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1986 Lecture: Barbara B. Smith
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Barbara B. Smith, professor emeritus at the University of Hawaii, will deliver the Charles Seeger lecture at the 31st Annual Meeting of SEM in Rochester, on Saturday, October 18, 1986, at 2:30 p.m. The title of her lecture is "Some Interrelationships of Variability, Change, and the Learning of Music.”

Professor Smith spent many productive years at the University of Hawaii as a teacher, a performer, and a fieldworker. She arrived in Hawaii in 1949 to each piano and theory in a very small department established a few years after the end of World War II. She soon realized that the program, then almost exclusively focused on Western art music, should not be limited to the music of only one of Hawaii’s multi-ethnic communities. As a pianist, she decided to approach other musics in the same way she had western music and, in 1955, began Japanese koto lessons with Kay Mikami. In 1956, she went to Japan to study with Miyagi Michio. In the 1960s, to better understand similarities and differences in East Asian music and their aesthetics, she also studied the koto as played in Japanese gagaku and in the Okinawan tradition, as well as the Korean kayageum and the Chinese cheng. In addition, she learned some drum traditions of Korea and Japan and, for bon dances in Hawaii, is still in demand as one of the best drummers in the Iwakuni tradition.

Professor Smith’s activities in expanding library and archival resources at the University of Hawaii also began in 1956. With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, she traveled to thirteen Asian countries to collect books, scores, and recordings of traditional and contemporary music for the library. The university’s first course in non-Western music, based on the material she had collected in Asia, was taught by Professor Smith in 1957. In 1959, she and her colleague in music education, Dorothy Kahananui Gillett, taught a course for elementary school teachers, "Pacific and Asian Music in Music Education,” based primarily on local resources.

The M.A. in Music, including a concentration in ethnomusicology, was instituted in 1960. Over the years as the program grew under Professor Smith’s leadership, the university appointed distinguished ethnomusicologists as visiting professors, highly respected local teachers of Hawaiian and Asian music and dance performance as part-time teachers, and young ethnomusicologists and dance ethnologists as regular full-time faculty.

During the planning stages for the East-West Center, established at the university in 1960, Professor Smith was an influential advocate for performing arts; during the 1970s, she conducted training programs for Asians and Pacific islanders at the center. In 1963, at the request of Micronesians studying at the university, she conducted field research in the Trust Territory. She has continuing interest in Pacific Islands studies.

Today, Professor Smith takes great pleasure in the contributions to ethnomusicology being made by both the current university faculty and her former students, and in the excellent relationships of the ethnomusicology program with the community-at-large, as well as in her continuing contacts with scholars and performers of Asian and Pacific performance traditions.

In 1983, Professor Smith was honored by the City of Honolulu for her numerous contributions to the artistic and cultural life of Hawaii.
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