Oral Histories

Interview of Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy

Founding chair of the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology.
Interviews not in a series, part two
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Faculty
Biographical Note:
Founding chair of the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology.
Catlin, Amy
Jairazbhoy, Nazir Ali
Persons Present:
Jairazbhoy and Catlin-Jairazbhoy.
Place Conducted:
Valley Glen, California; Mumbai, India.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy; B.A., Vassar College; M.Mus., Yale University; Ph.D. Brown University.The interviewer is the spouse and colleague of Dr. Jairazbhoy.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Catlin-Jairazbhoy reviewed the transcript on behalf of the interviewee. They were then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a number of corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
14 hrs.
Interviewee Retained Copyright
Music in childhood – Learns to play the sitar – Class and music in India – Music at The Doon School – Enrolls at the University of Washington – Travels between the United States and India – Odd jobs – Begins painting – Works as a framer – Invited to lecture at the University of Washington – Records music in Washington – Moves to Pakistan – Studies surbahar – Records music in Pakistan – Moves to London, England – Enrolls at the School of Oriental and African Studies – Works with Arnold Bake.
Becomes research assistant to Arnold Bake -- Appointed lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1962 -- Sarangadeva’s Sangita Ratnakara -- More on recording musicians -- Interest in sruti and microtones.
Studies with Umrao Bundu Khan – Studies surbahar with Fateh Ali Khan – Learns Persian vocal compositions -- More on recording music in Pakistan – More on interest in srutis – Measuring musical intervals – Publishes on sruti -- Arnold Bake's musical interests and recordings – Studies in Holland – Learns about ethnomusicology – Collaborates with Arnold Bake on a book.
Arnold Bake dies – Car trouble in India – Playing the sitar and the surbahar – More on Arnold Bake – Tagore's songs – Chairs committee in music at the School of Oriental and African Studies – Copies Bake's recordings – Explores ethnomusicology programs in the United States – Begins working at the University of Windsor – Releases music records under pseudonym, Dev Kumar – Sitar increases in popularity.
Dissertation topic – Influence of Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande – Scale types in Indian music – Writing dissertation – Changes in Indian music – Personal life – Publishing his first book.
More on publishing first book – Reception of first book – Views of Indian music – Classifications within Indian music.
Financial problems – Reasons for leaving the School of Oriental and African Studies – Moves to Windsor, Canada – Life in Windsor, Canada – Departmental difficulties – Teaches course in India – Teaching in Canada – Offered position at UCLA – Moves to Los Angeles – Tenure as chair of the Society for Ethnomusicology – Travels to India and Pakistan again.
Arrives in Los Angeles – Politics of Ethnomusicology at UCLA – Ethnomusicology becomes its own department – More on tenure as chair of the Society for Ethnomusicology
More on tenure as chair of the Society for Ethnomusicology – More on traveling to India and Pakistan –Insufficient archive of music in India – Founds the Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology (ARCE) – Video recordings.
Studies Indian oboes – Studies music transcription – Studies time in Indian music – Studies Sanskrit treatises that describe Indian music – Studies chanting – Studies modern music and melodic music – Studies organology – Fieldwork and travels in India – Studies puppetry
Building on Bake's legacy – More on the Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology
Change in research direction – Western training in ethnomusicology – Melodic intervals – Measuring microtones – Measuring musical intervals – Issues in fieldwork – Giving back to communities – Fieldwork projects in India – Publishing in non-Western journals
More on fieldwork in India and Pakistan – Research in Rajasthan – More on recording music in India and Pakistan – Impressions of Manganiyar – Drones in Indian music – Teaching at UCLA – Using the melograph at UCLA – Technology in musicology – Gender in Indian music – More on puppetry studies – Counterophone in Indian music – More on research in Rajasthan – Tracing Bake's steps in India – Gender and performance in devadasis music.Tape Number VIII, Side Two was inadvertently not digitized. The audio for this session stops shortly before the end of the transcript.
Influence of Jairazbhoy's mother – Influence of humor – Influence of storytelling – Makes documentary about puppetry – More on storytelling