Collections: Deborah Wong - The EVIA Digital Archive Project

Thai Classical Music Performance and Ritual (1987-1989, 1994)

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Image from video © Deborah Wong

This collection represents an esoteric world of performers who maintain a very old set of ritual practices. It is tightly focused on Thai classical music, i.e., the music of the former court offering a glimpse of a network of authoritative musical/ritual figures at a particular historical moment (mostly the late 1980s) as well as a sustained view of a specialized world of ritual music and dance. The collections offers an insider's/practitioner's viewpoint of two days of pre-ritual preparations by a circle of students and professors; teachers performing ritual repertoire in controlled settings; the music and dance performances at the 3-day funeral for the wife of a famous musician including piiphaat Mon and masked dance; and a group of master teachers and musicians performing the wai khruu ritual in Los Angeles at the Thai Buddhist temple.

This collection is currently in production and is not yet available to the public.

Deborah Wong is an ethnomusicologist, specializing in the musics of Thailand and Asian America. She holds an MA and PhD (1991) from the University of Michigan, where she worked with ethnomusicologist Judith Becker; her BA, magna cum laude (1982), in anthropology and music, is from the University of Pennsylvania. Her first book, Sounding the Center: History and Aesthetics in Thai Buddhist Ritual (Chicago University Press, 2001), addresses ritual performance about performance and its implications for the cultural politics of Thai court music and dance in late twentieth-century Bangkok. Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music (Routledge, 2004), focuses on music and identity work in a series of case studies (Southeast Asian immigrant musics, Chinese American and Japanese American jazz in the Bay Area, and Asian American hip-hop). She has taught at UCR since fall 1996 and is Professor of Music. Wong has taught as Assistant Professor of Music at Pomona College (1991-93) and at the University of Pennsylvania (1993-96); she was a visiting professor at Princeton University and the University of Chicago.

Wong is very active in the Society for Ethnomusicology. She has served on its Board of Directors for three consecutive terms as Secretary (1999-2001, 2001-03, 2003-05) as well as on the SEM Council (1992-94). She was president of the SEM Mid-Atlantic Chapter (1994-96), and served as co-editor of the SEM Newsletter with René T.A. Lysloff from 1994-99. She founded the SEM Committee on the Status of Women with Elizabeth Tolbert in 1996. Asian American issues and activities are a priority for Wong. She has served on numerous committees addressing issues in Asian American studies curriculum as well as Asian American student needs. She has studied Japanese American drumming (taiko) since 1997 and is a member of Satori Daiko, the performing group of the Taiko Center of Los Angeles. Her book in progress will address taiko in California. Born on the East Coast, Wong is now an enthusiastic Californian. She self-identifies as Chinese American (third generation), as multiethnic, and as Asian American.

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