Echoes from Dharamsala
Music in the Life of a Tibetan Refugee Community
Publication Year: 2002
Diehl's accessible, absorbing narrative argues that the exiles' focus on cultural preservation, while crucial, has contributed to the development of essentialist ideas of what is truly "Tibetan." As a result, "foreign" or "modern" practices that have gained deep relevance for Tibetan refugees have been devalued. Diehl scrutinizes this tension in her discussion of the refugees' enthusiasm for songs from blockbuster Hindi films, the popularity of Western rock and roll among Tibetan youth, and the emergence of a new genre of modern Tibetan music. Diehl's insight into the soundscape of Dharamsala is enriched by her own experiences as the keyboard player for a Tibetan refugee rock group called the Yak Band. Her groundbreaking study reveals the importance of music as a site where official and personal, old and new representations of Tibetan culture meet and where different notions of "Tibetan-ness" are being imagined, performed, and debated.
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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These acknowledgments are meant to underscore the remarkable degree to which the process of transforming experiences into narratives is both rational and fortuitous. Attempting to unearth the sön tsa (seeds and roots) of this project has revealed the paradoxical ways in which one is always both entangled in and supported by multiple webs of influence and yet often simply winging...
Note to the Reader
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It was my first Monday morning in India, and I was not where I was supposed to be. According to the grant proposal tucked in among my papers, I was at the Tibetan Homes Foundation in Mussoorie teaching elementary school children dressed in crisp green uniforms and neckties. In the afternoons, when English classes were finished for the day, I was to be found in the school’s music rooms...
INTRODUCTION: THEORY AT HOME AND IN THE FIELD
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This book is concerned with the performance and reception of popular music and song by Tibetan refugees living in north India. It strives to convey how Tibetans hear the complex array of sounds that make up the musical life of their community-in-exile and explores the relationship they have with these sounds. The musical “soundscape”1 (Schafer 1977) most Tibetan refugees live in includes...
1. DHARAMSALA: A RESTING PLACE TO PASS THROUGH
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Dharamsala is both a place of rest or refuge (the meaning of its Hindi name) and a place to pass through, both a destination and a place one must leave to fulfill the very promise of pilgrimage. Historically and today, this north Indian hill town has existed as both a center in the periphery and as the peripheral edge of the center...
2. “THERE IS A TENSION IN OUR HEARTS”: CONSTRUCTING THE RICH CULTURAL HERITAGE OF TIBET
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A polished white Ambassador sedan pulls up in front of one of the Indian tourist hotels in McLeod Ganj, and a young bride and groom step out of the car. Relatives help straighten their bright clothes and readjust their furlined brocade hats, while the British travelers having tea on the front lawn crane their necks around leggy rosebushes to see what is happening. The wedding guests are all inside...
3. TAKING REFUGE IN (AND FROM) INDIA: FILM SONGS, ANGRY MOBS, AND OTHER EXILIC PLEASURES AND FEARS
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The sparkling lights and raucous firecrackers of the Indian holiday Diwali filled the vast dark valleys below Naddi Gau during the Yak Band’s final rehearsal before its long-awaited public concert in November 1994. As the band’s new keyboard player, I had spent all afternoon, right through twilight, on the flat cement roof of the Yak Shack waiting for the electricity to come on and making posters...
4. THE WEST AS SURROGATE SHANGRI-LA: ROCK AND ROLL AND RANGZEN AS STYLE AND IDEOLOGY
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And then the most scary poster was Alice Cooper, life size, you know. Huge one. His eyes were dyed. A huge snake, python on his hand. And his torn leather pant. His hair was all . . . And what happened one day was there was a family friend, who was like a sister to my mother. And she was from Ta-Yup, in Kham, Ta-Yup. And she knew my mother...
5. THE NAIL THAT STICKS UP GETS HAMMERED DOWN: MAKING MODERN TIBETAN MUSIC
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As Raymond Williams always insisted, culture is ordinary. It is the extraordinary in the ordinary, which is extraordinary, which makes both into culture, common culture.We are thinking of the extraordinary symbolic creativity of the multitude of ways in which young people use, humanize, decorate and invest with meanings their common...
6. “LITTLE JOLMO BIRD IN THE WILLOW GROVE”: CRAFTING TIBETAN SONG LYRICS
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Jampa Gyaltsen Dakton.la, who was at the time of my fieldwork a fiftyeight- year-old official astrologer for the Tibetan government-in-exile, seemed quite happy to have company on a Saturday morning when Tsering Lhanzom and I finally stopped by to interview him after we had had many interesting conversations on the roadside. The professor (playfully nicknamed “Asterix” by...
7. A PEEK THROUGH RAGGED TENT FLAPS AND HEAVEN’S DOOR: CONCERTS THAT RUPTURE AND BOND
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Having toured the different sounds that contribute to the musical environment of Dharamsala, and the Tibetan refugee community more widely, this final chapter focuses on the public concerts that uniquely bring many of these sounds together in a single place and time. These events—generally referred to as “rock concerts” because of their amplified technology and inclusion of Western...
CONCLUSION: ECHOES, CYCLES, AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS
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One Sunday in March, during the slow weeks after Losar when a reluctance to let go of the holiday season and resume the busy pace demanded by offices, shops, and schools hangs heavy in the air, Tsomo and her husband invited me to an all-day mah-jongg party at their government-owned apartment down the mountain. They had told me to come at 11:00 A.M., so I got there around 1:00. After...
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Page Count: 337
Publication Year: 2002