Instrumental Lives

Musical Instruments, Material Culture, and Social Networks in East and Southeast Asia
Author: Edited by Helen Rees
The stories told by musical instruments
Cloth – $75
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Cloth: 07/23/2024
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About the Book

The musical instruments of East and Southeast Asia enjoy increasing recognition as parts of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. Helen Rees edits a collection that offers vibrant new ways to link these objects to their materials of manufacture, the surrounding environment, the social networks they form and help sustain, and the wider ethnic or national imagination. Rees organizes the essays to reflect three angles of inquiry. The first section explores the characteristics and social roles of various categories of instruments, including the koto and an extinct Balinese wooden clapper. In section two, essayists focus on the life stories of individual instruments ranging from an heirloom Chinese qin to end-blown flutes in rural western Mongolia. Essays in the third section examine the ethics and other issues that surround instrument collections, but also show how collecting is a dynamic process that transforms an instrument’s habitat and social roles.

Original and expert, Instrumental Lives brings a new understanding of how musical instruments interact with their environments and societies.

* This book was published with support from the Joseph Kerman Fund and General Fund of the American Musicological Society, supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About the Author

Helen Rees is a professor of ethnomusicology and the director of the World Music Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of Echoes of History: Naxi Music in Modern China.

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“Well designed and meticulously edited, this is a strikingly original contribution to the field of ethnomusicology. All the chapters have much to offer anyone interested in playing, learning, documenting, or thinking about musical instruments anywhere in the world.”--J. Lawrence Witzleben, author of Silk and Bamboo Music in Shanghai: The Jiangnan Sizhu Instrumental Ensemble Tradition