at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Sakamaki Extraordinary Lectures 2011: Dr. Ricardo D. Trimillos

Global Sounds/Asian and Pacific Bodies: the International Circulation of Music
by Dr. Ricardo D. Trimillos, UHM School for Pacific & Asian Studies

7:00 pm, 15 June 2011
Architecture Auditorium
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

There are a number of different kinds of music that we can consider “global,” that is, a music genre heard in many parts of the world. Pop or commercial music is a type that most often comes to mind when we think of a global reach today. This lecture aims to look at a number of issues related to music and to our musical experiences in HawaiÊ»i—what constitutes a global music? How did it become defined as global? And also, how has HawaiÊ»i as part of an Asia-Pacific region contributed to or participated in various kinds of global music?

Although global music today are almost always assumed to be sounds distributed through mass media, the circulation of musicians or “live bodies” through touring is an earlier form of globalization that continues to be important today. In this presentation, I discuss the ways the performer as a physical body affects both the actual sound of the performance but also the way in which a performance is received by an audience or by observers. In recent years academics have turned with a renewed interest to the body, particularly the physical body. Two ideas about the body will form the basis of our considerations: the body as a canvas whose physical appearance can be changed or given different meanings; and the body as a machine that does work that can be changed or given different meanings. These two ideas are manifested in globalized music in interesting ways.
The world of classical music with its non-stop travelling of world-class artists is one instance. For example, within two months an artist such as Yo-yo Ma can perform the same concerto in Chicago’s Symphony Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, and Honolulu’s Blaisdell Concert Hall. We will consider the ways in which Asian and Pacific “bodies” are part of the opera world.

As a second category, there are many worlds of pop music, whose origins are certainly in the West but whose production is now world-wide. A question we might ask is: if pop music is created in Hong Kong or in Manila is it still a westernized music? Or is it Cantonese or Filipino, respectively? How does the Asian or Pacific body help to “sell” a global sound, especially one that is commercial?

The notion of the physical body in performance has implications for gender and ethnicity as well as for sexuality and race. We will touch upon the ways in which these aspects are part of musical globalization and also ways in which globalization can impact local cultures, both positively and negatively. The presentation is intended for a general audience. Informal and informative, it includes sound and visual illustrations, many of which are familiar to the Honolulu music scene.

Ricardo D. Trimillos is an ethnomusicologist at the University of Hawai‘i and Director of the Center for Philippine Studies. He has served as cultural consultant for the governments of Malaysia, the Philippines, the former Soviet Union, and Hong Kong. His area interests include the musics of Hawai‘i, the Southern Philippines and Japan. Thematic interests include identity, gender, and cultural advocacy. Trimillos has been a consultant to a number of governments in the area of arts and public policy. He has served as a liaison, bringing indigenous Filipino musicians to national folk festivals in the United States. His publications in three languages include articles on Asian Americans, world music in higher education, cross-cultural implications for the arts, interrelationships of the arts, Philippine ritual and Hawaiian music. As a performer whose principal medium is the Japanese koto, Trimillos has presented concerts of modern and traditional music in the US, Europe, Japan, the Philippines and Australia.