Our tour to the Ethnomusicology archive was a fascinating look at cultural music and technologies. We first began with a conversation with archivists Aaron M. Bittel and Maureen Russell about the multifaceted work an ethnomusicology archive, and what tasks are required. We looked at one of the first sound recording technologies ever patented by Thomas Edison. They demonstrated this early recording system, and then Aaron and Maureen displayed and explained various outdated forms of recording technology and how digitization occurs. Our hosts explained that many early audio recordings end up being lost due to deterioration in analogue formats, such as sticky shed syndrome.
After talking about the archive and the history of cultural music preservation, we took a tour of the Ethnomusicology Department and the various instrument rooms. We had a wonderful presentation by Professor Li who demonstrated a number of East Asian instruments including the Shamisen, Biwa, Gong set and Hulusi. She also informed us about her various performance ensembles and how UCLA acquired two Chinese parade dragons. We also were able to see UCLA’s famous Javanese and Balinese Gamelanset and a number of other traditional instruments on display. We ended the tour with a brief social where we had a chance to speak Aaron and Maureen in more detail.