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SEM Ethnomusicology Translations Issue No. 8 by Suwichan Phattanaphraiwan Now Online

Thursday, November 8, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephen Stuempfle
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The Society for Ethnomusicology is pleased to announce the publication of Ethnomusicology Translations Issue No. 8:

Suwichan Phattanaphraiwan (“Chi”). Forbidden Songs of the Pgaz K’Nyau. Translated by Benjamin Fairfield. Ethnomusicology Translations, no. 8. Bloomington, IN: Society for Ethnomusicology, 2018.


The “forbidden” songs of the Pkaz K’Nyau (Karen), part of a larger oral tradition (called tha), are on the decline due to lowland Thai modernization campaigns, internalized Baptist missionary attitudes, and the taboo nature of the music itself. Traditionally only heard at funerals and deeply intertwined with the spiritual world, these 7-syllable, 2-stanza poetic couplets housing vast repositories of oral tradition and knowledge have become increasingly feared, banned, and nearly forgotten among Karen populations in Thailand. With the disappearance of the music comes a loss of cosmology, ecological sustainability, and cultural knowledge and identity. Forbidden Songs is an autoethnographic work by Chi Suwichan Phattanaphraiwan, himself an artist and composer working to revive the music’s place in Karen society, that offers an inside glimpse into the many ways in which Karen tradition is regulated, barred, enforced, reworked, interpreted, and denounced. This informative account, rich in ethnographic data, speaks to the multivalent responses to internal and external factors driving modernization in an indigenous and stateless community in northern Thailand.

Originally published in Thai as เพลงต้องห้ามของปกาเกอะญอ. Bangkok: Santisiri Press, 2014.

To download Issue No. 8, please visit the Ethnomusicology Translations website at https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/emt.

SEM thanks Suwichan Phattanaphraiwan (Author), Benjamin Fairfield (Translator), Richard K. Wolf (Manuscript Editor and General Editor), and Kelly Bosworth (Editorial Assistant) for the preparation of this translation. Special thanks also to contributors to SEM’s Sound Future Campaign, which is supporting this publication series.

Ethnomusicology Translations is a peer-reviewed, open-access online series for the publication of ethnomusicological literature translated into English. Articles and other literature in any language other than English will be considered for editorial review, translation, and publication. Preference will be given to individual articles published in scholarly journals or books during the past 20 years. As a central online resource, Ethnomusicology Translations aims to increase access to the global scope of recent music scholarship and advance ethnomusicology as an international field of research and communication.

For information on nominating articles for translation, please see http://www.ethnomusicology.org/?Pub_EthnoTrans.

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