Interviews with ethnomusicologists

Trevor Wiggins interviewed by Carolyn Landau.

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  • Interviewees

    Wiggins, Trevor (speaker, male, interviewee)

  • Interviewers

    Landau, Carolyn (speaker, female, interviewer)

  • Recordist

    Landau, Carolyn (speaker, female

  • Abstract

    Track 1 [1:55:20] [Session one: 25 March 2010] Trevor Wiggins [TW], born January 1953, Essex. Description of upbringing, in relation to musical experiences. Parents keen amateur musicians, very involved with the music of the Salvation Army. Learnt piano and trumpet. Mentions acquiring a Ghanaian female drum age 10 from a family friend. Description of formal music education at school and then a Certificate of Education with Stanley Glasser at Goldsmiths. Mentions course contents being Euro-centric. Mentions first job teaching in Surrey and returning to Goldsmiths in 1980 to do MMus. 1983 taught Music Education and Music at Bretton Hall. [8:30] Description of genres of music TW was involved with, mainly Western Art Music, at this stage. Comments that there wasn’t a strong sense of ethnomusicology, apart from some courses that Jeremy Montague and A.L. Lloyd took on the MMus. Mentions how his interest and knowledge in non-Western musics developed mainly through his involvement with anti-racist teaching and multicultural education. [12:30] Mentions project at Homerton College (Cambridge) in early 1980s as a key moment for TW in terms of ways of listening to and interpreting music. [14:18] Description of TW’s interest and involvement in anti-racist education in the early to mid 1980s and how this led to TW taking lessons in non-Western music; mentions Indian, bansuri flute playing, African drumming (mentions Neil Sorrell coming to Bretton Hall teach an Ewe rhythm). Describes the few resources available and tensions that arose between ethnomusicologists and music educators over the providence of the materials. [23:30] Description of first field trip to Ghana, Africa in 1989, via the League of the Commonwealth Exchange of Teachers. Description of how he saw ethnomusicology within Britain at this stage. Discussion of other ethnomusicologists TW had so far met. Mentions meeting Peter Cooke, Neil Sorrell, Carole Pegg, David Hughes and others at ICTM UK Chapter conferences from 1985 onwards. Remembers evening concerts standing out. Mentions Janet Topp Fargion’s Gumboot Dancing. Mentions his perceptions ethnomusicology in the Britain at this stage. [31:45] Description of reasons for interest in Ghanaian music and of first trip to Ghana. Reflects on dominance of Western Art Music at university and hierarchy within department. Mentions his reaction to reading Daniel Avorgbedor’s PhD thesis. Mentions learning different drumming patterns from Johnson Kemeh and transcribing these to help with learning process. Mentions Nkrumah asking Nketia and Opoku to set up a national dance ensemble representing the whole of Ghana. Mentions learning xylophone repertoire from Nandom with Joseph Kobom. Mentions various occasions where he used a Sony D6 cassette recorder and stereo microphone to record performances. [47:55] Description of how recordings were made, contents of recordings and uses of recordings. Mentions archiving. Reflects on listening to field recordings and on assembling a ‘complete’ collection of recordings. Describes context of making recordings including payment. Mentions others making recordings at same time. Describes the nature of field recordings, in comparison to studio recordings. Gives reasons for making recordings. [1:03:08] Description of impact of first field trip and recordings in terms of publications, teaching and academic standing. Reflections on learning to do field research. [1:08:16] Description of role of recordings and transcriptions in research, location of recordings today and use of recordings for subsequent publications. Description of next field trip to Ghana in 1994, having been appointed to Dartington in 1991, focusing on how and why field recordings were made on this occasion. Comments on his growing understanding of ethnomusicology and how this affected his ongoing methodology. [1:20:50] Discussion of how the discipline of ethnomusicology was developing at this time, within the UK and internationally. Description of discussion with Stanley Glasser prior to second field trip about lack of Africanists working in the UK at this time, given Blacking’s death in 1991. [1:26:30] Detailed description of (12 month) field trip to Ghana in 1994. Mentions: recording equipment used; receiving advice from Peter Cooke; making recording agreements with musicians; making video recordings; issues of language and use of translators; buying food, cooking; weather; transport and travel; recording conditions; experience of TW’s wife in Ghana. [1:37:40] Description of aims of field trip; mentions: publications, contents of field recordings, reflections on other studies in this area such as James Burns. Describes anecdote regarding research on a particular song translated as ‘Ugly person’ and reflects on role of linguistics in music research. [1:45:40] Discussion of location of recordings made during 1994 trip; mentions archiving in British Library and publication. [1:49:00] Description of how TW uses has used own field recordings in teaching and research and muses how others might use them.

  • Description

    Interview with Trevor Wiggins. The ethnomusicologist talks about his research. Interviewer: Carolyn Landau.

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