My writings on Chinese ritual may seem to privilege ethnography and social change. But I do also like to relate all this to the nuts and bolts of the language of sound, as with my Dissolving boundaries (comparing qin and shawm pieces!), and for the liturgy of the Li family Daoists, clues in my book, chs. 14 to 16.
Having just made a plea for soundscape to be considered an intrinsic component of ritual studies, these analyses are highly technical, so I may now be shooting myself in the foot, but hey.
Once upon a time, analysis was the bread-and-butter of world music studies, often following Western Art Music musicology in taking reified “works of art” as its object. Recently the online journal Analytical approaches to world music takes a valuable step forward—enriching silent text by embedded audio examples. And while the analyses are dense, they always take note of changing social and performance contexts.
Some highlights that appeal to my own tastes—starting with flamenco, since I’m always grappling with the palmas hand-clapping patterns:
- Richard Widdess, “Implicit raga knowledge in the Kathmandu valley”
- William Tallotte, “Meaningful adjustments: musical performance and ritual action in a south Indian temple”
Anyway, none of this should dissuade the ethnographer with a less technical grasp of musical elements from paying attention to the soundscape of ritual and the lives of performers and their patrons!