Deborah Wong, Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of California, Riverside


December 10, 2010 - 4:00pm

Reaching toward a Multimedia Ethnomusicology: Lessons Learned from American Taiko

Why do ethnomusicologists still rely on books to present their scholarship?  This presentation will consider the challenges that research on taiko (Japanese/American drumming) poses to textual representation, and addresses how any research on performance should push at the limits of the page.  Is a picture worth a thousand words?  How should ethnomusicologists model new multimediated forms of scholarly presentation?  How can we bring multiple forms of media to bear on the text and thus begin to resituate it as the primary form of critical representation in the humanities?  I argue that ethnomusicology and performance studies should model new kinds of digital scholarship that would transform our relevance to the disciplines from which we usually borrow.  I will offer some examples from my research on American taiko addressing the act of looking and listening, the generation of intersubjectivity, and the ways that hypertext invites new approaches to writing.

Deborah Wong is an ethnomusicologist.  She teaches at the University of California, Riverside and is currently the Chair of the Department of Music. She specializes in the musics of Asian America and Thailand and has published two books.  Sounding the Center: History and Aesthetics in Thai Buddhist Ritual (University of Chicago Press, 2001) addresses musicians’ rituals and their implications for the cultural politics of Thai court music and dance in late twentieth-century Bangkok.  Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music (Routledge, 2004) focused on music, race, and identity work in a series of case studies including Southeast Asian immigrant musics, Chinese American and Japanese American jazz in the Bay Area, and Asian American hip-hop.  She served as President of the Society for Ethnomusicology in 2007-09 and is presently President of the Board for the Alliance for California Traditional Arts.

Talk sponsored in collaboration with Asian Studies Center. Funding provided by the Music Department, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation, and Mitsubishi endowments at the University of Pittsburgh

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