Accepted Paper:

The Ethnographer and his bagpipes  


Nicola Scaldaferri (University of Milano)

Paper short abstract:

Playing a musical instrument requires skills that go beyond the body involvement; during a fieldwork, this establishes specific connections with other people, and especially with other musicians. The paper reports the author's long experience as bagpipes player and researcher.

Paper long abstract:

Playing a musical instrument during a field research, - suggested already by the theory of bi-musicality by Mantle Hood (1960) as a main way to access to the study of other musical cultures - has many implications: they primarily concern the body involvement of the performer/researcher, but also touch on specific musical skills that enable to establish a sort of "deep connection" (Feld - Scaldaferri 2012) with other people in the field, and especially with other musicians. Relevant contributions in this direction were already offered by Timothy Rice in his research in Bulgaria (1994), and in the recent surveys of Steven Feld in Ghana (2012), conducted with his direct involvement as a musical performer.

The paper discusses the author's experience in the field as a bagpipes player (the instrument is the Italian zampogna), applied to different cultural contexts: for a long time in his home region, in Southern Italy (Scaldaferri-Vaja 2006), especially during festivals and religious rituals; and more recently in Burkina Faso (Ferrarini - Scaldaferri 2015), as a way of building a common ground with local musicians. This type of research, it is suggested, is based on forms of embodied knowledge that transcend cultural and linguistic barriers.

Panel P134
Doing ethnography through the body