Threatened by modernization and Chinese imperialism, Tibetan folk music is sadly vanishing into the dustbin of global culture. In an effort to preserve the traditional tunes, students at Qinghai Normal University are making digital field recordings of traditional Tibetan music for online archiving. In many ways, the the Tibetan Endangered Music Project (TEMP) reminds me of Alan Lomax‘s mind-blowing musicology for the Library of Congress in the middle of last century. TEMP has already recorded more than 400 songs, including, according to a National Geographic article, “melodies for herding, harvesting, singing babies to sleep, and coaxing yaks into giving more milk.” The students are currently seeking donations to fund online hosting of the recordings. From National Geographic:
Tibetan music first went on the decline during the Cultural Revolution, a campaign between 1966 and 1976 during which the Chinese government sought to wipe out all “feudal” practices and “make art serve politics…” (Twenty-year-old student Dawa Drolma) said another problem has been the influx of modern Chinese pop music.
“People hear this music all the time on the radio, on , and cassette tapes,” she said. “It comes in and basically takes over.”
Mechanization has also had an impact, she added.
“Butter-churning songs are disappearing, because there are now electric machines to do this and so no need to have a song to provide rhythm.”
Previously on BB:
â€¢ Xeni.net/trek: Miss Tibet founder, DRM-free Tibet music Link