Archive for the ‘All Things Ethnomusicological’ Category

2017!

Posted: January 3, 2017 in All Things Ethnomusicological

New year is here! I have five primary goals this year:

  1. Successfully complete all requirements for my en-route master’s degree (step one = pass the big exam on Jan. 23rd).
  2. Compete in the Ron Jon Triathlon and improve my bike and run times.
  3. Prioritize my musical life progression, particularly by posting more vibraphone videos and obtaining a solo gig at either the local Italian restaurant or coffee shop.
  4. Bike from Brooklyn, NY to Toronto, Canada.
  5. Goal #5 will not be posted here, but I know what it is and am already working on it.

 

Okay so…jumping right in to achieving goal number one, here is some information about a Turkish music style called Arabesque.

https://i1.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5131UB32jEL._SL500_AA280_.jpgArabesque is the label for a particular kind of Arab-influenced music popular in Turkey from the 1960s-90s. Arabesque music is normally in a minor mode (usually Phrygian) and can be identified by elements including a vocal “sobbing sound” (tahrir in Persian) and string instruments. The music changed over the years, but historically most vocalists of Arabesque music have been male. Two of the most popular performers were Ferdi Tayfur, and Ibrahim Tatlises, a former film star who is is one of the most successful Arabesque singers of all time. Arabesque song lyrics usually tell stories of love, grief, and pain.

One common Arab rhythm in this music is ||: 1 + (2) + 3  4 :|| (as in Ferdi Tayfur’s “Huzurum Kalmadi“) and another is a rhythmic pattern called karsilama. Karsilama is a 9/8 pattern split into three groups of two and one group of three like this: ||: 1 2 | 1 2 | 1 2 | 1 2 3 :||

Karsilama is the name of a Turkish dance as well, and this particular rhythmic pattern was the inspiration for Dave Brubeck’s famous tune, “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” composed after Brubeck visited Turkey as a “jambassador” for the U.S. State Department’s 1958 jazz diplomacy tour and heard local musicians playing the rhythm (for more on this, check out Penny Von Eschen’s great book, Satchmo Blows Up The World).

https://i2.wp.com/images.sk-static.com/images/media/img/col6/20140318-085209-546325.jpgThough not arabesque, one extremely famous female Turkish singer is Sezen Aksu, the “Queen of Turkish Pop,” who has sold over 40 million records. Interestingly, here is her song “Hadi Bakalam,” a hit in Europe in the 1990s, and here is the song “Rhythm of the Night“, released in 2002 after Europop singer Loona rediscovered Aksu’s music. To my knowledge, no copyright issues exist related to Loona’s version. Aksu is known not only for her success as a pop singer, but also for her role as a pop culture icon for the Turkish LGBTQ community.

Heather A. Strohschein has collected some great quotes to help musicians and non-musicians alike fill in the blanks and answer the age-old question: “What is ethnomusicology?”.

SEM Student Union

What is it?! Over the past century or so, a plethora of articles and books have been written attempting to define the field of ethnomusicology. We, as students, can only pass on to the next level of our studies by satisfactorily establishing our comprehensive knowledge of this field. Yet when someone asks us what it is we do or study, we seek refuge in mumbling “Uh, world music” and avoiding eye contact.

It is both humbling and gratifying to realize that some of the founders of the field and even scholars today couldn’t/can’t agree on what “ethnomusicology” is/was/should be and that the definition and conceptualization of ethnomusicology has changed over the years. With this being our first post on our new site, we thought we’d start off by sharing some inspiring and edifying words from scholars old and new regarding music in general and ethnomusicology in particular. Here is what they’ve had…

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“As Jeff Todd Titon has observed, applied ethnomusicology is more than a ‘process of putting ethnomusicological research to practical use,’ reflecting instead a broad ‘desire to intervene with music on behalf of peace and social justice.’

-Jennifer Kyker; “from scholarship to activism in zimbabwe”; Sounds Matters: The SEM Blog

Ahhhh…the more I learn about Ethnomusicology, the more confident I am that this is the field I am meant to build a career in.

Since learning of my fellowship award at CUNY, I’ve been scouring the internet in search of ethnomusicology blogs, publications, etc. to further prepare myself for graduate school. I’m feeling extremely motivated by much of what I’m finding, including the above quote from faculty member Jennifer Kyker of the University of Rochester. Her entry on the Society for Ethnomusicology’s blog “Sound Matters” describes her experience working with women and girls in Zimbabwe. Yes, the above is a quote within a quote, but I loved both her entry and Titon’s definition of applied ethnomusicology so much that I had to share it. “The desire to intervene with music on behalf of peace and social justice.”…what a wonderful way to describe the driving force behind the work of so many ethnomusicologists.

Equally inspiring is the SEM Student Union’s blog, which just moved to wordpress earlier this month. Their first entry on wordpress does a great job of attempting to define ethnomusicology (a somewhat impossible task). As blogger Heather A. Strohschein writes,

“It is both humbling and gratifying to realize that some of the founders of the field and even scholars today couldn’t/can’t agree on what ‘ethnomusicology’ is/was/should be and that the definition and conceptualization of ethnomusicology has changed over the years.”

Good. That’s a relief, since I seem to spurt out a different definition every time someone asks “You’re majoring in what?”.  Perhaps I should work on an elevator speech…

Either way, to help you get a better sense of the career I’m heading towards, I will repost Heather’s blog entry after publishing this post.

Thanks for reading!