Dexter Story lectures on Ethiopian music and culture in UCLA Professor Jesse Ruskin’s ‘Music From Around The World’ undergraduate ethnomusicology course on Wednesday, January 13. Kibrom Birhane assisted me on vocals and massinqo.
One of the highlights of 2016 for me thus far was lecturing on Ethiopian music and culture in Dr. Jesse Ruskin’s “Music From Around The World” course at UCLA. I had never spoken publicly on Ethiopia outside of the music club or band stage and was honored by the invitation. Professor Ruskin started with a broad overview of the music of East Africa including a recap of his prior lectures, examples of regional migration patterns, musicians, traditional instruments, and then handed it off to me. I covered the origins of music from the Axumite kingdom and the beginnings of the Solomonic dynasty through the Christianization of Ethiopia and through the Swinging Addis modern music period of the 1960’s and 1970’s to the present techno-indigenous artistry of 2016. As an example of the liturgical language of the tewahedo orthodox church, I invited my friend Kibrom to sing in Ge’ez. His voice was incredibly beautiful. I shared with the students about my early encounters with Ethiopian culture during my undergraduate years at U.C. Berkeley, about the making of my new record #Wondem and about my recent 2-week explorational trip to Ethiopia. My presentation also included sheet music examples of the modes and rhythms as well as audio material. I look forward to doing it again soon and would like to thank Dr. Jesse Ruskin and the Department of Ethnomusicology at UCLA for allowing me to participate in the course. A final note: The irony of this lecture opportunity is that it happened as I am awaiting word about my application to the UCLA African Studies M.A. program.
Dr. Jesse D. Ruskin Bio:
Ruskin’s writing has appeared in the Journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Black Music Research Journal, Ethnomusicology Review, and most recently the Los Angeles Times. Forthcoming work will appear in the Yearbook for Traditional Music, the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, and A Festschrift in Honor of Professor Emeritus J. H. Kwabena Nketia. He was Editor-in-Chief of the online academic journal Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology from 2006-2008.
LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jesse-ruskin/8a/294/83a/
Academia.edu Profile: https://ucla.academia.edu/JesseRuskin
Specialty: Musical creativity and cultural entrepreneurship among Yorùbá musicians in Nigeria and the United States; audiovisual archiving; biographical methods in ethnomusicology; Cambodian American popular music.
Ph.D., Ethnomusicology, UCLA 2013; M.A., Ethnomusicology, UCLA 2006; B.A., Sociology/Music, Tufts University 1996