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Ethnomusicology and African music: an Introduction
by Simone Tarsitani, JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow
This course will give an introduction to ethnomusicology and its research methodology. It will also present an overview on African musical traditions. The theoretical notions will be backed by frequent musical examples and especially by practical illustrations about fieldwork methodology and data analysis.
Class 1. What is music? Discussing the concept of music and introducing basic theoretical notions:
Reflections on the concept of music, definition of the discipline "ethnomusicology" and explanation of some basic theoretical notions needed to understand the rest of the course.
Class 2. Overview of the history of ethnomusicology 1:
A survey of the most important phases of ethnomusicological studies (from western art music, to the study of musical traditions of the world) will be explored.
Class 3. Overview of the history of ethnomusicology 2:
Continuation of Class 2
Class 4. Techniques of audio-visual documentation 1:
Explanation of the principal aspects of audiovisual recording techniques: digital audio and video recording, problems of live performance recording and challenges of field recordings.
Class 5. Techniques of audio-visual documentation 2:
Continuation of Class 4 with practical examples. Fieldwork assignment given to students.
Class 6. Analysis of audiovisual documentation 1:
After a brief introduction to the most common hardware and software equipment used, an explanation will be given of the basic notions of audio and video editing, analysis and delivery.
Class 7. Analysis of audiovisual documentation 2:
Continuation of Class 6 with practical examples. Assignment of analysis of fieldwork data collected during Class 5.
Class 8. Building audiovisual archives:
What are the goals of ethnomusicological research? Ideas for planning and creating an audiovisual archive from fieldwork data.
Class 9. Introduction to African music 1:
Listening to and discussing the variety of African musical traditions with an explanation of some common traits in African music.
Class 10. Introduction to African music 2:
Continues Class 9 with more examples of African musical traditions.
An introduction to the general traits of the musical traditions of East Africa. Special attention will be devoted to Ethiopian music in historical and contemporary contexts.
Class 11. The Islamic ritual tradition of Harar (Ethiopia): A case study:
In this class, I will present my personal research interest, which is focused on the Islamic rituals of Harar (Eastern Ethiopia). Analysis of musical, social and cultural aspects of this tradition will be explained through examples, encouraging a discussion on the methodology and on the results of this research.
Class 12. Students' oral presentations on a short fieldwork experience. Final discussion:
The oral presentations will be based on the experience of fieldwork recording and analysis proposed during Classes 5 and 7.
・上映作品："Morokapel's Feast. The Story of a Kara Hunting Ritual"、
"The Return of the Obelisk"
[上映作品の詳細/ Details of the films]
１．Morokapel's Feast. The Story of a Kara Hunting Ritual
by Steffen K?hn, Felix Girke (German) 2007. 26min. English Subtitles
Filming Site:Lower Omo Valley in Ethiopia
This film tells the story of a hunt and its repercussions in the land of the Kara, Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia. Morokapel, a young man from the village Chellehte, has succeeded in killing a leopard, which had been attacking the livestock, with a self-made trap. He hands over the magnificent leopard skin to his mother-brother Samo in the village Labuk, who then holds for him a hunting ritual, a mirt, which endows Morokapel with fame and a new status. The film-makers follow Morokapel and his companions during these festivities, which take a surprising turn the morning after the ceremony: A discussion breaks out, in which Morokapels supporters try to deny Samo the right to the valuable trophy through bending and re-interpreting of ritual rules. Through this, the film illustrates how even traditional rituals, appearing as very static elements of social life, can be manipulated for the economic and tactical interests of individuals. In pointing out these cultural ambiguities, and through its both reflexive and transparent way of dealing with the ethnographic encounter, the film tries to measure up to the demands of a postmodern anthropology.
2. The Return of the Obelisk
by Samson Giorgis (Ethiopia) 2007, 64min. English Subtitles
Filming Site: Rome, Addis Ababa, Axum
Synopsis: Almost seventy years after the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, the Axum Obelisk -a stele 23 meters high and one of the most important historical monument of Ethiopia-, finally returned to its home country in April 2005. The film focuses on the incredible history of this monument, which is considered since 1980 as world heritage by UNESCO.
Throughout its story, the film recollects the history of Ethiopia: its relationship to Italy, its fight for independence, and since then, the struggle it has been carrying out for the past 70 years for the handover of this priceless piece of art. It looks at the multiple aspects that this struggle symbolizes in terms of cultural identity, international recognition, hope for the future, and what its return means for the collective memory of the Ethiopian people. Axum is part of the oldest known civilization in sub-Saharan Africa. The Aksumite stele survived in its present location for almost two millenniums. It is part of our earliest civilization where numerous stele, large palaces, temples, churches, man made water reservoirs and statues stood in Aksumite urban centers.
The film also intends to disclose to the public, and beyond, the rich cultural heritage of Ethiopia. This will contribute to showing a different image of this country, which has long suffered and still suffers from a unique and widespread representation in Western media.