Over centuries of human migration, music in many forms has moved, resettled, and melded with the music of other cultures, resulting in new hybrid genres, instruments and varieties of musical expression. Such diasporas, to and from every continent on earth, have been both voluntary and forced, and are a major contribution to the diversity of music around the world.
Join Dan Kruse on Wednesday (Sept. 12) at the Arizona Senior Academy to explore “Music, Movement, and Migration,” the second in his four-part ethnomusicology series. The discussion will include some notable examples of how the music of displaced peoples makes an impact on the country where they settled. To allow for audience input and sharing, the program will begin at 3:00 p.m. and end at 4:30.
One story examines the late 1800s, when Chinese laborers, seeking economic opportunity, were drawn to the California Gold Rush and America’s transcontinental railroad. Many in this voluntary migration felt they would stay only a while, but many never left. Years later, their immigration experiences were put to music by Ng Sheung Chi, known as Uncle Ng, a singer and prolific composer of muk’yu, a type of narrative folk song from southern China.
A different musical narrative played out in Vietnam, torn apart by the human upheaval of the Vietnam War. Pham Duy, the best-known composer of the Vietnamese diaspora, told of a traveler’s journey through the three regions of Vietnam in a song cycle that resonates powerfully with Vietnamese at home and abroad.
The movement of millions of African slaves to America reflects our own conflicted role in forced immigration and the emergence of distinctive musical genres—black spirituals and jazz among them. Part 3 of this series will begin at 3:00 p.m. next Wednesday, Sept. 19.
Written by Caroline Bates, Academy Village Volunteer