*Bob Brown passed away peacefully at 11:35 am, Tues. 29 Nov 2005, at his home in San Diego.


Published: November 8, 2005


Dear Students, Faculty, Alumni, and Friends of Ethnomusicology at UCLA,

I am very sad to report that Robert Brown, one of the first students to receive the Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from UCLA, is seriously ill. He was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer soon after he returned in September from leading a tour of 56 people for three weeks in Indonesia. After the diagnosis, he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized; his speech and fingers were affected but are improving. He is back at home and undergoing chemotherapy. Friends who have talked with him by phone state that his voice sounded weak, but his spirit seems strong.

Bob arrived at UCLA in 1953 as a piano major. After Mantle Hood began teaching at UCLA in 1954, Bob fell in love with ethnomusicology and became Hood's first teaching assistant. Bob's dissertation, entitled "The Mrdanga: A Study of Drumming in South India," was completed at UCLA in 1965.

Bob is the founder of the world music/ethnomusicology program at Wesleyan University where he worked from 1962 to 1971. When he arrived at Wesleyan in 1962, Bob coined or invented the term "world music" to describe the program of study there. According to Bob, "world music" was a study based on the presence of living music because students had direct contact with master musicians. This experience provided students with a foundation in performance that became very powerful over the years. In fact, students completing their studies at Wesleyan in the early years received degrees in "world music." The program of study in world music/ethnomusicology did not begin until later in the sixties.

As part of Wesleyan's program, Bob brought T. Balasaraswati (1918-1984) , the most renowned bharata natyam (classical South Indian) dancer of the 20th century, and her family to the United States. Balasaraswati's brother, T. Ranganathan, was the central source of Bob Brown's dissertation, and went to Wesleyan in 1963 at Bob's invitation, where he remained on the faculty until his death. Bob's concerts at Wesleyan in the 1960s attracted many to India's music.

Bob played an important role in the organization of the American Society for Eastern Arts (ASEA), which was founded in 1963 by Sam and Louise Scripps. These associations led, in 1973, to Bob establishing the Center for World Music (CWM), a nonprofit organization located near UC Berkeley that became an important center for world music classes and concerts. Bob was also connected with California Institute of the Arts and their world music program.

Bob was a Professor of Music at San Diego State University from 1979 until his retirement in 1992. During that period, he also served as Chair of the School of Music for three years: 1979-82. Currently, Bob is President of the Center for World Music and owner of Flower Mountain, a center for traditional Balinese performing arts in Payangan, Bali.

Bob is a brilliant writer, and has a great sense of humor. He has told friends that he would appreciate knowing that we, his colleagues, are thinking of him. His email address is:
<>. For those who may want to phone, his number is 619-440-7200. He prefers that people contact him between mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje
Chair, Department of Ethnomusicology