Studying Global Music

Balinese gamelan musicians in Tabanan, Bali, 1977. (Photo: Michael Tenzer)

Long before Bach, Beethoven and Beyonce, humans were making remarkable music all over the world. It told stories, gave advice, captured cosmic visions. It communicated what perhaps simple words cannot.

My guests today – two top ethnomusicologists – have traveled the world to bring back the rich traditional music of pygmies in central Africa and gamelan and shadow play in Bali.

We explore the deep architecture and meaning of some remarkable traditional music, and we learn something about the work of the ethnomusicologist.

-Tom Ashbrook

**Note: This show was first broadcast Feb. 22, 2010.


Michael Tenzer, ethnomusicologist at the University of British Columbia. He has studied the musical traditions of Bali, and he co-founded the San Francisco-based Balinese music ensemble Gamelan Sekar Jaya. He’s author of “Gamelan Gong Kebyar: The Art of Twentieth-Century Balinese Music.”

Simha Arom, ethnomusicologist and director emeritus of research at France’s National Center for Scientific Research. He’s best known for his recordings of the Aka pygmies and other Central African groups from the 1960’s through the 1980’s. He’s author of “African Polyphony and Polyrhythm: Musical Structure and Methodology.”

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