April 13, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Dale A. Olsen, Ph.D. Distinguished Research Professor of Ethnomusicology, lived in Santiago, Chile as Peace Corps Volunteers

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Chile: Peace Corps Chile : The Peace Corps In Chile: April 13, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Dale A. Olsen, Ph.D. Distinguished Research Professor of Ethnomusicology, lived in Santiago, Chile as Peace Corps Volunteers

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Dale A. Olsen, Ph.D. Distinguished Research Professor of Ethnomusicology, lived in Santiago, Chile as Peace Corps Volunteers

Dale A. Olsen, Ph.D. Distinguished Research Professor of Ethnomusicology, lived in Santiago, Chile as Peace Corps Volunteers

Dale A. Olsen, Ph.D.

Distinguished Research Professor of Ethnomusicology

Director, Center for Music of the Americas

Director, Summer Program in Vietnam

Center for Music of the Americas (CMA), School of Music, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-2098


Not too long ago (1941) I was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota, where I lived, studied, and played music (clarinet and saxophone) until going off to college. I received the B.A. (1964) and M.A. (1966) degrees in Historical Musicology and Flute Performance from the University of Minnesota, followed by the Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles (1973). Currently I am a Professor of Ethnomusicology in the School of Music, and Director of the Center for Music of the Americas (CMA). Between my Minnesota and California degrees, my wife, Diane, and I lived in Santiago, Chile as Peace Corps Volunteers (I was principal flutist with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Chile). Since then I have lived, worked, and conducted research in South America as a a National Endowment for the Humanities grantee in Venezuela and Colombia, a Fulbright scholar to Peru, a Florida State University Developing Scholar awardee to Brazil, several times a COFRS awardee to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay, and sabbatical leave research in Brazil and Bolivia. I have also received grants to conduct research in American and European museums, in Italy, China, Korea, and most recently (summer 1998) in Tonga (South Pacific), Japan (1999), and Ireland (2001).

Over the years, and since my days in the Peace Corps in Chile, I have learned how to play numerous musical instruments from the Andes (kena, siku, tarka, charango, and the Peruvian indigenous harp) and from Japan (shakuhachi and ryuteki). Since my summer in Ireland, I have been playing Irish transverse flute, and purchased a nice instrument in Galway.

In the academic world, I have served as a Council and Board Member at Large of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Board Member for Ethnomusicology/World Music of the College Music Society, as President of the Florida Folklore Society, as the First Vice-President of the Society for Ethnomusicology, and currently as the Immediate Past-President of the College Music Society. I did my term as national President of CMS from January 1999 through December 2000. In this photograph, Tony Seeger and I are enjoying the wonderful Santa Fe air and view during the CMS national meeting in Santa Fe in November 2001.

At the personal level, Diane and I have been married 36 years. Diane has her Ph.D. in Instructional Design and works for the state Department of Revenue. Our son Darin has a bachelor's degree in architecture and a master's degree in building construction management from the University of Florida. He currently works for Osbourne Associates in Atlanta as a project manager. This picture is taken from the deck of our beach house, Dunescape, on St. George Island, Florida. He is now married and we have a beautiful granddaughter, Isabella, pictured on the right.

One of my principal instruments, besides the Western flute, is the Japanese shakuhachi. I have a natori(professional name and teaching diploma) in the Japanese Kinko-ryû shakuhachi tradition, and have concertized on shakuhachi throughout South America and the United States. In 1978 I applied for a Japan Foundation Grant for my program at FSU, which was awarded for two years. During that time we had a total of five Japanese koto artists-in-residence from the Tokyo University of the Fine Arts. Together we performed shakuhachi and koto music throughout the United States for two wonderful years. A number of excellent koto students resulted from those years of training, especially John Christian Vincent, Laurie Arizumi, and Linda Babcock.

I began my shakuhachi studies with professor Mitsuru Yuge from UCLA, and then received the Kinko-ryû natori in 1983 from Iwami Baikyoku IV in São Paulo, Brazil. My professional name is Bai-ô, which means "nightengale". Some of my best shakuhachi students who have developed professional careers for themselves as shakuhachi players are Tony Clark in Germany, Phil Gelb in San Francisco, and Martha Fabrick in San Antonio.

Diane and I had the opportunity to return to Japan during the summer of 1999, where we attended the CMS International Conference in Kyoto, traveled by train up the west coast of Japan, visiting Sado, Hirosaki, on to Hokkaido, then to Morioka and Tokyo. In Tokyo I played in a small concert with our dear friends who were our koto artists from 1978 through 1980.

Listen to shakuhachi compositions

performed by Dr. Olsen Bai-Ô

1. "Shika-no-tône" -- traditional honkyoku

(recorded in Lima, Peru, 1996)

2. "Shika-no-tône" -- traditional honkyoku

(recorded in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, 2001)

3. "Sôkaku-reibo -- traditional honkyoku

(recorded in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, 2001)

Since 1972 I have received many grants and summer stipends for research in ethnomusicology, music iconography, and archaeomusicology (music archaeology) in Asia, Europe, Polynesia, and South America. I received a Fulbright Award to Peru in 1979, when I began research among Japanese immigrant communities in South America; that research has continued to the present day with grants I have received to research and concertize in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and again in Peru.

The Florida State University has a large number of overseas programs in its International Program. In 1985 I had the pleasure of teaching on the FSU Florence Program in Firenze, Italy. Beginning in the summer of 2002, I was appointed director of the FSU summer program in Vietnam, which is situated in Ho Chi Min City.

In 1997 I was awarded a Professional Excellence Program Award from FSU. In 1999 I was awarded the FSU President's Technology Award for Exemplary Uses of Technology for Instruction. In 2001 I was awarded Distinguished Research Professor at FSU.

Over the years I have published more than eighty scholarly works dealing with many aspects of the music of South America, Japan, Europe, and the United States; multicultural music education; archeomusicology; and the music of Florida. Several of my books include Musics of Many Cultures: Study Guide and Workbook (second edition, 1995, Kendall / Hunt) and Music of the Warao of Venezuela---Song People of the Rain Forest (1996, University Press of Florida). For the latter book I won the Society for Ethnomusicology's 1997 Alan Merriam Prize for "the most distinguished English-language monograph published in the field of ethnomusicology." You can explore the world of the Warao by linking to "An Ethnomusicological Survey of the Warao Indians of Venezuela"--a site I have designed to introduce the public to Warao expressive culture.

My most recent book is Music of El Dorado: The Ethnomusicology of Ancient South American Cultures (University Press of Florida, 2002). As you can see from the cover to the right, the book contains numerous beautiful photographs of pre-Columbian musical artifacts. I have established a link that will allow you to listen to MP3 files from the compact disc that I recorded to accompany the book.

My next two books, currently being considered for publication, are entitled The Chrysanthemum and the Song: Music in the Lives of Japanese Nikkei (Immigrant) Subcultures in South America, and Music, Memory, and Cultural Survival among the South American Japanese in Diaspora . They pertain to the history of music and musical identity of the people of Japanese heritage who live in South America. I also plan to include a compact disc with the second book.

I have also served as the Recording Review Editor for Ethnomusicology, the official journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology.

I am one of the editors of the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music series, specifically of Volume 2 ("Music of South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean"), which has just been released. Along with my colleage Daniel Sheehy as co-editor, we have included articles by over 60 ethnomusicologists. The volume's coverage ranges from the Bahamas to Tierra del Fuego, describing the extraordinarily rich and varied musics and dances of people from all the countries south of the Rio Grande. Unique emphasis is given to 25 native American cultures, including Yuma and Otopame (Mexico), Kuna (Panama), Suya (Brazil), Quechua (Ecuador to Chile), Mapuche (Chile and Argentina), Warao, Yekuana, and Yanomami (Venezuela), and others. Several articles are devoted to the popular music of Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean islands, and other areas. A survey of the music of immigrants shows how arrivals from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Germany, Italy, and Spain have preserved their musical traditions in the region for the past 150 years. Some of the articles about issues and processes include "The Geographic, Demographic, and Cultural Settings," "Approaches to Musical Scholarship," "The Distribution, Symbolism, and Use of Musical Instruments," "Musical Genres and Contexts," "Social Structure, Musicians, and Behavior ," "Musical Dynamics," "Music of Immigrant Groups," and much more. The volume has over 1000 pages, approximately 410 illustrations, and it includes a compact disc. Click here to read a review by Dr. Ted Solis: REVIEW.

In 2000 a large portion of Volume 2 of the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music was published in paperbook form as The Garland Handbook of Latin American Music (New York: Routledge). The purpose of this shortened version of the Volume 2 is to make the work suitable and affordable as a textbook for courses in the music of Latin America. After Parts 1 and 2 (Introduction and Issues and Processes), Part 3 (Nations and Musical Traditions) includes Caribbean Latin America (Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Puerto Rico), Middle Latin America (Mexico and Guatemala), and South America ( The Tropical-Forest Region, Warao, Venezuela, Brazil:Central and Southern Areas, Afro-Brazilian Traditions, Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Q'ero, and Peru). Like Volume 2, the Handbook also includes a compact disc.

Several years ago (1998) I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to the South Pacific for the purpose of learning about Polynesian music. My wife Diane and I visited Tongatapu (Kingdom of Tonga), Aotearoa (New Zealand), Rarotonga (Cook Islands), Taveuni (Fiji), and Hawai'i and Oahu (Hawaii). We spent two weeks in Tonga where I filmed, recorded, and studied the music and dance performed during His Majesty King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV's 80th birthday celebration. The materials I collected will be used in an Internet version of my Music Cultures of the World course, and I look forward to sharing many wonderful Polynesian creative traditions with my students. Of particular interest to me were the two nose flutes I collected, a fangufangu from Tonga and a four feet long 'ohe hana ihu from Hawai'i (a recent creation).

Life at the "Breeze Inn" on west Vuna Road was wonderful for those two weeks, and we made some excellent friends. Also visiting Tonga for that occasion were our ethnomusicology and anthropology colleagues Adrienne Kaeppler, Larry Shumway, and Jehanne Fisk. There was music and dance every day and night, most of it performed contextually in honor of the King of Tonga. In this photograph I am filming a kailao dance in Pangai park next to the Royal Palace in Nuku'alofa -- Diane took the picture. What an unbelievable experience we had!

Many of my research travels have been funded by grants allowing me to develop a distance learning course on the Internet entitled "Music Cultures of the World with Dr. O." You can visit that site at http://otto.cmr.fsu.edu/muh2051. Most recently Diane and I have traveled to Japan (1999) and Ireland (2001) for research and conference participation, and in 2001 I spent some time in Bolivia finishing research for my book on music in the lives of Japanese immigrant subcultures in South America. My travels to Vietnam are filled with many adventures and have inspired me to write another book on several aspects of modern Vietnamese music.

Some more photos: Lakalaka dancers1 and dancers2

Florida Atlantic University Poster for Lecture


CMA Home Page or FSU Ethnomusicology Home Page

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