Friday, September 22

Founder of ethnomusicology program dies


Pioneer introduced idea of playing the music of cultures that people study

Mantle Hood, founder of the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology,
died on July 31 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He
was 87.

In addition to founding the ethnomusicology program at UCLA,
Hood also pioneered an idea he termed “bi-musicality,”
meaning that ethnomusicologists should learn to play the music of
the cultures they study.

“This method, controversial when published in 1960, has
now become a taken-for-granted part of the discipline of
ethnomusicology,” said Tim Rice, associate dean for academic
affairs in the School of Arts and Architecture and one of
Hood’s former graduate students, in an e-mail on Aug. 16.

“A lot of what happened was because of his driving vision
of what he wanted to see happen,” said Robert Garfias, an
anthropology professor at UC Irvine and one of Hood’s first
graduate students. “He was this very articulate and charming
person. When he’d give public lectures he was quite
enthralling.”

Hood was a UCLA faculty member from 1956 to 1975, after he
graduated from the university with a bachelor’s degree in
music and a master’s degree in composition. He later earned a
doctorate degree in ethnomusicology at the University of
Amsterdam.

The ethnomusicology department was created when Hood began
teaching at UCLA in 1956.

“The institute was a big deal in the ’50s and
’60s,” Garfias said. “He was constantly being
reviewed and interviewed and photographed. He was quite visible in
the scene until he left (Los Angeles).”

After he left UCLA, Hood spent a number of years in retirement
in Hawaii, Garfias said, before founding an ethnomusicology program
at the University of Maryland. He was still living in Maryland at
the time of his death. Many of Hood’s graduate students went
on to found ethnomusicology departments at other schools, including
UC Berkeley, the University of Washington, Brown University,
Wesleyan University and Florida State University, Rice said.

“His program really caught on as a kind of model, and the
model was that you had to learn the music yourself and
participate,” Garfias said. “Before (World War II)
nobody did that.”

Ethnomusicology students at UCLA are still required to take part
in what the department calls “World Music Performance
Ensembles,” even though as Garfias said, some other
institutions have abandoned that approach because of the high cost
of running such groups.

According to the ethnomusicology department’s Web site,
these groups are typically run by natives of a particular musical
tradition to allow students to “understand the subtleties of
a pedagogical technique from someone who has spent a lifetime
immersed in the music.” The traditions offered in these
groups include music from India, Korea, Mexico, West Africa and
Java, which was Hood’s personal specialty.

Hood studied and played all the instruments in a Javanese
gamelan, a symphony composed of string, wind and many percussion
instruments, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.

“(Hood) arranged for one of the first gamelans to be
taught at a U.S. university,” Rice said. “It is widely
regarded as the finest gamelan in the United States.”

In addition to his teaching at UCLA, Hood received numerous
honors during his career as an ethnomusicologist.

He spent two years studying music in Indonesia on a Ford
scholarship, and later studied in India as a Fulbright scholar,
according to the Times article. He received multiple honors from
the Indonesian government for his work there, including the title
“Ki,” meaning venerable, and membership to the Dharma
Kusuma, or Society of National Heroes.

Hood was also president of the Society of Ethnomusicology, and
in 1971 published “The Ethnomusicologist,” which Rice
called “an important book … (that) outlined research issues
and questions in the then still nascent field of
ethnomusicology.”

Hood is survived by his wife, Hazel, four sons and three
grandchildren.

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