Welcome to the "Music of the Indian Ocean" wiki. This site was created by the students in the graduate seminar "Musical Connections of the Western Indian Ocean," facilitated by Andrew J. Eisenberg at Stony Brook University in the Fall semester 2009. It is the hope of the professor and students that this site may serve as a resource for Indian Ocean studies, and perhaps be updated and expanded in the future. If you are interested in expanding this site as part of a course or project, please contact Andrew J. Eisenberg (andrew[dot]eisenberg[at]nyu[dot]edu).
This site has never been thoroughly edited, and has not been maintained since the end of 2009. Please excuse the typos and broken links that are surely present. Before making the site public, I tried, as far as possible, to make sure that it was free of factual errors, plagiarism, or improper use of copyrighted material. If you should find any of these, please notify me. --AE
Original Course Description
Centuries of sea-faring in the western Indian Ocean have forged social links among the coastal areas of eastern Africa, Arabia, and the Indian sub-continent. Indeed, the region has a long, complex––and audible––history of cultural mixture. One can hear Indonesian and Arabic sounds in the Malagasy music of Madagascar, Arabic and Indian sounds in the Swahili music of East Africa, African and Indian sounds in the traditional dances of Yemen and Oman, and African and Arabic sounds in various genres of coastal South Asia. On top of this, European musical influences—including centuries-old Portuguese influences––abound throughout the region.
Cultural exchange is a growing area of interest for historians and anthropologists of the Indian Ocean region. The problem has not yet received sustained interest from ethnomusicologists, however. Participants in this graduate seminar will be asked to break new ground, working collaboratively along with the professor (a specialist in coastal East Africa and the southern Yemeni diaspora) to map the musical terrain of the western Indian Ocean, and to generate hypotheses and questions for ethnomusicological research.