Cultural Musicology – Its Possibilities, Limits and Challenges

In this documentary – produced and directed by me – I explore the dimensions of a cultural musicology, through covering debates of musicologists on a wide range of topics at a symposium (Göttingen, September 2012), a workshop (Amsterdam, November 2012) and a panel session (Leiden, March 2013) and through interviews with five renowned musicologists (Birgit Abels, Tomie Hahn, Lawrence Kramer, Wim van der Meer, John Richardson).
The film has the following outline/chapters: Introduction | Musicology and its subdivisions | What’s in a name? (or, what’s wrong with ‘ethnomusicology’?) | Music as cultural practice | Sensational knowledge | Music(ology) in post colonial discourse and cultural theory | The transformation of the idea of culture in (new) musicology | Framing | World Order | Planetary | Power, Institutions, Orthodoxies | Musicologica | Sharing knowledge… how and with whom? | Music and its representations | Shruti | Embracing restlessness | Final notes | End credits (+ some funny stuff) ||
Filmed in 2012 and 2013 in Göttingen, Amsterdam and Leiden.
Duration: 80’27”

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From the Hoboken Collection : Arnold Bake’s radiotalk (script) on Rabindranath Tagore


It’s certainly been too long – but better late, than never – since I announced to write on some of the interesting documents I found three years ago at Radio Netherlands from the legacy of Peter van Hoboken (1901-1994), Head of Transcription Service at Radio Netherlands from 1948 to 1966 and one of the great pioneers and promotors of Indian classical music in the Netherlands*. For several decades already there has been another and bigger Van Hoboken-collection that is incorporated in the Felix van Lamsweerde-collection, but most of the material that I came across at Radio Netherlands is different and therefore an interesting addition to the material that was known already.

Peter van Hoboken
Peter van Hoboken in his office at Radio Netherlands

From here I’d like to refer to these documents as the Radio Netherlands Hoboken Collection, abbreviated as RNHC. My find in January 2002 of a unique recording by Radio Netherlands in 1957 of sitarist Ravi Shankar already illustrated the great value of Peter van Hoboken, who organised this recording. As an adept of Indian classical music and dance Van Hoboken organised recordings of concerts in The Netherlands and he produced many Radio Netherlands programmes on Indian classical music.


At this point I want to proceed with some interesting documents I found among the RNHC, concerning radiotalks done in 1950 by world famous dutch ethnomusicologist Arnold Bake (1899-1963), radiotalks Bake did in english and hindi about the musical life and culture of India, recorded for the Radio Netherlands Transcription Service to be distributed to presumably India and Surinam for broadcasts by stations over there. What I found of these radiotalks is only paperwork, Bake’s typed scripts along with his handwritten corrections. Unfortunately, the recorded tapes can’t be found in the Radio Netherlands Audio Archives, as these were sent to stations outside Holland, the main task of the Transcription Service.


Arnold Bake

It’s a great pity the recordings of Bake can’t be found in the archives of Radio Netherlands. I’ve asked Felix van Lamsweerde and they’re not in his Van Hoboken Collection. I would assume that they could have been stored in the Arnold Bake Archives, kept at the University of Leiden, but Felix and another expert, Fred Gales, told me that the collection over there contains only papers of radiotalks and not recordings. So, if not in Hilversum and not in Leiden, where can they be? Did the Radio Netherlands Transcription Service sent them to All India Radio and/or to Surinam or are they kept somewhere at the University of London’s School of Oriental & African Studies where Bake lectured? At this point I can’t believe they’re lost. I hope they can be found somewhere, as I’d like to hear how the scripts I found in Hilversum come alive in a radio transmission with Bake’s voice and with the music he talks about.


Rabindranath Tagore

The radiotalk-script I like to present here contains Bake’s thougths on India’s world famous writer, poet, philosopher and Nobelprize winner Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941), in particular on ‘Tagore and his music’ and when I publish this it’s 7 May 2011, precisely the 150th birthday of Tagore. So, yes, this update on the RNHC took me too long, but I think I’m right on time with presenting these particular papers. 🙂


scriptpage 1, click a few times on the photo to enlarge


scriptpage 2, click a few times on the photo to enlarge


scriptpage 3, click a few times on the photo to enlarge


scriptpage 4, click a few times on the photo to enlarge

Let me add that I consider my short writings here on the RNHC as a work in progress. I don’t wanna pretend that I know all the details or have all the answers. That would be stupid and a false claim. If someone sees mistakes or things I overlook or has interesting additional information, please let me know.

* Radio Netherlands and Peter van Hoboken’s son Alexander have given me permission to publish these documents and write about them.

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Balinese Gamelan: unique footage of legendary composer I Wayan Lotring

Recently published on YouTube in two videos: selected segments of unique footage from 1972 of the legendary Balinese composer, musician, dancer I Wayan Lotring (approx.1898-1983).

lotring-picture

Lotring is arguably Bali’s most influential gamelan composer/musician of the twentieth century. And of course a great dancer as well. We see Lotring at old age dancing and playing his own compositions with fellow musicians. When playing, we see Lotring mostly as the leader of the ensemble, playing the kendang (drum). Segments are shown of the famous 1972 performances that have been published on Ocora in 1974 (rereleased in 1989). Below you’ll find part two. At 2’40” in this video the famous piece ‘Gambangan’ is played and from 6’16” there’s my very favourite piece ‘Liar Samas’ 🙂

Great as this footage of Lotring might be, there are also two regrettable minuses regarding this material:

1. It’s in black and white (filmed from a black and white tv screen?). I can’t imagine (ethno)musicologist Jacques Brunet shot this material in black and white. Moreover, his recordings of these sessions are presented on Ocora along with colour photos in the cd booklet.

2. Sound and image are not sync. It would be very easy to correct this. I’m always surprised to see this. Why do uploaders not correct this before they publish? As a consequence we don’t get to see the real artistic beauty of Lotring’s dancing along with the music and of his (drum)playing with the orchestra. Ooooww!!! 🙁

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