Subject, Object, and the Ethnomusicology Ensemble
The Ethnomusicological "We" and "Them"
Ricardo D. Trimillos
This chapter is both subjective-personal and objective-general. It is my opportunity to reflect upon more than four decades of personal involvement with world music ensembles, initially as a student, then as a (sometimes reluctant) teacher, and finally as an ethnomusicologist overseeing such projects. Although I focus here upon the ensemble within an American academic setting, we should acknowledge and appreciate similar activities outside academe, such as at the Naropa Institute (Boulder, Colorado), the World Kulintang Institute (Los Angeles, California), and Gamelan Sekar Jaya (El Cerrito, California), as well as outside the United States, including at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, La Cité de la Musique (Paris), Osaka University (Japan), the School of Oriental and African Studies (London), and the Tropen Museum (Amsterdam). Although I intend my observations to have wider application, my immediate purview is circumscribed by institution and by nation: I examine world music ensembles as found at colleges and universities in the United States.
The comments and observations following draw upon past and ongoing experiences at a number of American institutions, including the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, UCLA, U.C. Santa Cruz, U.C. Santa Barbara, Oberlin College, the University of Miami, and Beloit College. They are further informed by sojourns overseas, including to the University of Cologne (Germany), the University of the Philippines (Quezon City), the University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur), Institut Seni Indonesia (Yogyakarta), Musashino College of Music (Tokyo), and the Australian National University (Canberra), as well as other locations specifically cited in the chapter. They are also influenced by my interests in the pedagogical developments of ethnomusicology, world music, and multiculturalism in the American academy (Trimillos 1988b, 1990; Volk 1998).
It is my intention to attempt a self-reflexive critique of ourselves and our field. The willingness to interrogate subject as well as object is a relatively recent and welcome development encouraged by cultural studies and recent developments in anthropology. There has always been a need to locate ourselves and our own agency within the domain of study, which has clearly undergone change. The American world music ensemble at the beginning of the twenty-first century operates in a different space than it did in the 1960s. We will briefly revisit that earlier space.
Sounding the Other: A Paradigm for the Academy
The world music ensemble, an innovation by Mantle Hood at UCLA in the late 1950s, began as a study group. It originated as a means for understanding the music of another culture, that is, accessing the musical other. Its purpose was explicit in its original designation as study group, which emphasized understanding rather than presentation in intent. The study group is my point of reference for the term ensemble.
Charles Seeger, Hood's colleague at UCLA, provides an elegant statement of the original purpose and value of the study group. It became a quasi-credo during the reductionist debates between "Hood-ites" and "Merriam-ites" at the end of the 1960s. In his introduction to Hood's seminal work The Ethnomusicologist, Seeger historicizes the study group within the then-current apparatus of ethnomusicological inquiry:
The distinguishing mark of the second epoch [that of Mantle Hood] is the learning to make music, that is, becoming reasonably participatory in, the music one is studying. We have realized that to the speech knowledge of music—that is, the knowledge sought and expressed in terms of a language—there must be added the music knowledge of music. Where speech knowledge fails, music knowledge can be gained only by the making of it. (Hood 1971: vii)
However, Seeger does not stop with the argument that performance can enhance reflexive, word-based scholarly inquiry. He advances a corollary notion: learning (and, by implication, teaching) through performance commands parity with, if not superiority to, the logocentric processes of conceptualization, reflection, and analysis, which he characterizes as "armchair study." The primacy of these processes he assigns to the first epoch of the field. The corollary to the above argument is that "Precept and objectivity have their place in learning, but there is more than one reason to believe that it is second to example. And in all example, the subjective element—at least in the humanities—is as important as the objective" (ibid.; emphasis mine).
It could be argued that during the ensuing three decades this corollary has become a second and independent tenet of the "credo," evidenced by the significant number of non-ethnomusicology students who populate study groups and, remarkably, by the presence of world music ensembles in institutions without ethnomusicology programs. A notable model is the World Music Center at West Virginia University (Morgantown), an institution that supports Caribbean, African, and Asian music performance ensembles but has no resident ethnomusicology faculty to provide broader contextualization or scholarly reflexivity about these genres. Neither world music nor ethnomusicology is featured in the university's curriculum. The center's 2001 mission statement claims, "The philosophy behind the World Music Center is to help students gain a better understanding of people and traditions that are different from our own Western culture" (www.wvu.edu/~music/special.htm; emphasis mine).
Barbara B. Smith certainly recognized the intrinsic worth of music as performance when she began the University of Hawai'i ethnomusicology program in the 1950s. Equally importantly, she realized music's potential to validate cultural identity. At least a decade before proponents of ethnic studies emerged to press for minority and alternative voices in the academy, she was concerned about relevance for a multicultural Asia-Pacific student population:
I wondered if the musics being taught in the schools . . . were contributing to conflicts between students' perceptions of their ethnic identity and their cultural identity [operating in an American mainstream] and if, instead, music could help bridge the gap. I concluded that in Hawaii, it was important that the music education program . . . acknowledge value in the students' ancestral heritage. (Smith 1987: 210)
She acted upon that concern. Rather than seeking performance teachers from abroad, she drew them from the multicultural Asia-Pacific communities of Hawai'i, a decision she considered an "important step in integrating the community-at-large into the ethnomusicology program" (ibid.: 211). The study groups not only brought music of the Other to the academy; they also served as a mainstream validation for these musics, an important statement for ethnic minorities in the throes of assimilation to American society. Barbara Smith organized study groups for both musical and social reasons, a pedagogical stance that parallels the major interests of our discipline.
Thus a forty-year trajectory reveals development from a single academic rationale to multiple ones responding to concerns of multiculturalism, alternative modes of knowledge acquisition, cultural and ethnic advocacy, aesthetic and artistic pluralism, and community outreach, to name a few. In my view, the multiplicity constitutes a synchronic continuum between two contrasting polarities concerning the academic value of the study group, 1) as adjunct to scholarly inquiry, and 2) as a self-contained, independent, aesthetic and expressive activity.
Three Social Issues in Current Academe
The multiplicity of rationales certainly reflects a change in the American social environment since the 1960s, with an expanded civil rights movement, the social issues raised by the Vietnam war, the specter of ethnic cleansing, and global electronic linkages. The present teaching environment itself is informed by at least three major developments. The first is the trope of the pluralistic, multicultural America. The second is the concern for academic relevance, that is, how the study group supports notions of academic goals and priorities. The third is a higher level of public essentialist rhetoric, part of a current mood of political correctness that carries serious implications for our field. All three developments comprise subtexts for this discussion. Therefore, I give each some consideration here.
Pluralism is both a reality and an aspiration. Demographic studies and census data attest to its statistical significance. The vision of the American multicultural heterotopia has been a theme in education since the 1970s, and it is a major part of educational debate today (Nussbaum 1997). Given America's history of racism, the vision has not yet been fully achieved as social reality. To its credit, ethnomusicology as a multicultural enterprise predates this educational vision. When multiculturalism was articulated nationally in the 1970s, ethnomusicology stood ready to provide musical content, to fill in the cultural world map, as it were. Performance of world musics as an experience of the Other validates and empowers, both goals of multicultural education. For some, the ensemble provides an avenue for actualizing a pluralist vision and contributing to the multicultural reality.
Relevance is a central theme for institutional justification and pedagogical rationale. The study group, like every component of a curriculum, is continually challenged to demonstrate long-term relevance and usefulness to the academy. Justification is particularly critical at sites where ensembles are staffed by part-time or non-tenure track faculty or when financial resources are limited. Although Hood's original intent was satisfactory for the 1960s, at the onset of the twenty-first century it may no longer be sufficient. The contemporary rationale needs to reference diverse aspects of the experience. For example, the study group certainly resonates with current music learning theory, including Gardner's multiple intelligences (1999), with general critiques of the academy (Kingsbury 1988), and with national priorities for the arts in education (Down 1993). However, the case for its raison d'être rarely employs an expanded rationale. Granted, the study group is only one of the identities for the world music ensemble at present. As evident by the West Virginia program, it may no longer exist solely as the handmaiden to ethnomusicology and its exercises in reflexivity.
Essentialism presently commands a national foreground beyond academe. The awareness of cultural pluralism and the hope for multiculturalism raise the difficult issues of entitlement and authenticity. The term authenticity applied to the object is problematic; I have discussed this issue elsewhere (1995). However, I use the word without qualifiers here to mark the spectator position advanced by Balme (1998), that is, the authoritative or the credible from a consumer viewpoint. For our purposes the student, the personnel committee member, and the concert series director are all part of the academy's consumership.
The appropriateness of any individual speaking for a culture or a people has come under intense scrutiny, bringing greater attention to the identity of the messenger. Widely discussed in academe (see, for example, Brunner 1998; Roof and Wiegman 1995; Spivak 1988), essentialism has been identified as a means for empowerment, often for people of color. Such discussions have been notably absent from ethnomusicological forums. Although essentialism was raised almost four decades ago in reference to African-American music, a serious debate on essentialism in our field has yet to emerge. Any essentialist position has far-reaching implications for the study group, and particularly for its teacher, whose persona comprises a major theme of this chapter.
Consideration of the teacher suggests provocative parallels with the relationship of message and messenger. The teacher is the critical link for the study group, the individual who delivers musical and cultural knowledge of the Other to the American student. As one who has been both part of the study group's historical development and one of its messengers, I consciously conflate subject and object, the "we" and "them," the "ours" and "theirs," in the course of this discussion. Multiple positionalities are unavoidable in the cross-cultural work we do. Invoking them here is an attempt to convey the complexity of this work. I begin with a most essentialist conflation of subject and object, my gaze upon myself as study group teacher. In the first scenario, I analyze my own agency within two variant locales for Philippine music. In the second, I problematize myself, koto musician and teacher, as the object of gaze by various populations in Hawai'i.
The Philippine Ensemble: Teaching Which Heritage to Whom?
In this first narrative, I contrast teaching the Philippine Ensemble in two different locales during the 1980s: the University of Hawai'i and the University of California, Santa Cruz. The format and content of the ensemble were the same at both campuses. The study group focused upon the Lowland repertory of the rondalla string band, which functions de facto as the national folk music. The rondalla references the Spanish colonial heritage of the Philippines, both in its material culture and musical styles. Although the ensemble concentrated on instrumental repertory, I also taught songs with texts in Tagalog, the national language. A source for my knowledge of the rondalla and its repertory is my personal background, as I come from an emigrant Filipino enclave in the then-agrarian environs of San Jose, California. It was the music I heard and played as part of a Filipino-American family, and the music has personal significance as part of my cultural heritage.
The kulintang, a gong-chime ensemble of six to seven players from the Muslim south of the Philippines, served as a Southeast Asian contrast to the Hispanicized rondalla. It has stylistic and organological connections to the more elaborate gamelan orchestras of Indonesia. Musical ties of the kulintang to insular Southeast Asia include: a tuning system not based upon equal temperament or upon a system of standard pitches, a praxis that requires improvisation, and a repertory unfettered by an indigenous notation system. Other ties are contextual: kulintang represents Filipinos who successfully resisted Spanish and American colonization and, like its people, has been subjected to exploitation and misrepresentation by a Lowland Filipino hegemony. My source for this knowledge is my study of Tausug kulintang and its repertory as part of graduate field research in the Sulu archipelago of the southern Philippines between 1963 and 1968. The ensemble has personal significance as part of my first fieldwork experience.
In both Santa Cruz and Hawai'i my major goals for the study group were the same: performance competence in Filipino musics, experience with standard repertory, and an entrée for cultural understanding. I found, however, that the two sites required different approaches.
Three Educational Goals in Two Settings
For this discussion of the three goals, I focus upon the rondalla, leaving an extensive consideration of kulintang for another opportunity. The learning environments were different in Hawai'i and Santa Cruz, in part because of contrasting social histories. In Hawai'i with its multicultural and plantation history, there was already general recognition of Filipino culture and an aural familiarity with the rondalla. Within the racial hierarchy of the Hawaiian Islands, Filipinos have historically ranked below Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, and Caucasians (haole), and, like the Portuguese and Samoans, they have often been subject to negative racial stereotyping. Most Hawai'i-reared students (self-identified as "local") in the ensemble came with this history, although they reflected diverse ethnicities: they were Japanese, Korean, Hawaiian, Vietnamese, Chinese, and haole as well as Filipino. Nonlocal students, primarily mainland Americans, foreign students, and military dependents, were generally ignorant of the island racial hierarchy and considered Filipino culture simply another culture with which to become familiar.
In Santa Cruz I found a general ignorance of Filipino culture, in spite of the existence of a significant resident community. None of the study group students came from the Santa Cruz area; they had minimal contact with the region's cultural diversity or its ethnic minorities. Unlike Filipinos in Hawai'i, those in California are subsumed in the general category of Asian American, a construct that arose from the civil rights and related activist movements of the 1960s. The number of students of Filipino heritage on campus was small; I had none in the group. Diversity was represented by one student of Jewish background. Gender diversity was completely lacking; I found it a novel (and singular) experience to teach a music class that was completely male and white.
Among the Hawai'i students, I found uncritical acceptance of the rondalla as Filipino and an aural attraction to kulintang as a Filipino but exotic Other. Filipino music and dance are regularly part of multicultural public presentations; a number of Filipino performance troupes exist in the community, and the music is frequently presented on radio and television broadcasts. For Hawai'i students, then, the identity of rondalla music as Filipino was reinforced in the general community. In Santa Cruz, however, no wider soundscape for rondalla existed; the study group constituted the students' principal, if not only, point of contact with the tradition. Its "Mediterranean" quality coupled with the students' unfamiliarity with the genre occasionally led to questions about its authenticity as an Asian music. "It's too Western to be from Asia," one remarked.
Attitudes about kulintang were generally reversed. Local students in Hawai'i were less familiar with the gong ensemble as "really Filipino"; it wasn't part of their experience. A student of Filipino heritage expressed a widely held attitude about identity with the observation that kulintang "doesn't sound Filipino; it's Moro [a historically derogatory term for Muslim Filipinos]." The Santa Cruz group, in contrast, considered the kulintang a more satisfying representation of the Philippines as a musical Other. The Santa Cruz campus already had a well-established West Javanese gamelan, a gong ensemble with which students could make comparisons. Because of its considerable volume, pervasive timbre, and the physical effort required, the kulintang came across as a more "muscular" music than the rondalla. This appeared to be an additional source of satisfaction for my all-male class.
These contrasts in student background called for different teaching strategies in order to achieve the stated goals. Performance competence, the first goal, was valorized equally by the students and by the teacher. It is the most observable of goals, and the most useful in the academic setting. For the student, it is a gauge of his mastery and, by implication, the effectiveness of the teaching. For the teacher, it provides a means for evaluating student progress and translating it into a grade. Given the broad array of competencies possible, I had to choose which ones were to be concentrated upon. My choices were different in the two settings.
The rondalla generally employs staff notation. In some regions of the Philippines a full score with all parts notated is employed. In other locales only the melody is written, and other parts (normally six parts, including guitar and bass) are realized or "improvised" from it. In some rural areas, however, performance is still entirely oido, the prescribed melody learned and performed by ear, without notation. Most good rondallistas can both read and play by ear.
The Hawai'i group learned how to derive parts from a set melodic line readily, because they were somewhat familiar with the musical style. The Santa Cruz students had no preexistent sound model, although they occasionally referenced Russian balalaika or Puerto Rican orquesta genres. To strengthen their aural model, I used a portion of initial sessions to play recordings of rondalla, to get its sound "in the ear." I did not anticipate the aural analyses that emerged during these listening sessions. Students articulated a number of features they considered notable or significant, including alternation of the melody between higher range and lower range instruments, the replication of brass band figures such as "French horn off beats," and chromaticisms in the countermelodies. They incorporated melodic figures and harmonic combinations heard in the recordings. When improvising countermelodies or descants, they sometimes resorted to solutions from jazz. I would admonish them that jazz licks were not "in the tradition" and did not "sound Filipino." In actual practice, many rondallas in the Philippines and in Hawai'i do use jazz stylings as a novelty. In Santa Cruz, however, I was concerned about presenting the core characteristics of the tradition to students who knew little about Philippine culture. Lacking any other basis for comparison, they accepted my "no jazz" pronouncement as authoritative, at least initially.
The general absence of sound models in Santa Cruz influenced my teaching and the performance competencies achieved. My idiosyncratic style, especially in improvisation, became the primary model, so that the students tended to duplicate the way I played. All were music majors, and their ability to replicate my playing was excellent. I found it novel (and occasionally disconcerting) to hear my improvisations and melodic gestures reproduced literally and without change. The local students in the Hawai'i group, however, tended not to copy. For them my improvisations represented general parameters, for example, the countermelody should proceed in even quarter notes for a specific section, from which they fashioned a melodic line within the style rather than reproducing my version note for note. Although students occasionally strayed from the style, such departures were not frequent, nor did they reference other musical styles, such as jazz. In Hawai'i my teaching was more nonverbal. I found it productive to demonstrate a correct or acceptable version or to work out a musical problem by playing rather than discussing. During rehearsal I often signaled an individual error or acknowledged a well-played phrase by facial expression or glance rather than verbal comment. The Hawai'i students tended to interact with one another visually as they played rather than remaining fixed upon the notation. The group in Santa Cruz, on the other hand, tended to discuss errors or details that didn't quite work. Part of the verbal exchange inevitably included a defense of or rationale for a mistake. Members of ensembles in the Philippines generally do not feel the need to explain themselves, and this behavior occurred only occasionally among the Hawai'i students. In Santa Cruz verbalization occupied a significantly larger part of the teaching and learning process. As the course progressed and the students became more confident, they began to question some of my statements, including my proscription of jazz!
The learning curves of the two groups differed. The Hawai'i students grasped the feeling and the dynamics of ensemble quickly, often before achieving mastery of notes or virtuosic playing techniques. Even when concentrating upon their individual parts, students were aware of the others, using "peripheral hearing." This ensemble awareness allowed me as leader to "edit" during performance, perhaps repeating a section or modulating to another key, without the rondalla falling apart. In contrast, the Santa Cruz players learned their individual parts more quickly and, in the case of notated pieces, committed their parts to memory in one or two sessions. Achieving an ensemble sensibility, however, was more of a challenge. When a mistake required stopping and restarting, resumption was inevitably delayed by discussion about who made the mistake. A frequent rejoinder was, "well, I can play my part." The level of individual mastery allowed me to introduce more virtuosic pieces earlier in the term at Santa Cruz. The group could perform the challenging "Pandango sa ilaw" (Fandango with Lamps) at a blistering pace after the eighth week; at Hawai'i the same piece required at least two semesters to negotiate at a comfortable tempo. As teacher, I assessed the collective personality and predisposition of each group, adjusting instruction strategies and repertory to optimize the results. This strategy not only built on each group's specific strengths, but it also ensured that the groups would complete sufficient repertory for the end-of-term program, a public "proof" of performance competence.
The second goal, to present significant repertory, was shaped by my personal and family experiences with Filipino music. Although the pieces carried historical and sometimes personal associations for me, the students' attitude toward the music was generally noncommittal and, in some instances, nonchalant. Tunes familiar to most Lowland Filipinos constitute an unofficial but functioning canon for rondalla. I felt it was important for students to be familiar and comfortable with this repertory. Some iconic tunes reference Filipino identity, such as the folksong "Leron-leron sinta" (Dear Little Leron), and others refer to national historical events, such as the composition "Bayan ko" (My Country) by Corazon de Guzman, which marks resistance to the American occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946) and to the Marcos dictatorship (1972-86). Performance of repertory from the canon won instant recognition and approval from Filipino and Filipino-American audience members, who often sang or clapped along. The canon encompasses a range of dance rhythms adapted by Filipinos from European forms—the waltz, march, fandango, paso doble, habañera, schottische, and polonaise —as well as native innovations such as the polkabal, a combination of polka and waltz. The rhythmic variety was an attractive feature and a ready point of entrée to the music for the non-Filipino student and for non-Filipino audiences. Emphasizing the canon was a conscious pedagogical decision on my part, although I did include one or two contemporary pieces.
The third goal, to provide entrée to the culture, readily engaged the students. They found aspects of Filipino culture interesting and were eager to crack the codes of Filipino folkways. For example, in the Philippines, raising the eyebrows as a means of communication involves a complex protocol in which timing, duration, degree, gender, and context are all variables. Both study groups gave this gestural system a great deal of attention, with varying degrees of individual success. As with the previous goals, validation of cultural learning often occurred during performances where Filipinos were present. Filipinos in the audience responded readily to the eyebrow gestures, usually with laughter of recognition.
American education valorizes individual merit and initiative, which challenges a traditional Filipino preference for collective accomplishment. A central Filipino value is pagkapwa, the continual awareness of others (Enriquez 1985). As part of a social dynamic, it emphasizes identity of an individual in relation to a group rather than the individual as a social isolate. This value has direct relevance for music making; it governs the ensemble sensibility discussed above. Each musician, through "peripheral hearing," is constantly aware of the totality of the ensemble and able to adjust to any changes or developments, whether caused by design or by chance. In the Philippines, rondalla musicians often observe that a mistake only occurs when the performance comes to halt, when it cannot be "saved" through the ability of the group's members to adjust to one another. Those who ascribed to the pagkapwa mindset would not respond, "well, I can play my part."
I felt that experiencing collective identity as a manifestation of pagkapwa was important for American students and an appropriate goal of the study group. I devised various activities, mostly extramusical, that required cooperative effort. For instance, the class had to prepare Filipino food for the informal performance at the close of the term. Cooking constituted such a cross-cultural extramusical element. Each class learned to make adobo, a popular marinated meat dish. The fact that all members could prepare the same dish contributed to a sense of communitas. Even in this mundane exercise, pagkapwa came into play. Although adobo can be made with either chicken or pork or a combination of the two, the classes used chicken only in deference to two members, the Jewish student in Santa Cruz already mentioned and a Muslim in Hawai'i. Did this culinary selectivity represent a distortion of tradition? Quite the opposite: it reinforced the principle of pagkapwa, here an awareness of dietary restrictions within the group.
Group identity was reinforced by close social interaction. Both groups toured to surrounding communities. The Santa Cruz group, numbering six, played for Filipino communities in the Central Valley and the Bay Area, and the Hawai'i group, usually ten, performed on the neighbor islands. I was able to arrange home hospitality, usually in sleeping bags on the living room floor of one host family. The tour experience, including sleeping, eating, and grooming in close quarters, reinforced communitas. In this intense collectivity, pagkapwa was frequently invoked, such as by looking after the habitually late member, pitching in to replace a string broken at the last minute, or adjusting quickly to a cramped or ill-equipped performance space. On both campuses, the opportunity to tour set the Philippine Ensemble apart from other ensembles, further solidifying ensemble identity and collectivity. The internal dynamics of identity in the Hawai'i group approximated the traditional Filipino barkada, a close-knit association of primary social interaction (Dumont 1993; Lapuz 1981: 28-30). The quasi-barkada nature of the ensemble was manifested at the wedding of two Hawai'i members of the group, where the entire ensemble showed up to perform during the reception.
In the foregoing narrative I have indicated the importance of place. I have suggested that teaching a study group is site-specific, especially vis-à-vis a universal set of educational goals. Variables of demography, local soundscape, cultural perspective, and musical background determine how, and sometimes what, the teacher presents. For this narrative I positioned myself as culture carrier and examined my own agency.
The Koto Ensemble: Constructing Credibility
In the second narrative I consider the persona of the teacher. I examine my role as teacher of the koto study group at the University of Hawai'i. My qualifications and therefore my credibility derived from a completely different set of criteria than those for the Philippine Ensemble. I had no claim on koto through cultural heritage, and I had carried out no fieldwork in Japan. My personal sources for koto knowledge represented at least three degrees of separation from a Japanese original. My teacher was Kay Mikami, a kibei who studied in Japan with the Ikuta School master Michio Miyagi. She returned to Honolulu and established a private teaching practice within the local Japanese community. I studied with her only at the university, and not in the traditional diasporic setting, during lessons on weekends at her house. I have taught koto at the University of Hawai'i only, and always as an ensemble class. I established no private studio in the Honolulu community. Thus I did not learn the instrument in a traditional Japanese or diasporic setting, nor have I taught in such a setting. Upon her retirement from the university, Mikami-sensei recommended that I assume responsibility for koto instruction. Although my qualifications for teaching koto might represent an idiosyncratic construction of credibility, they are somewhat similar to those of other ethnomusicologist colleagues with study groups.
Koto ensemble students, unlike those in Western ensembles, often entered without prior training in the instrument. The beginning class, consisting of rank novices, presented the greatest contrast to the indigenous teaching setting. Advanced ensemble classes, on the other hand, consisted of students who had a level of musical competence comparable to that in the university orchestra or band.
Although I am a koto performer, I didn't feel comfortable representing Japanese culture writ large, or providing entrée to the culture, the third goal described above in the rondalla discussion. I felt most secure teaching about the world of koto and traditional music, and I used these as major themes for cultural insight. In retrospect I realize that my construction of Japanese traditionalism was selective and biased toward Otherness, that is, that which was different from the students' normal experience. For example, the class was conducted in seiza, with the students kneeling on the floor, even though in Japan today koto lessons frequently occur with the students seated in chairs and the instruments raised on stands. At the University of Hawai'i music department we are fortunate to have a zashiki, a Japanese room with tatami mats. Playing in seiza, that is, kneeling, establishes a specific physical relationship between koto and player. For certain physical movements, such as pressing a string to raise the pitch, the locus of physical energy is different when sitting on the floor (the shoulder and torso) as opposed to sitting in a chair (principally the upper arm). Sitting in chairs is a recent development; therefore, less traditional Japanese nationals pointed out the present use of chairs in Japan and commented on the difficulty of learning while sitting in seiza. At formal and public concerts in Japan, however, musicians perform in seiza. Thus it is still part of current practice, although it is no longer the only mode of sitting. Seiza for the Hawai'i study group was an opportunity to experience another aspect of culture in addition to its sound organization. Another feature outside the normal American experience involved a peripheral, nonmusical practice, the application of egg white to the interior of the plectra rings (tsume no wa) to prevent slippage. When this practice was presented during the second lesson, it seldom failed to evoke a reaction from the students.
I felt that there should also be some experience in rote learning, even though it reflected historical rather than present practice. The first few lessons, which included orientation to the instrument and playing techniques, were conducted without notation, as was the introduction of the first piece, "Kurokami" (Black Hair). The balance of repertory and koto exercises came from the Miyagi lineage, using its published method books. A goal for the fifteen-week session was to learn part of "Rokudan No Shirabe (Six Variations), one of the best-known pieces of the canon. I discovered that expecting beginning students to sing while playing was unrealistic, although through commentary and demonstration I reinforced that this ability was required of the "complete" koto musician.
The reperformance of tradition, selective as it was, had to be adapted to limitations of the American academy. Unlike the sensei in Japan, I had no deshi, or assistant. Normally the deshi prepares the instruments and tunes them before the teacher arrives. The teacher is not ordinarily involved in such mundane preparations, and students are certainly not entrusted with them. However, in the study group the students were responsible for unpacking the instruments, putting in the bridges, and setting the general tuning (choshi). I adjusted and corrected the tuning for the eight to ten instruments before instruction could begin. The Hawai'i ensemble evolved its own distinctive protocols: half the group was responsible for preparing the instruments before class, and the other half for putting everything away at the close of each session. In traditional learning a group of students is present at each lesson, although the group does not constitute an ensemble as described here. Each student works with the teacher individually for a short but intensive period of time, while other students in the group watch and listen. This mode of learning entails both observation and active playing. In the Hawai'i koto study group all the students played together while I scurried from one student to the next, correcting, explaining, and encouraging.
In each class my students formed four different groups according to their background and reasons for studying koto music. Some were of Japanese ancestry but had minimal knowledge of the culture. Others were non-Japanese, often Caucasian, who had an academic interest in Japan and were studying or were already competent in the language. Still others were Western music majors exploring an alternative music. Those of the fourth type, the ethnomusicology majors, were familiar with the broader musical and cultural settings of koto music. This diversity of student types was a challenge for me; each had different problems and perceptions in approaching this musical Other. The issue of intonation illustrated the differences. In traditional choshi (tunings) the interval of the semitone is slightly smaller than the tempered semitone. For those who weren't music majors, achieving the correct intonation meant replicating or matching the intervallic relationships of choshi as presented by the teacher. For music majors, however, achieving the correct intonation meant adjusting to pitches that did not match previously learned notions of absolute pitch and interval size. The ethnomusicologists tended to overcompensate: they often tuned the semitone intervals smaller than the Japanese norm. For the sensei in Japan neither tuning nor intonation would be an issue, since the instruments are tuned by the assistant, not by each individual student. Similarly, tuning accuracy would not be contested by a neophyte invoking the authority of concert pitch and equal temperament.
As the ethnomusicologist, I felt that these differences and adjustments presented opportunities for making theoretical points and analytical observations germane to social context or to music as sound. However, as the teacher, I felt that reflexivity was not the pedagogical thrust of the study group, and it was rarely the interest of the students. I tried to keep explanations to a minimum in an attempt to provide a "more traditional" learning experience for the beginning class. I emphasized demonstration and repetition, which sometimes meant discouraging student questions during the session. So much for the teacher's gaze upon the ensemble and the student.
What were the gazes upon me as the teacher? What kinds of credibility and entitlement to teach koto did I bring to the study group? In this regard the perceptions of students (which I usually received as feedback well after the semester was over) and the local Japanese community are informative. The criteria for credibility were mixed, drawing in an ad hoc manner upon qualifications within the koto tradition itself, from the academy, and from what might be best described (with a nod to Ben Anderson) as an imagined universe. My principal qualification related to tradition was the recommendation of my teacher, Kay Mikami. With reservations, I agreed to teach until another teacher could be found, some two years later. In effect I inherited the position from my sensei, a process familiar to and normative within the Japanese community. Another factor grounded in tradition that contributed to my credibility was my reputation as a koto performer. I initially performed with my teacher, then with visiting artists from Japan, and finally with other musicians from the Honolulu community (not all of whom were Japanese). So for both students and community, I possessed credentials as a performer.
Although armed with the imprimatur of my teacher, I still had some reservations about my own entitlement regarding the project. Unlike in the Philippine study group, in the world of koto I embodied an Other. I am not of Japanese ancestry, nor am I fluent or literate in the language. These shortcomings could be (and often generously have been) overlooked because I possess another set of credentials, those of the academic. In the Japanese community I was always referred to as hakase (professor) from my first year of appointment as assistant professor. At the university I taught classes about Japanese music and often lectured on Japanese performance for the general public. Members of the Japanese community observed that as a native speaker of American English I made Japanese culture more easily understood to non-Japanese as well as to their own third- and fourth-generation offspring. In Hawai'i, a society in which many communicate using a number of Asian and Pacific languages as well as its own indigenous creole, fluency in "standard English" conveys cultural, political, and economic status. Such criteria for credibility were external to the domain of Japanese music and represented incursions from a Western hegemon. They nevertheless informed my reception in the academy, in the Japanese community, and in the larger cultural community.
The third factor that influenced my credibility had little to do with competence in music or status as an academic. It concerned my Asian physical appearance, part of an imagined universe of ethnic and racial typology. As phenotype I am Filipino with a prominent admixture of Chinese; however, dressed in a kimono and kneeling before a koto, I might easily be interpreted as Japanese, or occasionally Okinawan. When asked, I point out that I am not Japanese. Rather than foreground my non-Japanese heritage, however, I prefer to emphasize performance values. To my surprise and continued amusement, people often ascribe a Japanese heritage to me. For the audience member my perceived ethnicity increases the "authenticity" of my performance, which makes the individual's concert experience more "authentic" and in turn makes me more credible as practitioner and authority for koto. A performer with such authority would certainly be qualified to teach at the university!
This focus upon the teacher serves as pivot to move from the subjective-personal to an objective-general discussion, although I acknowledge the permeability of the two categories. The foregoing personal narratives, I feel, are relevant to larger concerns for the world music ensemble in the American university. I suggest that these narratives provide illustrative material for a general consideration of the study group and its teacher, which follows.
Three Archetypes of Ensemble Teacher
I posit that there are three major categories of instructor at the American university: the culture bearer (indigenous artist), the ethnomusicologist, and the foreign practitioner. Each of these personae "fits" the academic environment differently. In the academy, the category sometimes carries implications for the type or duration of employment; for example a culture bearer will often be employed for the short term and an ethnomusicologist for the long term, while a foreign practitioner is likely to work for the university part time. I suggest that the first two archetypes, the culture bearer and the ethnomusicologist, are the most highly contrastive in terms of cultural background, identity politics, and teaching strategies. The foreign practitioner occupies a medial position. The type is exemplified by the American who goes to India to study tabla with a master for ten years, tours with his teacher for two years, and returns to the United States to teach and perform. The foreign practitioner shares some of the characteristics identified for the previous two. We shall consider the teacher in terms of five themes: kinds of authenticities, delivery of musical and cultural knowledges, personal relationship to the tradition, styles of teaching, and institutional imperatives.
The Culture Bearer and Staged Authenticity
Staged authenticity is a term borrowed from the literature on cultural tourism (MacCannell 1992). It denotes a conscious, often idealized re-presentation of a cultural setting, in this case music learning. Its notions of credibility and ethnographic purity outside the native setting are relevant to the project of the music ensemble and the Other. It provides a dialogic relationship between musics of the Other and musics of the Self, for example, the greater efforts expended to bring a Thai master teacher from Bangkok for piphat than a vocal coach from Oslo for the art songs of Grieg. From the point of view of the institution, one of the consumers identified earlier, the culture bearer as study group teacher embodies immediate authenticity, an insider who "culturally knows." However, as has been argued elsewhere, culture carriers have different degrees and areas of expertise concerning tradition. In some cases, the native musician is known for playing a particular instrument or perhaps even knowing a specific genre. When he comes to the American university to teach, however, he becomes a resource for an entire tradition—all instrumental and vocal parts; any associated dance, costuming, and decorations; and architectural requirements of the performance space—and it is presumed that he possesses both the knowledge and authority to carry out relevant ceremonies.
A second aspect of authenticity concerns the phenotypic; the culture bearer looks the native. Visual credibility figuratively colors the reception of the knowledge delivered and performances mounted. There is an often unarticulated assumption that performance supervised by a culture bearer will be closer to the original, more authentic. Conversely, performances supervised by the foreign ethnomusicologist or practitioner may be slightly suspect, subjected to more questioning and closer scrutiny. The experienced observer searches for additional markers of authenticity, such as types of repertory, specific stylistic characteristics, or subtle details of protocol.
The relationship of the native teacher to his tradition inevitably changes in a foreign context. One change relates to what he may be allowed to teach. Is a Japanese gagaku musician who specializes in playing sho qualified to teach the other two melodic instruments (ryuteki, hichiriki), the stringed instruments (gakubiwa, gakuso), the percussion instruments (kakko/san-no-tsuzumi, odaiko, shoko), and gagaku-related dance? In the homeland the question would probably never arise; no individual is responsible for teaching the entire ensemble. In a foreign setting, however, the culture bearer is frequently expected to teach all aspects of the tradition, as well as serve as an icon for the totalized culture.
What are the elements of tradition that the native teacher brings to the study group? Primarily these center upon the potential interaction for the American (Western) student with an Other. The native teacher occupies a position of leadership and relative authority. Not only may the musical material be unfamiliar to the student, but strategies of teaching can embody Otherness. The teacher may use elements of traditional instruction that are different from but that nevertheless do not challenge basic American notions of teaching and learning. For example, the kabuki drumming teacher uses a fan and a wooden block to visually indicate the strokes and rhythms for the two drums, otsuzumi and kotsuzumi. These are simultaneously reinforced by mnemonics recited by the teacher. The learning is principally kinetic and aurally selective; the student plays a single part, although the teacher presents the two drum parts as a gestalt. The student learns to distinguish the mnemonic and visual prompts for his individual part. However, not all traditional teaching practices are acceptable in a university setting; some run counter to American practice. In Japan the teacher of kabuki drumming might strike a student who is inattentive or does not maintain focus during the lesson. In America striking a student, whether to reinforce a musical point or to express displeasure, is not countenanced. Nor is it deemed appropriate for the teacher to give advice concerning personal relationships, finances, or leisure time. Indigenous teaching practices are necessarily reframed within and subjected to established Western norms of teaching, learning, and teacher-student relationships. They contribute toward the construction of a staged, if not managed, authenticity. It is assumed that the native teacher is better qualified to provide cultural knowledge than a foreigner. To teach gamelan it is necessary to know more than just the various pieces of repertory, how to "fit" rehearsed improvisations, and how to effect transitions from one section to another with a minimal understanding of drum signals and their meanings. The culture bearer also knows the array of pieces appropriate for specific occasions and the satisfactory sequence of pieces that can constitute a presentation. In addition he provides authority for such extramusical concerns as the selamatan (ceremonial meal), protocol for the kris (dagger) worn by male performers, and appropriate kinds of decoration for the gamelan and stage.
Although valorized as the "real thing" by his students, the native teacher is nevertheless expected to accommodate institutional structures of the university, including finite and short periods for instruction and the necessity of providing individual evaluations—the letter grade—for each student, even though the music may traditionally valorize collectivity and coordinated effort. The native teacher as embodiment of the authentic negotiates at least four perceptions of authenticity: his authenticity as a purveyor of the Other; the students' authenticity as clients within the American university; the teacher's perception of his students' authenticity; and the students' construction of the authenticity of their teacher.
As an example of the latter perception, the beginner student may be surprised to find that his master Burmese saingwaing drum circle teacher is equally "hot" on an electronic keyboard and records pop-based fusion CDs at home. Can a traditional musician from Burma also be competent in international pop styles? He can. Such a revelation can unsettle reductionist assumptions of authenticity, purity, and traditionalism that often shape an external gaze upon the native teacher. In the future a detailed examination of these four relationships should provide insight into the internal dynamic of the study group as a microsociety and its nature as a medium for the cross-cultural transfer of skills and knowledge.
I have described some of the features of the culture carrier as native teacher for the study group. Although the descriptive strokes have been deliberately broad, these features provide a matrix against which the two remaining, "outsider" archetypes can be considered. The first is the ethnomusicologist as ensemble teacher.
The Ethnomusicologist Mediating Tradition
The ethnomusicologist who is an established performer and the ethnomusicologist who is only knowledgeable about performance may be viewed as belonging to two different categories. For both, performance training may come from various sources or experiences. The ethnomusicologist may have developed performance ability as part of field research, learning within an indigenous context. Alternatively, he could have learned from a native teacher within an American university context, such as described in my personal narrative. A third possibility is that the teacher has been taught by another outsider, perhaps another ethnomusicologist or a foreign practitioner. What are the kinds of knowledge an individual ethnomusicologist can transmit to his study group? How can he best deliver these knowledges? We focus initially upon the first category, the ethnomusicologist who is an established performer.
The ethnomusicologist brings to the study group a constructed form of credibility different from that of the native teacher. Field research carries credibility; the ethnomusicologist can relay personal experiences and insights about general culture and the specifics of the tradition. Authority for the music devolves less from the lineage of the teacher and student and more from the academic degree and its research exercise, the dissertation, supplemented by performance competence. For the ethnomusicologist, credibility as a teacher derives largely from Western criteria and structures that are brought to bear upon a native Other.
The ethnomusicologist teacher tends to use verbal explanation and conceptualization to communicate both musical and cultural knowledge. Although his knowledge derives from sources generally considered to be "authentic," that is, research in the field, the medium of delivery is biased toward Western strategies of teaching. For example, it seems less "natural" in Japanese music lessons to bow and intone "onegaishimasu" (please do me the favor [of teaching me]") to an American ethnomusicologist than to a visiting Japanese sensei.
The ethnomusicologist brings several pedagogical strengths to a study group. His learning experience, as cultural outsider, more closely approximates that of the student. Although the cultural baggage of the ethnomusicologist and the student are not identical, they are frequently similar. In addition, each is familiar with the folkways of academe. For example, the ethnomusicologist knows how to accommodate musical content to fit a fifty- or ninety-minute instructional period and can assess implications of a twelve- or fifteen-week term for the learning curve. In terms of music skills, both student and teacher are grounded in a Western (but not always classical) musical sensibility. The ethnomusicologist teacher can anticipate which aspects might confuse or confound students steeped in a homophonic and heptatonic heritage. The reflexive predispositions of academe can make learning performance more efficient. A theoretical explanation can serve as a shortcut to traditional rote repetition. Prompted by the nontraditional reflexive explanation, which is conceptual rather than experiential, the student may successfully master the gestalt of a musical style in a shorter period of time, albeit at the expense of the loss of other details of the tradition. For example, improvisation in Javanese gamelan can be explained as meeting the basic melody (balungan) at intervals of fourths, fifths and unisons. Such a principle gives the student a conceptual guide for creating a workable improvisation without halting performance flow. However, the subtlety of alternative solutions or the limits of musical risk taking, which develop through multiple repetition and rote experience, are not always communicated in such a linear, stripped-down transmission process.
How does the ethnomusicologist as performance teacher communicate broader aspects of the culture? Although the native teacher can "perform" his own culture in the study group, the outsider ethnomusicologist has no recourse but to present it. The non-native who attempts to perform another's culture immediately confronts issues of entitlement and reception, as well as suspicions of "going native" or "playing ethnic." For the outsider, performing another culture is almost always the result of conscious code switching. If one decides to do this, the challenge is to switch without appearing exploitative, condescending, or colonial. For example, when a South Indian touches his fingertips to his eyes as a kinetic, nonverbal apology for inadvertently touching another's foot, the observer recognizes it as a traditional gesture and a cultural reaction. However, when a Westerner performs that same gesture, it may be interpreted as "playing Indian" or making claims to a more complete understanding of Indian culture. Is the Westerner entitled to engage in this gestural system, especially if he does not subscribe to the deeper belief system that considers the touch as more than a temporary invasion of personal space? Without hoping to be prescriptive, I suggest the most effective means for the outsider to bring understanding of these broader cultural aspects to the student is through discussion, taking advantage of the reflexivity of the academy.
For the ethnomusicologist teacher, authority is not a matter of cultural entitlement. It devolves from a current Western construction of status based upon work rather than ethnicity, although the heritage of one's teacher can be a factor, as discussed below. The paradigm of work assumes field research, presumably relevant to the study group. Status ascription assumes authentication through a system of peer review that valorizes specific knowledge bases and musical skills, that is, hiring and promotion and tenure processes. The scholar-teacher seldom embodies the Other; rather, he more frequently serves as mediator for the Other (or at least the Other's music). His authority devolves from a process of acquiring it, which contrasts with the authority of the native teacher as one who "culturally knows." The ethnomusicologist's authority is earned rather than inherited.
Like the native teacher, the non-native teacher (here the ethnomusicologist) also carries visual baggage both when teaching and performing publicly. As I have suggested earlier, the native teacher (or ethnomusicologist) with appropriate (or near-appropriate) indigenous phenotype assures the learner and the observer that the material delivered is authentic and credible, even though that may, in fact, not always be the case. The physical characteristics of the non-native teacher can engender a variety of meanings. At present the majority of ethnomusicologists are white, reflecting the dominant culture of the academy in the United States. As a non-native, the teacher can convey a positive message to the American student: it is possible for an outsider to become competent in a music tradition. Although the beginning student may initially find this musical Other baffling or incomprehensible, the non-native specialist stands as physical testimony to its learnability; the ethnomusicologist's skill suggests that through commitment, diligence, and hard work mastery of another music is possible.
As an outsider, the non-native teacher has to address issues of credibility, authenticity, and integrity. Because he cannot embody the cultural credibility of the native teacher, he must establish his credibility in other ways. One strategy is to emphasize older repertory and recognized aspects of "tradition," a problematic notion. Innovation and the performance of newer compositions tend to be secondary. In this strategy, the teacher presents what he has learned rather than extends the repertory through composing or expanding the musical style through innovation, both of which are options for the native teacher. By doing so, the ethnomusicologist teacher reinforces a standard repertory or canon for the study group and valorizes a specific musical style. In koto instruction, a canon may include the instrumental pieces "Rokudan no Shirabe" (Six Variations), an arrangement of the shoga "Sakura" (Cherry Blossoms), Miyagi Michio's twentieth-century duet with shakuhachi "Haru No Umi" (Spring Sea), and, if singing is taught, the tegotomono "Chidori No Kyoku" (Sand Plover).
This preoccupation with tradition colors attitudes toward an Other, a value that may be promulgated through the study group. Brian Singleton critiques this predisposition, claiming that "tradition . . . is a powerful ruling weapon on which colonialism depends, on which the post-colonial world feeds, but which is ultimately a fabrication, and which blocks the formation and emergence of new narratives" (1997: 95). His pronouncement certainly challenges study group practice and a dominant ideology. Although not as overtly critical, Judith Becker similarly problematizes the role of the study group, indirectly critiquing the academy as well. She writes, "Those ensembles which remain dedicated to imitation and repetition of this past rather than innovation and adjustment to the 20th Century context have their own importance, as do innumerable other instances of preservation in American universities" (Becker 1983: 88). The shift from a traditional learning setting to an overseas, academic one is fraught with challenges and adjustments that should be a part of planning or assessing a study group.
Does the relationship of the researcher to the culture studied change when he begins to teach performance? I suggest that it does. When the ethnomusicologist's performance skills are limited or below the standards for public performance in the home culture setting, should he be expected to teach the tradition? For example, the ability to document and analyze drumming signals for Thai piphat does not necessarily transfer to competence in deploying those drum signals during real-time performance. Thus an ethnomusicologist teaching a study group may find himself in a curious position, in which his competence in the tradition is not comparable to that of colleagues supervising Western ensembles. In some cases the ethnomusicologist may be uncomfortable leading a study group, and even more so presenting its performance in a public setting. Nevertheless, both have become institutional expectations for the ethnomusicologist-cum-study group teacher.
Why should an ethnomusicologist with limited performance skills lead a study group? Frequently encountered is the "only resource" argument: "there is no one else to lead the group, and at least I know something about it." Such a rationale would not be acceptable for choosing the leader of a jazz ensemble or a collegium musicum. Why would it be it acceptable for a non-Western musical tradition? Would a faculty member whose entire orchestral background consisted of playing four semesters in the second violin section and two courses in string technique be entrusted with a university symphony orchestra? The qualifications for the ethnomusicologist as performance teacher should be subject to the same queries. These queries are not intended as a criticism of the admirable intent to provide a broader musical experience for the student, but are rather meant to raise issues of pedagogical intent and ideology that should not go unexamined by ethnomusicologists leading study groups.
Yet another set of queries shifts the focus away from the music tradition and toward the ethnomusicologist and his perception of the music in question. There exists an apparent tension between two conflicting perceptions of the musical tradition of the Other: 1) its complexity requires a lifetime of research, but, at the same time, 2) it can be taught well enough in sixteen to thirty weeks to be presented in public performance. The beginner's concert, widespread among study groups in the United States, generates mixed signals for the student and for the general public. On the one hand it suggests that the Other is simple. On the other it suggests that the nature of the American student or the Western academy enables a faster learning curve. Both raise uncomfortable images of musical ethnocentrism: notions of superiority, domestication of a foreign Other, or both. A third implication of instruction by the non-native teacher is that a cultural experience through music need not involve individuals native to that culture, in effect a counterstatement to essentialist claims. In a society where racial tension and inequality are still public issues, this implication is problematic. The question, of course, is less troublesome if the study group remains just that, a group that studies music as performance. However, when the study group takes on the identity or the behavior of a performance group, the stakes are raised. The gamelan as study group does not necessarily engender musical expectations on a par with the university orchestra mentioned earlier, for example. The gamelan as performance group, however, does carry such expectations. The reality is that in most American universities the gamelan is considered a performance group; it has become a major showpiece for ethnomusicology and world music programs. Undeniably, the gamelan has great lay appeal, given its size, appearance, and compelling sound.
In the consideration of the ethnomusicologist I have deliberately raised the intensity of the critique. As the subject "we," we need to address our complicity in the maintenance and proliferation of the study group, as well as in the formation of its pedagogical and institutional intent. Aspects of pedagogy and institution often represent challenges for the third type, the non-native practitioner.
The Foreign Practitioner and Cultural Entitlement
The third and final type of teacher is the foreign musician, whose primary experience with the host culture has been training and living as a performer. His background is similar to that of the ethnomusicologist teacher. The modus vivendi of the foreign performer, however, is more completely subject to indigenous ways of learning, evaluation, and integration in contrast to the external construct of ethnomusicological fieldwork, especially in that the decision to end the interaction more often lies with the foreigner rather than with members of the host culture. It is the rare non-ethnomusicologist, foreign neophyte who can dictate the way in which he learns and for how long, especially where there are formal means of transmission, such as the iemoto system of Japan or the halau system of Hawai'i. At the same time, the foreigner is recognized as coming from outside the culture, and adjustments to his normal routine are inevitable. Adjustment can affect learning expectations. The novelty of a foreigner performing can sometimes lead the audience to forgive shortcomings in musicality or performance technique. To compensate for this effect, foreigners are sometimes intentionally separated from indigenous students. For example, there are annual national competitions exclusively for foreign students of Korean music in Seoul and Japanese music in Tokyo. With or without such compensation, the performer subjects himself to indigenous systems of training and evaluation in ways that the field researcher does not. The latter uses music learning as one means toward a research end. The performer, in contrast, has entered more completely into the host community, learning and, in some cases, establishing a career within it.
Recently "authentic" learning need not be acquired abroad, that is, outside the United States. For example, it is possible to study classical Indian music for an extended period in a traditional manner with Indian masters in California. A network of diasporic Indian communities in the United States and Canada enables occasional bookings for the foreign performer, who may be engaged to perform with a native artist, usually his teacher or native artists from the same school of performance (gharana).
Cultural credibility for the foreign performer can be achieved in different ways, singly or in combination. The most credibility can be achieved by studying and establishing a performance career within the host society. Some musics have an indigenous means of accreditation, such as the iemoto and halau systems previously mentioned. In the U.S. setting, appearing as a co-performer with recognized native artists strengthens the foreigner's reputation. The status of the performer's teacher is another factor influencing credibility. The individual who has studied with a native teacher rather than a foreign one certainly has more cachet as performer. Although status among native teachers may be hierarchical and often factionalized, the foreign performer trained by a renowned native teacher nevertheless enjoys greater credibility then one who was not. Increasingly, a reputation can also be built through sound recordings. The CD can represent material validation for the foreign artist. The nature of artistic credibility is presently in a state of change. The fields of Japanese and Indian music, for example, are becoming globalized. The 1998 World Shakuhachi Festival in Boulder, Colorado, included many prominent non-Japanese artists; the Ali Akbar College of Music located in San Rafael, California, includes non-Indian instructional staff.
The foreign practitioner category includes the heritage performer, someone from the relevant ethnic group born or socialized in the diaspora. For example, Japanese Americans performing Japanese music are not considered native performers by the arts community in Japan. Within the academy, however, the heritage performer may become part of the native teacher archetype. Visual authenticity—appropriate phenotype—adds to his credibility. The current essentialist climate may be a factor in reinscribing the identity of this subgroup of foreign practitioners as native in the university setting. This is a notable instance in which heritage might advantage rather than disadvantage a minority in America.
The foreign practitioner is subject to a third type of relationship to the academy and institutional practices. I suggest that this relationship entails the greatest personal challenges. In cases where this tradition is the foreigner's only or first performing medium—this is, he had no previous music training, Western or otherwise—accommodation to the university can be problematic. The university assumes familiarity and agreement with institutional practices, especially if the practitioner is American. This may not, in fact, be the case. Like the visiting native teacher, the foreign practitioner may encounter difficulties in pacing, accommodating the learning curve, and accessing the musical background of his students.
The ability of the foreign performer to communicate cultural context is another area of concern. Somewhat disadvantaged in this regard, he does not possess the "cultural knowing" or the entitlement of the native teacher, nor is he as well equipped as the ethnomusicologist to mobilize theory and analysis. However, his position does entail advantages. His bicultural (but not necessarily bimusical) background can contribute to an efficient and student-appropriate delivery of instruction. Further, he has been exposed to a culture's traditional ways of learning in more depth than is usual for the ethnomusicologist. It is my experience that the foreign teacher concentrates more upon knowledge and mastery of a specific genre than upon general cultural understanding. His expectations for the level of student performance may be different. While the indigenous teacher may be more forgiving concerning musical conceptualization or attention to detail, the foreign practitioner may be more critical, expecting a higher level of mastery commensurate with his own experience in the home culture. One American teacher of the drumming of Ghana observed, "We have to be careful about how we present this music to the outside, especially because we aren't natives. . . . We have to be better [than a Ghanaian group] because it isn't ours."
The concerns encompass representation as well as presentation. Currently representation—especially representation of minority groups—is a contested issue. An essentialist view posits limitations to cultural representation by the non-native. Is it sufficient for the non-native instructor to handle performance as a self-contained domain with techniques, repertory, and ensemble protocols to be mastered rather than as a vehicle for insight and broader understanding of a host culture? Is a bicultural or bimusical state actually approachable within the classroom setting? For the foreign practitioner this balance—and how it is tipped—has implications for his artistic reputation, as well as for his livelihood.
This chapter has been an opportunity to examine the study group, a high-profile component of our field. In conclusion, I present questions intended both to challenge our present perception of the study group and to advance arguments for its value within the academy. These questions also shift my discussion into the realm of advocacy.
The question "is the ensemble a good thing?" has been asked and answered in the affirmative. In my opinion, this question needs be replaced by a more pressing query for the twenty-first century: what is the ensemble good for? This question has implications not only for American ethnomusicology, but also for such emergent subject categories as World Music and the internationalized fusion music industry, as well as for broader humanistic concerns about multiculturalism, processes of identity, and the consequences of globalization. It also suggests that in a future that includes the West Virginia model, the study group may no longer be the purview of ethnomusicology alone. The gestalt of our field, as well as the nature of its messengers, may undergo major changes.
What is the study group good for? I feel that a principal pedagogical value is the presentation and valorization of alternative systems and approaches to creativity. As alternative, a musical system from another culture is more compelling than one developed by an individual: for example, the systemization of gagaku reflects an established and ongoing consensus developed over time, while the Western avant-garde more frequently represents reaction, resistance, or challenge by an individual to his own musical heritage. Viewed in the broadest terms, the availability of culturally identified alternatives in the institution gives students choice and agency, humanistic themes that transcend the inevitability of the plagal cadence, the fixity of tihai, or the consensus of jo ha kyu. How do we reinforce this argument to an academy that continues to foreground the hegemonic, providing only limited space for alternatives?
Certainly a principal argument we must make addresses the aesthetic. American ethnomusicology and its study groups are located primarily in music departments, which themselves steward the arts (that is, aesthetic) domain. Should the affective nature of a genre be a primary criterion for study group status? We may be subjecting ourselves to (or perhaps be guilty of) an institutional "descriptive chauvinism" (Nussbaum 1997: 118), in which we read another culture's music using the paradigm of our own culture, that is, the primary raison d'être of music in the Western academy is aesthetic rather than religious, political, or economic. Do we select genres for study groups that fit more easily into a mainstream paradigm? To argue the reverse, shouldn't the aesthetic experience, whether indigenous or "chauvinistic," be part of an educational encounter? For students a music they find "arresting" or "beautiful" is certainly more memorable. It may initially evoke a personal aesthetic experience or process. Must the student be delivered to a culturally authentic aesthetic experience, or is a spontaneous, unmonitored affective experience equally valid? For the academy, an affective reaction to music is a reasonable expectation. For the study group leader, a concern for the nature and quality of that aesthetic experience should also be a reasonable expectation. Is there a risk in privileging the aesthetic?
A second argument is the cultural one, that we gain understanding of an Other through its cultural expressions. Ethnomusicology is not the only field to advocate this position. Using cultural studies as a frame, Brunner, citing bell hooks, suggests that the arts can enable such cultural understanding (Brunner 1998: 76). In my reformulation specific to the study group:
1. The study group distills a culture's notion of how to be in the world, through defining representations within a particular "order of things."
2. It represents a place in a society where assumptions are questioned and critiqued.
The first point resonates with my decision to teach koto in seiza (kneeling position), and the second, with the importance for rondalla students to know the song "Bayan ko" and its historical significance. Do our study groups accomplish these cultural understandings? Do we regard them as part of our pedagogical mission?
As part of a philological reflection on teaching about other cultures in general, Nussbaum presents five points that she feels characterize "good teaching of non-Western cultures":
1. Real cultures are plural, not single.
2. Real cultures contain argument, resistance, and contestation of norms.
3. In real cultures, what most people think is likely to be different from what the most famous artists . . . think.
4. Real cultures have varied domains of thought and activity.
5. Real cultures have a present as well as a past. (Nussbaum 1997: 127-28)
Although I find her use of the terms non-Western and real problematic, this does not in my mind diminish the centrality of the five points to cross-cultural representation. In what ways does a study group address them? In what ways does it fall short? In my construction of the Philippine Ensemble in Santa Cruz, my decision to ignore point two was deliberate. In our study groups is the frequent silence on points four and five a deliberate strategy or an instance of benign neglect? As pedagogical rationale, can (or do) we claim that the study group is an effective means of understanding culture per the Nussbaum paradigm? In constructing our rationales for the study group, we must be aware of the multiplicity of conversations about cultural representation and understanding. Those voices constitute potential allies, and their discussions broader support for both the need for alternatives and the efficacy of the study group. Apropos of alternatives, different study groups may fulfill different goals, depending upon the mission of the host institution, the nature of its student population, and its peculiar relationship of "town to gown." For example, a mariachi group in Tempe, Arizona, would differ in reception, intent, and motivation from one in Honolulu; similarly, a koto class in Honolulu would contrast with one in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
After each institution has determined its primary goals, then the question of who teaches becomes paramount. As I suggested in the discussion of archetypes, the type of teacher profoundly influences the kind of knowledge and experience transmitted. In some instances hiring a native teacher is absolutely key. In others, hiring a performer-ethnomusicologist is more appropriate. Hypothetically, the selection of the teacher should receive at least as much thought and discussion as that invested in choosing the Bösendörfer concert grand instead of the American Steinway for the new recital hall. Although the choice is necessarily program-specific, the process should derive from a clear articulation of programmatic priorities and strengths rather than from circumstances of immediate availability or the fortuitous grant.
Finally, what is the value of the study group to the community at large? This final issue references my initial discussion of the term study group in contrast to "ethno-" or "world music ensemble." It also revisits my reservations about the tradition of public performance by beginning students. When and why does the study group become a performance ensemble? At a time when academe is fending off accusations of ivory tower isolation and proactively reaching out to its local communities, public performance undeniably presents an irresistible opportunity for high-profile (and nonthreatening) contact with a community at large. The public concert becomes iconic for a university that both "gives back" to its community and supports multiculturalism, that is, that provides spaces for alternative cultural expressions. It benefits the institutional image.
However, does it benefit the culture from which the genre comes (another community at large, often overlooked)? As I suggested earlier, there is both possible benefit and damage to the genre through its presentation by "single-semester artists." Many of us feel there are important benefits to this type of performance, for example, introduction of the genre to American audiences, opportunities for students to perform and to validate learning, and the groups' achievement of parity with other ensembles such as the symphony orchestra and the collegium musicum. However, how do we avoid distorting or misrepresenting the genre through its reperformance by our students, whose mastery of the tradition is, to be charitable, incomplete? This concern is particularly problematic in a performance environment inevitably informed by descriptive chauvinism, in which the dominant paradigm is aesthetic, harboring expectations of technical mastery and virtuosic performance. Do we diminish an American audience's appreciation or damage its respect for a genre through the repeated performance of simple repertory? Of greater personal concern, does the practice do damage to the teacher, native or not, who is fated to teach his tradition's counterpart of "Für Elise" to each new class, with little hope of ever reaching the monuments of the repertory, his genre's Diabelli Variations?
At the onset of a new century, it behooves the "ethnomusicological we" to have at the ready a set of clearly articulated rationales for the study group within the academy. To be effective, they should embrace the pedagogical, social, aesthetic, and experiential. We must be able to communicate them convincingly to—and realize them for—our students, colleagues, institutions, and communities.