EOL Book Review

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The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 4
Southeast Asia

Edited by Terry E. Miller and Sean Williams.  Vol. 4. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1998. xx+1024 pp., photographs, music examples and line drawings, glossary, index, bibliography, filmography, discography, and 1 audio CD.

This impressive volume is the second one (after "Africa") to appear in the ten volume set of Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, an ambitious project that has been nearly a decade in preparation. The editors of the Encyclopedia decided to organize the material geographically rather than alphabetically, each volume being devoted to a specific geographical area. Within each volume, they attempted to maintain similar organization, dividing it into three parts: "Part 1: an introduction to the region, its culture, and music as well as a survey of previous music scholarship and research, Part 2: major issues and processes that link the music of the region, Part 3: detailed accounts of individual music cultures" (ix). This organization is different from other music encyclopedias and dictionaries organized primarily alphabetically, and from the sixth edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, although Grove also contains large entries on specific musical cultures and regions. Each approach has its advantages and drawbacks. In the alphabetically-organized encyclopedia, the entries are easy to find, but the cross-referencing to other entries involves a multi-volume search.  In the geographically-organized encyclopedia, there could be a better interface between chapters, and a good index could solve the problem of finding the necessary information. The possible drawback could be the cross-referencing between the major cultural areas, but this can be solved by the general index and glossary. The comparison with Grove 6 comes naturally, as the gigantic Grove has been the standard reference in ethnomusicology for nearly eighteen years. The Garland Encyclopedia, at least Volume 4, comes out successfully in this comparison.

A major advantage of the Garland Encyclopedia is the fact that it represents up-to-date research rather than that of the 1970s. Many of the authors belong to the younger generation, and bring a fresh approach to the field. It is very encouraging to see how much serious scholarship in ethnomusicology has been done over the last twenty five years. Following the format of the entire Encyclopedia, volume 4 is divided into three parts. The space allotted to each of those parts is not very equal: Part 1, "Introduction to Southeast Asia as a Musical Area," takes only thirty pages; Part 2, "Issues and Processes in Southeast Asian Music," takes 114 pages, and Part 3, "Music Cultures and Regions," 784 pages.

The introductory material, Part 1 and 2, is very helpful and provides an excellent overview of the region. Several entries (the entire Part 1 and a half of the entries in Part 2) are written by Terry Miller and Sean Williams. Other authors are K. Hutterer (Southeast Asia in Prehistory), Robert Wessing (Bamboo, Rice and Water), and Deborah Wong and René T. A. Lysloff (Popular Music and Cultural Politics). Part 3 is divided into three sections: Majority Cultures of Mainland Southeast Asia, Upland and Minority Peoples of Mainland Southeast Asia, and Island Southeast Asia. Much of the material represents new scholarship on the region.

In the first section on Majority Cultures, the topics covered are: Introduction to the Music of Mainland Southeast Asia (T. Miller), The Khmer People (Sam-Ang Sam, Panya Roongüang, and Phong T. Nguyn), Thailand (T. Miller), Laos (T. Miller), Burma (W. Keeler), Peninsula Malaysia (P. Matusky and J. Chopyak), Vietnam (Phong T. Nguyn), and Singapore (Lee Tong Soon). In the second sections on Upland and Minorities the topics covered are: Upland Minority People of Mainland Southeast Asia: an Introduction (T. Miller), Minority Music of Vietnam (Phong T. Nguyn), Music of Upland Minorities in Burma, Laos, and Thailand (R. Uchida and A. Catlin), The Indigenous People (orang asli) of the Malay Peninsula (M. Roseman, based on a manuscript by Hans Oesch), and Lowland Ch m (Phong T. Nguyn). In the third section the topics are: Island Southeast Asia: An Introduction (P. Matusky, Sumatra (M. Kartomi), Java (R. A. Sutton, E. Suanda, and S. Williams), Bali (D. Harnish), Nusa Tenggara Barat (D. Harnish), Nusa Tenggara Timur (C. Basile and J. Hoskins), Sulawesi (M. Kartomi), Maluku (M. Kartomi), Borneo: Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, Kalimantan (P. Matusky), The Lowland Christian Philippines (C. Canave-Doquino), Art Music in the Philippines in the Twentieth Century (R. Santos), Popular Music in the Philippines (R. Santos and A. Cabalza), Islamic Communities of the Southern Philippines (R. Santos), and Upland Peoples of the Philippines (J. Maceda).

One of many outstanding features of this book is the coverage of areas that were previously hardly mentioned in other major reference works. An  example is the excellent thirty-one page entry by Margaret Kartomi on Sumatra. It covers a cultural history of the island, and individual regions, such as Aceh, coastal Malays, Bataks, Nias, highland and coastal Minangkabau, Mentawai islands, Riau provinces (mainland and island), Jambi provinces (Jambi-Malay lowlanders, Kerinci-Malay highlanders), Bengkulu provinces (South Sumatra province, Basemah uplands, other mainland areas, Bangka and Belitung) and Lumpung province. It covers not only the traditional genres but also new ones, developed under external influences.

A different example is nearly a hundred-page entry on Java by R. Anderson Sutton, Endo Suanda, and Sean Williams. This entry covers the area extensively discussed in the past by many scholars. Divided into sections on Central and East Java, Cirebon and Sunda area, the entry includes a detailed description of history of the areas, music, instruments, forms, dance and theatre. On Sumatra, it includes the presentation of traditional genres as well as new ones. It contains information on of training of musicians, composition, and social aspects of music, such as class and gender. It discusses popular and village genres, as well as the effects of modernization,  westernization, and mass media on the musical scene of the Island.

In  singling out those two entries I do not imply in any way that the other entries are in any way less well presented, comprehensive, or informative. Actually, I could not find any entry that would be in any way below the very high standards of the volume.

One of my main concerns in evaluating the book was its usefulness. The book can be very useful for professional ethnomusicologists as a reliable reference. I see it also an excellent teaching aid, especially for the college instructors who are not professional ethnomusicologists and are in a situation of having to teach world music courses. This volume provides ample historical and cultural background and concrete information on music and related arts, in concise and clear form, to give such a teacher a comfortable margin of knowledge and build a confidence necessary for teaching. It can also be very useful for the high school teachers, most of them non-ethnomusicologists, although some of them might be a little overwhelmed by sheer amount of information.

The volume is accompanied by a compact disc containing fifteen tracks. The tracks are very good field recordings, and are well referenced in the text. However, considering the bewildering variety of musical genres in the area discussed in the book, I found it difficult to agree with the editors, who  found it compelling to devote the first track (4'45") to three rather long examples of croaking frogs, referenced in the text only once, on p. 49. I understand it is important to provide an ecological ambiance of musical performance, but  we have some of it on other tracks (2 and 9) that include plenty of street and household noises.  It could have been accomplished by more examples recorded with open windows (we would have also cicadas, street vendors, children, car horns and a lot of other sounds). Instead, I would prefer to have a sample of, for example, a Central Javanese gamelan. Although many recordings of Central Javanese gamelan are available commercially, it would be quite useful to those teachers who might not have access to an extensive collection of recordings.

The volume is also very handsome. The pages are nicely designed, perhaps even a little extravagant in the generosity of space, by using only about two-thirds of page. The cover photo is quite striking. Most of the black-and-white photos inside the volume are, however, not of as good quality. It seems they are printed from slides, the usual medium used in the fieldwork. To make proper, professional black-and-white prints from slides is difficult and would be expensive. It would bring the price of the volume even higher (the present price is $165.00, rather expensive for a private customer but nonetheless a bargain when one considers the content). Much of the value of the book is in the clarity of presentation and organization of the material. The book is very well copy-edited. The language is very compact and clear. Much credit has to go to Terry Miller and Sean Williams, volume editors, for selecting the authors, designing the volume, and bringing it to completion; and to D. Love for the skill and care with which he was able to unify the English of so many authors. We should also appreciate the work of Leo Balk of Garland Publishing, and Richard Wallis, Managing Editor, for bringing this excellent publication to completion.

Józef Pacholczyk

Józef Pacholczyk, Professor, University of Maryland, College Park. Ethnomusicologist. MA in Near Eastern philology, University of Warsaw, Poland, and Music in State Superior School of Music, Warsaw Poland, Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, UCLA. Studies in Arabic and Indonesian languages and literature. Research interest in music and culture of Islamic Near East, Indonesia, and Central Asia.   Field-work in Indonesia, Egypt, India, Turkey, and Kazakhstan. Former Director of Graduate Program in Ethnomusicology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Author of Sufyana Musiqi, the Classical Music of Kashmir, VWB, Berlin 1996.

Thanks to Aaron A. Fox for assistance in making this page.