History of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles

Published: December 5, 2011

Written by Ron Conner, Ph.D. student in Ethnomusicology
Research by Donna Armstrong, Administrative Specialist, and Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje, Professor of Ethnomusicology, with additional input from Aaron Bittel and Maureen Russell, Archivists, UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has the largest ethnomusicology program and only Department of Ethnomusicology in the United States. Recognizing multiple intellectual paradigms, UCLA Ethnomusicology combines theoretical and analytical studies of music (typically with a culture-area emphasis), rigorous training in field methods and ethnography, and performance in one or more world music or jazz ensembles. A graduate specialization in systematic musicology is the only one of its kind in the U.S., while undergraduates may concentrate in world music or jazz studies. In its more than 50-year history, ethnomusicology at UCLA has existed within and been supported by a variety of institutional arrangements: as a specialization and later a program within the Department of Music, under the aegis of a research institute, as an independent department beginning in 1989, and most recently, as one of three departments in the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Today, the faculty consists of 15 ladder-rank professors and some 30 adjuncts and lecturers; in any given year, the Department of Ethnomusicology supports 30 to 50 graduate students and 80 to 90 undergraduate majors.

From 1958 through June 2011, UCLA Ethnomusicology has awarded 422 graduate degrees (234 M.A., 188 Ph.D.) and 325 undergraduate degrees. Graduates are among the most distinguished and productive scholars in the discipline, with many having founded prominent ethnomusicology programs elsewhere, such as those at The University of Michigan (William Malm, Ph.D. 1959); University of Washington (Robert Garfias, Ph.D. 1962); University of the Philippines (Jose Maceda, Ph.D. 1963); Wesleyan University (Robert Brown, Ph.D. 1964); University of Wisconsin-Madison (Lois Anderson, Ph.D. 1968); University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Jozef Pacholczyk, Ph.D. 1970); University of California, Berkeley (Bonnie Wade, Ph.D. 1971); Florida State University (Dale Olsen, Ph.D. 1973); University of California, Santa Cruz (Fred Lieberman, Ph.D. 1977); and Brown University (James T. Koetting, Ph.D. 1980).

Ethnomusicology at UCLA is generally considered to have begun in 1960 with the founding of the Institute of Ethnomusicology, an ORU (Organized Research Unit), by ethnomusicologist Mantle Hood. A specialist in Indonesian music, Hood joined the Music Department faculty in 1954, after completing his Ph.D. under Dutch musicologist Jaap Kunst. In contrast to Kunst, who studied and published on Javanese music without learning to play it, Hood insisted that fieldworkers immerse themselves in “non-Western” music as performers to better grasp conceptual and technical challenges, as one would a foreign language. He first formalized this argument in a 1959 paper (later, an article), “The Challenge of ‘Bi-Musicality.’” Bi-musicality became inextricably linked with UCLA Ethnomusicology’s performance emphasis and one of the discipline’s most enduring methodological precepts.

Earlier glimmers of UCLA Ethnomusicology had in fact appeared in 1941, when the Department of Music first offered undergraduate and graduate courses in American music. Two years later, Laurence Petran taught the first world music course, “Folk Music,” and shortly thereafter began teaching courses on aesthetics. Nineteen-forty-seven saw the arrival of Balkanist composer Boris Kremenliev, who brought instruction in European and Central Asian music cultures, and ethnomusicologist Laura C. Boulton, who assumed lectureship of “Folk Music” for two years. Also that year, the Department of Music first offered its graduate “Seminar in Comparative Musicology” (renamed twice: “Seminar in Ethno-musicology” in 1955, “Seminar in Ethnomusicology” in 1957). Musicologist and Latin American specialist Robert Stevenson was hired in 1949 and first listed as the instructor for “Music of Latin America” (Music 131) during the 1967-68 academic year. In the 1950s, the course and faculty roster expanded: Petran’s new offerings included “Acoustics of Music” and “Psychology of Music,” while he retooled “Folk Music” into the two-quarter sequence “Musical Cultures of the World,” one quarter of which Mantle Hood taught.

Several milestones in 1958 presaged UCLA’s becoming a premier center for ethnomusicology. With the support of a $39,000 Rockefeller Foundation grant, Hood acquired the university’s first non-Western instruments from Thailand, Japan and Indonesia, including a 60-piece Javanese gamelan, Khjai Mendung, “Venerable Dark Cloud.” This facilitated the creation of new performance ensembles and began what today is a 1,000-piece world music instrumentarium representing five continents. That same year, the program also graduated its first Ph.D. student, Elizabeth May, and first M.A. student, Robert Garfias, both specialists in Japanese music. Additionally, it was the year big band trombonist Paul Tanner began his three-decade career at UCLA, teaching jazz history. Tanner’s course, “The Development of Jazz,” later taught by jazz scholar Warren Pinckney (Assistant Professor, 1981-89) and composer/bandleader Gerald Wilson (Lecturer, 1991-2008), contributed to the eventual establishment of jazz studies as a program area. Finally, composer and musicologist Charles Seeger joined the faculty in 1958, holding several titles: Regents Professor of Music, Research Associate in Ethnomusicology, Lecturer in Music, and Research Musicologist in Ethnomusicology. Notably, Seeger’s development of the Melograph—a precision, automatic music transcription apparatus—pushed UCLA to the forefront of scientific research in systematic musicology.

The 1960s witnessed program formalization and the beginning of institutional traditions that continue today. In 1960, the Department of Music approved a curriculum for its ethnomusicology specialization, necessitating new courses. At the undergraduate level, Kremenliev first taught the “Music of the Balkans” ensemble while Hood launched “Pro-Seminar in Ethnomusicology.” Hood also introduced three graduate seminars, all of which still exist in some form: “Notation and Transcription in Ethnomusicology,” “Field and Laboratory Methods in Ethnomusicology,” and “Musical Instruments of the World.” In May 1960, Hood produced the Festival of Oriental Music and the Related Arts (FOMRA), which has taken place annually ever since, and is now called the Spring Festival of World Music and Jazz. The year-end culmination of students’ performance studies, FOMRA showcased six ensembles: Music of Java (formed 1954; Mantle Hood, director; Hardja Susilo, dancer), Music of Japan (formed 1956, by Robert Garfias; William Malm and Gordon Stone, co-directors), Music of Bali (formed 1959; Mantle Hood, director), Music of China (formed 1959; Tsun-Yuen Lui, pipa and qin soloist; Mantle Hood, commentator), Music of India (formed 1959; Robert Brown, director; Tanjore Viswanathan, flute soloist) and Music of Persia (formed 1959; Hormoz Farhat, director).

The decade’s farthest-reaching development came when Mantle Hood founded the Institute of Ethnomusicology in 1960. With initiatives concerned with broadening area and scientific expertise, collecting field recordings and instruments, disseminating faculty research, and gathering master musicians from around the globe to teach their traditions, the Institute became unique for its diversity and depth of academic resources. With the Institute’s founding, UCLA immediately hired several faculty, notably I Wayan Gandera (Lecturer, Indonesia, 1960-64), Colin McPhee (Lecturer, Indonesia and composition, 1960-64), Tjokorda Mas (Lecturer, Indonesia, 1960-66), Tanjore Viswanathan (Lecturer, Carnatic music; 1961), William Hutchinson (Professor, systematic musicology, 1961-90), Harihar Rao (Lecturer, Hindustani music, 1961-66, 1968-69) and Suenobu Togi (Senior Lecturer, Japan, 1961-93). Soon following were David Morton (Professor, Thailand, 1962-85), Mitsuru Yuge (Lecturer, Japan, 1962-89), Ikuko Yuge (Lecturer, Japan, 1962-2001), Leon Knopoff (Research Musicologist, systematic musicology, 1963-88), Klaus Wachsmann (Professor, Africa, 1963-68), J. H. Kwabena Nketia (Professor, Africa, 1963, 1968-83), D. K. Wilgus (Professor, Anglo American music, 1963-89), Hormoz Farhat (Lecturer, Persia, 1964-67), Tsun-Yuen Lui (Lecturer, China, 1965-91), Max Harrell (Assistant Professor, Indonesia, 1965-83), Manoochehr Sadeghi (Lecturer, Persia, 1966-72, 1989-94), Danny Lee (Lecturer, Korea, 1967-97), Willie Ruff (Lecturer, African American music, 1967-71), Hardja Susilo (Lecturer, Indonesia, 1967-71), Kwasi Badu (Lecturer, African music, 1968-74), Jesus Sanchez (Lecturer, Mexico, 1968-75), Peter Crossley-Holland (Professor, Pre-Columbian music, 1969-83), James Porter (Professor, Europe, 1969-97), Rodney Vlasak (Assistant Professor, African American music; 1969-77), Jozef Pacholczyk (Professor, North Africa/Near East, 1970-74), William Carter (Acting Assistant Professor, American folk and popular music, 1971-76), and still others. By 1964, the Institute of Ethnomusicology listed 12 world music performance organizations in the UCLA course catalog.

In 1961, Hood hired Librarian Ann Briegleb Schuursma (1961-84) to create the Ethnomusicology Archive. The Archive was initially housed in the basement level of Schoenberg Hall (now Schoenberg Music Building) and consisted of four cabinets containing field tapes deposited by Hood (Indonesia), Robert Brown (India), and Robert Garfias (Japan), plus a collection of commercial recordings. Following Schuursma’s retirement, she was succeeded by Louise Spear (1985-2003), Maureen Russell (1989-present), John Vallier (2002-06) and Aaron Bittel (2008-present). Faculty Archive Directors have been Timothy Rice (1997-99), Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje (2000-07) and Anthony Seeger (2007-present). Since 1982, the Archive has resided in a seven-room suite in Schoenberg Music Building. Today, it holds nearly 150,000 audiovisual, photographic and manuscript items, including collections from Colin McPhee, Harold Courlander, and Barbara Krader. Projects in cataloguing, preserving and digitizing field collections have received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1983, 1998), the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (2003), the GRAMMY Foundation (2006, 2009), and other granting agencies. Budgetary constraints in recent years have unfortunately forced a reduction in hours of operation; even so, the Archive opens for personal appointments and continues providing a variety of reference, outreach and educational services.

The completion and first-run distribution of Mantle Hood’s seminal 1964 ethnographic film, Atumpan, marked the beginning of UCLA Ethnomusicology Publications. Two years later, Publications printed the first issue of Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology, now comprising twelve volumes (1966-2005), each an essay collection thematically addressing an ethnomusicological theory or method, particular world music area, or analytic or research focus. UCLA Ethnomusicology Publications also issues monographs, CDs and DVDs, the triannual newsletter Ethnomusicology at UCLA (1983-present). Several individuals have served as managing editor of Publications, including Vincent Ryan, Eran Fraenkel, Roger Wright, and Kelly Salloum. Since 2007, Kathleen Hood (Ph.D. UCLA, 2003) has held the position of Director of Ethnomusicology Publications. Ethnomusicology graduate students established the student-edited journal, Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology, in 1984; the journal’s name was changed to Ethnomusicology Review in 2011.

With Mantle Hood’s departure from UCLA in 1974, the Institute of Ethnomusicology was dissolved, and ethnomusicology remained a program in the Department of Music. Straight away, Charlotte Heth joined the faculty (Professor, Native North America, 1974-94), with others arriving in ensuing years: Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy (Professor, India; 1975-94), David Draper (Assistant Professor, Native America, 1976-84), Kobla Ladzekpo (Adjunct Assistant Professor, Africa, 1976-present), A. J. Racy (Professor, Near East, 1978-present), Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje (Professor, Africa and African America, 1979-present), Warren Pinckney (Assistant Professor, jazz history, 1981-89), Sue Carole DeVale (Assistant Professor, Indonesia, 1983-93), Roger Kendall (Professor, systematic musicology and acoustics, 1984-present) Steven Loza (Professor, Latin America and Chicano music, 1984-present), and Ernie Siva (Visiting Assistant Professor, Native North America, 1984-95).

In the post-Institute era, UCLA Ethnomusicology continued as a leading research hub even as its organizational structure transitioned. In 1974, the Council of Ethnomusicology was formed to oversee program administration and curriculum; chairs were Boris Kremenliev (1974-76), Peter Crossley-Holland (1976-79), J. H. Kwabena Nketia (1979-82), Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy (1982-83), A. J. Racy (1983-85) and James Porter (1986). In 1986, Jairazbhoy, D. K. Wilgus and Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje lobbied for the creation of a self-directed administrative unit for ethnomusicology within the Department of Music; thus was established the Division of Ethnomusicology and Systematic Musicology (1986-88), chaired first by James Porter, then by Jairazbhoy. The next year, amid UC system-wide plans for reorganizing UCLA’s College of Fine Arts, Porter and Jairazbhoy submitted to Chancellor Charles Young their statement arguing to elevate UCLA Ethnomusicology’s status to that of an independent department. Also that year, Timothy Rice (Professor, Balkans and Bulgaria, 1987-present, and Associate Dean, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, 2005-08) joined the faculty. In January 1989, the Department of Ethnomusicology and Systematic Musicology became an official entity, with Jairazbhoy its founding chair (1988-90). In 1990, the Regents of the University of California established the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture (SOAA) from the disbanded College of Fine Arts; since that time, SOAA has been the Department’s home.

The 1990s and 2000s found the Department simultaneously expanding and refining its mission. New faculty hires included Roger Savage (Professor, systematic musicology and aesthetics, 1991-present), Cheryl L. Keyes (Professor, American popular music, 1994-present), Daniel Neuman (Professor, India, 1994-present, Dean, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, 1996-2002, and UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, 2002-06), Tara Browner (Professor, Native North America, 1995-present), Kenny Burrell (Professor and Director, Jazz Studies, 1995-present), Helen Rees (Professor, China and East Asia, 1997-present) and Lorraine Sakata (Professor, Islamic South Asia, 1997-2005). Department chairs were Charlotte Heth (1990-92), James Porter (1992-95), Daniel Neuman (1995-96), Timothy Rice (acting chair, 1995-96; chair, 1996-2005), A. J. Racy (acting chair, Fall 2002), Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje (acting chair, Winter and Spring 2003; chair, 2005-10), and Helen Rees (2011-present).

A number of new performance faculty were also hired in the 1990s, including Nati Cano (Visiting Assistant Professor, Mexico, 1989-2000), Francisco Aguabella (Adjunct Assistant Professor, Afro-Cuba, 1995-2009), Bill “Shozan” Schultz (Lecturer, Japan, 1995-2001), I Nyoman Wenten (Adjunct Assistant Professor, Indonesia, 1995-present), Shujaat Husain Khan (Lecturer, India, 1996-present), Dongsuk Kim (Adjunct Assistant Professor, Korea, 1997-present), Li Chi (Adjunct Associate Professor, China, 1997-present), James Roberson (Adjunct Assistant Professor, African American, 1997-present), and Abhiman Kaushal (Adjunct Assistant Professor, India, 1998-present). In 1995, the Department of Ethnomusicology and Systematic Musicology streamlined its name, becoming the Department of Ethnomusicology.

In 1992 an undergraduate program was created, and UCLA became the first university to confer the B.A. in Ethnomusicology. With the three-quarter sequence in “World Music Theory and Musicianship” (first taught by Paul Humphreys in 1989) and “Musical Cultures of the World” (a three-quarter area studies analog to the theory sequence, taught by various faculty), and several new electives and performance ensembles, the major offered undergraduates unparalleled opportunities to combine hands-on musical training with the academic study of several world traditions. Other visiting faculty who have contributed to the undergraduate program over the years include Amy Catlin (Lecturer, South and Southeast Asia, field methodology, 1987-present), Jonathon Grasse (Lecturer, world music theory and musicianship, 1999-2004), and Ankica Petrović (Adjunct Professor, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, anthropology, field methodology, 1996-2008). The Department awarded its first B.A. degrees to Ralph Jones and David Markowitz in 1993 and its first Ph.D. to Yoshiko Okazaki in 1995.

In 1996, Jazz Studies became a concentration in the Ethnomusicology undergraduate major. Directed by Kenny Burrell, the program attracted a new roster of performance faculty, including Lecturer Billy Childs (jazz piano, 1996-2000), Lecturer Oscar Brashear (jazz trumpet, 1996-99), Lecturer Garnett Brown (trombone and jazz ensemble, 1996-2001), Lecturer Billy Higgins (jazz percussion, 1996-2001), Lecturer Harold Land (jazz saxophone, 1996-2001), Adjunct Assistant Professor Tom Ranier (jazz piano, 1996-2005), Adjunct Assistant Professor George Bohanon (jazz trombone, 1996-present), Adjunct Associate Professor Roberto Miranda (jazz bass, 1996-present), Adjunct Assistant Professor Barbara Morrison (jazz vocals, 1996-present), Adjunct Assistant Professor Ruth Price (jazz vocals, 1996-present), Lecturer Gerald Wilson (jazz ensemble, 1996-2004 and jazz history, 1991-2008), Adjunct Associate Professor Michele Weir (jazz vocals, 1997-present), Adjunct Assistant Professor Anthony Wilson (jazz guitar, 1998-2008), Lecturer Llew Matthews (jazz ensemble, 1999-2004), Adjunct Assistant Professor Bobby Rodriguez (jazz ensemble, 2000-present), Lecturer Sherman Ferguson (jazz percussion, 2001-05), Lecturer Charles Owens (jazz saxophone, 2002-present), Lecturer Charley Harrison (jazz ensemble, jazz history, jazz arranging, 2004-present), Lecturer Tamir Hendelman (jazz piano, jazz theory, jazz improvisation, and composition, 2005-present), and Lecturer Clayton Cameron (jazz percussion, 2006-present).

Initially offered as a concentration in both the Music and Ethnomusicology Departments (and co-administered by both departments), Jazz Studies had significant precursors, including: the jazz ensembles, first listed in the course catalog during the 1971-72 academic year as Music 70R, taught by Professor Gary Gray, and beginning in 1989 by Professor Gordon Henderson; the “Development of Jazz” course, first taught by Paul Tanner in 1958 and later by Warren Pinckney and Gerald Wilson; jazz history courses taught by composer Alden Ashforth (Professor, 1967-94); and a course on Duke Ellington, called “Ellingtonia,” first taught by Kenny Burrell in 1978 through the UCLA Center for Afro-American Studies. In 2002 Jazz Studies was transferred entirely into the Department of Ethnomusicology. Beginning in Fall 2012, UCLA will house the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Chaired by Herbie Hancock, the Monk Institute’s presence on campus will coincide with the Department of Music’s establishment of an M.M. degree program in jazz  performance.

In the 1990s, the Department became increasingly active in the Greater Los Angeles area with its hiring of ethnomusicologist and music educator Miriam Gerberg as its Director of Outreach (1998-2001). The Outreach Program brought world music education to local public schools, focusing especially on schools that lacked resources in music education. In 2006, the World Music Summer Institute was established, which provided a one-week program for high school and community college students, as well as interested community members, to study one of four performance traditions with a UCLA master musician. A goal of the program was to encourage students to go to college. Indeed, over the course of the six years that the Institute has been in existence, a few participants have applied and been accepted into the B.A. program in ethnomusicology at UCLA.

During the 1990s the Department also sponsored numerous memorable events, including the Symposium on African Music (Spring 1996; Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje, organizer), the conference Music in Urban Environments (Spring 1998; Timothy Rice, organizer); the Duke Ellington Centennial Celebration Concert and Symposium (Spring 1999; Kenny Burrell, organizer), and the conference Musical Cultures of Latin America (Spring 1999; Steven Loza, organizer). Likewise, a tradition of hosting Regents’ Lecturers became increasingly visible. The Department counts internationally renowned artists such as Pete Seeger (1988), John “Dizzy” Gillespie (1989), Yusef Lateef (1991), Tito Puente (1994), Herbie Hancock (1997), Joseph Shabalala (2000), Julien Jalal Eddine Weiss (2001), Henry Butler (2006), Mike Seeger (2008), and Arturo Márquez (2011) among its resident Regents’ Lecturers.

In the 2000s, the Department again welcomed several new faculty, including Anthony Seeger (Distinguished Professor of Ethnomusicology, Native South America, music industry, and Anglo American music, 2000-present), Timothy D. Taylor (Professor, popular music and cultural theory, 2004-present), Münir Beken (Assistant Professor, world music theory and musicianship, world music composition, and Turkey, 2007-present) and James Newton (Professor, jazz history and composition, 2008-present). New world music performance faculty in the last decade have been Jesus Guzman (Lecturer, Mexico, 2000-present), Tzvetanka Varimezova (Adjunct Associate Professor, Bulgaria, 2001-present) and Ivan Varimezov (Adjunct Assistant Professor, Bulgaria, 2001-present).

To accommodate varied student career interests, and to make the best use of new faculty in the area of composition, the Department revised its undergraduate concentration in world music, effective Fall 2007, with emphases in performance/composition, public ethnomusicology, and scholarship/research. The jazz curriculum was also revised, effective Fall 2010, to recognize separate performance and composition emphases. During this time, Departmental initiation of and participation in campus-wide collaborative projects intensified, including the Year of African Music (1999-2000), Year of Ecstasy (2000-2001), Year of Archiving (2001-2002), Year of Ethnomusicology and the Music Industry (2002-2003), and the Year of the Arts (2004-2005).Other notable events included the Festival of African American Music (Spring 2005; Kenny Burrell, organizer), Ash Grove 50th Anniversary (Spring 2008; Anthony Seeger, organizer), Duke Ellington’s 110th Birthday Anniversary Festival of Music (Spring 2009; Kenny Burrell, organizer), and Dialogue in Music Project: Africa Meets North America (Fall 2009; Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje, organizer). In 2010, as part of UCLA Ethnomusicology’s yearlong 50th anniversary celebration, the Department hosted the 55th Annual Meeting of the Society of Ethnomusicology (SEM), with Tara Browner as Local Arrangements Chair. Three prior UCLA-hosted SEM conferences occurred in 1968, 1984 (James Porter, Local Arrangements Chair; José Maceda [Ph.D. Ethnomusicology, UCLA, 1963], Seeger Lecturer) and 1995 (Steven Loza, Local Arrangements Chair; Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy, Seeger Lecturer).

Major donations in the new millennium brought the Department still further visibility. In 2004, Dr. Mohinder Sambhi pledged $1 million to establish the Mohindar Brar Sambhi Endowed Chair in Indian Music. Currently held by Daniel Neuman, the Sambhi Chair honors the memory of Dr. Sambhi’s late wife and is the largest private donation ever given to a university for the study of Indian music. Three years later, UCLA received the largest arts gift in the history of the University of California system when musician and philanthropist Herb Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall Alpert, donated $30 million to form and endow the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music (HASOM). Directed by Timothy Rice since 2007, HASOM aligns UCLA’s three music departments—Ethnomusicology, Music and Musicology—with the aim of training students to create, perform, use and research music in forward-thinking, interdisciplinary ways. As recently as 2011, record executive Morris “Mo” Ostin pledged $10 million to fund a state-of-the-art music recording, rehearsal and instruction facility at UCLA, to be constructed adjacent to Schoenberg Music Building and completed in 2014.

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