Dr Amanda Villepastour PhD

Dr Amanda Villepastour PhD

Senior Lecturer

Email:
villepastourav@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 6226
Location:
2.02, 37 Corbett Road

Overview

While I have wide interests in the music of Africa, my research interests are concentrated on Yorùbá music in Nigeria and Afro-Cuban religious music and their transatlantic connections. In particular, I have researched Nigerian and Cuban bàtá drumming of the Yorùbá deities, the orishas. Of particular interest to me is the relationship between language and music, including speech surrogacy in drumming and the technicalities of speech tone in song melody. My broader research interests include gender and music and organology.

Until the mid-1990s, I was a keyboardist in the popular music industry, writing, recording and touring with British artists including Boy George, Billy Bragg and The Gang of Four. Coming from this performance background, I have set up the first world music ensembles in MUSIC, Lanyi (West African Mandé music) and Nogo Abang (Javanese gamelan).

Honours and awards

Honours

  • 2016: Commendation for The Yorùbá God of Drumming: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Wood That Talks, British Forum for Ethnomusicology Book Prize

Academic Leadership

  • 2015-present: Chair, Study Group for African Music (UK Branch), International Council for Traditional Music
  • 2015-present: Vice-Chair, Study Group for African Music (Central Group), International Council for Traditional Music
  • 2012-2015: Chair, British Forum for Ethnomusicology

Grants

  • 2016: ESRC Initiator Grant for Cuban Impact Study
  • 2012: British Academy/Leverhulme Grant for research on batá drumming in Cuba
  • 2008: Smithsonian Institution Fellowship (The Latino Centre) for a research on female musicians in Afrocuban religious music in the USA
  • 2007: AHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London to research the linguistic structures of Nigerian bàtá drumming
  • 2003: Central Research Fund, University of London, PhD Fieldwork Award
  • 2002: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, PhD Fieldwork Award
  • 2001: Central Research Fund, University of London, PhD Fieldwork Award
  • 2000-2005: Arts and Humanities Research Board (now the AHRC) PhD Scholarship

Professional memberships

  • International Council for Traditional Music
  • Royal Anthropological Institute (fellow)
  • The Society for Ethnomusicology
  • British Forum for Ethnomusicology

Previous academic positions

  • 2011-present: Senior Lecturer, School of Music, Cardiff University
  • 2008-2010: Curator for Africa and Latin America, The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), Phoenix Arizona, USA
  • 2007-2008: Ethnomusicology Instructor/Director of Afro-Caribbean Ensemble, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA
  • 2008: Research Fellow, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA
  • 2007: Research Fellow, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • 2001-2008: Course Director of Certificate in Music Teaching to Adults, Goldsmiths, University of London

Speaking engagements

Invited Speaker

  • 2017: “Rebirthing Ilú Keké: Mythmaking, Myth Busting, and the Conundrum of Empirical Research in a Cuban Drumming Community.”Colloquium. The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
  • 2016: “JDY Peel on Afro-Cuban Religion.” Memorial for J.D.Y. Peel: "A Celebration of Life to the Full." The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
  • 2016: "The Search for Meaning of Cuban Lucumí through Transatlantic Song Analysis: Methods, Uses and Limitations.” Linguistic-ethnomusicology workshop "Text-Setting Constraints in Tone Languages." Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS), Leiden University.
  • 2015: “Ilú Keké: Big Narrative about a Small Town Drum.” Latin American Music Annual Study Day. Senate House, University of London.
  • 2013: “Ethnography of a Sidewoman.” Postgraduate Colloquium. Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA.
  • 2013: “Ethnography of a Sidewoman.” Ethnomusicology Seminar Series. Oxford University.
  • 2012: “Talking Tones and Singing Speech.” John Bird Lecture. Cardiff University.
  • 2012: “Giving Voice to Musical Instruments in an African Gallery.” Lunchtime Lecture Series. Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.
  • 2011: “Moving Song and Singing Moves in Transatlantic Yorùbá Music.” Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting. Philadelphia, USA.
  • 2011: “Yorùbá Òrìsà Songs in Transatlantic Perspective.” Institute for African Studies Lecture Series. University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
  • 2009:  “The Bata Drum in Transatlantic Perspective.” Explorations in Afro-Cuban Music and Dance Annual Meeting. Humboldt State University, California, USA.
  • 2009: "Playing with Power.” Women Drummers International Annual Meeting. Petaluma, California, USA.

Conference Presentations

  • 2015: “Dangerous Drums: Intrinsic Violence in Afro-Cuban Sacred Drumming Traditions.” Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting. Austin, USA.
  • 2015: “Sacred, Scientific and Political Encounters in the Consecration, Conservation, and Patrimony of a Cuban Drum.” Joint Conference of the Horniman Museum and and the Royal Anthropological Institute, “Musical Instruments and Material Culture.” Horniman Museum, London.
  • 2014: “Maloya: An Indian Ocean Narrative with Black Atlantic Sounds.” Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting, Pittsburg, USA.
  • 2014: "Performing Memory: Reconstructing a Transatlantic Sea Goddess through Song.” Atlantic Sounds International Conference. Liverpool University.
  • 2012: Talking Tones and Singing Speech among the Yorùbá of Southwest Nigeria.” Linguistic-Ethnomusicology Workshop "Relationships of Speech Tone and Music." Austrian Academy of Sciences, Phonogrammarchiv, Vienna.
  • 2011: “Video Production and Use at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), Phoenix: A Case History.” British Forum for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting. Falmouth University.
  • 2010: “Anthropomorphizing Àyàn: Gender in Àyàn Initiation, Taboo and Possession.” African Studies Association Annual Meeting. San Francisco, USA.
  • 2010: “Yorùbá Melodic Structure in Transatlantic Perspective.” Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting. Los Angeles, USA.
  • 2009: “When Vocables Become Language: Transatlantic Bata Vocables as Identity Markers.” Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting. Mexico City, Mexico.
  • 2009: “No Clause 28 and the Coming Out of Boy George.” Annual EMP Pop Conference. Seattle, USA.
  • 2008: "Crossing the Divide: Bridging Ethnomusicology Theory and Mainstream Teacher Training.” Cultural Diversity in Music Education (CDIME) Biennial Meeting. Seattle, USA.

Media

University committees

Cardiff University Committees

  • 2014-present: Steering Group for developing Collaborations with The National Museum Wales/Amgueddfa Cymru
  • 2014-present: Heritage MA Workgroup (Collaboratively developing MA with CU and NMW.)
  • 2014-2017: Board Member for The Phoenix Project, Cardiff University. (Development project in partnership with University of Namibia.)

Subject Associations

  • 2013-present: Royal Anthropological Institute Ethnomusicology Committee (founding member)
  • 2015-present: Study Group for African Music (Central Group) International Council for Traditional Music
  • 2015-present: Study Group for African Music (UK Branch) International Council for Traditional Music (founding Chair)
  • 2011-2016: British Forum for Ethnomusicology
  • 2012-15: Research Consortium-UK (founding member).

Conference Organisation

  • 2017: African Musics Study Group, UK branch (ICTM) Study Day. “Filming African Music.” Bath Spa University.
  • 2016: African Musics Study Group, UK branch (ICTM) Study Day, Senate House, University of London
  • 2015: British Forum for Ethnomusicology annual conference jointly with Société française d’ethnomusicologie, Quai Branley, Paris.
  • 2014: British Forum for Ethnomusicology annual conference jointly with Analytical Approaches to World Music, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
  • 2013: British Forum for Ethnomusicology annual conference jointly with ICTM Ireland, Queens University, Belfast.
  • 2013: British Forum for Ethnomusicology one-day conference “Music around the Atlantic Rim” The School of Music, Cardiff University.
  • 2013: Society for Ethnomusicology annual conference, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Prize committees

  • 2015: Society for Ethnomusicology, Nettl Prize for outstanding publication in ethnomusicology.
  • 2013: British Forum for Ethnomusicology, Best Student Paper at annual conference.

Education

  • 2006: PhD (Ethnomusicology) School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • 1998: MMus (Ethnomusicology) School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • 1997 Certificate in Music Teaching to Adults (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • 1981 BMus (Composition) University of Western Australia

Career overview

  • 2011-present: School of Music, Cardiff University
  • 2008-2010: Curator for Africa and Latin America, The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), Phoenix Arizona, USA
  • 2007-2008: Ethnomusicology Instructor/Director of Afro-Caribbean Ensemble, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA
  • 2008: Research Fellow, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA
  • 2007: Research Fellow, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • 2001-2008: Course Director of Certificate in Music Teaching to Adults, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Previous career as a popular music performer, studio musician, arranger and songwriter.

I am currently supervising PhD candidates researching drumming and gender in Cuba and the kamelengoni harp in Burkina Faso.

At postgraduate level, I teach Doing Ethnomusicology (a methods and theory module) and The World of Music (regional studies through theoretical themes).

I also teach on the undergraduate ethnomusicology courses Music in Human Life, Music in Cross-Cultural Perspective and Ethnomusicology Project.

I advise postgraduate and undergraduate dissertation students.

I am the academic advisor for Lanyi (West African Mandé Ensemble) and Nogo Abang (Javanese Gamelan Ensemble)

Research interests

I have travelled widely in Africa, but my research interests are concentrated on music of the Yorùbá people in southwest Nigeria and their distant relatives since the transatlantic slave trade in Cuban. My primary interest is the music of the dieties of pre-Islamic and pre-Christian spirituality called the orishas. At the heart of this research is the bata drums, which have parallel traditions in Nigeria and Cuba, and how these drums communicate with talking drum technologies. I am also interested in how the tonal language, Yoruba, is set to song, and how this sacred repertoire manifests in Cuba, where devotees no longer speak the language.

Current Projects

Employing a British Academy/Leverhulme grant, my current research project is an impact study in Matanzas, Cuba. My research about the provenance of a little-known drum ensemble called Ilú Keké has facilitated the first production company in the town, Sendero Music. With Sendero Director, Luis Bran, I co-produced Sendero's first commercial release with scholarly liner notes. See:

http://pressjunkiepr.com/clients/ilu-keke/

I have also been conducting research about Cuban influences in Reunionaise maloya music.

Academic Schools