidable, but may be reduced by having open dialogue with friends, teachers, and my host family in order to clarify topics before making assumptions. A lack of locally produced intertext will simply result in a dearth of information in that area of research, and will open more time for focusing on texts and contexts. None of these probable barriers should prove overly cumbersome as long as personal flexibility and openness to moving the project in a new and better direction is maintained.
D. Ethics and Approval
This project is not as sensitive as the projects of some of my fellow students, as it will be mainly dealing with the musical practices of consenting adults, but will nevertheless require tact and confidentiality due to the nature of Tibetan cultural preservation and general conservatism. MicroSD cards, field notes, and jottings will be stored in a locked briefcase in a secure location in our lodgings in Bylakuppe. Musical recordings will be kept indefinitely in the personal collections of myself and my mentor, and may be archived per the consent form. During the field study, only I will have access to the data excepting music clips e-mailed to my mentor for analysis. Upon return, data will be saved in a password-protected computer and backed up on an encrypted hard drive. Field notes and jottings will be digitized and saved in the same computer and hard drive. Clips may be shared back with the musicians who will be recorded, as they request, and with my primary mentor as needed. Interview data will be stored until it is no longer needed, i.e. upon completion of the required coursework for the post-field study writing class. Personal identifiers may be recorded, but pseudonyms will be used per the written consent forms.
Consent for interviews and recordings will be obtained through verbal agreement followed by use of the attached consent forms, ideally completed at least 24 hours prior to the interview. The forms will be available translated, if desired. Translation will be made upon arrival, in consultation with a knowledgeable member of the community. Consent will only be asked from individuals who have shown interest in the project and who are comfortable with me personally. This will assist in obtaining honest answers, even when those personal sentiments may conflict with official or local cultural feelings. Confidentiality will in all cases be assured and maintained.
There are minimal risks to subjects. Subjects may feel uncomfortable during dialogue concerning the status of Tibetan refugees, the clash and harmony of Tibet, India, and the West, and personal identity. Additionally, I will be exploring musics that are sacred to some of the participants (ancient Tibetan opera and ritual music) and this intrusion into Tibetan culture by a non-Tibetan may be a source of discomfort. For some Tibetans, there is an East vs. West dichotomy that negatively impacts their view of Western musical styles. Young adults' creation of modern musics may create some tension between young adults and between generations. I may be seen as representative of an imposing Western culture. To defray this tension, I will strive to be as unimposing as possible by acting as a student of the culture and treat the people in Bylakuppe with utmost respect. There will at no point be pressure to participate in the research put on the participants, and I will not be aggressive in seeking interviewees. I will reciprocate service in whatever methods are appropriate to the culture. I will also take a position of advocacy for Tibetan music worldwide, and will share my research as appropriate.
E. Preliminary Plans for Post-field Application
My plans for post-field application are currently three-fold. First, the papers I prepare for the field studies class and the Buddhist philosophy course will be of sufficient quality to warrant submission to appropriate journals, including Ethnomusicology and the Kennedy Center’s Inquiry Journal. Second, I will plan on submitting a presentation to be given at the Kennedy Center’s Inquiry Conference. Third, I will take a position of advocacy for Tibetan music, making recordings available free of charge to the general public inasmuch as written permission is granted for dissemination (see attached forms in section H).
Additionally, the credits I obtain in the field will all apply toward my chosen major emphasis and will move me toward graduation.
Apart from these more tangible plans for post-field application, the experience gained through immersion in another culture will help make me into a more well-rounded and interesting person, better able to relate to people of all cultures and walks of life. I plan on becoming a medical doctor, and the ability to relate to people cross-culturally and with sensitivity is increasingly important as the world shrinks. Having lived in a foreign place will simultaneously help me become more empathetic towards those who are struggling to adapt to a new place and also become more sensitive to the varying world views that affect a person’s or family’s important decisions, including medical decisions.
In summary, this field study will further my life in significant ways academically, vocationally, and personally.
F. Qualifications and Limitations
Following my passion for the subject, I have created and had approved an ethnomusicology emphasis within the humanities major. I am trained in a variety of musical styles, mostly playing percussion with a focus on jazz and Afro-Cuban drum set, and I am currently learning traditional Balinese music with BYU’s Gamelan orchestra. My academic record shows strong commitment to rigor, a variety of areas of involvement, and enthusiasm for world cultures. I took a graduate level Asian Religions class to gain greater understanding of the religious undergirding of the Tibetan and Indian peoples. I am also taking Hindi courses, which will assist in navigating India outside of Bylakuppe. I am currently in Music 307, a world music class for music students. This class not only surveys several cultures, it also teaches ethnographic field methods and ways to effectively engage with musical cultures. I am taking the required field study class, IAS 360R, which has proven to be valuable in learning how to research topics for a field study and how to ethically navigate cross-cultural encounters.
My main limitation is a lack of fluency in the Tibetan language. The majority of Tibetans in the diaspora speak English, due to the Dalai Lama’s insistence and initiatives, so basic communication will not be a problem. However, deeper issues, especially in conversations involving religion and finer musical points, may be difficult to discuss without using the native language of the participants in the study. In-community translators are available in Bylakuppe, and will be used as necessary. I have also begun a bit of self-teaching in Tibetan, trying to learn the script and basic grammar and vocabulary. Learning more Tibetan will be a focus of my extra-curricular studies while in Bylakuppe, so as to become a more authentic part of the community.
G. Faculty Mentors and Coursework
Doctor Grimshaw has extensive experience conducting, communicating the results of, and employing knowledge gained from field study. His research in Bali on the Gamelan musical tradition led to the publication of a book, The Island of Bali is Littered with Prayers, and the creation of the BYU Gamelan orchestra, which is a full-scale production using instruments commissioned for BYU and imported from Bali. His research in Bali also included learning Gamelan music from Balinese teachers and analyzing their pedagogical methods. He has contacts within the Tibetan musical community that we have already begun to make use of. He teaches world music classes at BYU, including the Music 307 class I am currently taking. Of particular interest is a class he taught at Eastman University on the history and culture of hip-hop, which has prepared him to engage with hip-hop movements worldwide and should prove valuable to a study of young adults in Bylakuppe. His general enthusiasm for and knowledge of ethnomusicology and world cultures makes him a valuable asset to the field study.
I will be taking three classes while in the field. The field studies class needs no discussion here. The other two classes are MUSIC 203 and PHIL 501R – Directed Readings on Buddhism. The first is an ethnomusicology fieldwork class, directed by Dr. Grimshaw. Based on his experience in the field, having too much directed, specific work is unnecessary and hinders proper exploration and learning. I will be expected to find a music teacher and receive weekly lessons, practice on my own time, and keep a pedagogical journal detailing what it was I learned and any insights into the process, the music, or the culture. Fifteen semi-structured interviews will satisfy the cultural survey component and help directly answer the study question. Contact with Dr. Grimshaw regarding important discoveries and directions for research will be maintained.
Dr. Gordy Mower, BYU’s resident Asian philosophy specialist, directs the second course, PHIL 501R. Taking a course in Buddhist philosophy while surrounded by a largely monastic community will help me to understand the people themselves and the context in which the musical traditions arose. It will also be an extension of my previous studies in Dr. Roger Keller’s REL C 630 class, a graduate level world religions course. This class will contribute to my major’s ethnomusicology emphasis as much as the ethnomusicology fieldwork class, for ethnomusicology involves the culture of the people studied as much as it does the music specifically, and for a community of Tibetan Buddhists like Bylakuppe religion and life are inextricably intertwined. As I read the assigned texts and prepare a term paper, I will approach members of the monastic community for clarification and explanation of concepts. I will examine areas of consonance and dissonance with everyday life practices and outlooks and the philosophical ideals in an attempt to better understand how the principles espoused in scripture and philosophy affect lifestyle. I will also examine parallels between philosophical ideals and musical ideals, if I find them. This will be especially focused on the young adults in the community, and will assist in discussions of the meaning of music and the ways it helps in creating identity and emplacement.
All dates are 2012
· Establish contacts in Bylakuppe
· Arrange lessons
· Finish prep course, develop project, obtain IRB approval
· Fly to India from SLC
· Arrive in India at the Bengaluru Airport
· Take public transportation to Bylakuppe
· Meet host family
· Begin learning the area and making contacts by exploring the map, noting areas of possible interest, and meeting people along the way
· Meet music teachers
· Become situated in the community
· Begin taking lessons
· Find out what is going on musically in the general community, and about any events coming up that would be informative
· Read core texts for the philosophy class (The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects, by Alexandra David-Neel and Lama Yongden, and An Introduction to Buddhism by Peter Harvey)
· Visit the 5 monasteries. Inquire about dharma lessons to supplement reading of core texts.
May 20-June 20
· Conduct first five interviews
· Make friends, especially with musicians and monks, initiated by taking music and dharma lessons and convenience sampling
· Write first draft of term paper for the philosophy class (hereafter known as “term paper”)
· Continue to take lessons and make recordings
June 21-July 20
· Finish interviews (for a total of fifteen). Collate information with field journal, begin outlining final field studies paper
· Write second and third drafts of term paper
· Continue to take lessons and make recordings
July 21-August 5
· Finalize term paper
· Begin first draft of field studies paper
· Continue to take lessons and make recordings
· Say goodbye to family and friends, pack up and catch a bus to Goa
· Travel India (Bylakuppe, Goa, Agra, Delhi, Dharamsala, Amritsar. The Indrail pass makes things flexible, in case a city proves to be too interesting to spend only one day in)
· Catch our flight out of New Delhi airport
· Begin post-field writing course
· Turn in revised final copy of term paper
· Present recordings, field journal, and pedagogical journal to Dr. Grimshaw
· Submit final paper
My wife and I are conducting field studies together in the same location, so most of these items should be doubled to account for total financial impact.
· Airfare - $1550
· Visas - $150
· Indrail pass (all-access pass for 21 days on India’s rail system) - $200
· Incidental travel (rickshaw, bus, etc.) - $150
· Housing, with breakfast and dinner - $615
· Travel lodging - $160
· $85 (travel)
· $140 (Bylakuppe)
· $70 (mostly razors, so the Honor Code is preserved)
· $750 (Japanese Encephalitis is about ~$500)
· $2200 (covered by scholarship)
Books and other materials
· $50 (~3 hours/week writing and doing homework at an internet café)
· iPhone (doubles as laptop for converting field notes and writing term papers) - $300
· Apple Keyboard (Bluetooth wireless, makes iPhone functional as writing device) - $70
· Portable recording device - $200 with memory cards and accessories
· Tibetan Instruments - $100-$200
Miscellaneous (bug repellant, malaria pills, unforeseen costs, etc.)
$7065 total, including tuition.
J. Works Cited
Bennett, A. "Music, Media and Urban Mythscapes: A Study of the 'Canterbury Sound'" Media, Culture & Society 24.1 (2002): 87-100. Print.
Diehl, Keila. Echoes from Dharamsala: Music in the Life of a Tibetan Refugee Community. Berkeley: University of California, 2002. Print.
Hudson, Ray. "Regions and Place: Music, Identity, and Place." Progress in Human Geography 30.October (2006): 626-34. JSTOR. Web. 7 Mar. 2012.
Jazeel, Tariq. "The World Is Sound? Geography, Musicology and British-Asian Soundscapes." Area 37.3 (2005): 233-41. JSTOR. Web. 1 Jan. 2012.
Kong, Lily. "Popular Music in Singapore: Exploring Local Cultures, Global Resources, and Regional Identities." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 14.3 (1996): 273-92. Print.
Kong, Lily. "Popular Music in Geographical Analyses." Progress in Human Geography 19 (1995): 183-98. Print.
Lall, Rashmee Roshan. "'Video War Games Satiate My Feelings of Aggression'" The Times Of India. Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd., 20 Sept. 2009. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. <http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2009-09-20/all-that-matters/28091259_1_chinese-incursions-chinese-government-neighbourly-relationship>.
Lomax, Alan. "Folk Song Style: Notes on a Systematic Approach to the Study of Folk Song." Journal of the International Folk Music Council 8 (1956): 48-50. JSTOR. Web. 7 Mar. 2012.
Saldanha, Arun. "Music, Space, Identity: Geographies Of Youth Culture In Bangalore." Cultural Studies 16.3 (2002): 337-50. Print.
Su, Xiaobo. "Commodification and the Selling of Ethnic Music to Tourists." Geoforum 42.4 (2011): 496-505. Sciencedirect. Web. 7 Mar. 2012.
Walker, Vanessa. Mantras & Misdemeanours: An Accidental Love Story. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2006. Print.
Yarwood, Richard, and Clive Charlton. "‘Country Life’? Rurality, Folk Music and ‘Show of Hands’." Journal of Rural Studies 25.2 (2009): 194-206. Print.
Summary of Appendices
i. Appendix A: Primary Faculty Mentor Form
ii. Appendix B: Course Contracts
iii. Appendix C: Methodological Tools
iv. Appendix D: Address and Title of Online Portfolio
v. Appendix E: IRB/IACUC Approval Letter and Application
vi. Appendix F: Method Practices
i. Appendix A: Primary Faculty Mentor Form
ii. Appendix B: Course Contracts
iii. Appendix C: Methodological Tools
Sample Questions (General)
· How do you feel about [genre] music?
· In what situations do you listen to music?
· At home, with friends, in the field, at school, etc.?
· What kind(s) of music do you listen to most often?
· What kind(s) of music do you participate in most often?
· What are some good questions I could ask about music in this settlement?
· Where do you go to learn about new music?
· How important is it to you personally to learn the nomad songs/religious songs/folk songs from Tibet? If I want to, where/to whom can I go to learn these songs?
Sample Questions (Intertext)
· How is the clothing style of [genre] music you like reflected in your clothing choices?
· What do you associate with [genre] music beside the sounds – clothes, words, activities, etc.?
iv. Appendix D: Address and Title of Online Portfolio
v. Appendix E: IRB/IACUC Approval Letter and Application
vi. Appendix F: Method Practices
These methods practices are copied, largely unedited, from my online learning journal. They represent a progression in relevance and skills learned over the course of the class. Methods practices II and III are particularly useful in the context of my project.
Methods Practice I
Here's a direct transcription of my notes. We wanted to go on a date AND get our assignment done, so we drove down State Street in Orem until we found a place that was busy and not too expensive. The place ended up being Wingers.
12 large flat-screen TVs
4 smaller flat-screens
popcorn machine w/ sign (popcorn is free but you can't help yourself - health code? Or more practical reasons?)
waitress chewing gum
sports on TV
Wingers sauce lining top of dividing walls in entrance
free-swinging kitchen door, directly in front of customer entrance
tin decorative ceiling
waiters/waitresses wear polo shirts or T-shirts w/ Wingers logo, black pants and black shoes
waitresses' hair restrained with bands
Bud Light add above kitchen door near entrance
also Winger Bros. Brewing sign to right of kitchen door
large oblong plates - 10-12" at the widest point
plates served full
all different ages and sizes of groups
booths designed for 4 and 6 people filled most of front room - push tables together at the end of the front room for larger parties
wait list kept on plain white paper in pen
light shades - upside down tin buckets w/ lights affixed inside
large stack of dozens of tin buckets near popcorn machine, same kind of bucket as used for the light shades
take out boxes - standard Styrofoam clam-shells
wooden benches with wrought iron frames in entry room
plain glasses, 5-6" tall (16 oz.?)
You can't beat the price birdbrain (so don't even try)
Okay Big Spender! The popcorn is FREE but you can't just help yourself ASK your waiter
servers - all black clothes, some w/ aprons. Two male, ~8 female. Two females w/ wedding rings, rest without. 20s- early 30s, mostly 20s. All white.
managers - blue shirt, work catering orders, offer catering customers free drinks, etc.
cooks - only workers w/o name tags. Hispanic, 30s.
patrons - mostly white, 20s-40s w/ some outliers
music is playing, mostly blues and older rock and roll, but is difficult to hear over din of clanking plates, kitchen noise, and conversations
In kitchen - WoW! Rally board
3 spaces on a board for sales and conduct goals
Food Focus - (empty)
Beverage Focus - SELL SELL SELL Flavored drinks, lemonades, and sodas
Team Focus - no cell phone use during work hours, dishes are everyone's responsibility
Based on notes and observations, Wingers seems to cater to someone looking for a simple, informal experience, maybe as close to a bar experience as you can get without going into a bar. It isn't as cheap as, say, McDonald's, but is definitely cheaper than most sit-down places ($22 for 3 courses for 2 people). The signs especially attested to this - informal language, emphasis on price. Other details, such as the "improvised" lighting, the lack of a more formal wait list (especially in a world of electronic wait lists), the relaxed clothing of the employees, the cheap to-go boxes, and the almost exclusive use of booths rather than over chair-and-table combinations, all attribute to the atmosphere of informality. It was interesting to realize how much thought and work must have gone into making it seem like not much thought goes into it - it takes vision and careful planning to create a brand, even if that brand's salient feature is informality. There are 36 Wingers restaurants throughout the American West. To use one of the items as an example, that means hundreds or thousands of cheap tin buckets, likely identical, were purchased from probably one manufacturer, in order to create and recreate the atmosphere. It seems like the kind of place that actually wants you to stay longer and take up a seat, perhaps so you will continue ordering food and drinks (especially beer - the profit margin on that stuff is a great reason to go into the bar business). There is careful removal of any stressors that would rush a patron through the process unduly.
Another interesting thing was the demographic of the wait staff - almost all of them were available, attractive 20-something-year-old women. Perhaps this is due to the demographic of the area - girls wanting to work to put themselves through college abound in Orem - but maybe it's a more conscious/unconscious result of the marketing scheme and clientele. To play on stereotypes, most people wanting to go into a relaxed atmosphere to eat chicken wings and watch the game are probably young adult single males, who will spend more and tip better if they are served by an attractive waitress (heck, adult males who aren't single will probably act the same way as the young singles). Who, I wonder, is in charge of hiring at this location? Male or female? Wingers is not a Hooters or Bikini Barista (if you don't know what that is, drive around a while on almost any main street in the towns that make up the Seattle metropolitan area), so the hiring manager can't openly select based on looks or risk discrimination charges, but how conscious or unconscious is the decision when it comes to gender and looks? Also, what is the experience of the male servers like compared to the female servers? Are tip amounts different? If so, why? Or are people more immune to the effects of gender than might be assumed? Were there only two male servers because of some kind of social stigma against men working in that part of the food industry, because they don't feel they do as well as the female servers so they look for other jobs, because the hiring manager has bias against male workers, or...? Or is it maybe just the luck of the draw, and no overarching social trends played significant roles in the determination of gender balance? To go back up and challenge my assumption, what is the typical clientele really like? We saw quite a few groups of friends in the 20s age range, but we saw plenty of families with two generations present.
This was a fun experience for several reasons. First, it was a good date, and we went out to eat at a place that usually wouldn't be at the top of our list (we mostly eat at Indian or various Asian food places when we do go out, and Mexican and Italian occasionally). Having our notebooks out and furiously scribbling while trying to take in everything at once was cool - I felt like a private eye or something. It made for a rather humorous discovery as well. When dessert came, the waitress apologized for not having spoons. She explained that the "guy on dishes" was behind, and it would be just a minute. It took a little while, and the ice cream started melting (it was one of those pizza-cookie things where they half bake the cookie and put ice cream on top), but the eventually spoons showed up. While I was doing some snooping near the kitchen door, I noticed the goals sign - one of the goals was "dishes are everyone's responsibility." That might mean that there was no "guy on dishes," and that our waitress was just too busy to wash two spoons herself so she conned someone into doing it for her. We thought that was pretty funny, especially considering that the whole "dishes are everyone's responsibility" post probably came up as a reaction to situations similar to ours. Sneaky waitress. :) Doing the observation as a couple was also neat - Lori noticed plenty of things I didn't, and vice versa. We have different backgrounds and ways of thinking. This will be very useful in the field, methinks.
Methods Practice II
Semi-structured, semi-formal interview.
Found Tanielle in Gamelan class, bought food from her (amazing Indonesian steam buns). She has led out in extracurricular Indonesian cultural events, including dance and presenting at World Fest. She is our "resident Indonesian" and makes the gamelan legit. Also, she is super friendly. I approached her at gamelan practice and worked out a time to ask her a few questions, and explained a bit of what the assignment for the class was.
Met in the HFAC, found a comfortable set of chairs, and talked for ~30 minutes.
From my notebook:
Possible topics of discussion:
"How you met your husband"
circumstances surrounding coming to the states
Involvement in Gamelan
What effect does it have on your feeling of being Indonesian?
We talk about the social implications of gamelan frequently - kotekan, omback, etc. Do you think these characterizations are accurate? Why or why not?
You are involved with a lot of uniquely Indonesian endeavors - cooking, Gamelan, dance. What drives your participation in these activities? How does participation make you feel?
Other things besides food, music, dance?
Is it important to you to identify with your cultural background, and why?
Music in General
Who are some of your favorite artists?
What exposure did you have to western pop music growing up? What seemed to be popular in Indonesia?
What musics besides Western musics did people listen to? Local, Chinese, Arabic, India, etc.
Beginning of interview notes:
Surabaya - island next to Bali on Java. 2nd largest city in Java
Dad's from US
Mom Chinese by blood, grew up in Indonesia
Oldest, 2 younger brothers
Grew up LDS
LDS 1 stake for all Indonesia, recently established
religious diversity depends on Island - some religions congregate in certain areas
First attended BYU Hawaii
Undergrad degree - Biochemistry. Met husband (Tahitian) while at BYU-H.
Biochem - pregnancy disorders (premature births, preeclampsia, etc.)
US citizen, but wouldn't consider self American
Would self identify as "Indonesian, mainly, but my Mom's Chinese"
Doesn't want to forget heritage or lose it
Looking to posterity - preservation of culture and family values for the next generation
Stays in contact w/ Indonesian students on BYU campus
Participated in World Fest 2011
BYU Provo less diverse than BYU-H
musical concepts different in Bali than in Surabaya, so not all the concepts discussed in Balinese Gamelan translate
Course in schools in Indonesia reflects cultural values:
every island is different, so unity is important
What does it mean to be Indonesian, if there are so many differences between local island cultures?
Indonesia wanted out from under colonized rule, so united and kicked out the colonizers (Dutch ruled ~300 years, other countries took over from time to time).
- Indonesian - modern, Arabic +
- Dang-dut - blend of Arab, Indian
- Angklung - traditional, mostly idiophonic instruments
- Each province teaches particular songs @ school, relative to local and folk traditions
- Backstreet Boys, etc., also a presence
- Mom is Chinese, so listened to that as well
- Regular music course for elementary schools includes traditional music
- " dance
- western influence increasing
Justin Bieber just did a concert in Indonesia
- TV, internet, media
- some disparity between villages & cities as far as media access is concerned (I [Beau] wondered about the availability of internet, etc. in the smaller islands)
Each island has capital, and capitals are, generally, fully modern
- West won't hurt Indonesia if schools & families keep exposure to tradition high (in response to "Does the influx of Western culture feel like a threat to Indonesian traditions?)
- Parents lived in Idaho
felt like they had to raise their kids in Indonesia/abroad somewhere
Tanielle would still be Indo-Chinese-American, even if grew up in Idaho, and she is
grateful to have grown up in Indonesia
In Indonesia, her parents spoke English at home so that the kids would be enabled. Tanielle only visited the states once before going to BYU-H, for Christmas as the house of some relatives. The English paid off, and even though it was strange to be meeting so many new people at once, they were family and so were welcoming.
Hopes for Tanielle's kids/family
keep all languages
Indonesian, Chinese (Mandarin - Tanielle is conversant) English, also French and perhaps Fijian due to her husbands background
exposure to events
Chinese New Year, festivals
Indonesian independence day
As I reflect on these notes, I realize that the issue of the preservation of culture is impossible to pick into parts and force to stay separate. Everything, at least for Tanielle, goes into preserving culture for herself and her future children. The festivals, foods, musics, dances, and other traditions play off of and into each other to create experiences to help create identity with each of the cultures involved. Tanielle's kids will be Indonesian-Chinese-Tahitian-Americans, and that is a bit of a daunting yet exciting prospect. I will have to look into how music in Tibet dovetails into other aspects of cultural expression. It was also interesting to note her reaction towards the West coming into Surabaya - of course they listened to Backstreet Boys, but as long as the rising generation is encouraged by institutions and families to appreciate its heritage, the Backstreet Boys will never completely replace Angklung. I felt a bit of the sadness the Western threat must bring when the thought arises, "But what if the kids just don't want to anymore?" What if the young generation sheds its Indonesian-ness for a created, unauthentic Western archetype? The vibe I got from Tanielle was that it isn't likely to get that bad, but the thought itself is bad enough.
Probably one of the most wonderful things was the ease with which Tanielle seems to navigate cultural landscapes. I'm sure it isn't easy, and that hiccups have happened along the way, but here is a woman who is actively participating in all aspects of modern life, including tradition and cultural pride as part of it. I thought I might get a sense of conflictedness, but I got just the opposite - here is a person who seems very comfortable with the incredible diversity of her own life.
This whole thing was a great experience. I am excited to practice, get better at, and do more of it. Thank goodness for such a willing participant!
Methods Practice III
As I will be spending quite a bit of time observing musical practices among the people in Bylakuppe, I thought it would be a good idea to do a bit of descriptive observation of a musical situation with which I am very familiar – a Latter-day Saint sacrament meeting.
Illustration of organ pipes and rack for hymn numbers
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 in singing.
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.
Stepping back a bit from my normally close (and sometimes mindless) contact with hymns in sacrament meeting was good practice for examining not only the religious musical practices of other cultures, but also any musical situation. I wonder what it might be like to step outside of my own personal listening habits and looking at them more objectively, or to take field notes of musical choices made in casual situations such as driving in a car or hanging out with friends. I like to think I’m a bit more conscious in these decisions than most, and I almost never just let the radio play – what does that say? I am interested in formal and informal musical situations in Bylakuppe, and it will be interesting to see what particular events or situations yield the most useful information.