Digitization and the Musical Future

Most music production and consumption is now mediated as digital files via the Internet – instantly accessible and instantly identified – under conditions that are profoundly changing the nature of musical experience. Music institutions have gradually been devising new ways of responding to this fundamental sociomusical shift, which will ultimately affect many aspects of both research and development, as well as curriculum. 

A few of my current projects in Europe and Asia offer interesting examples of “glocalization” in the sphere of music. With two musicologist colleagues in Poland - Mikolaj Rykowski and Janina Tatarska - I am presently developing a book on the impact of globalization in music, based on international conferences in 2014 and 2015 at the Academy of Music in Poznan (with chapters by ourselves, Krzysztof Moraczewskis, and other scholars). 

I am also now serving as External Reviewer for an innovative new Master program in Community-Based Arts Education at Hong Kong Institute of Education, which offers promising responses to the challenges of glocalization in contemporary arts pedagogy. In Beijing, I am working with the China Conservatory for development of its Open Global Music Academy, an initiative of the International Music Institutions Leaders Forum, which will facilitate effective online collaboration between several higher education music institutions around the world. It will be exciting to see how these projects develop further in 2015.

UPDATE (9 January, 2015): Below are program pages from my keynote speech on the first day of 2015: "Strategies for Attracting Global Attention to Research in Chinese Music Education," at Chinese Traditional Culture's Diversity in Music Education Research: An Academic Forum, hosted by China Conservatory (Nirvana Resort Hotel, Beijing, January 1-2, 2015). Organized by Professor Jiaxing Xie, this was a national conference with over 50 registered presenters from 25 Chinese university, college and conservatory music programs: music educationists, musicologists, ethnomusicologists, performers, arts managers, and music technology specialists. The keynote speech had simultaneous translation into Chinese. The other presentations covered an array of research topics, and especially demonstrated interest in the changing conditions of traditional music in an era of digitization.

Translation, Education, and Innovation

UPDATE: This book will soon be published by Springer under the title International Perspectives on Translation, Education and Innovation in Japanese and Korean Societies, Ed., David Hebert (Springer, 2017). Here is a link to the book’s listing on the Amazon website:

Translation, Education, and Innovation, the 25th anniversary symposium proceedings of the Nordic Association for Japanese and Korean Studies (NAJAKS) is nearly ready for publication.

The NAJAKS-2013 organizing committee (Benedicte Irgens, Kristin Rygg, and David Hebert) introduced the conference as follows:

In these times of globalization and digitization, the world has become increasingly complex and interconnected. Communication across borders and languages from around the world is now an immense feature of daily life, and the need for cultural, linguistic and translational competence is ever present. Migration, ethnic conflicts and environmental challenges call for new forms of international understanding and cooperation, as well as a constant focus on quality in education and on accommodating innovation across diverse fields. This is especially true for modernized Asian countries like Japan and Korea, which have a great economic and cultural impact on daily life in Europe that is often underappreciated. There is much to be gained from deeper communication and cooperation with East Asia, acknowledging its rich past, impressive present, and promising future.

In addition to the aforementioned principal themes of translation, education, and innovation, the conference proceedings also point to several additional intersecting themes that join together many chapters: Sustainability, nature, humor, aesthetics, cultural survival and social change, discourse and representation.

As editor of this book, I have been quite impressed with the quality of research from an array of fields across the humanities and social sciences, including on such themes as cultural translation, Japanese and Korean languages, urban development, and traditional music and arts in East Asia. Although this is a very interdisciplinary book, I should especially mention here that it includes chapters by highly accomplished professors in linguistics-related fields as well as music-related chapters by ethnomusicologists Keith Howard and Jonathan McCollum.

Link to Nordic Association for Japanese and Korean Studies (NAJAKS): 

Here is a final list of revised chapters included in the full manuscipt of this book:

Table of Contents

Preface: On NAJAKS in its 25th Year
Acknowledgements and Dedication
Table of Contents
List of Figures and Tables 
Profiles of Contributing Authors 

INTRODUCTION: Translation, Education, and Innovation in Japanese and Korean Societies (David G. Hebert)

Part 1: Keynotes on Cultural Change 
Chapter 1. From Shizen to Nature: A Process of Cultural Translation (Nanyan Guo)
Chapter 2. Life and Death of Music as East Asian Intangible Cultural Heritage (Keith Howard)

Part 2: Translational Issues in Literature
Chapter 3. Translating Scientific Discourse in Ariyoshi Sawako’s Fukugo Osen (Barbara Hartley)
Chapter 4. Foreigner Talk or Foreignness: The Language of Westerners in Japanese Fiction (Erik Oskarsson)
Chapter 5. Emotional Discourse Analysis of Japanese Literary Translations (Alexandra Holoborodko)

Part 3: Analyses of Korean and Japanese Languages
Chapter 6. Definiteness in Korean: A Contrastive Study of Korean and Italian (Imsuk Jung)
Chapter 7. Unmarked Plurality and Specificity in Korean and Japanese Plural Nouns: A Preliminary Study (Kiri Lee, Young-mee Yu Cho, and Min-Young Park)
Chapter 8. The “My Funny Talk” Corpus and Speaking Style Variation in Japanese (Toshiyuki Sadanobu)
Chapter 9. Kansai Style Conversation and its Role in Contemporary Japan (Goran Vaage)

Part 4: Language Education
Chapter 10. On the Teaching of Japanese Epistemic and Evidential Markers: Theoretical Considerations and Practical Applications (Lars Larm)
Chapter 11. Analysis of Kanji Reading and Writing Errors of Swedish Learners in Comparison with Level-matched L1 Learners (Fusae Ivarsson)

Part 5: Innovation in the Professions
Chapter 12. The Interdisciplinary Study of Law and Language: Forensic Linguistics in Japan (Mami Hiraike Okawara)
Chapter 13. Linguistic Study of Court Interpreting in Lay Judge Trials in Japan (Makiko Mizuno)
Chapter 14. “Green” and “Smart” Cities Diffusion: The Case of Songdo, Korea (Alexandra Lichá)

Part 6: The Arts in Innovative Societies
Chapter 15. Bad Father and Good Mother: Changing Masculinity in Post-Bubble-Economy Japan  (Shuk-ting Kinnia Yau)
Chapter 16. Embodying History and Pedagogy: A Personal Journal into the Dokyoku Style of Japanese Shakuhachi (Jonathan McCollum)
Chapter 17. Animals and Aesthetics in Japanese Art and Society (Mika Merviö)
Chapter 18. In Defense of Rules or Creative Innovation?: A Discussion on the Essence of the Topic Spring Rain in Japanese Haiku (Herbert Jonsson)
Chapter 19. Cultural Translation and Musical Innovation: A Theoretical Model with Examples from Japan (David Hebert)

CONCLUSION: Cultural Translation and Social Change in East Asia (David Hebert)


Don Giovanni in Norway

The Bergen National Opera will be performing Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the spring of 2015, in collaboration with professional chorus Edvard Grieg Kor and the Bergen Philharmonic orchestra (now in its 250th season). I eagerly look forward to participating in this production.

Pictured here is a playbill from the opera’s Vienna premiere (1788), following a less complete original production in Prague (1787).

Link for information on the Bergen National Opera 2015 production:

Below I am in a Boyar costume from a previous Bergen National Opera production (an opera by Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov):


Music Conferences in November 2014

In November of 2014 I will be speaking for music conferences in Estonia, Norway, and the USA. Below are titles and abstracts for the three presentations, two of which are on research methods, while the other is on issues in the evaluation of music lecturers in higher education.

-Roundtable Panel Presentation at Annual Meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology (Chaired by James Revell Carr, with panelists Jonathan McCollum, Ingrid Monson, Gillian Rodger, Michael Iyanaga, and David Hebert):

Excavating the Subaltern Past: Theories and Methods in Historical Ethnomusicology

As ethnomusicologists continue to grapple with the musical legacy of hundreds of years of colonialism and imperialism, more scholars are recognizing the importance of historical research in understanding a post-colonial world. The old adage tells us that “history is written by the victors,” but twenty-first century ethnomusicologists are making efforts to uncover the voices of the subaltern, the subjugated, the marginalized, and the colonized, excavating alternative histories that complicate the received understanding of the past inscribed by prior generations of scholars. Research of this sort does not simply tell us about the past, but can have important repercussions for political and social issues in the present. This roundtable will explore the possibilities and the pitfalls of undertaking historical ethnomusicology with subaltern subjects, discussing a variety of methodologies, practicalities, and theoretical frameworks that have been utilized in recent work. Panel participants represent research on a wide range of geographic areas and socio-cultural issues, including African-American vernacular music and the Civil Rights movement, devotional song for Catholic saints in Brazil, syncretic music genres of native Hawaiians, representations of gender transgression on the American popular stage, nationalism in Japanese music education, and the music of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Each of these scholars will discuss their efforts to negotiate differences between radical postmodern subjectivities and the compelling desire to understand objective, empirical “truth.” Through these disparate case studies, the panelists will propose approaches that can help other ethnomusicologists navigate the contested terrain of history and uncover obscured perspectives and previously untold narratives. [James Revell Carr, chair]

Click HERE for further information:

-Keynote Speech at Grieg Research School Conference:
Observational Methods in Music Research

Interviewing is often perceived as a particularly insightful and enjoyable way to conduct research. Interviewers typically sense that they are connecting personally with interviewees, and attaining deep insights into their world. Especially among music scholars in the Nordic countries there is a tendency across recent years to emphasize interview data within qualitative studies. But what of observational methods? Has observation become passé, and no longer necessary for the production of new musical knowledge? One perennial rationale for the use of observational methods is the unassailable truism that “People only sometimes say what they really think, and what they really think only sometimes accurately reflects reality” (Hebert & McCollum, 2014, p.49).

Indeed, consideration of systematic observations may even be necessary in order to fully understand ourselves, enabling a healthy confrontation with biases and inaccuracies in the explanations constructed as we strive to make sense of musical developments in our lives (i.e. arts-based research). Empirical observation can be conducted in various ways by music researchers, including such approaches as ethnographic field notes and automatic recording techniques for capturing sound, video, images, movement, or other data. Some observational strategies require special conditions (e.g. expensive equipment in a laboratory), while others can be conducted naturalistically: in music studios, classrooms, or therapy settings, for example. An array of quantitative and qualitative techniques may be used for analysis of observational data, many of which are greatly enhanced by the convenience of recent digital technologies. This session will combine a lecture format with various workshop activities designed to acquaint participants with issues and strategies for observational research. Key concepts to be demonstrated include subjectivity, delimitation and framing, sampling, content analysis, inter-observer reliability, thick description and “thick analysis”. We will consider common threats to the relevance, accuracy and thoroughness of observations, and examine an array of strategies for effective collection, analysis and interpretation of observational data in research that advances human knowledge with new musical discoveries.

Key questions addressed by the lecture:
-What kinds of significant musical knowledge cannot be obtained from interviews; and conversely, what of importance cannot be observed?
-What are some diverse ways that observations may be collected, analysed, and interpreted in order to produce new findings regarding a musical phenomenon?
-What are some effective techniques for strengthening the reliability and convincingness of observational reporting?

Click HERE for further information:

-Keynote Speech at Annual Meeting of Nordic Network for Music Education:

Cultural Differences and Strategies in the Performance Assessment of Music Lecturers in Higher Education

In most countries, assessment and evaluation entail complex processes faced from the time young children first enter schools until they complete advanced and professional studies as adults. However, evaluation continues further, even through the PhD and onward, as lecturers seek promotion in higher education careers. While effective assessment can be a uniquely valuable tool for growth, it too often becomes an arena in which biases and misuse of power are painfully evident. Many may assume that standards are fairly uniform, but there is in fact enormous diversity in the expectations and underlying assumptions that inform the practice of assessment and evaluation in higher education. This topic appears to be little researched, yet assessment commonly affects many of us in ways that can become quite personal and distressing. This presentation is based on critical review of documents (from the fields of higher education, intercultural communication, and music education research) as well as reflection on four kinds of personal experience: (a) managing music lecturers for New Zealand’s largest college, (b) serving as a supervisory committee member or examiner for doctoral degrees in various countries (USA, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Spain), (c) assisting China Conservatory in Beijing with its development of an international network in 2014 for collaboration between music schools (partly for assessment purposes), and (d) evaluating music faculty as an anonymous reviewer - mostly for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor and full Professor - at public universities on five continents: Europe (Finland and Iceland), Asia (Singapore), Oceania (Australia), Africa (South Africa), and North America (public universities in Illinois and British Columbia). I will seek to identify the types and causes of an array of common issues, and attempt to formulate possible solutions or strategies for minimizing certain problems largely attributable to cultural differences. It is hoped that the ideas shared here will prompt further discussion of how assessment in higher education may be implemented in sustainable ways that are increasingly fair and transparent as well as effective toward the objective of nurturing artistic, pedagogical, and scholarly excellence in conservatories, colleges, and universities.

Click HERE for further information:


Choral Music in Bergen

The 2014 International Music Institutions Leaders Forum recently concluded in Beijing, where I gave a keynote speech and helped with hosting, along with professors Gary McPherson and Jiaxing Xie. An initial agreement was reached for China Conservatory to collaborate with several international higher education music programs to establish an online Open Global Music Academy. This initiative promises to offer some important new vehicles for sharing of musical knowledge between China and other nations, and is especially a unique internationalization opportunity for Bergen’s music programs. Meanwhile, the next week is full of choral events in Bergen . . .

First, will be a concert entitled “The Conscious Sky,” featuring premiere performances of some original works by British composer Marcus Davidson at two venues: Østre, with a preview at Litteraturhuset. I will be singing the bass parts with five other professional singers, as well as two percussionists.

On the weekend, the Bergen Cathedral Choir (Domkor) has a recording session of several unique choral works by Norwegian composer Trond Kverno (conducted by Kjetil Almenning). This will be the first high-quality recording of some of Kverno’s major works, and I suspect the outcome may impact the field of choral music internationally.

Later, the DATES a cappella vocal jazz group in Bergen (named for [D]avid, [A]nne-K, [T]ine, [E]gil, and [S]ilje: DATES) will have master classes with Latvian jazz vocalist/songwriter Inga Berzina.

On October 5 is a concert with the professional Edvard Grieg Choir, conducted by Yale University Professor Jeffrey Douma at Grieg’s home, Troldhaugen. The concert features works by American composers, including some very complex pieces by Charles Ives, as well as some beautiful songs by Edvard Grieg and others. The Ives pieces are especially challenging, but singable for such a strong group of singers.  


Marcus Davidson, composer:


The Conscious Sky:

Bergen Cathedral Choir:

Trond Kverno:

DATES a cappella quintet:

Inga Berzina:

Edvard Grieg Choir:

Jeffrey Douma:


International Music Institutions Leaders Forum 2014

I am pleased to announce an exciting new development scheduled for this Autumn (2014). As part of the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the founding of China Conservatory, the International Music Institutions Leaders Forum (IMILF) - a global meeting for directors of higher education music institutions - will be held in Beijing (September 19-22).

Here is a partial list of speakers for this event:

Keynote Addresses: 
-Gary McPherson (University of Melbourne, Australia)
-Jiaxing Xie (China Conservatory-Beijing)
-David Hebert (Bergen University College, Norway)

Invited Speakers:
-Jonathan Stock (University College Cork, Ireland)
-Marianne Løkke Jakobsen (Royal Conservatory, Copenhagen, Denmark)
-Alex Ruthmann (New York University, USA)
-Patricia Gonzalez (University of Chihuahua, Mexico)
-Dan Bendrups (Griffith University, Australia)
-Gabriel Solis (University of Illinois, USA)
-Boh Wah Leung (Hong Kong Institute of Education, China)
-David Williams (University of South Florida, USA)
-Paul Woodford (Western University, Ontario, Canada)

Other speakers and participants will soon be confirmed.
Also, more information about this unique event will soon be posted on the China Conservatory website, which I will link to here when it becomes available.

Below are some relevant links.  

Program pages from IMILF-Beijing, September 2014: https://app.box.com/s/1f29y9j89x3i23xpvmf4

China Conservatory: http://en.ccmusic.edu.cn/

Link to information on next IMILF (IFLMI) event: