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  • From the Editor
  • Ricardo D. Trimillos

Issue 50(2) presents five studies on music of East and Southeast Asia. All articles touch on the common theme of the efficacy of the emic and the etic gaze. Cultural practices cannot be fully understood using Western (etic) paradigms and rationales: for example, to decode the meanings of cash exchange for street singers in Wuhan in the article by Horlor or to analyze a mixed-media ceremony of the Kaili as discussed by Santaella. The contrast of rural space and urban space is a second theme, as Ishiguro discusses for traditional Acehnese performance, Hill problematizes for Tsugaru-jamisen, and coauthors Adler and Wong imply for the royal funeral ceremonies in Thailand. Each contribution, while related to these general themes, reinforces the diversity of music in Asia and the various ways in which they can be studied.

Samuel Horlor's "Neutralizing Temporary Inequities in Moral Status: Chinese Street Singers and the Gift Economy" argues that cash given to a performer is not necessarily payment but rather constitutes a form of small-society reciprocity within a gift economy. He presents a more nuanced analysis of gift giving (including cash) in a Chinese context and thereby provides a caution against readily giving Western equivalents to Chinese phenomena: for example, that a cash exchange makes the performer a commercial musician. He provides an insight into street singers who occupy a position different from that of buskers and who are part of a thriving alternative modernity in metropolitan China.

This same caution underscores "'Doing Rano' among the Kaili of Central Sulawesi: A Choreomusicological Analysis of the Body as Cultural Locus of the Sound-Movement Continuum" by Mayco A. Santaella. He contends that multimedia performance genres cannot be understood satisfactorily through such established disciplinary (etic) categories of music, dance, theater, and oral literature. Santaella explores choreomusicology, a theoretical tool emerging from Southeast Asia, as a more satisfactory and satisfying approach to the analysis of multimedia performance. As evident through his case study, an indigenous, emic system of knowledge can be at odds with a national system of knowledge that may also claim itself as emic. Finally, an emergent multivariate choreomusicological methodology may call for a revisiting and reevaluation of the existing bifurcation of knowledges into ethnomusicology and ethnochoreology/dance ethnology. [End Page 1]

Just as Santaella has complicated established fields of study and their labels, Megan E. Hill complicates notions of place for contemporary musicking in her contribution "Asakusa-Tsugaru-jamisen: Musical Place Making and Conceptual Blending in Twenty-First-Century Tokyo." Rather than problematize a rural/urban divide for contemporary Tsugaru-jamisen performance, she examines one attempt to inject a rural habitus into an urban space, to collapse cultural meanings of time, place, and belonging. Metropolitan Tokyo becomes a quasi-diasporic space for a rural music genre, and Hill analyzes ways in which the Tokyo "diaspora" attempts a mimesis of hometown rurality and its putative authenticity. Citing individual agency and sentiments of nostalgia as factors for a successful mimesis, Hill identifies a coherence arising from seemingly contradictory strategies and positionalities.

In contrast, Maho A. Ishiguro's "Gifts from the Waves? Cultural Identity, the Rise of Performing Arts Communities, and Women's Performance Practice in Post-tsunami Aceh" describes a direct line of causality for the present dynamic of female participation in public performance. In Ishiguro's account the line begins with the natural disaster of 2004, which prompted religious and cultural responses by the Acehnese and simultaneously increased international awareness of Aceh as culturally distinct within the Indonesian state. These internal and external factors led to an increase in sanggar community arts groups and the emergence of presentational and professional practitioners. This series of transformations plays out within the matrix of sharia law and orthodox Islam in Aceh, which leads to various kinds of negotiations among gender, cultural identity, and religious practice.

The final article constitutes one of the first music studies about the 2017 royal cremation ceremonies in Thailand, a case in which cultural identity and religious practice are one and the same. "The Funeral of King Rama IX: Mourning and the Thai State," coauthored by Supeena Insee Adler and Deborah Wong, provides an absorbing narrative of...


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