Considerations at the End

The end of my Diverse Cultures and their Music has come to an end! Here are some final thoughts that Dr. Vaneman asked us to consider and answer.

Tell me about something you learned about another culture this term that surprised or intrigued you.

I loved learning about the Arabic music theory. It was probably one of my favorite days. It really gave me a better understanding of how our music could have developed differently if only the monks or nuns we learned about in Music History, I had done a few things differently. One of the first projects we did in that class, the one where we had to write music in a completely new way, was very difficult for me. It was very difficult to get outside of the proverbial “western box” that I have grown up in. Learning about the Arabic music really helped me to start to be able to think outside of this box and to what could have been.

Tell me about something that you realized about your own culture through our discussions.

I have realized how few funeral traditions we have. And this really makes me sad because so many other cultures have amazing and fascinating traditions. I really wish our culture had more traditions to do with death.

Tell me about something that this course has inspired you to learn more about.

I would love to learn more about either the Arabic theory or the Indonesian Gamelan. In truth, I would love if somehow we could get one at Converse. Especially as a piano student, I often feel as if we get the short end of the stick when it comes to ensembles either Choral really being the only option unless you play a second instrument. The Gamelan could open new doors for piano and percussion students.


Funeral Customs from China and Indonisia

For my last cool stuff post I have decided to write about what truly fascinates me about different cultures, their funeral traditions.

First off I went to China. My first thing is the custom of giving respect. I read that when someone passes away the relatives that are younger than the deceased are supposed to go and give their respects to the body. If the deceased do not have anyone close to them who is younger than they were at the time of death then no respects are given. According to what I have read, if it is a child or infant who dies no rituals are performed since there is no one younger to perform them.

The second thing I wanted to talk about are the Torajan death practices. I believe we may have briefly gone over this in class, but I wanted to find out more about this practice.

Tana Torajan is a mountainous section of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. The people here have one of the most fascinating practices having to do with death that I have ever read about. When a person dies their body is put through the Rambu Soloq ceremonies. These last a few days and during this time the body is embalmed and placed in a tradition home with the family. During this time the body of the deceased family member is fed, cared for, and lives with them as if they were still alive. This is because the Torajan’s do not view the body to be dead. But rather in a state of illness. On the eleventh day, the body is finally buried. Though, not in a typical way. The body is set to rest of the cave upon a cliff.

I think this is a fascinating, if not a little disturbing, practice.

The third thing I wanted to talk about is the Mabadong song. This is a funeral song that is from Indonesia. Though is not used in the same ceremony as the Torajan death practice. Rather this song is used in the funeral tradition that has you feast on water buffalo and pig. It is believed that the water buffalo and pig act as transportation for the soul. After the animals have been killed the Mabadong song is sung. This song will talk about the deceased individual’s life story.

Here is a video of one Mabadong song.




Growing up in Acapulco (My mother)

My mother, Marie Bobbett, grew up in Acapulco Mexico.  Acapulco is located in a bay and has been a major port for Mexico since its colonization in early colonial times. Today it is best known as a beach resort.


My mother moved there when she was just a few months old because her parents moved there as missionaries.

My grandmother, my mother, her brother, and my grandfather

Growing up in Mexico shaped what she knew about music. when I asked her how living in this culture affected what she listened to she said:

“The style of pop music in Mexico was greatly influenced by the folkloric history of Mexico, thus there was much Aztec and Mayan influence.  I believe that incorporated a lot of rhythmic percussion and chanting, dancing to their gods, as well as, of course, Mariachi bands.  There often were Mariachi bands in local restaurants, at parties and celebrations.  The guitar is a large part of Mexican music.  My brother played the guitar and enjoyed educating himself about the woods and strings and creation of guitars.  I remember going a few times to small towns famous for their craftsmanship of guitars and I remember getting very tired of walking around and seeing every guitar shop in that town. I am sure that growing up in Mexico has influenced not only the music I listened to but also my taste in music even now, 25 years later.  It is difficult to understand the full extent of that influence since it is impossible to compare it to what it would have been like to grow up in my own culture.”

After this she went on to talk about how living in this culture affected her view of music:

Music in Mexico was primarily an ear based training versus learning to read music.  The greater percentage of musicians learned to play by ear, not by sight reading.  There were colleges which had musical degrees, however, the percentage of college-educated people in Mexico was very small… So the concept of formal training, and the extent of formal training, was not something I was aware of growing up in Mexico.  Upon returning to the United States, I was not only introduced to the idea of formal music training beyond childhood lessons, but also to the abundance of pop bands in the States.  I was aware of a few pop bands in Mexico, even attending a concert of a group called Menudo…

Then I asked if anything changed when she moved back to America.

I was introduced to the reality that there are hundreds of musical bands.  I was astounded at how many people actually make a living playing music. From here we talked about this affected her relationship with music today. “

Marie Bobbett is the women on the left

From here we talked about how all of this affects her relationship with music today.

“…while I see the importance of ear training and the fun of playing music by ear, I also see the detriment of not learning to play by sight reading, or rather, the importance of learning to read music.  I see that it is an important balance of the two and one without the other limits the amount of musical advancement.  The ethnicity of Mexican music enlarged my appreciation of a greater variety of musical genres.”

And then, because I could, I asked her why she had all of her children (my three sisters and myself) learn to play the piano and make us continue all the way through high school.

“…The more I learned about education and the brain and the positive influence which good musical training is upon the brain also cemented my decision that all my children would receive formal musical training… Children’s father grew up in a musical family but they played string and wind and brass instruments.  They often commented that piano training gives a much better foundation to music training than any other instrument.”

In general, I believe that growing up in a different culture than most people in America affected my mother greatly. She has a different preference for food, handles certain situations differently than most Americans, and knows hardly anything from American pop culture from her childhood. This I believe has leaked over into my sisters and me. lots of American humor, situations, movies, or music we just do not understand. I think this has given us a unique perspective on the culture that we are now living in.

To finish off I wanted to include a few more pictures of my mother as a child as well as one from over Christmas break of us together and a short video on how to pronounce Acapulco the city.

My mother and her father in front of a church they planted



Hindue, Buddhist, and Aztec’s Religious Music

(Note: Before you begin reading please understand that I do not know much about these religious or cultures and have only read briefly about them for this assignment.)

I decided that I probably should not theme another blog around death. So instead I decided to theme it around traditional music from the various cultures found in both India and South America.

For India I wanted, personally, to learn more about the Buddhist and  Hindu religion. To narrow down this very board search I decided to see if either religion has any music connected to it. Turns out they do.

Bhajans are a genre of devotional music that is said to connect to the divine. The Hindus see this as a conversation between themselves and their god that is set to music. Bhajans are typically sung by men and have been passed down through rote for generations.

Here is an example if this music:

The Buddhist believe the earth makes music constantly around them. They believe this guide people to enlightenment. Not only do they believe music to be a guide to enlightenment they practice and observe music in everyday culture. Music is utilized in funerals, weddings, and various religious ceremonies.

Here is an example of this music.

(Note: After following the link you have to push play twice. Ones one the large one that will cover the screen and ones on the small one at the bottom of the display. Sorry for the inconvenience.)


The Aztecs, found in the region that is now southern Mexico, are not to be left out of the religious music. They indeed had both music and religion that was a large part of their lives.

One reason for religious music in Aztec culture was to connect them to the gods. The would sing and dance for hours believing that there was a connection to both the ancestors and gods.

A distinctive feature of Aztec music was their symbolism. Symbolism was important in the Aztec langue and this carried over into their songs. This was able to be done because their gods, places, and things all had multiple names sometimes crossing over into each other. This made it simple for their songs to have multiple meanings.

There are no recordings of their music, which makes since. So instead here are some pictures I was able to find from various government or universities sights.

If you would like to learn more here are some links you can follow:



Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature, Volume 2 

Folksway: Religious Music of India 






Music That Is Mostly All About Death

For this Cool Stuff blog I wanted to try and find funeral type music from all three different cultures, Native Austrailian, African American, and Arabic. However, I could not find music from Native Australians nor African-Americans that is specifically about death I was able to find some that normally has a death theme.

For Australia I want to talk about the Wangga songs and dances. These are about typically themed around regeneration and death. These songs bring Wangga dancers and singers together with the death and affirm’s the continuation of the community. The idea of these two merging identity’s, the dead and the still living, can sometimes be thought of as dreams becoming manifest and predecessors of these communities being brought back through these songs and dances.

Here is an example of this style of music:

For the African-American music I was able to find a song the talked about the children of slaves being taken away. From what I have read and understand is that for African-Americans raising children during this time they could never be sure when, or if, their children would be sold to another plantation. Which would often be so far away from each other that the parents would never see their children again. I suppose, and admittedly this is mostly speculation on my part, they created and sung these songs to deal with the emotional baggage that came with these unknowns and losses.

The song I found is “Dy Stole My Child Away.” I actually found sheet music for this work before I found a video. I am sure the song has changed and been added too, especially since it was written down, but I wanted to share it because I thought some of the lyrics were very interesting.

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Here are the typed up lyricss from these sheet music:

Verse One:

“I had a rose-bud in my garden growing… A plant i cherished with a father’s care, when other darkies

when other darkies round that plant was hoeing. Its

Its zefferessence seemed to fill the air; Oh, how I watched that little plant while creeping. She, like her mother always light and gay, One night I left her in her bed a sleeping. And in the morning she

She, like her mother always light and gay, One night I left her in her bed a sleeping. And in the morning she

And in the morning she was stole away, One night I left ehr in her bed a sleeping. And in the morning she

And in the morning she was stole away. Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. Child dey stole away, Oh! Oh! Oh! Hear

Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. Child dey stole away, Oh! Oh! Oh! Hear Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. Child dey stole away, Oh! Oh! Oh! Hear dat voice! Oh! Oh! Oh! hear dat voice! I hear

I hear dar hoofs opon de hill, I hear dem fainter, fainter still, I hear dar hoofs u pon de hill, I hear dem fainter, fainter still.

Dey stole, dey stole…  Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away.  Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. My child away, my child away, my child away, away.”

Verse Two:

Oh, then this hear was withered and dejected…. I wandered thro’ the fields, but all in vain, and ev’ry plant on me a shadow reflected…

The tears they fell around me life the rain; The sun above looked down upon my sorrow, my hear was withere’d. I sought for her in vain,

My child wa stole, was lost to me forever, I enver saw that agnel form again, My child wa stole, was lost to me forever, I enver saw that agnel form again. And in the morning she was stle away.

Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away.

Oh! Hear me now calling, Oh! hear me i pray! My heart, my heart is breaing for my child, for my –

I hear dar hoofs opon de hill, I hear dem fainter, fainter still, I hear dar hoofs u pon de hill, I hear dem fainter, fainter still

Dey stole, dey stole…  Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away.  Dey stole, dey stole, dey stole my child away. My child away, my child away, my child away, away.”

Finally, for Arabic music, I was able to find funeral music. This music was a merging of secular and religious singing and poetry. Different roles and techniques are used for either men and women at ceremonies of this kind.

Here is an example of a Nadb, a dirge-like vocal style that is used during these ceremonies. This one is for lamenting Ill-Fate or possible for morning a deceased parent.

If you want to know more about any of these styles here are the webistes I used to research this information from:

Wangga Music: Aboriginal Art Culture and Tourism Australia

African-American Music: Enslaved Children in North Carolina | O’Toole | Voces Novae: Chapman University Historical Review

Brown Digital Repository | Item | bdr:20496

Arabic Funeral Music: Laments of Lebanon – Funeral Laments of Lebanon | Smithsonian Folkways

Music? Gender? Is there a Connection?

I cannot talk about my experiences in a school band because I was never in one. I was homeschool from grade school and all the way through high school. So any experiences I had with music outside of my piano room came from observation.

Growing up my first thoughts when it came to gender and music was that there was not an issue. After all, both my piano teacher and violin teacher were female, all my sisters were learning piano with me, and a good portion of my piano teacher’s studio was female. However, as a grew up and started watching videos online, reading about music, and in general learning more about the classical music world, I started thinking differently.

As I grew up I slowly started to believe that women just couldn’t do certain things. I never saw a woman conduct till I was in my senior year of high school so I never even thought it was a possibility. I just thought it was one of those weird and outdated traditions we all adhered to. I started to think that women could not achieve as high a musical training as men just because I never saw women perform in the way men did. It was never that I thought, “oh I can never do that. That is not okay for me to do.” but rather I just never thought about doing these things.

And then things started changing. I saw a women conduct, I went to a piano concert where the woman performing was touring around the world, and I started talking with my music teachers. These things caused me to realize when I had slowly excepted since I was a child without even realizing it and helped me to quickly tear away from these thoughts.

It is amazing the things that do not even cross our minds when they are things we have grown up with. Things that are wrong with our culture but we do not question them because we have never been given a reason to question them. if someone was to ask me if there is a connection between gender and music I would answer yes. A strong and resounding yes.

If someone had asked me in middle school if there was an issue with gender in the music world I would have said no. However, today my answer would be completely different. A strong and resounding yes.

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Photo from: Katherine_Bobbett Instagram 


Funeral Music and Deer Hoof Rattles

I think being an instrumentalist influences what I find interesting about different cultures. While the singing is important and to some extent interesting it is always the instruments of different cultures that entice me. With this in mind, I wanted to talk more about the instruments of Native Americans and the Sub-Saharan African people. I was able to do this with the Native Americans by drawing on my interest of their life-style of not wasting anything. However, for some reason, it was harder to find an instrument for Sub-Sahara Africa. So instead I drew from another interest of mine, death. This path led me to Ghana’s funeral music and traditions.

For the Native Americans I choose their Deer Hoof Rattle. I was intrigued by the name of this instrument because the hoof of a deer, really, what are you supposed to do with that? And a rattle doesn’t seem like that bad of an idea.

These instruments were made by attaching the deer hoofs that have been removed from the deer to a long stick or bone. Then the instrument was shaken and noise was produced when the hoofs hit each other. Individuals would personalize their rattles by adding fur, feathers, or beads.

The use of these rattles depended on the tribe. One use, with tribes that lived in the area that is now Montana, was in the blue jay shaman’s dance. This dance was a healing ceremony. Other uses of the deer hoof rattle were in the ceremonies of a girl’s puberty or invoking unity with mother earth.

With the funeral music, I choose the music that is played on the second day of the funerals in certain Ghana communities. This music is often about bringing the community together. It tends to be more lively and aimed at causing flirtatious behaviors among the younger members of the community. This is done to revitalize the community and continue the communal life of the community after someone has died.

Here is an example of such music.

If you are interested in reading more about this genre of music you can read more by following through HERE.