In Discipline: Talks from the European Side

As a new graduate student, I’m taking a course on the intellectual history of ethnomusicology this quarter. At least twice in our discussions, classmates have expressed curiosity about what ethno looks like outside of the States. I’m honored and excited to be a part of the In Discipline project, which offers answers to that very question. This week, I’d like to introduce you to Llorián García Flórez, an ethnomusicology doctoral student at the University of Oviedo, Spain, and invite you to hear his perspective on the field.

-Liza

Bouzuki player Elías García playing with his folk/celtic band Tuenda, from Asturias, Spain. In the picture we can see Tuenda playing  in the fiestas of Melardi, Asturias, this last August (2014). The people dancing are a mix of local inhabitants and young visitors linked to the Asturian music revival. (photo by Llorián García Flórez)

Bouzuki player Elías García playing with his folk/celtic band Tuenda, from Asturias, Spain. In the picture we can see Tuenda playing in the fiestas of Melardi, Asturias, this last August (2014). The people dancing are a mix of local inhabitants and young visitors linked to the Asturian music revival.
(photo by Llorián García Flórez)

What is your academic history and where have you studied ethnomusicology?

Soi becariu d’investigación na Universidá d’Uviéu, au me llicencié n’Historia y Ciencies de la Música, y onde faigo la mio tesis doctoral sobre música celta n’Asturies (España). Tamién soi Mayestru na especialidá d’Educación Musical –pela Universidá d’Uviéu– y Grau Profesional de Música pel Conservatoriu «Eduardo Martínez Torner» d’Uviéu na recientemente creada especialidá de gaita asturiana. Nel mio casu nun tuve que migrar –pol momentu–, dao que ñací nun sitiu bastante cercanu a los centros onde s’impartíen estes titulaciones.

I have completed a degree in Musicology at the University of Oviedo. Currently I have a research grant at this university and I am doing my doctoral thesis on Celtic music in Asturias (Spain). I also have a degree in teaching, specializing in elementary music education, obtained at the University of Oviedo, too. And finally, I have an intermediate grade certification in asturian bagpipe at the “Eduardo Martínez Torner” Conservatory in Oviedo, newly created degree.

In my case, I have not had to migrate -for now- because I was born near the places where I studied and where I am now working as a research student.

What theories or issues are you tackling in your personal research?

Les principales ámbitos d’interés nos que toi trabayando son: la música celta n’Asturies, la revitalización de práctiques musicales de matriz rural nel posfranquismu, estudios de (tres)xéneru y corporalidá aplicaos a la música, y procesos de patrimonialización na música asturiana (gubernamentalidá moderna y neolliberal).

The main areas of interest in which I am currently working are: Celtic Music in Asturias, the revitalization of musical practices of the rural matrix after franquism, (trans)gender and corporeality studies applied to music, and heritage processes in asturian music (modern and neoliberal governmentality).

ABOUT YOUR PROGRAM OF STUDY (GRADUATE):

Can you tell us about ethnomusicology in your academic world?

Nel ámbitu nel que yo me muevo, la etnomusicoloxía tien un pesu académicu mui pequeñu. Nel casu concretu de la Universidá d’Uviéu, la formación n’etnomusicoloxía impártese fundamentalmente en tres asignatures (18 créditos de los 240 que componenen el total de la carrera) del Gráu n’Historia y Ciencies de la Música, el cual ta enxertáu nel Area de Música del Departamentu d’Historia del Arte y Musicoloxía de la Facultá de Filosofía y Lletres. N’España nun esisten titulaciones d’etnomusicoloxía con calter universitariu. Impártense en dellos conservatorios, pero la orientación suel tar más averada al antigu conceptu de folklore que al estudiu antropolóxicu de la música. En xeneral, la etnomusicoloxía n’España tien un calter subalternu con respeuto a otres subdisciplines musicoloxiques.

Ethnomusicology has a small weight in the academic field in which I move. In the case of the University of Oviedo, training in ethnomusicology is taught in three subjects of the degree in Musicology (10 credits of the 240 that make up the degree). This degree is included within the Area of Music Department of Art History and Musicology Faculty of Arts. In Spain there are no college degrees in ethnomusicology. The degrees are offered in this field in some conservatories, but are more geared towards the old concept of folklore, not the anthropological study of music. Generally, ethnomusicology in Spain has a subordinate character in relation to other musicological disciplines.

What research issues are most commonly covered, and are some difficult for members of the department to accept?

El tema d’investigación que más pesu tien nel mio departamentu ye ensin dulda la historia de la música española. La primacía d’esti area foi una constante dende los entamos de la institucionalización de la musicoloxía n’España (dende mediaos de los ochenta, casualmente, nesta mesma universidá), dando llugar a trabayos que, dende diferentes puntos de vista, desendolcaron una importante llabor de revisión –y construcción– historiográfica. Sicasí, n’ocasiones, l’escesivu énfasis na promoción del Patrimoniu Históricu Musical Nacional (con mayúscules), dio pie a qu’otres importantes llínies de trabayu, ente elles les etnomusicolóxiques, paezan quedar dacuando infrarepresentaes. En tou casu, no tocante a los modelos teóricos emplegaos, siento total llibertá pa sofitame nos que considere más adecuaos; eso sí, cola so debía xustificación.

The research issue that has more weight in my department is undoubtedly the history of Spanish music. The primacy in this area was a constant since the beginning of the institutionalization of musicology in Spain (mid-eighties, coincidentally at the same university), leading to works from different points of view, important work reviews, and historiographies. But sometimes the excessive emphasis on the promotion of National Musical Heritage (with capital letters), leaves other important lines of work, including ethnomusicological ones, under-represented. In any case, in terms of the respective theoretical models used, I have total freedom to help where I deem most appropriate; that is, with proper justification.

Is music performance part of your program, and what are your thoughts on its inclusion or exclusion?

Nin na carrera nin nel mio programa de doctoráu ta incluyía la práctica instrumental; sicasí, anque nun heba’l requisitu, ye necesario tener unos conocimientos mínimos de “llinguax musical” pa superar con ésitu les 4 ó 5 asignatures d’analís de partitures de la historia de la música erudita occidental qu’hai nel plan d’estudios del Grau. Al mio parecer, la práctica músical pue ser necesaria o prescindible, dependiendo del tema d’estudiu y del enfoque adoptáu, aunque nunca ta de más. Nel casu del mio trabayu ye una ferramienta importante, pero nun m’abulta que debiera ser condición necesaria: hai munchos aspectos de la esperiencia musical que se puen estudiar desendolcando otres competencies, ensín necesidá de tocar un instrumentu.

Neither the degree nor in my own doctoral program includes instrumental practice. However, while there is no such requirement, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of musical language. This is useful in order to successfully overcome the 4 or 5 subject analyses of scores in the history of Western classical music that are included in the curriculum of the degree. From my point of view, the musical practice may be necessary or dispensable, depending on the issue and the approach adopted, although it never hurts. In the case of my work it is an important tool, but I think it should not be a necessary condition. There are many aspects of musical experience that can be studied developing other skills, without the need to know how to play an instrument.

Is fieldwork taught as part of your course load?

Nes asignatures d’etnomusicoloxía impartíes na carrera inclúyense conteníos de cómo facer trabayos de campu, tanto teóricos como prácticos.

For the ethnomusicology degree, there are classes about how do fieldwork, both theoretical and practical.

Does your program have any language requirements?

P’acceder al mio programa de doctoráu requierse un B1 d’inglés, pero nes clases del mesmu nun ye habitual trabayar con testos n’otros idiomes que nun seyan l’español.

The doctoral program that I am registered requires a B1 level of English. Despite this, it is not common to work with texts in other languages from Spanish in class.

What are the main journals/associations/conferences produced in your academic country? 

Les dos principales publicaciones producíes nel estáu español son TRANS, vencellada a la SIBE (Sociedad de Etnomusicología), con una llínia bien averada a la etnomusicoloxía, y la Revista de Musicología, editada pola SEDEM (Sociedad Española de Musicología), onde predominen los enfoques de calter historiográficu. Los principales alcuentros académicos que se celebren n’España son los entamaos poles dos asociaciones mentaes: el de la SIBE, con calter bianual, y el de la SEDEM, que tien llugar cada cada cuatro años.

The two main publications produced in the Spanish state are TRANS, associated SIBE (Sociedad de Etnomusicología), with a topic close to Ethnomusicology, and Revista de Musicología, published by the SEDEM (Sociedad Española de Musicología), which predominates historiographical approaches. The main academic meetings held in Spain are organized by the two associations mentioned, that of SIBE, biannually, and the SEDEM, which takes place every four years.

ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, POWER, AND PRODUCTION:

What issues would you highlight regarding the weight of economic/political power (or lack thereof)  and academic production at your institution? 

El factor más significativu seguramente seya la infrafinanciación que carez la Universidá d’Uviéu, tresversal, promovía dende’l poder políticu asturianu y especialmente acentuada dende l’antamu de la crisis financiera.

The most significant factor is probably the lack of economic funding at the University of Oviedo, worsened by the asturian political power and especially accented since the beginning of the financial crisis.

At your university, is there pressure to “produce” a number of articles per semester? Is there pressure to publish in English, or another specific language, or to publish in certain peer reviewed journals, and if so, which ones? What are your thoughts on this?

Nos últimos tiempos percibo cierta presión xeneralizada por “producir”. Pienso qu’esa prisa tien un mayor impactu ente aquellos investigadores más mozos, con contratos temporales y peores condiciones de trabayu. Hasta hai bien poco la presión por publicar n’inglés o en revistes d’altu impactu yera mui escasa, por nun dicir inesistente. De fechu, ye raro que los investigadores del mio entornu empleguen l’inglés como primer llingua nes sos publicaciones. De toes toes, esti ye un tema que probablamente cambie nos prósimos tiempos.

Lately I perceive some widespread pressure to “produce.” I think that this urgency has a greater impact among those younger researchers with temporary contracts and poorer working conditions. Until recently, the pressure to publish in English or in high impact journals was very scarce, not to say nonexistent. In fact, it is not common that researchers around me use English as their first language in their publications. Anyway, this is an issue that is likely to change in the near future.

How do you access  bibliographic resources for your research?  Are local libraries well equipped  with ethnomusicological texts?

Tenemos accesu a delles de les principales bases de datos on line. Pero nos caberos tiempos, por mor de la crisis, la biblioteca dexó de comprar revistes y el presupuestu pa comprar llibros ye llimitáu enforma. En consecuencia, un estudiante de doctoráu de la Universidá d’Uviéu, a día de güei, nun tien garantizáu l’accesu a los últimos númberos de revistes tan importantes como Ethnomusicology o Yearbook for Traditional Music, ente otres. Salvando esta situación, los fondos de la biblioteca son bayurosos, especialmente nel ámbitu de la popular music.

We have access to some of the major online databases. But in recent times, due to the crisis, the library stopped buying magazines and the budget to buy books is very limited. Consequently, a doctoral student at the University of Oviedo, today, has no guaranteed access to the latest important reviews from Ethnomusicology or the Yearbook for Traditional Music, among others. Aside from this situation, library funds are plentiful, especially in the realm of popular music.

ETHNOMUSICOLOGY STUDENTS AND FINANCES:

What was your experience in terms of funding in your home institution?

En xeneral, les universidades públiques españoles tan sufriendo un procesu de mercantilización que dificulta, cuando non impide, l’accesu a un creciente sector de la población. Por exemplu, la Universidá d’Uviéu tenía unes tases de matriculación bastante baxes en comparación con otres universidaes d’España. Sicasí, nos últimos años los precios tan xubiendo muncho –la matrícula del doctoráu, por exemplu, xubió un 159% nos caberos 5 años–. Igualmente, el númberu de beques redúxose de manera dramática en tolos niveles.

In general, the Spanish public universities are undergoing a process of commoditization that makes difficult, if not prevents, access to a growing sector of the population. For example, the University of Oviedo had fairly low registration fees compared with other Spanish universities. However, in recent years the prices have increased (PhD enrollment rose by 159% in recent years). Similarly, the number of research grants have fallen dramatically on all levels.

Are there enough ethnomusicology professors? 

El númberu de profesores ye insuficiente en tol Área de Música de la Universidá d’Uviéu. Esta situación, xunía a los elevaos índices de paru nel ámbitu de la investigación, ta favoreciendo que munchos profesores tean sobrecargaos de docencia o que nun-yos quede otro qu’acceder a trabayar por sueldos indignos. Por exemplu, na Universidá d’Uviéu, dende la implantación del Espaciu Européu d’Educación Superior, nun ye raro que un profesor mozu, recién doctoráu, pueda llegar a impartir 4 asignatures completes por menos del salariu mínimu interprofesional (menos de 645,30€ al mes), o que profesores senior tengan una carga docente superior a les 5 asignatures completes. En consecuencia, estes condiciones tan faciendo que munchos investigadores tengan mayores dificultades p’algamar la escelencia, tanto nos llabores docentes como na producción académica de so.

There not enough teachers in the Area of Music at the University of Oviedo. This, joined with high unemployment rates in the context of research is contributing to the situation where many doctoral students are overloaded with teaching or work for unworthy wages. For example, at the University of Oviedo, since the introduction of the European Higher Education System, it is not uncommon for a young teacher, newly granted a PhD, to teach about 4 complete courses for less than the minimum wage (less than € 645.30 month), or for senior teachers to have a very high teaching load, more than 5 complete courses. Consequently, these conditions are causing many researchers greater difficulty achieving excellence in both teaching and their academic production.

Are there ways to financially support your fieldwork, or do you have to pay it yourself?

Nel mio casu, a pesar de los recortes, tengo la suerte de ser beneficiariu d’una beca predoctoral pa realizar la tesis. Sicasí, yá nun puedo acceder a ayudes pa realizar estancies n’otros centros d’investigación, nin esiste la posibilidá d’optar a bolses pa financiar los trabayos de campu.

In my case, despite economic cutbacks, I have had the chance to benefit from a predoctoral research grant for doing the thesis. However, since I have obtained the grant, I cannot access help through stays in other research centers, and there is no possibility to access funding for my fieldwork.

EUROPEAN ETHNOMUSICOLOGY.

Is there frequent communication among European-based ethnomusicologists? 

El principal contautu que tengo ye con investigadores del Instituto de Etnomusicología – Centro de Estudos em Música e Dança (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), au fice una estancia de investigación.

The main contact that I have is with researchers from the Instituto de Etnomusicologia – Centro de Estudos em Música e Dança (University Nova de Lisboa), where I did a research stay.

ETHNOMUSICOLOGY AND FUTURE TIMES:

What do you think about the future of ethnomusicology/ethnomusicologists in your region?

El futuru de la etnomusicoloxía ye inciertu n’Asturies, mesmo que la so institucionalización. Hai oportunidades de trabayu, especialmente nel ámbitu de les práctiques musicales de matriz rural, pero lo más habitual ye que tean siendo desendolcaes por amateurs o por personal non especializáu na Academia. En dalgunos contestos llévase tiempu discutiendo al rodiu l’autoridá del etnógrafu y la so perda de llexitimidá, n’Asturies la escasa institucionalización de la etnomusicoloxía –y de la antropoloxía– na Universidá d’Uviéu fizo que, en bona midía, esa “autoridá” etnográfica tomare fuercia ente non académicos –con “otros” presupuestos y metodoloxíes–; poro, el panorama ye, ainda, más complexu. Solucionar estos problemes de “llexitimación” ye, xunto a la creciente institucionalización y la internacionalización de la producción académica, ún de los retos futuros que, pienso, tenemos per delantre los que nos dedicamos a la etnomusicoloxía n’Asturies.

Espero que cuando me doctore les posibilidades de trabayar na etnomusicoloxía tengan mudao pa meyor, confío n’ello.

The future of the ethnomusicology is uncertain in Asturias, in the same way as its institutionalization. There are job opportunities, especially in the field of musical practices of the rural matrix, but they is usually held by amateurs or by unqualified people. In some contexts, it takes up time spent arguing about the authority of the ethnographer and his loss of legitimacy. The limited institutionalization of ethnomusicology (and anthropology) at the University of Oviedo made it so that, largely, ethnographic authority gained strength among non-academics (with other theories and methodologies), but the outlook is even more complex. Together with solving these problems of “legitimation”, the increasing institutionalization and internationalization of academic production is one of the future challenges, I think, that people who work in ethnomusicology in Asturias have. 

I hope that when I finished my Ph.D. the work chances improve. I trust in it.

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