Becoming a Garamut Player in Baluan, Papua New Guinea: Musical Analysis as a Pathway to Learning, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Becoming a Garamut Player in Baluan, Papua New Guinea

Musical Analysis as a Pathway to Learning, 1st Edition

By Tony Lewis


217 pages | 113 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-04-20
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The garamut is a log idiophone that is found in many of the coastal and island areas of Papua New Guinea. The instrument’s primary use is as a speech surrogate and in some regions the garamut is also used in large ensembles to play complex music for dancing. In Baluan Island, within the Manus Province, this style of garamut playing is comparatively highly developed. This book follows the author’s processes and methods in learning to play the music of the garamut, to the level at which he became accepted as a garamut player by the people of Baluan.

Lewis argues that analysis is essential in learning to play the rapid tempi and complex rhythms of Baluan garamut music, in a cultural context where there is no formal teaching process for the music. The transcription and analysis of the Baluan garamut repertoire is the centrepiece of this study, reflecting the cognitive structures of the learning process, and revealing the inner workings of the music’s complexity as well as a striking beauty of form and structure.

The book concludes with reflections on the process of a ‘cultural outsider’ becoming a garamut player in Baluan and on the role of musical analysis in that process, on the ethnomusicologist’s role in transmission of the music, and on the nature of continuity and change in a musical society such as Baluan.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables

List of maps

List of audio material

Chapter One: Baluan Chooses a Researcher

Chapter Two: The Garamut in Baluan

Chapter Three: The Baluan Garamut in Performance

Chapter Four: Musical Analysis of Baluan Garamut

Chapter Five: The Baluan Garamut in Diaspora

Chapter Six: Becoming a Garamut Player



Catalogue of Appendices


About the Author

Tony Lewis is a musician, composer and academic based in Sydney, Australia. As a musician, he has studied and worked in numerous and diverse non-Western cultures. He has a PhD in ethnomusicology from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and he writes and delivers lecture content for a number of institutions in Australia.

About the Series

SOAS Studies in Music Series

SOAS Musicology Series is today one of the world’s leading series in the discipline of ethnomusicology. Our core mission is to produce high-quality, ethnographically rich studies of music-making in the world’s diverse musical cultures. We publish monographs and edited volumes that explore musical repertories and performance practice, critical issues in ethnomusicology, sound studies, historical and analytical approaches to music across the globe. We recognize the value of applied, interdisciplinary and collaborative research, and our authors draw on current approaches in musicology and anthropology, psychology, media and gender studies. We welcome monographs that investigate global contemporary, classical and popular musics, the effects of digital mediation and transnational flows.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / Ethnomusicology