Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Review: Re-Counting Knowlege in Song: Change Reflected in Kaulong Music

Re-Counting Knowlege in Song: Change Reflected in Kaulong Music by Birgit Druppel. Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies: Boroko, Papua New Guinea, 2009. 324pp. CD included.

The present ethnomusicological study of Kaulong, Papua New Guinea is a culmination of several years of field research for Birgit Druppel's doctoral dissertation in 1998. The result is an in-depth analysis of traditional song, dance, and customs of the Kaulong area. Birgit provides ample commentary and insightful discussion regarding the many aspects surrounding social customs, instruments, songs, and dances. Particular attention is made to regional music/dance forms, including singing sia, murmur, and tumbuan. An instrument organology section is provided for pan pipes, Jew's harps, conch shells, insects (beetles), and other instruments. Musical notation is provided, along with cultural notes on instrument uses during special occasions (i.e. marriage, youth, hunting, feasts, etc.). The book includes numerous black/white photos, along with several colored plates. Due to the in-depth, and often technical nature of this study, a good grasp of Papua New Guinean ethnomusicology and folklore would be recommended for most readers. Yet, the book is laid out fairly well, with chapters devoted to pre-European cultural influences, vocal and instrumental music, post-independent music, and a short summary. Notably, an appendix conatins the biographies of the musicians. An informative glossary is also helpful for defining technical and cultural terms. An index and refence list is included for additional resources. A CD featuring 45 different songs, dances, celebrations, and instruments is included. The CD tracks are also referenced throughout the text and add another dimension to Birgit's already well-written and referenced monograph. Learn about Kaulong music today! ~ Matthew Forss

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