TAASA Review Issues

June 1999

Vol: 8 Issue: 2
Music
Editor: Ann MacArthur

Cover Photo
NYIMA TASHI (left) & DAWA DOLMA (right).
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID BRAZIL, DEEMAX PRODUCTIONS.

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Editorial

Margaret J. Kartomi

This issue of the TAASA Review focuses on the music and musical instruments of selected societies in Asia, introducing some of the issues involved in the diversity and beauty of the musical practices of the region.

Since the early 1970s, interest among Australians in the musical cultures of Asia has expanded from an initial emphasis on Southeast and South Asia to include Northeast and West Asia. Several books and many articles have now been written by Australians and Asian-Australians on the traditional music, the contemporary syncretic or crossover of Asia and Australia, and the popular music of the region.

The musical instruments themselves are often art works of great beauty of form and colour as well as being items of historical and cultural value. This issue contains illustrated articles on selected musics from six countries in Southeast, South, North and West Asia – Japan, India, Burma, Indonesia (West and Central Java), Azerbaijan and Iran. The contents of the issue are therefore quite diverse, though each article, in its own way, is concerned with the preservation of traditional musical practices in a changing world.

The papers by Margaret Birley, Henry Johnson, Laleh Joshani, Mejnun Kerimov and myself were first presented at a conference of CIMCIM (Comité International des Musées et Collections d’Instruments de Musique), which was part of the Congress of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), held in Melbourne in October 1998. CIMCIM was created in 1960 as an International Committee of ICOM in Paris, succeeding the Museum Music Commission. CIMCIM (website: https://www.uni-leipzig.de/museum/musik) promotes and organises professional activities related to collections and museums of musical instruments of all kinds and from all countries. Working groups focus on Communications, Conservation, Documentation, Education and Presentation, Traditional Instruments, Training and the International Directory of Musical Instrument Collections.

It is not therefore surprising to find in these articles an emphasis on preservation, conservation and related museological issues and a concern not merely with description but with broader ethical and interpretative issues. How do we appreciate music? What does a musical instrument stand for? A museum of musical instruments must aim to do more than simply exhibit musical instruments; it must display the position of music and of the musical instrument within the culture. In that way a collection of musical instruments is transformed into a museum of music.

The convergence of issues around musical instruments is illustrated, for example, in the article about the gamelan Digul. This gamelan was made in 1927 from any materials to hand in a prison-camp of the Netherlands East Indies – now Indonesia. It was bought to Australia and played in Melbourne from 1943 to 1945 by Indonesian ex-political prisoners while they worked with their Australian friends and colleagues to achieve Indonesian independence. It is a good example of beautifully sounding and tuned iron gamelans that were made in Surakarta in the 1920s, not many of which have survived to this day. Thus, the gamelan is at once a set of musical instruments, a historical document, and a potent symbol of Australian-Indonesian friendship, forged at a time of war and heroic revolutionary struggle. This rare historical gamelan will be displayed with accompanying photographs and musical performances at an exhibition in the Monash Gallery, Clayton Campus, from 30 August to 12 September, 1999. Presented by the Monash University Department of Music and the Indonesian Arts Society, with a grant from the Indonesia-Australia Institute, the exhibition will also be shown in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Darwin as well as in Indonesia.

Table of contents

COMMENT: GUEST EDITOR – MARGARET J. KARTOMI

THE GAMELAN DIGUL: SYMBOL OF INDONESIAN-AUSTRALIAN COOPERATION AND FRIENDSHIP         – Margaret J. Kartomi

TAASA MANGEMENT NEWS – Jackie Menzies

THE RE-CREATION OF THE ANCIENT MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF IRAN – Laleh Joshani

10  MUSEUMS OF TRADITIONAL JAPANESE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS: AN INTRODUCTION TO THREE COLLECTIONS, THEIR CONTEXTS, AND CLASSIFICATIONS – Henry Johnson

13  COLLECTOR’S CHOICE: A CENTRAL ASIAN HORSE BLANKET – Dee Court

14  THE RE-CREATION OF THE ANCIENT MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF AZERBAIJAN – Mejnun Kerimov

16  COLLECTING OBJECTIVES AND THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS FROM INDIA IN THE HORNIMAN MUSEUM, LONDON – Margaret Birley

18  TRADITIONAL MUSICIANS IN MODERN BURMA – Yuri Takahashi

21  OBITUARY – ALEXANDER BIANCARDI (1923 – 1998)

22  NATURALISATION OF EUROPEAN INSTRUMENTS IN INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC – John Napier

24  INDONESIAN GAMELAN DEGUNG MUSIC: CLASSICAL AND MODERN STYLES – David Goldsworthy

26  REVIEWS AND PREVIEWS

28  MEMBERS’ DIARY

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