“Can't Help but Speak, Can't Help but Play”

Ali Jihad Racy, Scott Marcus and Ted Solís

in Performing Ethnomusicology

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238749
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937178 | DOI:
“Can't Help but Speak, Can't Help but Play”

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This chapter opens with a discussion of dual discourse in Arab music pedagogy in an interview with Ali Jihad Racy. It also presents the early background and career trajectory of Ali Jihad Racy's versatility as a performer-researcher which was found highly desirable when he joined UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). For the last twenty years or so, the UCLA Near East Ensemble has been a prime context for teaching performance of Arab music. Certainly, Ali Jihad Racy's dual role, as a university professor and as a performer, did pose certain challenges. Situations that pulled him in different directions were always tense, but at the same time the duality provided a sense of fulfillment. However, both individuality and representation were manifested in the musical repertoires Ali Jihad chose to teach and in the methods of pedagogy that is preferred now. Another issue was teaching music as an experience, or as feeling. This chapter highlights the fact that at least two models have been followed in institutions. Each has its own validity. One is that you take a wide variety of classes and get exposed to many different ways of making music. Second is to also have room for the in-depth approach. According to Ali Jihad Racy it is an amazing feeling when the audience responds in culturally appropriate ways, because he feels such interactive behavior indirectly gives the performers a sense of the music's ecstatic or evocative nature.

Keywords: Near East Ensemble; Ali Jihad Racy; Arab music pedagogy; musical repertoires; dual discourse

Chapter.  6375 words. 

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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