Music Department


Jinja Musicians

Professor Jonathan C. Kramer received support from Distance Education funds for a three-week fieldwork project in Uganda and Ethiopia. The specific objective was to increase the presence of African music in the World Music curriculum of the course, MUS200 Understanding Music: Global Perspectives, that Kramer team-teaches with Dr. Alison Arnold. In Uganda, Kramer collaborated with Ethnomusicologists James Isabirye of Kyombogo University and Nicholas Sempijja of Makerere University. From Professor Isabirye, Kramer received a background in Ugandan instruments, playing styles, and ritual contexts associated with several of the more than forty ethnic groups who inhabit this small, landlocked country. A more focused study of sacred music with Dr. Sempijja dealt with the Africanization of Christian worship particularly in the Roman Catholic church since the reforms of Vatican II in 1963. Kramer traveled to the Masaka District in Southern Uganda with Dr. Sempijja to witness an annual music

Masaka Conducting Lesson

festival and secondary school song and dance competition sponsored by the local diocese.


In Ethiopia, Kramer traveled to the remote town of Lalibela, famous for eleven monolithic churches cut from a single outcropping of rock. There, he observed the ancient rituals associated with Feast of St. Michael along with thousands of whiterobed pilgrims. The ancient liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, sung in the archaic language of Ge’ez, is performed to chant melodies that have been repeated for more than a millennium.


Lalibela Priests


Dr. Alison Arnold spent five weeks this summer in the Canadian Maritimes, researching and playing the traditional music of Cape Breton. Dr. Arnold had attended Celtic Colours

Weekly music session at Rollie's Wharf, North Sydney

International Music Festival in Cape Breton in Fall 2012, and during these two research trips has focused on the transmission of this branch of Celtic music and on the cultural role of traditional music festivals. This summer she participated in music "sessions" and worked with fiddler, composer, compiler and publisher of Cape Breton music and recordings, Paul Cranford, and with fiddlerluthier Otis Tomas, author of The Fiddletree (2011) that documents the suite of instruments he built from a single maple tree he cut down in 1995. As with Dr. Kramer’s research, this material will enhance their MUS 200 course curriculum.


In July, Drs. Kramer and Arnold co-presented a paper at the 42nd World Conference of the International Council for Traditional Music in Shanghai, with travel support from DASA and

Drs. Kramer and Arnold at the ICTM 2013 conference, Shanghai

CHASS. More than six hundred delegates from fifty-four countries participated. Their paper, titled “Finding the Lesson in the Field: Research as Pedagogy,” demonstrates a reconciliation of the often competing aims of a scholar’s career—research and pedagogy— showing how they use fieldwork to enrich the curriculum of the general student by providing a framework that integrates specialized knowledge more general concerns. Based on recent and past studies carried out in East Africa, Canada, India, Trinidad, Suriname, Myanmar, the Tibetan region of Western China as well as local communities in North Carolina, the paper describes how new knowledge may be generated for a specialized professional community while at the same time re-contextualized for educating undergraduates in broad ethnomusicological principles engaging them with their world, in all its richness and complexity, through music.


Kramer will present a public talk, “East African Sacred Music: Old and New,” as part of the Price Music Center Lecture Series on September 27 in the Studio Theater at Thompson Hall, 7:00 pm. This year’s PMC Series is titled “Focus on Africa.”

Masaka Festival Dancer