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Hypermedia and Ethnomusicology Author(s): Barbara Rose Lange Source: Ethnomusicology, Vol. 45, No. 1 (Winter, 2001), pp. 132-149 Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of Society for Ethnomusicology Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/852637 Accessed: 25/02/2010 13:31
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VOL.45, No. 1
Hypermedia and Ethnomusicology
BARBARA ROSE LANGE / University of Houston
is digitally encoded information that is realized in text, Hypermedia graphics, sound, and film.' Hypermedia and its earlier prototype, hypertext, is characterized by a structure of nodes, or units of information, that are interconnected by "electronic cross-references," or links (Berk and Devlin 1991:4).2 Digital documents change sequential ways of following texts, particularly analog sound recordings and film, since their binary encoding enables them to be accessed at any point. The nearly global infrastructure for disseminating digital media has the potential to broaden the audience for ethnomusicological research, but the technology's developers have affected its configurations in ways that often contradict research goals. Georgina Born has observed that engineers had an integral role in composition at the French computer music center Ircam (1997). In hypermedia applications of interest to ethnomusicologists, design experimentation often dwarfs the fundamental concerns of participant-observation fieldwork, ethical obligations to field co-respondents, comprehending live performance, or the use of theory as an explanatory device. Yet these applications have also stimulated narrative change, provided wide access to field recordings, and given regionally-oriented interest groups a new means of expression. Two hypermedia applications have become prominent in relation to memory, or the CD-ROM, is ethnomusicology.3 Compact disc-read-only an aluminum-coated disc read by laser that encodes graphics, video, text, and audio material.4 Web pages and web sites are aggregations of digitally encoded data that as of the late 1990s are accessed at specific host computer locations on the Internet. Applications in both forms that are relevant to ethnomusicology are being generated from and used in diverse locations. From an engineering standpoint, the CD-ROM appears obsolete. Web sites potentially offer much more flexibility and easier accessibility than CD-ROMs. Far more information can be posted on the computer sup? 2001 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Lange: Hypermedia and Ethnomusicology
porting a web site than can be etched on an aluminum disc, and it can be updated more frequently; in fact some Internet links update the content of CD-ROMs (see Blacking 1998, 1999). The contrast between the two formats reflects a trend in developing technology to introduce successively complex designs. Users may still derive benefit from old models, but because of planned obsolescence they are eventually constrained to adopt and learn the new applications (Fulton 1996:112-113). The production of CDROMs with a serious scholarly component has actually increased in the late 1990s. Internet use requires an infrastructure enabling large amounts of data to be transferred at high speed and low cost. Only in Western Europe and the U.S. are these connections available on a broad basis and then only to a stratum of technologically educated, well-to-do people (Anderson et al. 1995:24-29, McConnaughey and Lader 1998, Sec. III). CD-ROMs are designed to be played on and can also be written in the drives of personal computers, which are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain in many parts of the world.5 Projects of interest to ethnomusicologists now initiate from the World Wide Web but as of the late 1990s, CD-ROMS that take innovative approaches to their topics and incorporate interesting audio and visual material are being produced from many parts of the globe and welcomed by constituencies there.
Frank Halasz, a designer of NoteCards, an outline program that was one of the first workable hypertext designs, observed that navigation is one inherent problem in hypermedia. Several solutions have evolved, although a standard has yet to emerge. Halasz noted that a central display or organizational map was crucial, since it served as a composite "inclusion mechanism." This feature could summarize the type of material in groups of nodes and links, as well as provide the ability to shift between levels of detail (Halasz 1988:842-44; Heller 1990:431). This concept has manifested in many applications as a main navigational screen, the first or second to be shown on a monitor when one accesses a CD-ROM or web page.6 But the engineering culture from which navigational screens, nodes, and links emerged is almost completely divorced from the long previous tradition of information guides in library science. Basic vehicles of information retrieval like overviews, lists of subcategories, weighing in order of importance and flexible shifting between general and specific levels of information are inconsistently built into most hypermedia applications. The node and link structure was originally conceived in terms of branching diagrams. In their analysis of electronic media and anthropology, Gary Seaman and Homer Williams suggested that continuity could be
achieved among numerous nodes and links by offering different pathways to the same data (1992:310). Branching structures have been subsumed in many cases by Boolean searching, where the user determines the link by choosing a word and all possible nodes will be supplied by the search. use Boolean, navigational, Applications of interest to ethnomusicologists and multipath systems. An added organizational element in hypermedia is the way nodes and links are visually represented in graphic interfaces. Books utilize a relatively narrow range of typefaces and index design. The graphics in hypermedia are designed not only to supply information, but as "inference engines" that help the user navigate (van Dam 1988:894). The influence of software engineering culture, particularly in its orientations toward entertainment, is often evident. The semiotic content of these graphcontradicts the ics-twirling globes, montages, miniaturized photos-often grounding of ethnomusicology in the real actions of real people.
Media and Juried Periodicals
Hypermedia seems to offer a more full representation of the subject than do print or audio recordings alone. Jeff Titon pointed out in a discussion of ethnographic film that viewers must accept many artifices in order to believe that living performance is represented (1992). Hypermedia requires a similar change in perception. In the late 1990s, most applications present multiple modes of representation sequentially through the node and link structure. The monitors and drivers for realizing media at a given user endpoint are imperfect, so that any blend is fractured by pauses for loading and data access. Hypermedia has been used to add facets of representation in scholarly journals accessed via the Internet. Three such publicahave hypermedia tions that are directly oriented to ethnomusicology design.7 As of the late 1990s, Ethnomusicology on Line, Music and Anthropology, and Oideion have published essays that are organized similarly to those in print journals. Oideion's editor also has requested documents with a multilink structure that would experiment with linear conventions (Author 1998). The essays include examples and illustrations in multiple media, as well as providing links to information on subjects related to the article topics. Overviews are provided on the main navigational pages, which space basic site divisions on the screen. The articles add color in photographs, maps, and links but do not incorporate other graphics. Two of the journals solve the problem of exact citation by dividing the articles into sections, although this can disrupt the narrative flow if the user encounters technical difficulties upon accessing each section. Maps, audio recordings, photos, transcriptions, manuscript excerpts, and film clips are linked to the texts of the articles. For example a brief film
dancing in an article by Tullia Magrini on clip of Greek Anastenarisses women and mourning illustrates points about the expression of inner tension and a focus on icons (Magrini 1998, sec. 4). A biographical essay, also by Magrini, includes a link to a transcript of an interview with the musician (Magrini 1997). Other components enhance the themes of the essays in a general way, as with the maps of ancient Greece and Mediterranean trade routes adjacent to the text of an essay on music history and migration in the region (Bohlman 1997). The place of description needs to be reassessed with the inclusion of many new forms of media. Film and audio clips convey multiple aspects of sound and demeanor, but they are only brief extracts of full performances. The reader may continue to be interested in the author's insights into semiotic content as well as the examples themselves.
The node and link structure shares its networked character with written texts as characterized by Barthes, Foucault, and others (Landow 1997:23). Seaman and Williams observe that the digital medium allows users to employ reading procedures like backtracking, skimming, and jumping from point to point with audio and video as well as print forms (1992:301). In hypermedia design, this feature is termed "interactivity," since the reader or user chooses the directions he will take through informational nodes (Biella 1994). In the types of hypermedia under review here, the term falsely connotes exchange since the digitally-realized texts and options for routes through them are predetermined by the designer. Writers do interact through electronic mail. Some in the hard sciences have utilized electronic means to critique scholarly work in progress although this has not become common practice in ethnomusicology; the Society for Ethnomusicology's listserv discussions range over topics of general interest.8 Many other listservs discuss regional music topics in detail, although because their membership is drawn from aficionados as well as ethnographically-oriented researchers, their exchanges often remain unreflective about relations between the producers and the consumers of music. Hypermedia can allow the user to interrupt standard narrative structure. Peter Biella, in relation to digitized ethnographic film, described a possibility to "transcend the real-time experience of viewing" so that theory can be more successfully linked to visual texts. Biella argued that with digital technology a key feature of social science interpretation, multiple forms of explanation, could be applied to film (1996:596). Biella applied these ideas in Yanomamo Interactive: The Ax Fight, a CD-ROM expanding on Napoleon Chagnon's film that records a dispute between Amazonian Indi-
ans. Like Chagnon's compilation (1975), the CD-ROM presents the film in edited and unedited versions; here, however, the user can select and freeze specific camera shots. The navigational screen is unusual in that the user can link the operations of four different frames displayed on the monitor. In the CD-ROM descriptive text is linked to specific points in the film. The user can also access maps, genealogies, and other details on the people depicted in the film. Martin Oppenheimer identified an alternate narrative option made possible by Biella's CD-ROM, to keep track of one individual's identity and actions during different parts of the film sequence (1998). The digital medium has been used to undo canonic musical constructs. The CD-ROM Hyperkalevala (1996) takes as its departure point the Karelian runes that Elias Lonnrot compiled and rewrote during the nineteenth century for his literary epic. The designers of Hyperkalevala combine graphics, photos, film, and audio recordings (including some that are nearly a century old) to explore the runes as sung in performance, regional locales, the belief systems indicated in rune texts and performance, and the formation of the Kalevala as a literary work (DuBois 1997). In the web site and CD-ROM Venda Girls' Initiation Ceremonies, Suzel Ana Reily and Lev Weinstock change print narrative in another way: they blend John Blacking's separately published essays on the subject with transcriptions, audio examples from his field recordings, video clips, and photographs (Blacking 1998, 1999; Reily 1998:49). The document takes an established ethnographic approach, that of focusing on a single ceremony type as a means of understanding (see Bateson 1958 ). The hypermedia configuration might well have had Blacking's support, since it vividly illustrates his concerns with musical embodiment and links musical analysis with ethnographic description.
Many source musicians do not belong to the societal constituencies who own computers and live in locations that lack an infrastructure supporting digital media. This generates ethical challenges. Many archives are now devoting considerable resources to hypermedia production and design, possibly reducing the energy and financial outlay they devote to serving source constituencies. Source musicians' lack of access to computers renders them far less able to critique these representations of themselves than those on film, sound recordings, or in books. The remote access being developed in the late 1990s may enable some source musicians to choose more specifically how to represent themselves. In an extension of indigenous film projects such as those conducted in the Amazon with Anthony Seeger's assistance or in the American Southwest (see Worth 1972), field
colleagues might choose to do video and audio streaming of their live performances, framed by the ethnomusicologist's or co-respondents' critical commentaries. Distributors have often marginalized the work of source musicians who are involved with the music industry. Some now produce their own CDS that incorporate multimedia in an enhanced format (see Kalyi Jag 1998).9 Access to an audience via Internet is providing many marginalizedperformerswith an alternativemeans to publicize and sell their recordings. The home page of Aaron Fox includes ordering information for recordings by country musicians with whom he conducted research (Fox 1999). As new forms of publication ethnographically-oriented hypermedia applications are not dependent upon analytical conventions, so there is a greater opportunity to foreground the words of individual co-respondents. On the enhanced CD Crossroads: Southern Routes (1996) the commentaries of performers are joined to musical and visual examples. Efforts to represent verbal art in translation but as closely to live performance as possible have been extended to the Internet with Dennis Tedlock's posting of a Zuni story (Tedlock 1983, n.d.). One link in Fox's home page is an interview excerpt with the Texas musician Randy Meyer. There are many interview excerpts available at the RootsWorld commercial site (http:// www.rootsworld.com/rw), but since the interview style is journalistic subjects like a musician's own aesthetics or the nature of a society's musical involvement do not receive attention. Jeff Titon built a hypermedia document about the fiddler Clyde Davenport largely upon interview excerpts (Titon 1991, 1992 ). In addition, there are audio clips in which Davenport demonstrates his view of the difference between tunes. Ratherthan working from an overview, Titon designed the document with "web-like rather than linear structures" (Titon 1992 ), thus utilizing the multipath model envisioned by Seaman and Williams. Most but not all nodes are linked to the "Clyde Davenport" page; the topic "Old-TimeFiddling,"not referenced on that page, can be accessed through five other links."' Unedited Field Materials
Because they can include large amounts of information, hypermedia applications seem ideal for making "raw"field materials-unedited recordings, text transcriptions, or field notes-available to a variety of users (with the understanding that even "raw"material can be highly edited). A few authors have posted to web sites audio and video examples that correspond to their publications in other media. Some are extracts of longer projects, as with the synopsis and interview excerpts from a film about Vietnamese adolescents in America (Rothenberg 1995). Others are audio and video
examples that were the basis for graphic representations in print. Audio and video files related to Eric Charry's essay on West African guitars clarify voicings depicted in the transcriptions and stimulate additional questions about articulation techniques (1994, 1998). The audio files linked to John Murphy's article on Brazilian rabeca playing transmit the music's visceral quality and subtlety as well as sounds of casual performance contexts that are usually excluded from commercial recordings (Murphy 1997). The major print journals in the field of ethnomusicology have begun to include hypermedia supplements; audio files illustrate examples of Bavarian music in a recent issue of The World of Music (http://www.uni-bamberg.de/ Audio annotations would be invaluable for further -ba2fm3/wom992.htm). like discussion on topics contour-based melodic sensibilities or participathat challenge the limits of print description and graphtory discrepancies ic representation (List 1985, Progler 1995, Alen 1995); a set of such illusarticle by Magrini on trations has been provided for an Ethnomusicology a similarly dense subject, gendered musical expression (2000). Retroactive illustration would immediately raise new ethical questions: List evidently obtained permission for recording the Hopi kachina songs that were the basis of his melodic concept analysis, but the source musicians or their descendants might not choose to grant the indiscriminate access that Internet posting makes possible. Archival collections have been made available in digitized form via Internet. The Australian National library has posted indigenous storytelling performances (Stories 1999); documentation of folk music from the Franconia region of Germany is also planned (Baumann 1995, 1999; see Griebel 1999). The Library of Congress has made digitized photos, sound recordings, transcriptions, letters, and research notes available on the Internet in its American Memory series." Among its musically-oriented collections are records of ethnographic work in California, the American Southeast, and New Mexico. The letters and notes in these collections reveal much about the research process. A letter from Harold Spivacke to John Lomax at Raiford, Florida where he recorded songs in a prison commiserates with him about the demise of group work songs (Southern Mosaic 1999). A monograph on the alabado is intexted in the Juan B. Rael collection, thus enabling the user to compare his published work with his field materials (Rael 1951; Hispano Music 1999). The archival nature of this material has yielded a problem that manifests as search difficulty for the user. Whereas archives often employ a finding aid that describes and lists the contents of the collection, the American Memory series did not include such an orienting device in its digitized collections (Arms 1996a, par. 23-24). Seaman and Williams suggested that the hypertext structure could enable people to use material at different
Lange: Hypermedia and Ethnomusicology
This vision partially informed the Lilevels of knowledge (1992:308-310). brary of Congress' choice to use InQuery, a system of weighted keyword searching that uses Boolean and proximity operators (Arms 1996b). InQuery is satisfactory for K-12 teachers and students, the primary audience for the collection; college-level users found this searching system to be too limited and yet too amorphous (Arms 1996a, par. 8; Veccia et al. 1993, Chapter III). Clicking on the "Spirituals" song category provided under "Browse Audio Subjects" in the Southern Mosaic collection brings up a list of recordings in no discernible order. The feature of full-text searching is valuable; the term "Raiford" yielded letters and fieldnotes as well as recordings. Many audio examples and text transcriptions in the American Memory collections are in separate records. Even though a double browser can be opened to examine them together, physical documents remain easier to utilize. A keyword search does not locate the user at an exact point in the fieldnotes of Southern Mosaic. Finding the text to the zarzuela song "Un viejecito chiquito y jorobadito," marked as being in section 6 of the Lomax field notes, requires scrolling through many other texts. Hypermedia might be a forum for scholars to make public the large collections of field notes, interview transcripts or recordings, and other source material that underlie their monographs and articles (Biella 1994; Seaman and Williams 1992). But this material can reveal uncomfortable weaknesses and to date very few individuals have made source material available. One prototype is represented by Robert Garfias' posting of East Asian musics related to gagaku (1998). Many ethnomusicologists' home pages serve teaching rather than publication functions, with class syllabi, links to other sites in the individual's area of interest, and informal essays on topics in their areas of expertise.12
The "transformative actions" of technological development can be influenced by ordinary identity dynamics (see Boczkowski 1999:102-103). Many hypermedia applications are geared primarily toward a national or regional constituency. They use indigenous languages; Hyperkalevala is in Finnish, and the Tale of Genji (1996), a CD-ROM elaborating on Lady Murasaki's novel, is in Japanese and English. The Japanese text portions from the novel use archaic characters, thus requiring greater knowledge and concentration from a Japanese reader than from a reader of English. Many nations and regions now maintain web sites with information on unique art forms. India's Kerala state web site, for example, provides weekly updates on local festivals, with thumbnail descriptions of regional art forms ("Kerala" 1999). including kathakali and panchavadyam
The CD-ROM, as a tangible product, is a logical medium for empirically-oriented traditions of scholarship. It provides an opportunity for organizations that have been separate in some of these countries-ethnographic combine their museums, folklore institutes, and musicology institutes-to materials. The cross-referencing of nodes and links can extend the critical edition or monument model that prevails at many European institutions (Robinson 1993; see Nettl 1983:272-273). The release of archival footage and the inclusion of multiple media make these applications attractive both to scholars and to intellectuals with a general interest in national tradithose people who are likely to own personal computers tions-precisely and to be interested in digital applications. In many cases the question of licensing is relatively unproblematic because rights are held by the state and not commercial entities. The author of Nadanubhava, a CD-ROM on South Indian classical music, could select historically representative photos, drawings, and recordings of forty different artists without obstacles (pers. comm. Shashikiran, April 1999). The authors of these applications are associated with research institutes and universities, but this work is not always subject to traditional review processes. In many cases the result is innovative. Hyperkalevala's deconstructions of Lonnrot's epic have been mentioned; Nadanubhava describes music theory, performance technique, and comparative points of style rather than taking the orientation toward religion that predominates in South Indian music study.
Fan Web Sites
The World Wide Web is well established as a forum for individual interests. Some of the information useful particularly as teaching resources may come from web sites and links maintained by devotees of particular genres. The information contained in these sites can be exhaustive; an aficionado's web site has what scholars recognize as being the most thorough bibliography on J. S. Bach (Tomita 1999). Translated articles, photos of shakuhachi players in historical dress, descriptions of standard repertoire items translated from Japanese, and notations from performers' web sites helped to supplement a unit on Japanese music for my own world music classes (Singer 1987; "Shakuhachi" 1998). Agenda do Samba-Choro [Notebook of Samba-Choro] (Neves 1996) is a web site designed by a Brazilian software engineer. The site includes an annotated listing of clubs that feature samba and choro in Rio de Janeiro and other major cities. Another node highlights recent recordings. A listserv is linked to the site; brief biographies and discographies of famous artists are included with audio samples. Links are provided to music publishers, in addition to full graphic representation of some scores. Although it is a source of valuable detail,
fan culture (in many cases issuing from revivalist activity) may be concerned with stylistic authenticity, individual musicians, and canonic repertoires (see Feintuch 1993, Livingston 1999); certain elements might be left out of fan sites that an ethnomusicologist would judge relevant. A case in point is the absence of city blues, or even female performers, from blues web sites. The "Outras Informacoes" (Other Information) node of the samba-choro web site only provides links to other sites that have "nice" (boa) Brazilian music, as opposed to rough-sounding or sexually explicit genres.
for a General
Hypermedia applications for the general public are significant because they have a comparatively large audience and sophisticated technical designs.'3 Don De Lillo has evoked the image of reproductions carrying auras associated with their use (1985). CD-ROMs have entertainment connotations; many designers and users of hypermedia play video games that require them rapidly to switch attention from one image to another and employ a system of frequent rewards (often signaled by a musical motif). Similarly, a number of CD-ROMs on world music topics give visual and auditory gratification without providing substance.'4 Africa: Folk Music Atlas, a book, set of audio CDs, and CD-ROM, supplies the rudiments of information on African music (D'Amico 1997). The first screens of the main links on the CD-ROM are decorated with photomontages. Text segments are cued to ethnic group names. Clicking on keywords yields audio examples with attention-grabbing timbre, rhythm, and melody that are several minutes in length; however, very little information is supplied on the musical sound other than instrument name and ethnic group. Clicking on miniaturized photos aligned next to the text yields full-screen views. In the "Hutu and Tutsi" node, striking photos are cued to general information on local drums and ceremonies, so that costume, action and color impresses the user and not the ethnographic context. By contrast, the two photographs in Steven Feld's Sound and Sentiment (1982) are not only striking from a visual standpoint; their meaning is grounded in a whole monograph's analysis and description. The title screen of the CD-ROM World Beat (1994) uses bright colors, a repeating synthesizer motif that resembles video game signals, and a twirling globe. The "Interactive Documentary" node opens with photos that appear and disappear in overlapping arrangements at intervals of several seconds. The user can click on photos to obtain a text and video display, immediately interrupting the narration cued to the rotating photo screen. World Beat and Africa. Folk Music Atlas both juxtapose audio and visual examples with contradictory text information. Robert Garfias has noted the erroneous captioning on several video examples
in World Beat (1995); in Africa: Folk Music Atlas the audio examples do not coincide with a given text file. An example of djembe is played, for example, when text describing Algerian rai is on the screen. The design features of commercial products heighten a tendency in communication identified by Sherry Turkle, that it computer-mediated becomes representation without an original (1995). Rachelle Heller has pointed out that the graphic content of information nodes can help, motivate, or detract users from continuing to explore a particular hypertext area (Heller 1990:437). The graphics on the commercial world-music products may be motivating the user with attractive stereotypes rather than with information about field co-respondents grounded in actual experience. The audio clips, similarly disengaged, exploit the same pathology. But in spite of their problematic representations the commercial world music products are serving as models of design. All of the encyclopedia products give fairly extensive and clear overviews, and are engineered so that the user can easily switch between subfiles and run video and audio applications (although information on installing drivers was incomplete for one such product, the first edition of Encarta Africana [Appiah and Gates 1993-99]). Microsoft Musical Instruments (1992-94) represents an elegant early model. At the time of its release, this CD-ROM was a major contribution to the literature of musical instrument encyclopedias because the instrument photos had a resolution surpassing those in print encyclopedias, different instrument components were depicted, and sounds were linked to the pictures. The "Facts" boxes of text linked to each instrument representation utilized the basics of the Sachs-Hornbostel classification system, although the five-part Western designation was used as a broader category. In the "Instruments of the World" section pictorial overlays on a continent diagram were linked to corresponding audio and text files. The number of instruments was small and the sound clips were extremely short, ranging from fifteen to thirty seconds and on some timbral comparison nodes, less than one second. Some applications meant for a general audience combine media in ways that demonstrate a potential for imparting historical, ecological, and social nuances. The web site Frances Densmore: Song Catcher (Smith 1997) uses material originally assembled for a documentary aired on National Public Radio. It includes photographs and recordings that Densmore made, playing these as illustrations to a re-enactment of a lecture by her. One utility allows photos and musical transcriptions to be run in rapid sequence, imitating the magic lantern show, a nineteenth-century predecessor of film. Links are provided to a variety of directly related topics, including audio statements by descendants of singers whom Densmore recorded; information on other women anthropologists of the time; a bibliography; cylinder
recordings by Densmore; and art music arrangements. The selection of materials for historical relevance, their reconstruction in performance, and meticulous documentation of sources provide the user with insights into the life, work, and social milieu of Frances Densmore that might previously have been available only to specialists in her work or the history of the upper Midwest. Like the plethora of CD-ROMs on jazz figures that were released in the mid-1990s, many applications reorganize material that is easily available elsewhere. Other CD-ROMs authored and compiled by ethnomusicologists include archival material but employ the multilevel approach suggested by Seaman and Williams. There are benefits in orienting these applications to a general audience; the text portions of Nadanubhava are written in exclear and an tremely language English-language bibliography is provided. Because the authors and compilers include respected scholars and the audio and video footage has original provenance, Crossroads. Southern Routes (1996) and Pygmees Aka (Arom and Furniss 1998) can be considered as multimedia ethnographies that, similarly to Colin Turnbull's The Forest People (1962), interest both professionals and the public. General audiences respond well to the content and the design of these applications, as is demonstrated by positive reviews and awards. These projects initiated from a scholarly perspective have depth and consistency of conception that the general public appreciates. Indian reviewers praised Nadanubhava for its detailed explanations, lengthy indices, comparisons with other musical systems, and the way in which "the mode of presentation through audio, video and graphics compels attention" (Raman 1998). Sing Out magazine praised the multiple user options in Crossroads: Southern Routes whereby related styles were linked, simultaneous text translations could be accessed, and a scrolling feature was supplied so that "you can sit back and just listen to the songs and watch as the highlighted lyrics go by" (1996-97).
on Subjects Related to Ethnomusicology
A number of applications not oriented specifically towards music convey cultural and historical information that is key to understanding musical performance. In the CD-ROM Tale of Genji, video clips of dance sequences are part of a section describing court life in Heian Japan and digital renditions of relevant paintings are included. Several features are ideal for the hypermedia configuration. Summaries are supplied about a number of the story's vast gallery of characters and the user can read text sections as they are narrated by a female voice. Encarta Africana (Appiah and Gates 1993-99), a CD-ROM devoted to Africa and the African diaspora, integrates music into many entries and has a separate section devoted to music and
musicians. Encarta Africana's graphics are fairly neutral. The typeface resembles hand-printed letters; categories and nodes are indicated with color, and icons signify different media. The nodes are linked in multiple ways. Through a multi-frame design and icons designating the type of media incorporated into the entries, the user can identify subtopics and illustrations within major topic areas. The entries include bibliographic references, full-text searching is available for selected subjects under a "Topic Trek" rubric, and examples can be listed by medium. The brevity of the audio examples at under thirty seconds renders them virtually useless as a tool for in-depth teaching or study, although the texts to which they are attached contain a significant level of detail. For example, the "Amadinda (Xylophone) Ensemble" topic, accessed via the "Media Gallery" section, yields an audio clip, a caption describing the ensemble's history, information on the particular musical example, and the source for the recording. Although the audio examples are clearly referenced, the film clips do not regularly supply titles of their sources or the date of release.
Hypermedia applications provide opportunities to expand representations of musical performance. Technological limits on data storage and transmission are constantly being exceeded; it will soon become common to include lengthy amounts of text, film, or sound, as with Smithsonian Folkways' plan for digitally posting its archive. These tools are bounded by methodological orientation; just Alexander Ellis saw the tape recording as a way to make accurate frequency measurements and Charles Seeger and others used the melograph to analyze accents and pitch oscillation, so hyin their conpermedia appears to help contemporary ethnomusicologists cern to comprehend and represent the whole. But technologies also change the user, as Marshall McLuhan observed. The diffusion of a new medium can split a community into subgroups of users and non-users. Innovators experience the new form of communication as having great benefits. Conversely, elements of the old media may remain standard among non-users and not diffuse to the new medium (Markus 1987:492-94). The dichotomy between those ethnomusicologists who introduce and apply new technological developments and those who do not may become as marked as the division of the 1970s between musicological and anthropological orientations.15 Hypermedia appears to help synthesize representations and to rework ethnographic narrative structures, but the conventions of academic exchange, including peer review, documentation and evaluation of sources, and clear referencing systems are diminished because they are not consistently utilized in the digital applications. The technology used to encode
Lange: Hypermedia and Ethnomusicology
hypermedia in its sound and graphic forms is constantly evolving, so that the medium remains far more ephemeral than print. These factors reduce
the value of hypermedia authorship for academic institution-building through the tenure and promotion process, even though the ethnomusicologists who understand hypermedia design are maintaining a crucial presence in the commercial and civil arenas. The blending of scholarly and public access interests in hypermedia represents a conundrum. As ethnomusicologists continue to earn accolades for general-interest hypermedia applications, it needs to be demonstrated to developers, reviewers and users that the perceived elegance of design comes not only from an engineer's perspective, but also from the careful thought about performance and the hands-on fieldwork that characterizes the discipline of ethnomusicology. Our individual visions disseminated via personal home pages would benefit from a process of collegial feedback or review. Commercial and fan ventures need to be tracked so that objectification can be interrupted. While not everyone will be committed to gaining the technological expertise required to create or access them, hypermedia applications presently offer the basic benefits of easy access to archival material, narrative experimentation, and an approach to live performance from multiple angles.
1. I am grateful to Timothy Koozin and John Murphy for their comments, and to Philip Gayle, Orival Goncalves, and Shawn Davis for technical and translation assistance. 2. The concept of the node and link structure was introduced by VannevarBush (1945). Douglas Engelbart applied these ideas to humans and computers (1963); the concept of the user's freedom to navigate in a nonlinear fashion was introduced by Ted Nelson (1987 ), who coined the term "hypertext." 3. This essay uses the word "application" rather than product or work, since the Internet features addressed here do not comprise a physical unit. 4. Digital video discs, or DVDs, are the same size as CD- ROMSbut are designed to store visual information, which occupies exponentially more information than text or audio. Films are the dominant medium being released on DVDs, since their high fidelity sound and visual resolution appeal to the public sector user. The hypermedia capability to access individual frames has made the DVD a desired medium for digitized museum collections. Other digital applications include highly structured tutorials and gaming programs that are designed to respond to the user's level of competence by becoming more complex (Dillon and Leonard 1998:187-188). 5. CD-ROMapplications require expert technicians to realize the forms of media envisioned by the people responsible for content; the technical design of Nadanubhava was supported by Intel India (pers. comm. Shashikiran, Houston, TX, April 1999). Web page design also requires technical expertise, although templates are available for the lay designer. 6. As of the late 1990s, many applications have several frames, one of which supplies orientation. The article segments of Encarta Africana (1993-1999) include a separate outline frame with types of media indicated by color and icons. 7. The Transcultural Music Review posts purely the texts of articles (http://www2.uji.es/ trans).
8. The arXiv.org e-Print archive (http://www.xxx.lanl.gov/) posts papers in physics, mathematics, nonlinear studies, and computer science. Critiques are conducted privately by e-mail and revised papers are then posted. 9. An enhanced CD encodes audio material that is recognized by an ordinary compact disc player as well as multimedia elements that are recognized by a computer's CD-ROM utilities. 10. "Old-TimeFiddling"is linked to three nodes found on the Davenport page ("Clyde's and "WhatIs Music," two nodes Repertoire," "JeffTiton," and "Gift")as well as to "Bluegrass" that are not on the Davenport page. 11. The American Memory collections were piloted at a variety of librarylocations in CDROM and 11-inch videodisc format. Similar archival collections were also designed for the videodisc platform. 12. Several introductory world music classes at U.S. universities have a virtual classroom component. Students' on-line reflections distinguish these courses from their physical and realtime counterparts. 13. Commercial web sites will not be considered in this discussion. Some of them contain information not found elsewhere, for example specialized radio playlists (see http:// www.thebluehighway.com). 14. The values of user constituencies are one focus for ethnographic and folklore research (see Sherman 1999). 15. It is possible that deep engagement with hypermedia can change the user's modes of perception and sociality (see Lysloff 1999).
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