Kay Kaufman ShelemayUSAMusic2001

In this quiet corner of rural Umbria, it was possible for me to step back from the distractions of everyday life and concentrate on the process of writing and thinking. The “making” of expressive culture - whether a composition, painting, or literary work -requires a generous amount of mental and psychic space. This is what Civltella Ranierl provides in such full measure, along with an environment of natural beauty that clears the mind and uplifts the spirit.

...What can an ethnomusicologist do in and for the “real world” of music? The options are many, almost unlimited. Supporting and collaborating with not-for-profit organizations is one route. Another is to carry out ethnomusicological research projects that aid communities of descent or affinity in their efforts to document and perpetuate their own traditions. For instance, our team project with Syrian Jews in Brooklyn began as a collaborative effort to document a repertory of songs (pizmonim) of great historical importance and on-going significance to the community. Syrian Jews were interested in recording songs to insure that they would be transmitted to the younger generation; as ethnomusicologists, we provided necessary equipment and expertise. An unexpected outcome of the Syrian music study was that the interest and activity of a group of researchers, which because of our numbers was perceived as a community in itself, galvanized interest among Syrian Jews who carried the musical tradition. The value of singing pizmonim within the Brooklyn community accrued additional cultural capital in part because of the interest of outsiders. The real world result was that there was a resurgence of interest in learning and singing pizmonim. Ethnomusicologists can also work to reinforce vulnerable musical institutions and support worthy ventures through grant making. Anthony Seeger has written eloquently about the importance of preserving our field recordings and other ethnographic materials (Seeger 1985). Beyond depositing our own materials, we can take as part of our real-world responsibilities the task of building archives and garnering resources to support them. The longer one works in ethnomusicology, the more fleeting both musical traditions and individual careers appear to be, and the more important it is to institutionalize resources for the future. Each of us may select different domains or causes to which we choose to devote time and energy - including efforts to transform the very institutions within which we work - but these types of activities move us beyond the traditional goals of the academy or the boundaries of a single musical organization. Once one has entered the real world of music, it is impossible to retreat.