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British Forum for Ethnomusicology

Review: [untitled]
Author(s): David W. Hughes
Reviewed work(s):
Sardinian Chronicles by Bernard Lortat-Jacob
Source: British Journal of Ethnomusicology, Vol. 5 (1996), pp. 170-171
Published by: British Forum for Ethnomusicology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3060878
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170 British Journal
of Ethnomusicology,
vol. 5 (1996) 170 British Journal
of Ethnomusicology,
vol. 5 (1996)
musicology. Perhaps
the strongest
impression given by
the book is its
personal
touch, familiarity
with the music and the
people
and a
deep
sense of commitment to
them. The book is
complemented by
a
double CD set (see below; reviewed in BJE
4), with some beautiful recordings
both from
Jones's own collection and from the Music
Research Institute in
Beijing.
I was
particularly
taken with the "numinous"
1950s recording
of Buddhist music from
Zhihuasi temple.
Highly
recommended!
REFERENCES
Holm, David (1991) Art and
ideology
in
revolutionary
China. Oxford: Clarendon
Press.
Jones, Stephen (1995) China: folk
instru-
mental traditions. 2-CD set. VDE-Gallo
CD-822-823.
Thrasher, Alan
(1989)
"Structural continu-
ity
in Chinese sizhu: the baban model."
Asian Music 20.2: 67-106.
Witzleben, J. Lawrence (1995) "Silk and
Bamboo" music in
Shanghai:
the
Jiangnan
sizhu instrumental ensemble
tradition. Kent State Univ. Press.
RACHEL HARRIS
School of Oriental and African Studies
University of
London
rh@soas.ac.uk
musicology. Perhaps
the strongest
impression given by
the book is its
personal
touch, familiarity
with the music and the
people
and a
deep
sense of commitment to
them. The book is
complemented by
a
double CD set (see below; reviewed in BJE
4), with some beautiful recordings
both from
Jones's own collection and from the Music
Research Institute in
Beijing.
I was
particularly
taken with the "numinous"
1950s recording
of Buddhist music from
Zhihuasi temple.
Highly
recommended!
REFERENCES
Holm, David (1991) Art and
ideology
in
revolutionary
China. Oxford: Clarendon
Press.
Jones, Stephen (1995) China: folk
instru-
mental traditions. 2-CD set. VDE-Gallo
CD-822-823.
Thrasher, Alan
(1989)
"Structural continu-
ity
in Chinese sizhu: the baban model."
Asian Music 20.2: 67-106.
Witzleben, J. Lawrence (1995) "Silk and
Bamboo" music in
Shanghai:
the
Jiangnan
sizhu instrumental ensemble
tradition. Kent State Univ. Press.
RACHEL HARRIS
School of Oriental and African Studies
University of
London
rh@soas.ac.uk
BERNARD LRTAT-JAXR
Sardinian chron-
ickes.
Chicago/London:
Univ. of
Chicago
Press, 1995.
x+118pp., photos, index,
compact
disc. ISBN 0-226-49340-7
(cloth),
0-226-49341-5
(pb).
Transl. of
French
original, Chroniques
sardes
(Julliard, 1990).
An
intriguing
little book, this: at once
personal
and distant, revealing
and elusive,
full of
precise
detail and
yet leaving
us to
guess.
What were Bernard Lortat-Jacob's
intentions in
writing
it? He doesn't tell us
directly;
nor does
any specifying
subtitle
shed
light. Page
1 launches us onto the
ferry
to Sardinia; after the briefest of liminal
periods (one sentence), we are
among
Sardinians. On the last
page
we are with a
Sardinian travel
agent
as L-J
negotiates
a
ticket back to France.
In a
two-page Foreword, Michel Leiris
perhaps speaks
for the author: In a series of
BERNARD LRTAT-JAXR
Sardinian chron-
ickes.
Chicago/London:
Univ. of
Chicago
Press, 1995.
x+118pp., photos, index,
compact
disc. ISBN 0-226-49340-7
(cloth),
0-226-49341-5
(pb).
Transl. of
French
original, Chroniques
sardes
(Julliard, 1990).
An
intriguing
little book, this: at once
personal
and distant, revealing
and elusive,
full of
precise
detail and
yet leaving
us to
guess.
What were Bernard Lortat-Jacob's
intentions in
writing
it? He doesn't tell us
directly;
nor does
any specifying
subtitle
shed
light. Page
1 launches us onto the
ferry
to Sardinia; after the briefest of liminal
periods (one sentence), we are
among
Sardinians. On the last
page
we are with a
Sardinian travel
agent
as L-J
negotiates
a
ticket back to France.
In a
two-page Foreword, Michel Leiris
perhaps speaks
for the author: In a series of
"brief
vignettes"
L-J shares with us "his
interactions with all
[surely
not!
-
DWH]
those-musicians and others-whom he
needed for his
study
... flesh-and-blood
characters ... described in their
every
vital
dimension
[making]
the
lay
reader sense that
there do indeed exist human beings
called
'Sardinians"'. This is a fair
description.
L-J
has
given
us technical
insights
into Sardinian
music in other
publications;
here we
get
a
taste of the island itself, of its
people,
the
pace
of life, the contexts of music and dance,
the
style
of human interaction.
It also
gives
a
good
sense of what
fieldwork is like. This too is done without
explicit
intention and involves neither
theoretical musings
nor
practical sugges-
tions. (For
a true taste of the field, however,
stick with Malinowski's diaries or
Nigel
Barley.)
Each of us will find
passages
that
resonate. Much of his research had to be
conducted in bars, where one could not
avoid imbibing:
"I was slowly becoming
an
alcoholic [and learned] unfortunately
a bit
late that mineral water was on the list of
acceptable
drinks" (31).
This recalled,
painfully, Japan,
where the
only
excuses for
not
guzzling
alcohol were a doctor's
directive or a car (I
had neither);
the
conversations we had over drinks were
surely
among
the most
revealing
and valuable-if
only
I could remember them!
We meet a fascinating
cast of characters:
the launeddas maker who
struggled
to find
the 24
(sic)
notes in an octave but would
spend
hours
enraptured, listening
to "the
components
of a
single sound"; the
accordionist whose
attempts
to sell his
repertoire
and festival bookings
the
way
a
doctor sells his
practice
attracted amused
local scorn; the ancient church chorister
whose inventive ornamentation left his
choirmates lost for cues; the returned
dmigrd
who
longed
to
replace
the distinctive local
vocal
style
with bel canto "to return some
nobility
to Sardinian singing".
Amidst all this concrete detail, the author
does
assay
the occasional
generalisation,
for
example concerning
the islanders' "delight
in the
spoken
word ... a natural inclination
toward the
explicit" (39)-but
these are
often
seemingly
contradicted
by examples
elsewhere:
"Any
discussion of music and its
techniques
was
immediately
hurried over: ...
Pichiaddas would
grab
his accordion to
illustrate everything
and nothing" (13). But
"brief
vignettes"
L-J shares with us "his
interactions with all
[surely
not!
-
DWH]
those-musicians and others-whom he
needed for his
study
... flesh-and-blood
characters ... described in their
every
vital
dimension
[making]
the
lay
reader sense that
there do indeed exist human beings
called
'Sardinians"'. This is a fair
description.
L-J
has
given
us technical
insights
into Sardinian
music in other
publications;
here we
get
a
taste of the island itself, of its
people,
the
pace
of life, the contexts of music and dance,
the
style
of human interaction.
It also
gives
a
good
sense of what
fieldwork is like. This too is done without
explicit
intention and involves neither
theoretical musings
nor
practical sugges-
tions. (For
a true taste of the field, however,
stick with Malinowski's diaries or
Nigel
Barley.)
Each of us will find
passages
that
resonate. Much of his research had to be
conducted in bars, where one could not
avoid imbibing:
"I was slowly becoming
an
alcoholic [and learned] unfortunately
a bit
late that mineral water was on the list of
acceptable
drinks" (31).
This recalled,
painfully, Japan,
where the
only
excuses for
not
guzzling
alcohol were a doctor's
directive or a car (I
had neither);
the
conversations we had over drinks were
surely
among
the most
revealing
and valuable-if
only
I could remember them!
We meet a fascinating
cast of characters:
the launeddas maker who
struggled
to find
the 24
(sic)
notes in an octave but would
spend
hours
enraptured, listening
to "the
components
of a
single sound"; the
accordionist whose
attempts
to sell his
repertoire
and festival bookings
the
way
a
doctor sells his
practice
attracted amused
local scorn; the ancient church chorister
whose inventive ornamentation left his
choirmates lost for cues; the returned
dmigrd
who
longed
to
replace
the distinctive local
vocal
style
with bel canto "to return some
nobility
to Sardinian singing".
Amidst all this concrete detail, the author
does
assay
the occasional
generalisation,
for
example concerning
the islanders' "delight
in the
spoken
word ... a natural inclination
toward the
explicit" (39)-but
these are
often
seemingly
contradicted
by examples
elsewhere:
"Any
discussion of music and its
techniques
was
immediately
hurried over: ...
Pichiaddas would
grab
his accordion to
illustrate everything
and nothing" (13). But
British Journal
of Ethnomusicology,
vol. 5
(1996)
British Journal
of Ethnomusicology,
vol. 5
(1996)
such is life: these are Sardinians, but
Sardinian individuals.
The CD inside the back cover-twelve
tracks, 61 minutes-includes wonderful
examples
of the
major
traditional Sardinian
styles:
secular and sacred
polyphony,
launeddas (1 track
only),
diatonic accordion
(1 track
only), "guitar songs",
a
sung
"poetry joust".
One does wish that it had
been better coordinated with the text. We can
only guess
that the Tonino we meet on
p.
70
is the same heard on track 3, but otherwise it
is
impossible
to
identify any
of the tracks
with
any
of the
people
or occasions in the
book. The musicians we meet are thus
denied the chance to
speak
to us via their
primary
voice. One also wishes for more of
the
lyrics,
but L-J does not
speak
Sardinian
(35), only
Italian.
This
sampler
CD should
spur
sales of
some of L-J's
genre-specific
Sardinian
albums. His
recordings
are included in a list
of "Other Works
by
Bernard Lortat-Jacob",
along
with several
writings
that have
nothing
to do with Sardinia.
Might
we instead have
been
given
a list of other authors' works on
Sardinian music to
go along
with L-J's own
valuable
output?
DAVID W. HUGHES
School of
Oriental and
African
Studies
University of
London
dh6@soas.ac.uk
such is life: these are Sardinians, but
Sardinian individuals.
The CD inside the back cover-twelve
tracks, 61 minutes-includes wonderful
examples
of the
major
traditional Sardinian
styles:
secular and sacred
polyphony,
launeddas (1 track
only),
diatonic accordion
(1 track
only), "guitar songs",
a
sung
"poetry joust".
One does wish that it had
been better coordinated with the text. We can
only guess
that the Tonino we meet on
p.
70
is the same heard on track 3, but otherwise it
is
impossible
to
identify any
of the tracks
with
any
of the
people
or occasions in the
book. The musicians we meet are thus
denied the chance to
speak
to us via their
primary
voice. One also wishes for more of
the
lyrics,
but L-J does not
speak
Sardinian
(35), only
Italian.
This
sampler
CD should
spur
sales of
some of L-J's
genre-specific
Sardinian
albums. His
recordings
are included in a list
of "Other Works
by
Bernard Lortat-Jacob",
along
with several
writings
that have
nothing
to do with Sardinia.
Might
we instead have
been
given
a list of other authors' works on
Sardinian music to
go along
with L-J's own
valuable
output?
DAVID W. HUGHES
School of
Oriental and
African
Studies
University of
London
dh6@soas.ac.uk
KAY KAUFMAN SHELEMAY, A
song of
longing:
an
Ethiopian journey.
Urbana/Chicago:
Univ. of Illinois Press,
1994.
xxvi+177pp,
index. ISBN 0-252-
01798-6 (cloth), 0-252-06432-1
(pb).
The title of this book refers to the tezzeta-a
song
of reminiscence for a
country
or a
loved one. This title befits
Shelemay's
role
as
ethnomusicologist,
as well as
expressing
her
feelings
towards
Ethiopia,
her ethno-
musicological
field which became her home,
but which she was forced to leave because of
the course of
political
events. The front
cover of her book is adorned
by
a favourite
picture
she mentions, of a musician playing
a krar
(lyre)
and
singing, presumably,
tezzeta.
The main
subject Shelemay
sets out to
study,
Bet Israel
(Ethiopian Jewish) music, is
detailed in her 1984
monograph, Music,
ritual and Falasha
history (Michigan
State
KAY KAUFMAN SHELEMAY, A
song of
longing:
an
Ethiopian journey.
Urbana/Chicago:
Univ. of Illinois Press,
1994.
xxvi+177pp,
index. ISBN 0-252-
01798-6 (cloth), 0-252-06432-1
(pb).
The title of this book refers to the tezzeta-a
song
of reminiscence for a
country
or a
loved one. This title befits
Shelemay's
role
as
ethnomusicologist,
as well as
expressing
her
feelings
towards
Ethiopia,
her ethno-
musicological
field which became her home,
but which she was forced to leave because of
the course of
political
events. The front
cover of her book is adorned
by
a favourite
picture
she mentions, of a musician playing
a krar
(lyre)
and
singing, presumably,
tezzeta.
The main
subject Shelemay
sets out to
study,
Bet Israel
(Ethiopian Jewish) music, is
detailed in her 1984
monograph, Music,
ritual and Falasha
history (Michigan
State
University,
African Studies Centre).1
A
song
of longing complements
this work, being
a
personal
account of her fieldwork carried
out in the thick of the
Ethiopian
Revolution.
In the documentation of several worlds in
flux-even
disappearing-Shelemay's
work
is of
unique
historical value.
In
particular,
she
captures
the life of the
Bet Israel before their waves of
migration
from their
villages
in and around the Gondar
region.
She
portrays
the Bet Israel of the
village
of Ambober, location of her field-
work, as
caught
in the middle of different
worlds, and in the
process
of
major
transformation.
Contrary
to what
might
be
expected among
inhabitants of a remote
Ethiopian village,
evidence of international
and
cosmopolitan networks, influence and
experience
abounds in all
spheres.
This
manifests itself
mostly
in the
expression
of
dreams of Jerusalem:
posters
and momentos
from Israel and Jewish communities
elsewhere are
displayed
in homes; some
members of the
community
have studied in
Israel or
Europe;
some families have
members
remaining
in Israel and
hope
to
join
them.
Shelemay
shows them to be
deeply
affected
by political
events relating
to
Israel, remarking
on the
sobering
effect on
their
unique Seged ceremony
of the break in
Israeli-Ethiopian
relations in the wake of the
Yom
Kippur
War. A commercial
aspect
of
international contact involves visits to Bet
Israel
villages organized by
the American
tourist
industry-whose impact
is
probably
less dimensional than the
snapshots
taken
by
the tourists. Traditional customs and rituals
are
juxtaposed
with elements and influences
introduced
by
Jews from abroad, exempli-
fied
by
a Bet Israel
teenager
who serenades
her, alternating
Hebrew
holiday songs
with
popular Ethiopian songs.
Presented
especially
as between worlds, in
Shelemay's eye-witness account, are the
religious
traditions of the Bet Israel in their
Ethiopian village-traditions
which
disap-
peared
from the face of
Ethiopia
with their
migration
to Israel. This
aspect
is
particu-
larly
manifested in
generational terms, with
the
splitting
off of
younger
Bet Israel who
observed and
performed
their
liturgy
in
1
1
use the term "Bet Israel", an Amharic term
meaning
"House of Israel", since Bet Israel have
insisted to me that this is their name. Shelemay
uses the term "Beta Israel", which has come into
conventional
usage.
University,
African Studies Centre).1
A
song
of longing complements
this work, being
a
personal
account of her fieldwork carried
out in the thick of the
Ethiopian
Revolution.
In the documentation of several worlds in
flux-even
disappearing-Shelemay's
work
is of
unique
historical value.
In
particular,
she
captures
the life of the
Bet Israel before their waves of
migration
from their
villages
in and around the Gondar
region.
She
portrays
the Bet Israel of the
village
of Ambober, location of her field-
work, as
caught
in the middle of different
worlds, and in the
process
of
major
transformation.
Contrary
to what
might
be
expected among
inhabitants of a remote
Ethiopian village,
evidence of international
and
cosmopolitan networks, influence and
experience
abounds in all
spheres.
This
manifests itself
mostly
in the
expression
of
dreams of Jerusalem:
posters
and momentos
from Israel and Jewish communities
elsewhere are
displayed
in homes; some
members of the
community
have studied in
Israel or
Europe;
some families have
members
remaining
in Israel and
hope
to
join
them.
Shelemay
shows them to be
deeply
affected
by political
events relating
to
Israel, remarking
on the
sobering
effect on
their
unique Seged ceremony
of the break in
Israeli-Ethiopian
relations in the wake of the
Yom
Kippur
War. A commercial
aspect
of
international contact involves visits to Bet
Israel
villages organized by
the American
tourist
industry-whose impact
is
probably
less dimensional than the
snapshots
taken
by
the tourists. Traditional customs and rituals
are
juxtaposed
with elements and influences
introduced
by
Jews from abroad, exempli-
fied
by
a Bet Israel
teenager
who serenades
her, alternating
Hebrew
holiday songs
with
popular Ethiopian songs.
Presented
especially
as between worlds, in
Shelemay's eye-witness account, are the
religious
traditions of the Bet Israel in their
Ethiopian village-traditions
which
disap-
peared
from the face of
Ethiopia
with their
migration
to Israel. This
aspect
is
particu-
larly
manifested in
generational terms, with
the
splitting
off of
younger
Bet Israel who
observed and
performed
their
liturgy
in
1
1
use the term "Bet Israel", an Amharic term
meaning
"House of Israel", since Bet Israel have
insisted to me that this is their name. Shelemay
uses the term "Beta Israel", which has come into
conventional
usage.
171 171