Ethnic Music with Robert Garfias
Between 1962 and 1968, Professor Robert Garfias served as KRAB's first music director. He selected the music heard on KRAB, and assembled programs that frequently juxtaposed musical genres in unique and imaginative ways. During that period, and subsequently, he produced a program of "ethnic music" that introduced KRAB listeners to a vast array of the music of other countries and cultures. These were the best of KRAB's ethnic music programming, with commentary by Robert and his students from the ethnomusicology program at the University of Washington. The commentary helped even non-musicians to better understand why the music sounded the way it did. Sometimes that meant explaining the role of the music, putting it in the context of that particular culture's world view. Or, it might mean talking about the instrumentation, the history or development of a particular instrument or group of musicians. There were even occasions when they would stray into musical theory, using language with which many listeners may have been unfamiliar, but that fascinated and inspired some to pursue fluency.
Here is a brief biographical sketch of Robert from the Newsletter of the Society for Ethnomusicology (Sep 2013, vol 47, number 4): Robert Garfias was born in San Francisco in 1932, the child of Mexican-American parents. As a youngster he studied classical guitar and jazz saxophone. In high school he studied Western classical music composition, and he formed a jazz combo that played gigs for beatniks in the North Beach area of San Francisco, where he traveled in a circle of musicians that included Dave Brubeck, Vince Delgado, Vince Guaraldi, Harry Partch, and Bill Smith. During his career he founded the ethnomusicology program at the University of Washington; served as Dean of Arts at the University of California, Irvine, as a member of the Smithsonian Council, and as a presidential appointee to the U.S. National Council for the Arts; and conducted significant periods of fieldwork and language study in Japan, Okinawa, Korea, the Philippines, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Central America, Burma, Romania, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, and among Okinawans in the United States. His autobiographical reflections can be found in Robert Garfias, “Introduction: Reflections on the Formation of an Ethnomusicologist,” in Ethnomusicological Encounters with Music and Musicians, Timothy Rice, ed. (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 1-17.
The programs are listed in chronological order of original air date.
Music of Japan Nbr 10 - History of the Koto with Robert Garfias - KPFA Sep 1, 1955
The development and history of the instrument. Another in the series of talks about the music of Japan, by Bob Garfias. [KPFA folio vol 6, nbr 11, Aug 21 - Sep 3, 1955]
We have managed to acquire several recordings from an eleven part series about the music of Japan that Professor Garfias produced in 1955.
Recording courtesy Pacifica Radio Archives and c reinsch, c0653
NEW AUG 2017: Music of Japan Nbr 11 - Koto Demonstration with Robert Garfias - KPFA Sep 15, 1955
Another in the series of talks about the music of Japan, by Bob Garfias. [KPFA Folio vol 6, nbr 12, Sep 4 to 17, 1955]
Recording courtesy Pacifica Radio Archives and c reinsch, c0654
Dated Jan 14, 1963, only 4 weeks after KRAB went on the air, this may be the earliest of Robert Garfias' Ethnic Music programs. In it he plays examples and discusses Indian drums and drumming technique. We now have parts 2, 3 and 4.
There are close to 200 Ethnic Music programs by Robert Garfias in the Jack Straw collection.
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv M0980; M0993; M0977
Professor Robert Garfias talks about and shares examples of Bulgarian and Macedonian brass ensembles.
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv M0961
Professor Robert Garfias talks about and shares examples of music of the Balkans, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia.
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv M0948
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv M0978-1 and M0978-2
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv M0691 and M0692
Ethnic Music with Robert Garfias - Music of Peru - KRAB Oct 8, 1963
Recording collection of Reinsch, CR0075, rescued from auction
Three examples of Indian drumming.
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv M0679
Recordings courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv M0586 and M0587
Ethnic Music with Robert Garfias - Concert of South Indian and Japanese Classical Music - Rec Jul 7, 1964; KRAB Nov 11, 1964 and numerous times thereafter
This is tape 1 of 3. The program from the concert is on the right.
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv M0068
Robert has been reading from "The San Francisco Earthquake" by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts. Although titled "Japanese Music", this short clip is mostly Weather Report's "Orange Lady", followed by "Two Studies in the Ancient Greek and Harmonic Scales" by Harry Partch.
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv M0968.2
Between 1963 and 1982 Robert Garfias produced several hundred programs in the Ethnic Music series. In these he played examples and discussed the music of, mostly, non-western cultures.
Elsewhere in the KRAB Archive is an interview of Professor Garfias in which he discusses a trip to Rhodesia researching mbira music.
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv M0944.1 and M0944.2
Professor Robert Garfias speaks with a visiting friend, U Han-Men about Burmese Buddhism and music.
Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv M0314
NEW AUG 2017: Ethnic Music with Robert Garfias - Classic Improvisations - KRAB Jul 18, 1979
Professor Robert Garfias plays and discusses a variety of improvised musical selections. A recording made off the air by a friend.
Recording courtesy of Robert Garfias, garf0001
If you possess any souvenirs (program guides, tapes, or photos) or have a story about your experience with KRAB you are willing to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org