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#1 2010-03-06 22:10:47

ShakuhachiSarah
Member
Registered: 2010-03-06
Posts: 18

Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Hello all!

My name is Sarah Strothers and I am currently a graduate student at Bowling Green State University. My shakuhachi story is full of serendipity and I wouldn't have it any other way. At BG I am getting a masters degree in ethnomusicology - I basically study people making music and I love every minute of it and its my ethnomusicological studies that started my shakuhachi journey.

I was told by my professor that I had to pick a country that I would concentrate on. He said that I should choose Brazil considering that my father was from there. I shook my head - I don't have anything against Brazil, it's just that I had twenty seven years of Brazil - it was time for something new. With my boyfriend of forever being first generation Chinese, my best friend since grade school from Vietnam, and my "second" mother who helped put me through college from the island of  Cebu - I was puzzled. I didn't know what I wanted to do and I thought it was rather unfair that I had to choose just one region - I was interested in them all. One late night I was on google and just doing some random key word searching - the clock was ticking and my professor was waiting. Suddenly I thought of Japan because of a commercial about an anime came on - so I put in the google search box "Japan". Through my vigorous clicking I found the word "shakuhachi" and needless to say here I am. I told my professor that I was really interested in this and he recommended that I contact Micheal Chikuzen Gould. Since then, I have been taking shakuhachi lessons with Chikuzen and have decided to have my thesis centered solely on the shakuhachi. I have conducted fieldwork at two different camps - Chikuzen's camp and Ronnie going to shakuhachi camps - Chikuzen's camp and Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin's camp. Both Sensei's have been extremely helpful by allowing me to conduct my fieldwork at their camps, answer questions for my thesis, and helping me in the shakuhachi learning process.

I join the forum not just as a graduate student in ethnomusicology, but as a passionate shakuhachi student with lots and lots of questions - questions that will help me be a better player, questions about "shakuhachi philosophy" (To "ma" or not to "ma" *ba doom ching*), and questions that will help me with my thesis. The pieces I am currently working on are Honshirabe, Tamuke, Murasake Reiho, and Mt. Yamibiko. So far one of my favorite pieces is Shika no Tone. So I made it a goal to be able to play it.

For those interested - my thesis is titled "Shakuhachi in the United States: Transcending Boundaries and Dichotomies". The things that I am writing about in my thesis are - shakuhachi pedagogy, student/teacher relationships, how did the shakuhachi get to the U.S., what aspects of the instrument have stayed the same - i.e. transcending and what are the aspects that have changed, and how do we (and myself) identify with the instrument - what function does it play in our lives (if any) and why shakuhachi?


Does anyone have an extra ma I can borrow? :-) Sarah Renata

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#2 2010-03-06 23:54:56

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Hi Sarah,

Welcome to the forum! Great to see your enthusiasm! It's a good topic.

Regards,

BR


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#3 2010-03-07 01:34:18

airin
Member
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Registered: 2008-10-17
Posts: 303
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Great to see you here Sarah - welcome to the forum!

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#4 2010-03-07 18:40:56

mrwuwu
Member
From: Chicago, Illinois
Registered: 2007-11-23
Posts: 160

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Hello again!  Sara Renata Strothers!   Glad you joined the forum!  Greetings from Buddy number Two fresh from Chikuzen's Florida Shakuhachi camp!


" You know, it's been three years now, maybe a new teacher can help you? ...... " Sensei

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#5 2010-03-08 02:03:24

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 922
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Hi Sarah.

Welcome to the forum!
Fantastic to see another enthusiastic shakuhachi woman out there! smile And another ethnomusicologist!
I'd love to exchange thoughts on your thesis topic as I am doing some similar research for a conference paper at the annual meeting of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology held in Oxford in April. When are you handing in your thesis? It must be sometime soon...


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music
Hafiz

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#6 2010-03-08 02:26:44

Jeff Cairns
teacher, performer,promoter of shakuhachi
From: Kumamoto, Japan
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 517
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Hello Sarah and welcome,
I second Kiku's thoughts.  If there's anything that I can do to help you from Japan, just let me know.


shakuhachi flute
I step out into the wind
with holes in my bones

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#7 2010-03-08 02:39:33

Daniel Ryudo
Shihan/Kinko Ryu
From: Kochi, Japan
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 355

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Hello Sarah,

It sounds like quite an interesting topic; welcome to the forum and good luck with your research.  Shika No Tone is also one of my favorite pieces (Have a listen to Kinko ryu Chikudosha's version --my shakuhachi sensei and I --  at my myspace music site if you are interested; it's www.myspace.com/danielryudo).

Last edited by Daniel Ryudo (2010-03-08 02:43:33)

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#8 2010-03-08 09:40:56

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

This link works fine, but on my browser (Firefox 3.6) I get a T-Mobile audio ad laid over the whole thing. Unlistenable.

Last edited by edosan (2010-03-08 09:42:01)


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#9 2010-03-08 10:53:00

ShakuhachiSarah
Member
Registered: 2010-03-06
Posts: 18

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Wow Thanks everyone for you comments.

Kiku - that would be wonderful to exchange ideas with you, please feel free to email me whenever you like and I will do the same. I also found your blog last night and I plan to subscribe to it immediately.  My thesis is due in May, if you like - and this goes for anyone else - I can send you chapters as I complete them. Congrats on your dissertation and good luck with your conference presentation - again share any ideas with me.

Jeff - thank you so much and I am definitely going to take you up on that offer! I have lots of questions.

Daniel - This is awesome! Thank you for sharing it with me!


Does anyone have an extra ma I can borrow? :-) Sarah Renata

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#10 2010-03-08 15:23:11

Christopher B.
Member
From: Berlin, Germany
Registered: 2009-03-17
Posts: 235
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Hey Sarah, welcome to the forum.

Nice to see the "shakuhachi-community" is still growing!

All the best on your way!


In reality it is Ha,Ro,Ha,Ro... ~Sensei~
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
How do you know that life is a dream? Cause there is a way to wake up!
http://naturalbreath.wordpress.com/

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#11 2010-03-08 20:43:47

Musgo da Pedra
Member
From: South of Brazil
Registered: 2007-12-02
Posts: 332
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Hi Sarah!

Welcome to the forum!

So, did you lived in Brasil? Where?


I live in Rio Grande do Sul.


Good luck in your journey!


A big hug!


Omnia mea mecum porto

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#12 2010-03-10 18:26:45

ShakuhachiSarah
Member
Registered: 2010-03-06
Posts: 18

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Musgo da Pedra wrote:

Hi Sarah!

Welcome to the forum!

So, did you lived in Brasil? Where?


I live in Rio Grande do Sul.


Good luck in your journey!


A big hug!

No unfortunately I never lived in Brasil - my Dad was born in Suriname and then his moved to the Amazon Basin - they were members of an indigenous tribe. My father played soccer while he was in Brazil and his paths crossed with Pele and they both were recruited to play for the New York Cosmos in the 1960's-1970's (can't remember the exact date). My father always wanted to take me to home but he is a work-a-holic and he always says that he's afraid he wouldn't recognize home since he has been away for so long. Despite his time away from home, I definitely grew up with his music and many aspects of his culture. When it came to ethnomusicology, I just needed a change - something different and the shakuhachi was there for me.


Does anyone have an extra ma I can borrow? :-) Sarah Renata

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#13 2010-03-18 20:57:20

axolotl
Member
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 2007-11-16
Posts: 215
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Hi Sarah, and welcome!  Do you worry that your own interactions in the U.S. shakuhachi community with have a Heisenberg Principle-like interference effect on the community?  wink  I am kidding.  Your thesis sounds great--enjoy!

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#14 2010-03-20 11:34:14

ShakuhachiSarah
Member
Registered: 2010-03-06
Posts: 18

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

LoL - Actually that is one of the "big" issues in ethnomusicology - does our presence effect the outcome of research - will people react differently and so forth. I'm open to any suggestions so if you like, as I complete my thesis (I like to call it  A BIG homework assignment) I can send it to you and you can tell me what you think!


Does anyone have an extra ma I can borrow? :-) Sarah Renata

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#15 2010-03-20 12:22:55

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

ShakuhachiSarah wrote:

LoL - Actually that is one of the "big" issues in ethnomusicology - does our presence effect the outcome of research - will people react differently and so forth. I'm open to any suggestions so if you like, as I complete my thesis (I like to call it  A BIG homework assignment) I can send it to you and you can tell me what you think!

The simple act of dividing music into what is perceived as "ethno" vs. what is apparently not affects the outcome. Because you're deciding the outcome before you even listen to the music. How do you decide? A few decades ago there might have been isolated pockets of "ethno" music here and there but now there is no difference between ethno and non-ethno music.

The fact that there are many non-Japanese people on this forum who can play Japanese music proves that there is no such thing as "ethnomusicology".


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#16 2010-03-20 13:00:06

Musgo da Pedra
Member
From: South of Brazil
Registered: 2007-12-02
Posts: 332
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Hi Sarah!

I asked because you said you have 27 years of Brasil. You said you never lived here. So, how do you have 27 years from here?



Tairaku wrote:

A few decades ago there might have been isolated pockets of "ethno" music here and there but now there is no difference between ethno and non-ethno music.

Interesting pointing Tairaku. Can you explain more, or why? There is something to do with the global spread of the many cultural aspects existing? The totality of your "no" made me interested in hear about your way to see that! Thanks in advance.


Omnia mea mecum porto

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#17 2010-03-20 13:36:05

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Musgo da Pedra wrote:

Interesting pointing Tairaku. Can you explain more, or why? There is something to do with the global spread of the many cultural aspects existing? The totality of your "no" made me interested in hear about your way to see that! Thanks in advance.

There are no musicians who are isolated anymore. Everybody just plays whatever they want to, they don't play based on race or ethnicity. Even if they play music associated with their ancestors, that's a choice, not because it's their only option. All music nowadays is a fusion of commercial and non-commercial and from various ethnic sources.

So to me terms like "world music" and "ethnomusicology" are meaningless.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#18 2010-03-20 13:59:18

John
Member
From: Minneapolis, MN
Registered: 2010-01-13
Posts: 19

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

"Ethno music" sounds like a way to refer to music that had it's origins outside of Western Europe.  Smacks of colonialism or even racism. 

I wouldn't jump in except for the odd bit of etho music & shakuhachi act I'm engaging in at this very moment.   My Shakuhachi teacher has me learning a couple of folks songs I'm not familiar with, "Wi' 100 pipers piping" and "Roamin' in the Gloamin'" so I'm listening to Scottish folk songs on Youtube in order to get a better sense of how these songs are supposed to sound when I play them on my Shakuhachi.  :-) 

By this very act I seem to be putting to rest the whole notion - using the Internet to willfully destroy oppression - yay!


"The more necessary anything appears to my mind, the more certain it is that I only assert a limitation." ~ The Book of Lies, Ch. 45 "Chinese Music"

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#19 2010-03-20 15:29:25

Jim Thompson
Moderator
From: Santa Monica, California
Registered: 2007-11-28
Posts: 421

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

John wrote:

"Ethno music" sounds like a way to refer to music that had it's origins outside of Western Europe.  Smacks of colonialism or even racism.

I agree. UCLA started stacking it's faculty with big name jazz people and put them under the ethno music program.  That's hard to figure as to get any more American than jazz you gotta go John Phillips Sousa. To call it ethno music seems to have been a Freudian slip because after all, they are black. Surely they are not implying that black people are not Americans. Some times the worst kind of racist is the one who doesn't know he is one. It's like the term exotic. You can imagine some far away exotic land but if you go there all you find is people trying to make a living like everywhere else. What's so exotic about that? The way I see it there is either no such thing as ethno music or all music is ethno music. What music is not "of a people"? Of course I'm excluding birds, whales,and wolves from this discussion but I'm not so sure exactly where that line should be drawn either.
      Congratulations Sarah on a stimulating introduction and welcome to the forum. Looking forward to more exchanges of ideas.


" Who do you trust , me or your own eyes?" - Groucho Marx

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#20 2010-03-20 17:40:22

ShakuhachiSarah
Member
Registered: 2010-03-06
Posts: 18

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Musgo de Pedra - that is a joke I make. I never lived in Brasil, but considering my father raised me and I am 27 years old, I tell people that I had "27" years of Brasil since my father has raised me and hasn't "assimliated" much of the American culture - although he does like Ford vehicles and hamburgers.

Tairaku - Yes! You are absolutely right. That is another issue in ethnomusicology is the name itself. How do you determine what is ethnic? The term ethnic itself is a very loaded and in a sense derogatory but nobody knows what to call it anymore. It used to be called "comparative musicology" but when it was "comparative musicology" the music was mostly compared to Western music - and to comparative musicologists of that period - Western music was superior. Today, "ethnomusicologists" study music in/as culture - so anything is fair game. For example, two of my advisers champion in the area of "popular culture" - one of them just wrote a book about American Idol the other one wrote a book about Indonesian Punk Rock. But, the word "ethnomusicology" is very misleading - someone needs to come up with a new word for people who want to study people making music - at least that's what I am doing. I don't perceive Japanese music as some sort of "ethnic"/exotic entity that needs to be dissected and analyzed - I'm more interested in how it factors into our lives, what role it plays, and how we identify with it.

What do you guys think - how can we change the name "ethnomusicology" to not make it sound so colonialist/"racist"/limiting.


Does anyone have an extra ma I can borrow? :-) Sarah Renata

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#21 2010-03-20 18:23:27

Dun Romin
Member
From: Holland
Registered: 2008-04-19
Posts: 136

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

"Ethno music" sounds like a way to refer to music that had it's origins outside of Western Europe.  Smacks of colonialism or even racism".

In my Western European ears this sounds very funny guys!
We consider etnic music, music that originates from the various cultures there are in Europe. Some also call it 'folk' music in the sense of folkloristic music. So you have Slavian music, Portugese (fado), Irish, Scandinavian, Russian, Greek, Italian. All etnic music. Even in my small country there is etnic music. Some people/countries are also very proud on their ethnic music, like others happily belittle it and others again started to put influences from the worldwide modern music in it. And the same the modern musicians a kind of rediscoverd the ethnic music, did the roverse and called it ethno music.

Isn't it great that the world keeps developping and combaines everything from everywhere to all kind of new experiences? Or must we be so rigidly nationalistic not to allow any mixture of cultures? Colonialism or racism???? Isn't that were you put your own culture above and subdue the others? (That's at least what history taught me.) What's so attractive about the shakuhachi society for me is that they are open to any development. Can't we do the same with the rest of the music? And remind changing a name is nothing more then starting to wear sunglasses with a different colour of glass.

Sarah, love your introduction and wish you all the best with your thesis.


Tomorrow's wind only blows tomorrow. (Koji)

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#22 2010-03-20 18:33:48

ShakuhachiSarah
Member
Registered: 2010-03-06
Posts: 18

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

Dun Romin wrote:

"Ethno music" sounds like a way to refer to music that had it's origins outside of Western Europe.  Smacks of colonialism or even racism".

In my Western European ears this sounds very funny guys!
We consider etnic music, music that originates from the various cultures there are in Europe. Some also call it 'folk' music in the sense of folkloristic music. So you have Slavian music, Portugese (fado), Irish, Scandinavian, Russian, Greek, Italian. All etnic music. Even in my small country there is etnic music. Some people/countries are also very proud on their ethnic music, like others happily belittle it and others again started to put influences from the worldwide modern music in it. And the same the modern musicians a kind of rediscoverd the ethnic music, did the roverse and called it ethno music.

Isn't it great that the world keeps developping and combaines everything from everywhere to all kind of new experiences? Or must we be so rigidly nationalistic not to allow any mixture of cultures? Colonialism or racism???? Isn't that were you put your own culture above and subdue the others? (That's at least what history taught me.) What's so attractive about the shakuhachi society for me is that they are open to any development. Can't we do the same with the rest of the music? And remind changing a name is nothing more then starting to wear sunglasses with a different colour of glass.

Sarah, love your introduction and wish you all the best with your thesis.

Hey I love what you said at the end "changing a name is nothing more then starting to wear sunglasses with a different colour of glass." Good point!!!


Does anyone have an extra ma I can borrow? :-) Sarah Renata

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#23 2010-03-20 19:36:51

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

ShakuhachiSarah wrote:

LoL - Actually that is one of the "big" issues in ethnomusicology - does our presence effect the outcome of research - will people react differently and so forth. I'm open to any suggestions so if you like, as I complete my thesis (I like to call it  A BIG homework assignment) I can send it to you and you can tell me what you think!

It's not just how people react to the research. When the research in itself involves notating an oral tradition you can't help but change the tradition that you are studying.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#24 2010-03-20 20:30:33

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

ShakuhachiSarah wrote:

Hey I love what you said at the end "changing a name is nothing more then starting to wear sunglasses with a different colour of glass." Good point!!!

Don't be fooled. Remember Johnny Cash's song "A Boy Named Sue"? There has been plenty of scientific research, both serious and fringe, on the importance of wording, much of it suggesting that the words and language we speak and hear shapes our reality.

"Ethnic music" was, of course, a term created to categorize a type of music. It seems like it arose out of the need for a blanket category that described music that individuals had a desire to study that wasn't Western-European. Categorizing music is a tough subject in itself. Many are quick to point out that categories are often made just for marketing purposes. However, like it or not, categorizing is how we structure our reality. If you like the music of a particular artist, aren't you likely to try another song from that artist? You've just categorized. Someone tells you that other artists play the same kind of music your new favorite artist plays, you search it out and find that the other artists are from the same culture. Cultures are often tied to races, you may have instantly become racist by liking the music of a particular artist and seeking out more music like it.

"Ethnic music", a term coined in a different age of political correctness now seems like it was poorly named. But changing it to "world music" or anything else, while commendable doesn't remove the fact that people seem to need to categorize things, music, and even people. That's how we make sense of the world. Because of that, the racism is always going to be there, about all we can do is make sure it doesn't get excessive and out of hand.

Or... Maybe we're entering a new age of enlightenment where our reality isn't dependent on a conclusion that we made shortly after birth that there is a "me" and other stuff in the universe that is "not me". Without that premise there is no need to categorize to seek something outside of yourself that will give you pleasure, or to categorize to attempt to avoid displeasure.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#25 2010-03-20 21:17:58

Ambi
Member
From: Leeds UK
Registered: 2006-06-22
Posts: 108

Re: Ethnomusicology and my Shakuhachi

First - Hi Sarah.

I'm not generally a fan of changing the names of things - it doesn't often help:

(\Rant On) in the UK we used to have a vaguely socialist political party called "The Labour Party" - that nice Mr B Liar changed the name to "New Labour" and now we have more new laws introduced than any time in our countries history. We used to have a nuclear reprocessing plant called Windscale, located in the beautiful area of the Lake District with convenient access to the sea for dumping radioactive waste where no one would have to worry about it (at least no one important, just the Irish, the Scots and Scandinavians) - now we have the much friendlier sounding Sellafiled; and surprise that some people still worry about radiation. (\Rant Off)

I'd now like to propose a name change from "Ethnomusicology" to "Anthromusicology".

I thought I'd just invented it, but this Levitin guy sounds very interesting - functional neurology And hanging out with David Byrne. How cool can you get?


"The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."

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