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“MUSICAL ROUTES”: THE RESEARCH

“MUSICAL ROUTES”: THE RESEARCH

 

The application Musical Routes exhibits the primary ethnographic empirical material of IMS (Institute for Mediterranean Studies), which was collected through a field research in Crete during the years 1998 – 2006 in the frame of two research projects in the field of Ethnomusicology: THALETAS “The violin tradition in the Cretan traditional music” and CRINNO MUSIC II The musical tradition of ‘lyra’ in the Cretan traditional music of the Rethymnon prefecture. Through the field research and the participatory observation, primary empirical material was collected and ethnographic “texts” were created, constituting a material that was processed, digitalised and finally registered in electronic data bases. From these projects emerged among others109 long-hour programmed semi-structured interviews with amateur and professional musicians.

The ethnographic material of the 109 transcribed interviews which emerged from the two aforementioned projects, was classified by 1169 keywords and 280 thematic units. This classification resulted in 3,000 text passages and  more than 37,000 relations between passages and keywords.

The visitor has access to all of the material in three ways: by “branching out search”, by simple / advanced search or by localities on the map of the island. Furthermore, via the related links to the sites of THALETAS and CRINNO MUSIC II, the visitor may retrieve: a) the poetic “texts” of 1182 sound-recorded songs (487), which are, indeed, presented in such a way that emphasis is given to the morphology of the melodies and the relationship between speech and melody, b) the video-recordings of the THALETAS project (560 video files), which are available in digital form.

The visitor of the site application may wander along thousands of musical/cultural 'routes' - concerning Crete - such as: past and present; violin and lyra (Cretan fiddle); nounoura and harmonium; drums and daoulaki; festivity and 'company', performance and its various manifastations; mutuality and inter-textual relations, which develop between: a) the ethnographer and the occasional pragmatological material, b) the different “presents” of the ethnomusicologist and his ethnographic 'texts', c) the various “discourses” of the bearers of contemporary Cretan musical tradition, based on the potential multiple interpretations of the aforementioned ethnographic material.

The ethnographic material of the 109 interviews covers a wide spectrum of thematic areas (festivity, performance, musical instruments, professional identity, orality and literacy etc), concepts that function as analytical tools to the procedure of processing the related facts.

The material is structured into three major sections: Performer's identity, Cultural identity and Material and technical facts as identity elements. Via these sections, an attempt is made to approach music as identity element (of individuals and groups).

The three major sections (Performer's identity, Cultural identity and Material and Technical facts as identity elements) as well as the subsections of the application (e.g. Performer's identity: The musician, The creator, The "manufacturer of musical instruments", The dancer etc.) are not independent from each other.

There are no distinct lines between the multiple properties and the “discourses” that are articulated via the programmed semi-structured interviews in regard to music as culture and the music in culture.

In the first section, individual thematic areas are articulated in order to describe, analyze and afterwards to contribute to the interpretation (multiple interpretations) of parameters that are related to the identity of each “performer” (identity as a set of properties). For example, the entity of the identity of the musician – “performer” is structured around the following keywords: Details about myself, the “performer’s” relationship with the tradition, his relationship with others (musicians or non-musicians), his relationship with the family, the existence or not of a model – teacher during the performance practices, his “discourse” about his professional (or not) identity and his potential collaborations, the role of “woman” in his artistic praxis and performance, the future plans and evaluations carried out by himself in matters concerning his identity, tradition etc. In a special section we cite the names separately (sometimes full names sometimes nicknames) of musicians but also non-musicians, as these were analytically mentioned in the interwiews.

In the second section, the entries are keywords that are included in units that exhibit the wider cultural identity of Crete. The terms “performance” (e.g. “festivities”, wedding, serenade…), performance practices, “symbols”, codes, orality and literacy, “discourse” regarding the history and the local economy, locations (in microstructural and macrostructural level) constitute analytical tools of ethnographic research and consequently of the method of “classification” of this primary material.

In the third section “material and technical” elements of music as “musical product” are provided. Once again the “discourse” of the bearers of Cretan musical tradition in matters concerning combination of lyric – music, scales and paths, improvisation, musical instruments etc is exhibited. However, in the frame of this application these material and technical elements are exhibited as elements of identity, given that the musicological facts e.g. about a musical instrument are included in the wider analytical categoryfestivities”.

Ethnography, as a method and process of collecting primary empirical material through field research, leads us to questions about experiences, metaphor and multimodality in art and more specifically, in music.

In the frame of a field research several issues arise, related to the method and the practices, via which the ethnographer - researcher engages with the experiences of his interlocutors, transubstantiates them in “ethnographic notes” and “texts” and afterwards processes them as his own experiences from then, in order to write a “final – not definite” ethnographic “text”. The continuous pursuit "other's” experiences contributes to the comprehension of the ethnographer’s own experiences. We are talking about identities, but in fact our discourse includes elements of our identity. The ethnographic essays function as “mirror” via which real, fantastic and symbolic identities are reflected.

The narration of the ethnographer's interlocutor (who is often also an ethnographer himself) such as, for example, the musician, often transubstantiates into the ethnographer's narration. At this point, sequence issues arise (of space, time, dialectic) but also issues of relationships between oral and written (or written down) narration. Often a musician’s narration is detached from a linear sequence of events. By not taking into consideration this sequence, the ethnographer might proceed towards “representations”, that are detached in space-time from the rest “text” and the narration’s co-texts. These issues are directly related to a community’s oral memory too. The report and narration by the bearers of the tradition of certain events only, while excluding some others, constitutes an important objective during the ethnographic research but also for the corresponding pragmatologic material’s process.

Having however the biographical discourse as a vehicle for the”performance” of an ethnographic experience, a question that often arises concerns the duration of the field research.

It is clear henceforth, that whichever field research is never sufficient. As far as the ethnographer is concerned, there is always more to learn from the geocultural area in which he lives and participates in “experiencing” in the pursuit of the truth.

The next issue that arises concerns the interaction between ethnographic text (and hence ethnographer) and reader. The meaning and signs of a text are not independent from the wider meaning or meanings of the ethnographic text. The formation of these meanings, words and signs or sign systems, is influenced depending on the social and historical context. The “polysemy” of these meanings and the dialogism of a piece of music but also of a cultural relationship, when looking for “self's and other’s” experience, mark among other things, the texts and co-texts of a field research.

Based on the the 37,000 links between the 3,000 text passages and 1169 keywords, as in any attempt in the humanitarian and social sciences, breaking down the information often includes the danger of isolating a piece of information and marking it as insufficient.

In order to minimise this possibility, there is a related link to the whole text of the interview through the electronic data base of each research program, as well as with the whole ethnographic material. However, even in this way, there might be gaps in a narrative discourse, should someone read only the interview, without being aware of the musical and cultural being, as well as the meanings and signs of each “moment”.

Thus, the complexity of meanings and relations between these meanings under no circumstances can replace the emotive experience, which is never sufficient.

The expressive and musical communication that someone can perceive via different types of interpretations of the ethnographic material, is consistent with the difficulties of presentation and representation of the material itself. Through the application is exhibited among other things, the mixture of two individual discourses of musicians: The discourse through words (content and form of narration) and the musical discourse focused on musical praxis and performance, that is, the way of expression of experiences through music and through the various types and practices of performance.

The metaphor and the metonymy, their inter-relation but also the ways with which these are connected with the communication, constitute an objective for the ethnomusicological and musicological research too.

The multimodality, that is the use of many ways so that we express and represent our experiences, hence also the experiences of others from our own viewpoint, but also (their) experiences and (our) experiences, are directly related to the methods and practices that we adopt, in order to make known to the wide public the “results” of a field research, having as object the musical tradition of this region.

This application, in combination with the material of the two research programs, may trigger a dialogue concerning the limits, prospects and capabilities of humanitarian and social sciences, such as Ethnomusicology in the study of emotive experience (of ethnographer's interlocutor and ethnographer alike), in the frame of a multimodality (oral and written discourse, written down oral discourse, transcriptions, musical analyses, photographic material, video material, material from programmed or not programmed recordings, soundscape, noise during urban ethnography, noise of festivities etc.).

The wander along thousands of musical / cultural 'routes' may contribute towards the pursuit of a “truth” relevant to the music and codes of communication, to the social space and time of a field research and to the parameters’ evaluation of a field research. This application is characterized as “educational application”. Through multiple searches and different ways of approach, each visitor (Cretan or not Cretan) can study and mainly interpret or co-interpret from his own viewpoint the methods, practices and approach techniques of a bulky pragmatological ethnographic material. There are multiple ways, routes and potential interpretations. And the search… is being continued.

 


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