Title: Larry Crook
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This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

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N:We are here today, March 15, 1996, at the beautiful home of Dr.

Larry Crook from the department of music at the University

of Florida. We are sitting on his porch overlooking the

beautiful grounds around his home. The purpose of which is

an oral history interview where we will discuss some of Dr.

Crook's early training, early interests, early life, his

educational training and the majority of which will center

on his contributions and activities at the University of

Florida, Gainesville, and Florida.

N:Where were you born?

C:I was born in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, which is in the

Panhandle just above Panama City.

N:So you are a Floridian. I thought you were a native Texan,

born and bred totally.

C:Native Floridian. I was born there because my parents were

travelling around the southeastern United States. My father

worked for the oil business, for the Humble Oil Company. He

ran the seismograph machines that detonate explosions in the

swamps and things looking for oil. He read the machines to

kind of predict where deposits of oil might be. So they

were travelling all around the southeastern United States

and they happened to be in Florida for about six months when

I was born.

N:I see. Very interesting. Now there is another thing Dr. Crook

and I have in common besides the fact that we both played

some rock and roll in our pasts and have a lot of common

interests musically. My father worked for an oil company

too. He worked for Mobil Oil Company his entire career. So

your father worked for Esso, Humble.

C:Yes, Humble and then that consolidated into Esso and then Exxon

after some kind of legal problem with the use of the name

Esso all over the world and so they had a competition in the

mid-1960's to come up with a new name for the whole company

that could be used worldwide. They came up with Exxon.

N:Did your father work for Exxon or Humble or Standard Oil of New

Jersey was previous name, too? Did your father work for the

company his entire career?


N:So another career oil company man. We always had to buy Mobil

gas. I think my father still does. I look for the cheap

gas, myself. What year were you born?

C:I was born in 1953.

N:What were your parents' names?

C:My father's name is Troy Norman Crook and my mother's maiden

name was Ruby May Keel.

N:Did you have brothers and sisters?

C:One brother, an older brother. He is about three and one half

years older than me. His name is David Preston Crook.

N:What does your brother do for a profession?

C:He is in landscaping and exotic plants. He deals in exotic

palms in Houston, Texas.

N:Has he provided any of the landscaping that you have around the


C:He has come through a couple of times and helped us out. He

brings us different plants occasionally. He comes to

Florida to buy the plants sometimes and he will pick us out

stuff and drop it off.

N:A landscape artist and a musical artist. Where and when did

you attend elementary school?

C:In Houston, Texas. After I was born here when I was maybe six

months old, we moved to Houston, actually the city of Bel

Air, which is inside of Houston. It is a little

incorporated city. I went to elementary school at Brammar

Elementary in first grade. I went to a private kindergarten

and then went in first grade to Brammar Elementary which was

in the late 1950s, 1959 or so.

N:And then you went to a middle school after that or directly to

a high school?

C:Actually I went through the fourth grade there and then I went

to a private school named Second Baptist in Houston for two

years. Then I went to a public middle school, Bondrin

Junior High, that was the eighth and ninth grades. Then I

went to high school at Bel Air High School for tenth,

eleventh, and twelfth.

N:After Bel Air High School, and I know this from reading your

vita, you started at UT Austin, correct?

C:Yes, I went straight to the University of Texas at Austin as a

freshman and got in the music department there. I guess it

took me about four and one half or five years to get my

undergraduate degree in the music department as a percussion


N:So you finished your undergraduate in 1976 or so?

C:1975, I guess I did it in four years.

N:I want to back up just a second and then I want to get back to

college. Growing up as child was very interesting, you were

in Florida for six months and then you did move to Texas.

What were some of your hobbies as a child?

C:Sports. I played baseball a lot. Some football and

basketball, but mainly baseball. Also music. I started

when I was seven years old playing violin and hated it. My

father played violin and that is how I started. Also there

was a string program at the elementary school so I got into

that and did not like it very much. I practiced but I just

did not enjoy it that much. Very early on I wanted to play

drums, but it took my parents a while to be convinced that

it was something I should be allowed to do. Finally they

relented after three years. I got a practice pad first,

just a little rubberized drum that does not make any noise

but you can practice the rudiments and techniques. I had to

practice on that for nine months or a year before I actually

got drum, and then I got a drum set. I was taking lessons

from a jazz drummer in Houston.

N:Do you think that the difficulty you had convincing your

parents to allow you to have drums, to follow this desire

you had, did the difficulty wind up focusing you more or

making you want it all the more because they did not just

turn you a drum set right over and you had to wait?

C:It might have, I mean I do not know. At that point I wanted

one and I have not really thought in retrospect whether that

increased my desire, a forbidden fruit kind of thing. I had

several friends in the neighborhood playing and starting

their own rock bands and things like that. I wanted to do

that and once I got a drum set, I immediately started a band

with friends: a couple of guitarists and a bass player and

myself. I moved straight into it that way and started

playing in the band at school as well. Those things went

hand in hand. I learned to play by ear and by reading at

the same time.

N:Well, there again is more that we have in common and we are

from about the same point of time, in the 1950s. I started

a little earlier in life, but not too much, than you did.

My parents decided when I was eight that I wanted to play

the accordion. An accordion was provided and I started in.

I actually liked it a lot, but what I really wanted, once

the Beatles came out, was a guitar. My dad would not let me

have a guitar. It took me probably two or three years to

finally get hold of a guitar. That is another whole story

and since we are not interviewing me I have to remember to

keep my comments short. I wanted to ask you, what was it

you did not like about violin and the string program in


C:I did not particularly not like the program, it was just that

the music was not something that aesthetically connected

very well. I mean, I never really heard that much music in

it. So the instrument, at least the way it was approached

in terms of the way it was taught, like a lot of time spent

on just learning to bow and things like that and getting

terrible sounds out of it and you cannot immediately get

some kind of rapport. Maybe it should have been taught in

maybe a different way, it could have been more interesting.

My father played violin but he was not really actively

playing so I did not have a model in the home that I could

say "Oh, that is what it is going to sound like". So it

just never was in the category in my own brain of

interesting music. I was hearing popular music, all

different types of music, that I liked that had drums in it

and seeing groups live as well, and that made more of an

immediate impact.

N:I understand, and particularly when the Beatles and all the

English groups and there were some good American groups, and

I too, I have to say, was playing guitar for a number of

weeks or perhaps months and then I started my first band,

too. Is the drum set that is upstairs, I think it is an old

Woodwig set, is that one of your first drum sets?

C:Yes, 1965 set, I think.

N:That is something that you will always hang on to probably?

C:Yes, hopefully. Unless it the house burns down. I do not plan

on selling it.

N:Right, that is just too valuable in lots of ways. We were

talking about college and as an undergraduate you were a

percussion major, correct?


N:As a percussion major, what was the repertoire that you played?

C:It was primarily on the one hand learning to play in the

orchestra and learning to play tympani and a few auxiliary

percussion instruments mainly nineteenth century, late

eighteenth century repertory standard literature. On the

other hand, playing in wind ensemble and percussion ensemble

which programmed more contemporary music, twentieth century.

I really enjoyed playing the twentieth century stuff a lot

more. It was much more interesting for the percussion. So

playing percussion ensemble where you would have some kind

of multiple percussion set up and then mallets, the

xylophone and maybe tympani in there and all different types

of things in different arrangements, more chamber music. I

also played contemporary new music ensembles with all

different kinds of instruments just depending on what was

being programmed at that point. All basically things that

have been written since about 1940. That was the school gig

and then on the side I was always playing in jazz groups and

rock groups and Latin groups.

N:The real stuff.


N:This is a topic that will come up again, I believe, in this

interview with Dr. Crook is the world of art music and pop

music. A definition that I got myself from Dr. Crook, a

very simple working definition, art music being music that

has enjoyed traditionally the patronage of either the ruling

classes or the wealthy industrial classes. Pop music being

music that is distributed via various media and for mass

consumption. To me there is only two kinds of music, good

and bad. Music that is played well and music that is not,

music that moves me and music that does not. I will be

asking you probably again referring to pop or art, these

kinds of things. It sounds as if your experience has

encompassed both.

C:Yes, because I was always interested in playing things that

were outside of the school that were not sanctioned by the

university or the institutionalized music. Both from the

standpoint of needing to earn money, because my parents

would have paid for my entire education if I did not earn

any money. It was important to me to pay part of it, and I

always liked performing as well so I was always in groups

and playing gigs at night and earning a lot of my spending

money and some of my rent money through that way. So I was

always playing in those groups and I always saw that that

was something that once I got out of school would probably

be as much, if not more, useful than a lot of the things I

was learning in school in terms of making music a


N:I have had similar experiences. In fact at one point in

college I had $1,000 saved up from money that I made from

gigs and once I got out of college it was many, many years

until I ever had $1,000 of disposable money to my name. It

was also great fun to get out and play jazz, R & B and


C:To be creative, I was writing pieces for groups that I was

playing in, doing arrangements, that kind of activity. When

I was going to the University of Texas they started a

program where you could take alternative theory, they called

it Jazz Theory. I was just a basic theory track in all the

fundamentals that you learned in regular theory class,

although it was more geared towards jazz repertoire. So I

was applying that pretty much to what I was doing on the

side as well, writing tunes, listening to tunes,

transcribing them, essentially figuring them out, changing

the instrumentation or whatever.

N:Very interesting. Again, a lot of commonality here. I taught

myself that kind of theory because I was not in music school

at the time. My parents again, like the accordion, decided

that engineering would be a good pursuit for me so I began

an undergraduate degree in engineering. What I did there

was really learn to master the guitar during that time. So

my next question is, about what time did you decide to

pursue music as a profession, that you thought it would work

as a livelihood for you?

C:Already in high school I had played some gigs and earned money

from that and I was convinced that I wanted to do that as a

career. Probably in high school is when I decided that.

When I went to college I continued that and music became

more of a money making activity that I did. All during my

undergraduate career I saw that as something that I wanted

to do. I also started teaching younger students to play. I

actually first started teaching when I was in high school,

teaching just a few students. In my second year of college

I started having six or seven students, by the time I was a

senior I had twelve students. I could earn money that way

as well and that is how I wanted to earn my money. Once I

got out of my undergraduate degree, I was fed up with school

and was earning money that way as well as doing carpentry.

I started making instruments, devising my own designs for

certain kinds of percussion instruments, and making and

selling them. Then I started with a friend of mine whose

shop I was using, essentially, who was a carpenter getting

pick-up gigs doing basic construction. It was a kind of

specialized construction, actually, doing commercial add-ons

to buildings, finishing carpentry and some houses that he

was renovating.

N:It is very interesting to see how you have incorporated these

seemingly disparate threads and you have incorporated that

all into your livelihood now with what you do at the

University. You are building instruments, you are teaching

percussion, and you are playing and leading ensembles. We

will get into that more as we go and the way you have

combined so many of these things.

C:I try to mold my job to what I want to do. That is what most

people try to do.

N:In other words, you can get paid for what you would be doing

anyway. You are getting paid to do what you love. That is

a worthy pursuit. That is the method of my madness too. It

seems like a couple of years passed once you had your

bachelor's in music percussion from UT, and then a few years

later, you began the master's of music program in

ethnomusicology at the University of Texas. Tell me how you

came to make that decision to go into ethnomusicology.

C:Maybe halfway through my undergraduate degree I started taking

courses from the ethnomusicologist at the University of

Texas who was a Brazilian scholar and piano player named

Gerard Behague. He got me real interested primarily in

Latin and Brazilian music. I had already played with bossa

nova trios and things like that with Latin musicians

actually in Houston and in Austin. So I already had that

exposure and had already listened to a lot of recordings,

but that kind of got me to see the possibilities of doing

academic ethnomusicology within school. That kind of got me

into that and I basically decided I wanted to go back and

get a master's with ethnomusicology because it would give me

some freedom to do some studies in music that I thought had

always been lacking in my training, at least from a school

standpoint. So that is how I got back into that. I did a

number of different things. I took Indian music. We had an

Indian music specialist so I took tabla. We had a Middle

Eastern specialist so I took dumbak and tuang Middle Eastern

drums. I used to play in belly dance troops and all kinds

of things like that. I started also hanging out with

earlier music people playing in Renaissance and Medieval

bands. I was doing all kinds of nontraditional percussion

professional work at that point. I was playing in the

Austin Symphony as well, so I was just doing a range of


N:Really. You had all the bases covered. You could play in jazz

bands, rock bands, rhythm and blues, or Latin.

C:Yes, for a while I was working six nights a week at the big

hotel, a kind of resort hotel, [with] just a cover band,

which was a good paying gig. I went on the road with that

as well. I did that for about a year and got pretty much

fed up with that because I just hated to have to play the

same thing night after night, for drunks essentially.

N:And the days get long. You play from nine to one or whatever

it is, but then its all day hanging out by the swimming pool

if there is one and living out of suitcases.

C:What we always did was link up with a local health club and get

temporary memberships so we could go workout and do saunas

and that kind of stuff during the day. We would always


N:So what is basically a pretty unhealthy lifestyle, at least

from my experience being on the road with similar type

groups, you made it as healthy as possible, working out and

getting exercise.

C:Yes, I guess so.

N:And rehearsing. By the time you are in the masters program in

ethnomusicology, had you really in your mind focused on

becoming a professor and wanting to further your background

in ethnomusicology so you would have the credentials?

C:I was not really sure at that point whether I wanted to go into

academic life or just utilize that and still be a performer.

I went back with the idea that I could go in either

direction. In fact, I went through and got my master's and

again got kind of fed up with being in school. I guess I

got my master's in 1979, or something like that. I took off

for about four years, during which time I worked

professionally again. At that point is when Sylvia and I

met and we got married. It was after that that I really

decided that I wanted to be a professor, be in academics,

and make a career out of that.

N:A little more conducive to a family kind of life also, correct?

C:Right. I decided that I wanted to have a family and that it

would be a little bit better that waiting for the phone to

ring, or playing gigs six or seven nights a week.

N:Two or three in the morning dragging home. I can well relate

to that. So at that point you thought yes, maybe the

academic path would be [best for you].

C:Yes. I still thought that I could combine performance and do

scholarly work. I was always interested in doing both

anyway. I always enjoyed either doing library work or

working with musicians, interviewing them, and doing that

kind of stuff. That seemed like a viable way to combine

those activities.

N:In my experience, I was groomed all throughout my childhood to

be a good student. The premium in my family was if you

could get good grades and be a good student. So I have

those skills because I wanted those pats on the back, and

besides, I liked it. I combined the scholarly and the

academic with the performing. I think that one really does

not form the other. Do you feel that way?

C:Sure, I think it is kind of an artificial separation of

creative work versus academic work. If you think about that

as just writing about what your studying, then yes, that is

fine. Performance really informs different kinds of

knowledge as well. If you are in a field that is about

performing arts, then I think you really need to spend time

doing that. I think that is a very valid activity in a


N:Then you actually know how to do what you are teaching. You

are teaching what you know.

C:You cannot know how to do everything that you are teaching, but

you know how to do some of it.

N:So you decided to stay in ethnomusicology, staying at the

University of Texas at Austin.

C:Yes, because I was interested in Latin America, Brazil in

particular. I did my master's thesis on the Cuban rumba.

I never went to Cuba because it was really hard to get any

funding to go there and it was not very much of a

possibility at that point. The other area I was really

interested in was Brazil, so I decided to then focus on

Brazil. I was working with a Brazilian ethnomusicologist

anyway. The guy that I was studying with was the top dog in

the field, so I just decided to stay there. I got financial

support from the university as well, so that was good. That

is why I stayed in Austin, plus I really loved living there.

It was a comfortable place to live. My wife was from

there, and she liked it. She was doing historical

renovations of homes, so we moved into a place that she had

restored. It was a good situation.

N:I know there are a lot of good guitar pickers in Austin. Also,

in my own experience I am becoming very interested in the

Latin American Music Review of which Dr. Bayog is the

editor. We will get back to the Latin American Music Review

because I noticed in your vita you published extensively in

that journal. Did you continue span the worlds of art

music? Did you play some symphonies as well as the Latin?

C:By the time I was doing my Ph.D work, I stopped playing the

symphony and played just a few gigs with classical music. I

was still playing in an early music group--historically

European things. The group that I played in specialized in

early Spanish music from the twelfth through about the

sixteenth century. I was primarily performing with several

Brazilian bands. I had a group that played Andean music. I

was in a lot of different groups like that. Then I started

leading an Brazilian ensemble at the University of Texas. I

had my own group as a graduate student.

N:Was the Brazilian ensemble that you lead at the University of

Texas fairly similar to what your doing? I know from

experience, having played in the Brazilian ensemble last

semester, was it pretty similar?

C:Except in reparatory. I was just getting it started at that

point. We mainly played a samba, a Rio style samba. We

always had accordion players there for some reason. It was

similar, maybe a little bit smaller--maybe fifteen to twenty


N:Was it an assistantship or did you get paid? Was it just


C:Yes, I had an assistantship to do that. Then I had a

fellowship to help edit the Latin American Music Review for

a couple of years. It was like a university fellowship,

graduate fellowship to do that.

N:Working under Bayog's supervision there?

C:Yes, editing things. I was also in charge of the reviews.

N:Record reviews? Concert reviews?

C:Record reviews and book reviews.

N:Do you recall any of the Spanish composers from the early music

group you played in?

C:A lot of the Cantigas de Santa Maria--who knows who really

composed them. A lot of the stuff we did was anonymous.

Really none of the other composers really stand out in my

mind because a lot of the stuff was anonymous.

N:What percussion instruments did you play in the early music


C:I played dumbak, skin-headed drum, but mainly Middle Eastern

Arabic percussion instruments like the tambourine, little

side tabors, double-headed snare, triangle, and the


N:The Arabic influence in Spanish music is interesting, that

being a good 30 to 40 percent, and maybe more, 50 percent,

particularly southern Spain. The Arabic invasion of 711 and

the Arabic presence in Spain merged the African, the

Oriental, and the Western European into Spanish culture.

C:I had studied Arabic drumming before, with a guy from Sudan and

some North African things and just applied that to a lot of

the pieces that we did. You have at best just these little

charts of what the melody is. Most of the rhythmic aspects

are even ambiguous. They are usually mis-metered in terms

of the way that they have been presented. So I would just

kind of creatively listen to them and figure out what I

thought metrically should be happening. That is how we

approached our arrangement. We had about a five or six

piece group with specialists in winds that had played

recorders and reeds, shawms, and also the corneto. He also

played sackbuts and a number of different things. He was an

excellent musician. Another couple of string players

played gambas, viols, gittern, and mandolin instruments. It

was a lot of fun. It was a real fun group to play with. We

actually got a lot of work. We played these Renaissance

festivals, and I would always play those with the group. In

fact at some point, I was playing in two different early

music groups at Renaissance festivals, and playing for belly

dancers. They always had belly dancers. I was able to pull

in $1,000 on a weekend. It was a pretty good money maker

for this profession, playing early music.

N:As a musician, do not go into music because you would not be

able to make a good living. You get a $1,000 a week. Plus

there are worse jobs than accompanying belly dancers, I am


C:Yes. It is a lot of work, but there are lots of tips.

N:Michelle Tabor (Tabor sounds almost like the Middle Eastern

name for a drum), who publishes in the Latin American Music

Review, wrote an intensive article on Henasteras music. It

was about twenty pages. I copied half of it, but then I ran

out of money on my copy card. I have to go back and get the

other half. She (Tabor) has worked closely with

At a recent conference where I gave a paper on Vihuelan

music (actually it was on the guitar and Spanish nationalism

which included the vihuela), Michelle came up afterwards and

corrected me on my pronunciation. She said, H's are silent

in Spanish. It is not vihuela; it is vihuela. I said, oh,

thank you, I stand corrected. Michelle feels as well as

other people in the early music field that Renaissance

music, early music, is just early jazz because there is so

much improvisation. I can relate to that very much.

C:A lot of it is. Some of it is not, but yes, a lot of it is.

N:Of course that improvisation, spontaneous music

created now, and vocabulary is something that I think

continued into the baroque [period]. Mozart was a

superb improviser, but by the time we got to the

nineteenth century in western art music, that

capability to improvise got lost in a lot of

musicians. To me that is a real shame because it is

something I love. Do me a favor if you would, I am

very curious the Cuban rumba that you studied--could

you just tap that on the table? Could you just tap

that out?

C:Some of the patterns?

N:Yes. Just like a typical rumba pattern?

C:Well, it is a matter of three or four parts that interlock

together. There are two low drums [sounding out the

pattern] the tonga and the They go [sounding

out], where the low note is the lowest drum and the higher

note is the other drum. So those are the kind of the sounds

you will hear maybe [sounding out]. Then on top of that

there is a smaller pitched quinto drum that improvises

around, but then kind of higher pitched than that are a

couple of different instruments. One is the claves, two

hard wood sticks that are going [sound out]. These two

other sticks are usually played against the side of a drum

or sometimes they put it a bamboo piece up on a stand and

hit it with the two sticks [sound out]. So all of those of

four parts are interlocking together. They are just

repetitive, and they stay fairly set with slight variation.

Then the quinto drum improvises on top of that. So that is

how the rumba works. There are a bunch of different types

of rumbas, but that is a main pattern for it.

N:I see. Another topic I think we will get to when I ask you

some questions about some of your more recent activities is

that you are a specialist on the African influence on

Caribbean and Brazilian music correct?


N:So in this African rumba, we have a strong African presence,


C:Right. It pretty much flows from Central African Bantu music

as it kind of got changed around in Cuba. It directly

relates to a whole series of Bantu dances and music forms,

but it really kind of congealed in Cuba. You cannot go to

Africa and find a rumba. You may find it does not relate to

it, but they have gone through their own processes of

change. Everything in Africa is constantly changing as

well. In Cuba, the early transatlantic slave trade involved

groups primarily from Central Africa coming over as early as

1517, which were some of the earliest ones. Maybe by 1530.

N:It did not take them a long time.

C:Yes. The slave quarters, especially on Sunday afternoons,

were allowed to have kind of parties. They would get

together and have these parties in which various dances were

done. The rumba came out of that situation.

N:I had an experience myself in the mid 1980s. I had a roommate,

at one point, who was an African American from Cincinnati

and had taught percussion for a long time. His wife taught

African dance, and he taught African percussion. He showed

me a rumba pattern. We would sometimes get together with

lots of drummers, claves players, and bell players and play

this rumba. [We would] just lock into it, and it would go

on and on. Jubal would usually do the improvise part. He

would get us beginners playing the locked in part sort of a

[drum sounds].

C:[Drum sounds] is the low drum, and that [drum sounds], while

the other one is going [drum sounds]. So you go [drum

sounds]. That is how those two things work together.

N:I see, I see. Very, very interesting. Okay, so now we have

covered some of the activities and influences during your

master's and Ph.D work in ethnomusicology at the University

of Texas at Austin. Now having completed the Ph.D, what was

the job search like? Going from graduate student to your

first professorship, what was that process like for you?

How long did it take, and what did you have to do?

C:For my Ph.D, I did two years of field work in Brazil. When I

came back, I was writing my dissertation and this job

announcement came up. So I applied for it and was one of

the finalists. I came here and interviewed, gave a talk,

and said what I do and things. I was chosen, so it was

really through the efforts of Latin American Studies and

African Studies the job that I applied for was created.

They really wanted someone who could combine African and

Latin American things. Both of those institutes or those

centers, I think, jockeyed a little bit whether you would be

an Africanist or a Latin Americanist. Those are kind of

hard to come by--somebody who can really do both. I had not

done anything on continental Africa, although I have taken

plenty of courses, but had not done any field work there. I

guess I got the job because I could combine African and

Latin American things together. I really came here because

of those centers. I was not that impressed with the music

department, quite frankly. It was not very progressive at

all. It seemed like they allowed my position to get created

because they got a freebie essentially. I remember going in

and having an interview with the chair of the music

department, [Joel F. Stegall], and John Grigsby, who was the

assistant chair at that point. [I remember] them telling

me, "First of all, before we even get started let me tell

you what we do not want." He told me that he did not want

someone who would come and think that they could teach

anthropology or something. So I told them that half of my

course work had been in anthropology, and if you want an

ethnomusicologist, then that is what you are getting.

Essentially, that is what I told them. I was pretty sure

that I would not want to be here after that. I told that to

other members of the search committee who were in Latin

American Ethnic Studies, and they were real pissed off that

that would have been mentioned. What I understand is after

that meeting, they basically went to the people in music and

said that if that is the way that it is going to be handled,

they were going to pull their support, and we just would not

get an ethnomusicologist. I think that at that point that

it was Stegall, [who was chair]. I am not sure exactly what

happened, but they [said], "Oh no, that is not what we

really meant." He was going through a lot of problems at

that point. I think he had just received a vote of no

confidence, and was denied tenure. All kinds of things

were embroiled in this whole thing. Anyway, African Studies

and Latin American Studies kind of smoothed things over.

Maybe David Kushner [David Z. Kushner, Professor of Music]

also helped smooth things over. I think he might have been

pissed off at that situation too. At any rate, they offered

me the job. I decided, after consulting with and

other people, that it would be good to go ahead and take

the job. I was really drawn to the strong center activity

here--first with Latin American Studies, but then with

African Studies right away because they were very

progressive in wooing me. They gave me plenty of support.

The first year I was here they paid for me to go to Africa

and do some research. I have always had a very good

relationship them, so I have always do a lot of work through

the centers. [[end of this side]].

I went to Nigeria for six weeks, and we were just starting a

linkage program through African Studies through

International Studies with a university, awololo of Ife

University at Nigeria. So I told the director at

that time, Peter Schmidt [Peter R. Schmidt, Associate

Professor of Anthropology and Director of African Studies],

that I really wanted to go to Nigeria because that was

always key in a lot of the work I had done in diaspora

studies on Cuba and Brazil. Nigeria is a big link with the

Umba, the Ewe [[please identify these terms]], and other

groups. That kind of just fell right into place there. I

started getting more into African continental studies.

N:You mentioned the importance of the Central African influence

in Caribbean music. If I know my geography at all, I am

placing Nigeria at about midway through the continent, just

under the big head of the continent on the Atlantic coast?


N:That is the location of it?

C:Yes. Central Africa and West Africa were the big areas for the

transatlantic slave trade to the new world. Early on, it

was mainly from Central Africa and later mainly from the

slave coast--Nigeria, Ghana, and even over into Senegal and

Sierra Leone. The Yoruba from Nigeria, extending over into

Togo and Benin, were brought fairly late so there was a big

infusion from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth

centuries of the Yoruba. It was really the last wave of

African influence. They became very influential in the

formation of some religious traditions that are still going

on, for instance, in Brazil and Cuba.

N:I am taking a class of Dr. Arthur White's [Arthur O. White,

Professor of Education] who teaches the History of Education

in the foundations department. He did a lecture on

education in the American South, and of course, a whole lot

of it involved the years of slavery as background. One

thing he told us, which I did not know, was that the

Caribbean was used sort of as a weigh station. Slaves were

brought over there before they were distributed either to

the South or to South America.

C:So they already had that kind of connection with the Caribbean

and all the different types of traditions that were going on

there, exactly.

N:So if I understand you, this is one of the first places you

applied for?

C:I applied for three jobs--I think University of North Carolina,

Wesleyan [[College or University]], and here. This is the

only one that I made the final cut on. There were a bunch

of other jobs; I just did not apply for them because I just

did not want to go to

N:Yes, right. Or downtown L.A. How instrumental, no pun

intended, was Dr. Kushner in seeing that this department

needed to address the music other than what is in art music,

or that we needed an ethnomusicologist here to do that? Did

he see that and promote that?

C:I am not really sure, to be quite honest with you. I do not

think that was one of his interests per se, but I think that

as a musicologist he saw the real need. If not need, I

think he saw it as something that could really add to what

he was doing. So I think he was always pro getting the

position created. I do not know what else to say, other

than that. He definitely never threw roadblocks up in the

way, which I think some historical musicologists might be

inclined to do for some bizarre reason. They feel like we

cannot have that here, or will that interfere of my turf. I

felt he was always very supportive of it, so from that stand

point he was really a good senior colleague to have. As the

only musicologist here, it could have been terrible if he

had been someone who was just putting road blocks in the

way. He was pretty open-minded and so forth.

N:I think that it is a fine line between the word myopic and the

word focused. I was discussing that with the Dean of the

Conservatory of Cincinnati who was recently here. We were

talking about some of the AMS and some of the musicologists.

He said, "Oh, they are just so very, very focused." There

is a lot of music in the world besides western art music.

Actually referring to your vita, I want to talk about your

family a little bit, but before we do that, teaching and

research specialties. We see here ethnomusicology. I have

had an intro to ethnomusicology with you on the graduate

level, which I really enjoyed. You have here music of

Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean; transnational popular

music; music of social movements; and music of social

identity, Brazilian, and African percussion. Now to use

this strange terminology, art versus popular music, when you

say music of Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean, does this

fall into folk, popular, art music, or all of the above?

Perhaps some of the above?

C:Pretty much all of the above. There are plenty of art music

traditions, depending on how you want to define that term,

in Africa and Latin America. The European Western classical

traditions are all over Latin America. In Africa, there are

all kinds of art music traditions that have little to do

with Western Europe--things that are patronized or that were

patronized traditions. There are very specialized classic

musicians that perform that music, and I am interested in

that. I am also interested in things that developed in

conjunction with mass media. That is where they define

popular traditions. All kinds of music spread via mediated

forms, but forms that really evolved in conjunction with

media. I think that is where popular music comes in to


N:The tape recording itself, you might say, or now the digital

recording is as much a part of the art as the actual notes


C:Yes. It is the same way with technology, and the past

instrumental music is part of what is going on. It is not

just some kind of abstract idea of what the notes are, and

that that is the music. I think the physical relationship

to technology is instruments and instructions. The

development of the piano had a great effect on what

Beethoven could write for and [also on] later pianists.

N:Let us just turn to your family for a minute here. So you are

married and your wife's name is?


N:You have two children.

C:Vanessa, who is nine and a half and Alexander, who is six,

almost seven. He will be seven in a couple of weeks.

N:I remember your children from three or four years ago when we

used to jam with Reebee and some of the parties over at his

girlfriend's house

C:Yes, Debbie.

N:Then I saw your kids again last semester when I was over at

your house. I said, "Wow, they have changed." Kids change

so fast. They have really gotten huge.

C:Yes. My son is active in sports, soccer, and he also likes to

drum. He drums with me some. He also dances some. My

daughter is into dance and she takes voice lessons. She

takes voice lessons from Linda DiFiore. She really enjoys

that, and she dances a lot. She also plays soccer and


N:Sports and music.

C:Performing arts.

N:Yes. I also have a big history with baseball myself, so there

is another commonality we share. To me getting ready for a

baseball game was a lot like now getting ready for a gig,

getting myself focused and relaxed, a good meal, and just

focusing on the task on hand. Hopefully I was going to hit

the ball. It was a lot like going out and gigging now. You

were just recently (it has been maybe nine months or so)

awarded tenure, correct? Your vita is very fulsome and

pretty much a record of the activities that lead to your

tenuring once you arrived here.


N:I would like to ask you some questions from your vita. Under

courses taught, introduction to world music [is listed].

What exactly is that and how would that differ from

introduction to music literature, the famous MUL 2010, in

the music department?

C:In introduction to world music, I try to focus on a range of

sociomusical types. [These types of music include all types

of communities:] small scale, not egalitarian, those that

have no class stratification, and peasant communities. The

different kinds of music that are more industrialized,

popular music, and art music traditions that exist in

different areas [are also explored]. So I try to teach a

geographical spread as well as sociomusical types of

differences. I have a section on Europe which is

distinguished from 2010 in terms of being the West versus

the rest or something. I focus much more on social issues

and try to position what art is in relationship to those

social issues, what some people call social function. I

deal plenty with sound structure and with aesthetic

properties and how those relate to specific locations and

have specific histories. I think probably in 2010 the basic

idea is to treat it as a music appreciation of mainly fine

art traditions from the West and to develop that kind of

aesthetic in students. I try to be a little bit broader in

pushing different aesthetics on students, and try to kind of

get them to connect that with their own musical biography.

So I have them go out and do concert reports on club scenes

in town, or a Gator football game if they want to and report

on that as a musical event. They can go out to hear a

recital. I get plenty of reports on recitals or the local

symphony. So I try to position all those things together.

I put them on an equal playing field. I think that is how

that course is distinguished from 2010.

N:I see.

C:Plus, it is not a Gordon Rule course. I have them write plenty

but they do not have to write with the idea that they are

getting Gordon Rule credit, which I think definitely has

some drawbacks.

N:That puts a lot of pressure on them too, six thousand words of

acceptable "pros". I myself, coming from a rock and jazz

background and now in this basically musicology track, see

the western art music as rounding out the picture for me. I

am glad not to be strictly limited to just the rock

tradition or just the jazz tradition. I think the western

art music tradition is very beautiful. There is a lot of

good music there. It is very interesting study to take it

from the Middle Ages up to the present. For me it rounds

out the picture. I do not say that it is better than Eric

Clapton, the Beatles, or John Coletrain. They are all


C:Yes, but just look at the way that the book that you use in

there is structured. It basically does say that is better.

Just look at the amount of time and space that is covered on

Western European art music traditions versus something else

that is marginalized at the very end. Within that, [look

at] how much is devoted to the standard repertoire. The

name of the course, Introduction to Music Literature. That

is kind of a problem to me, appropriating the term music and

then you focus on that. I think it really should be renamed

to something like Western Traditions, Western European

Traditions of Music, which I have absolutely no problem

with. I do not think you could be fully educated in music

and not know about a lot of that stuff. Not everyone has to

appreciate [it], just like everyone does not appreciate all

different types of music. That is not the point. If you

get really educated in music, I think you need to have a

more balanced approach. So if you look at what our

curriculum mandates for music majors, it is really heavily

loaded on valuing that tradition over other things. What we

really need is a more open, broader based education that

allows students to get more information and then choose

their own specialties, so that they definitely have that

track as one of the options to excel in. They have a number

of other possibilities as well.

N:That would be one way to cover the bases. In the first two

years you give them a good survey of all these music, all

these different music traditions, musical languages, and

then you give them the opportunity to select what they are

really going to specialize in detail. Correct?

C:Yes. It is not that you have to provide everything. I do not

think we can have a specialist in Peking opera. If a

student decides, oh, I want to do Peking opera because I

have Chinese in my background. That is not the point.

There is no way financially that you can do that, but you

have to have some way to expose and instill some different

kinds of aesthetics in students, and then provide certain

selected ways if you are here. These are the traditions

that we have specialties in. Even within western art music,

we do not have an opera program. We cannot have all this

stuff. We have to prioritize and decide what we are going

to be unique about. From that stand point, especially at

the undergraduate level, history courses and theory courses

are classes that every student has to take. It should be

rethought in terms of what we are actually teaching

students. We do not teach them enough about technology.

There is a real reaction against that, which is a concern.

N:You get your degree in hand. How are you going to pay the

rent? There is a lot of public music education, but as far

as making a living as a musician, I have a lot of that

knowledge by direct experience myself. Are we preparing

people to do anything with or to make money with this


C:The false assumption in the fine arts is that what we are

really involved in paying homage to music, this god of

music, this goddess,and to me that is just completely false.

There is not this entity out there that everyone has to live

up to. That is something that human beings relate, working

together. I think we have to deal with each other. Music

is a way to have communion with people. To falsely think

that you have to reify it in that way just all turns into a

commodity and a product. That to me is the falsehood of

humanities to begin with. You have this idea that there is

this universal aesthetic beyond us. I get real turned off

with that approach to music as opposed to a more

processioral kind of thing. It is a way that people can

deal with life. Art is something that artists and audiences

in concert imagine what could be possible in society. It

leads at the forefront of a social movement a lot of times.

That is why more of my interests are in music and politics,

music and social movements, and the way that it links up

with other social processes. It is at its best a way for

other people to construct and imagine ideal societies.

Playing music, listening to music, dancing with music, and

participating with music is creating a certain special

relationships and social relationships. I think it is a

warm, fuzzy feeling which people will attack as being

unscientific. I think there really is something to be said

that artistic things, especially performance based, can lead

to better society. Doing good music is doing good for

society. In a music department, to institute this idea that

we are trying to really just live up to some of the great

masters is pretty uninteresting to me. It is very easy to

argue that we have got to maintain standards, but what does

that mean? Standards according to whom? Values according

to whom? Certain people say well you have to because that

is our heritage. Think about it. Yes that is fine. Maybe

that is maybe your heritage. I did not grow up really until

I was in high school doing symphony music and things like

that, so that is not my heritage. My heritage is playing in

a lot of groups that were very strongly influenced by

African-based music. Why should that not be supported? Why

do we spend all our tax dollars on one as opposed to the


N:Yes. I am with you on that coming from that background myself.

I do not think there is a lot of resolution. One of the

current questions in the CMS is this idea of world music.

The CMS in general is open to that idea that we should teach

more than just western art music. We do not know exactly

what or how. I talked to Dr. Kushner about this a lot. Of

course, he has his background, his tradition in western art

music himself, and the generation he grew up in. He has his

feelings about it. One thing I do feel is that if you are

going to teach, I think you really need to have courses in

both. I think if you are going to teach western art music,

teach the evolution from the Middle Ages to the present the

way they do in this department and probably everywhere, I

guess. Teach that evolution and show the students the

evolution of western art music. There is a tradition.

There it is in a pretty complete form. Do not spend fifteen

weeks doing that and then one week compressing sub-Saharan,

Indian, and a little bit of Japanese koto in there. On the

other hand, have a course that gives adequate time to the

non-western traditions. It is kind of tough now as they are

shortening the degree. They want to shorten it to a 120

hour degree to get these kids in and out of this place. You

do not have too many credit hours to work with, so what do

you allocate to what? There seems to be a big problem

there. What is your take on all that?

C:I think you have to prioritize and cut out things. To me what

you cut out in terms of music history is a lot of the early

music history. Yes, it is interesting stuff knowing the

Gregorian chant was around and all this stuff. Let us face

it, that is not as relevant as a lot of other things. In

terms of the two undergraduate music history courses that

you have to take, on the first one we cover the time period

through the baroque to the height of Bach's music. Then we

cover after that to the present. Maybe you need to condense

a lot of that information and focus more. I have no problem

with focusing a lot on the classical and romantic, but also

give a lot of time to the twentieth century. Then approach

that from the standpoint of not just the high art

traditions. Twentieth century means popular music. When

historians deal with music from the twentieth century two

centuries from now, they are not going to be talking so much

about Schoenberg [composer] and the way that tonality broke

down so much. They are going to be talking about how all

over the globe, different types of popular music started

forming, and that got widespread audiences. That is the

history of the twentieth century, the history of popular

music. We have to deal with that in some way and not just

how certain kinds of jazz influence crept into Stravinsky.

We have to really deal with that as a fundamental issue.

Mainstream may be the way that we teach the history of

music. If we are really going to teach the history of

music, I think it needs to be broadened in a number of

different ways. What I would do is cut out a lot of the

early stuff, condense it, and summarize it. You could still

have two semesters of music history, but you would have to

do it in a more global way. I am not saying we have to

cover the whole globe, but our society is strangely multiple

in terms of different lineages. There are tons of different

music histories we have to come to some agreement of how we

incorporate those all from our perspective. You grew up

with certain sets of music. Other people grew up with other

kinds of things. That has to be incorporated much more

fundamentally into the required courses for music majors.

We need to instill some type of aesthetics into the

audiences which is what music appreciation is suppose to do.

N:Suppose to. Have you thought about any ideas for non-music

majors? Non-music as a Gordon Rule requirement are forced

to take or can choose to take MUL 2010. They get this

survey of 99 percent western art music and 1 percent

everything else in the history of humankind's music. Is

there a way for non-music undergraduates to get exposure to


C:Even though I do not have it as a Gordon Rule course, a lot of

students take my Introduction to World Musics. I think I

have about eighty students in there. If we put more

resources into graduate students being able to teach that

[course], then we would be able to fill up as many as 2010

courses or course in the history of rock and roll. It would

be very easy to have a thousand students in a course like

that. The department has not been very receptive to those

kinds of interests because that is old. Why should we put

resources in there when we do not have whatever? We do not

have a bassoonist now. Well, ask yourself, what kind of

music makes more impact on our society. For some people

that incorporates bassoon. There are ways around it, but as

a department you have to make some decisions. A lot of

people are really afraid to change things. They are much

more interested in cloning what they grew up with. They are

afraid fundamentally that they are letting this great

goddess of music down in someway because they are just so

influenced by the idea that they are conserving. [They

think we] are a conservatory. We are a repository of these

traditions and we have got to maintain that. They are just

appalled that something else could happen. They take

themselves so seriously from that standpoint. They think

that they are doing something like brain surgery. If you

change it, people are going to die. They are [very] afraid

to try something different. That is the same thing that

goes on in literature departments. It is a very

conservative approach to letters, and all this kind of

stuff. It is pretty much ingrained.

N:Things change slowly in the academy, correct? From the

exposure I have had basically through the CMS [[please

identify]] (some of the regional conferences and one

national) Florida seems conservative? Is that the right

word? Reactionary?

C:You mean the University of Florida?

N:The University of Florida--this music department.

C:In some ways, yes. There are plenty of other places around

that are just as conservative.

N:In my case, you take a guitar player, who knows the history of

rock and roll. That is the stuff that I eat, sleep, and

breathe--at least I did until through the 1970s. I still

follow it. I read all these magazines on guitar gear. I

have a big jazz background. I am also approaching this

western art tradition through Spanish music because of the

guitar tradition. That is why I applied for that one job

even though it is way premature in my path. They wanted

someone to teach pop music, different world music, and some

western art music because I would like to get that in there.

They wanted someone who could perform and could teach

improvisation. I said, wow! This sounds like this would be

fun. I never did hear from them, but it was worth going

for. We will see if there is a job. If not, I will go back

to what I did before I came to school here and have my own

guitar school anyway. I am getting very involved in the

Arts and Medicine Program too. In that case, it is very

interesting. In that case you are taking music into the

hospital and trying to brighten up peoples lives who may not

have a whole lot to feel great about. Maybe they have only

a few months to live. You are taking in music. Whether it

is a classical guitar piece, a folk tune, or a Beatles tune,

you are taking the music in and doing some good with it.

That feels really good to me. It is not the concert hall

and it is not selling records. It is somewhere in the

middle. Now turning back to some of your accomplishments,

what is Zabumba music? I cannot even say it. You will have

to pronounce it.


N:Zabumba from?

C:Caruaru, Brazil.

N:Yes. Could you tell a little bit about the geographical

location and the type of music that is?

C:I did my dissertation work on a type of fife and drum tradition

in Northeast Brazil on pseudo-peasant community musicians

that were in all different types of situations. It was

really prevalent in rural areas of Northeast Brazil. It

still is, but after World War II there was a lot of urban

migration into the cities. These musicians started moving

in. So I did work with a number of groups that were in a

small urban center in that has maybe 250,000

people in it and how they bring the traditions in, modify

them, and how it kind of relates to what is going on in

those urban areas. I also worked on how they maintain

relationships with their older communities in the rural

areas. So it is fife and drum, a couple flutes,

an ensemble of drums (three drums), and actually a pair of

hand cymbals. They play for religious ceremonies, Folk

Catholicism, as well as for secular social dancing.

N:So the music itself has kept the tradition alive and kept the

connection alive between the urban areas and the rural


C:Music and its use in certain neotraditional celebrations and

rituals [[please finish thought]]. Lots of the Caboclo or

Mestizos population do all different types of informal

Catholicism. It does not involve priests. It is not the

official Roman Catholicism. It is mixed with native

American Indian traditions, South American Indian

traditions, as well as African practices. There are a lot

of spiritual things mixed into it. They do all of the

different types of ceremonies. They do novenas, nine day

celebrations in which an individual gives a celebration for

the year's activities that went well to their patron saint,

or to a patron that is not recognized as a saint by the

Catholic church. They informally designate this person a

saint. Part of those celebrations involves the use of this

musical group. It is fundamental. They really need the

group to play a certain type of religious repertoire to

honor the saint. Women do a certain kind of singing and men

do praying. It just accompanies that as religious things.

Then they have a secular party afterwards which links up a

lot of other issues. Those kinds of celebrations (that is

one of several) carried from the rural areas to the urban

areas, and then sprawled in squatter settlements. They are

important for maintaining their sense of identity and their

connection to rural areas, as well as their emergence in

these new urban areas. They modify the tradition, vocalize

it, and put it on stage. It is not just the music. It is

the music as it is incorporated as a part of larger issues

and larger celebrations.

N:I can see that. I am just very curious. When you say

Catholicism, you do not mean Roman Catholicism. Can you

just give a simple definition of Catholicism as you are

using it?

C:Let us see. [I would define it as] an adherence to a system of

saints, or as an idea that there is a holy trinity that

rides over that. The saints are in an intermediary position

to gain access to the ultimate being. [They] focus in

different areas on Mother Mary, Cult of Mary.

N:Then the common people down below reach up through the saints

for this divine experience?


N:Dr. Crook, there are some questions I have for you about your

actual practice of your career which are very interesting to

me since I seriously consider going into an academic world

myself. Beforehand though, I noticed in some of your

articles, books, dissertation, that you are addressing this

phenomena of migration from the rural areas to the urban


C:Or across borders creating diasporas.

N:Diasporas. Can you define diaspora?

C:It is usually defined as a that a certain group of people cross

political boundaries, in some sense, and get established and

spread out all over the place. I think the term was first

applied to the Jews, the Jewish dispersal, and then hence

diaspora. It vaguely applied to people of African dissent

as well, dispersed via the transatlantic slave trade. The

African diaspora is a term that is used. It is the idea that

the people are connected in ways that transcend borders,

which can be a geographical location or political border.

N:You have mentioned to me in the past, having worked on my

thesis being on my committee, the Spanish diaspora.

Certainly you have the Latin American world.

C:Latin America. That is what that term really implies.

Although it is problematic in a lot of ways. Yes, why do

they call it Latin America as you put it? Latin languages

and culture spread out because of the colonization of

territory south of the United States, primarily the

southeast, which was done mainly by the Spanish and

Portuguese. Hence, that is Latin America.

N:What I love about the Latin American diaspora is at the core of

it all is the guitar. You find a very interesting rhythmic

sensibility as well as the guitar, perhaps due to the

proximity of Africa to Spain. In Spanish music itself,

there are very interesting rhythms that you do not find in

German music. How do you account for this?

C:They have had an African connection for a long time.

Geographically, it touches North Africa. So there has been

a long history of African influence there. Arabic culture

came across North Africa. There had already been slaving,

and there were already black populations in Spain before the

new world was discovered by Europeans. There was never a

big slave market in Europe as far as I know. There was

already a black influence in southern Spain. In fact,

certain groups had a hand in the conquest. So that had

already influenced Spanish music starting maybe the eighth

century, I think maybe earlier. There had already been

Egyptian influence much earlier than that. The

Mediterranean was always a world earlier. A lot of the

time, people discount the Africanist of Egypt. Whether you

want to believe a lot of the controversial Afro-centric

histories that were written--that Egypt was a black empire--

[or not does not matter]. It still creates the fact that it

was definitely African.

N:Interesting too, that in the world of academia, it seems like

in the hierarchy Northern European music are highest on the

totem pole. Spanish music is a little bit lower. It is

pretty marginalized. The amount of research and the number

of mainstream textbooks is less. People generally know less

about it. I guess it occupies a culturally inferior

position to the dead, male, German composers. Is that your


C:Sure. You are talking about the history of what musicology was

which was very much formed under German precepts.

N:By Germans.

C:Yes, looking at it from one perspective. That is just one that

gained a certain amount of validity in certain circles.

There is plenty of knowledge about the other stuff, it is

just not given privilege status. So when I teach my world

music classes, gosh, students know an incredible amount

about the histories of all different types of music. They

can rattle off contemporary styles that I cannot keep up

with. There are all types of esoteric knowledge about that.

It is just not given value-privileged status. It is not

institutionalized as a type of knowledge that should be

valued. That is all about the way that ideology works and

the way that links up. Traditions link certain specific

knowledge with value.

N:Yes, all the ologiess" entering the twentieth century. The

German musicology took hold in the early part of the

century, right along side all of the scientific and

technological ologiess." It was given a valid place. We

are still hanging on to it. We still have our claws hanging

on to it. I want to change the subject here and ask you

some questions that really intrigue me, really puzzle me at

my age, completing a Ph.D. program and thinking about doing

this kind of work at some level--part time, full time, what

have you. Your vita is long and fulsome as we said. You

have done a tremendous amount of scholarly and creative

activity. How have you managed to find time for all these

activities that have lead to your tenure, and to balance

with your beautiful family and your own artistic pursuits?

Also we have to sleep now and then. I need down time at

times, just some time to just be quite and recharge. How

have you managed to do all that you have done and keep it

all in balance?

C:I guess from my perspective, I am self critical and do not feel

like I have done all that much. When I first got my job

here, I had not finished my dissertation. That first year,

I barely saw my family at all and I hated that. I had to

get that done so I would be in place. The first year I was

teaching new courses and writing the dissertation. [[end of

tape A]]

C:I got my dissertation finished, and did not enjoy not having

an outside life. I determined that I had carve out an

amount of time to do that. More and more I tried not to

bring my work home with me as much. I was taking off the

weekends, or at least Saturday. I would try to incorporate

my performance activities more and more to rewrite my job

description and incorporate that. That is the way that it


N:I get a feel for that because I am thinking about that thing

already. In fact in my own life, one of the catalyst for

change was a nearly deadly accident. One of the bi-products

of that terrible experience was about year of down time to

really think things over. It changed my approach to some

things. My repertoire consists of everything from Bach

pieces on classical guitar, Rodrigo pieces, and Renaissance

pieces. I know a lot of mainstream jazz, Roy Orbison, and a

lot of Clapton music. It goes across the board, and I love

to do it. It is something I do not want to give up. If I

can get paid to do it, that is very important to me. If I

cannot get paid to do it, I am going to do it anyway. It is

just like breathing. I need it. I love to do it. I need

to do it. Now that you are tenured, you can begin to

rewrite your job description and reorder your activities.

You can essentially put your own signature on what you offer

to the University?

C:I really think I started doing it before tenure, but I can just

do it more. I have more leeway to not be questioned on it

now. I am really involved. I got the African group

started. I got money to bring over the African Ghanian

drummer to be here during fall. I am trying to

institutionalize that because I want to learn that

tradition, and I think it is important for my students to

have that. I just work with that kind of programming aspect

more and more to create a situation here at the University

of Florida that not only fills a gap, but is also harmonious

with my own interests. As long as that articulates

something that needs to be done here, that is what I see my

role as. I just get evaluated for writing articles or

whatever. I have done enough of that to get the basic idea.

I still like to write. I think doing those performance

things and building programmatic things are equally as


N:In a minute, I want to talk about pre-tenure. Now you are

tenured, and I am imaging there is a certain security that

goes along with that. Not that you cannot do anything. You

cannot go punch Dr. Oliva [Giacomo M. Oliva, Professor and

Chair of Music] in the nose in the morning.

C:In the nuts or something--kick him.

N:Yes, but now I forgot my question. That is the trouble with

these lengthy questions. Do you have the big brother of the

department? Do you have the administration, the political

end of things looking over you, breathing over your shoulder

saying, well, Dr. Crook, how many articles are you writing

this year? Have you written a book lately? Twenty-four

committee meetings a week, all these different

responsibilities that take away from your time to do the

real creative stuff you want to do. Do you have a lot of


C:Some, but everyone does. I think that the dean respects what I

do because I have been more involved than most in securing

granting, funding, and creating my own stuff. I do not just

sit there and demand that you have to support me and get

pissed off when I do not get money. I have gone out and

gotten plenty of grant monies to support what I do. Since I

work through the centers, I am real active in that stuff.

There are those gatekeeping things that go on, but no one

really says, you did that but you did not write twenty

articles this year. That has not been an issue. Maybe since

I have done enough in relationship to what other people in

the department do, that is not a question.

N:I noticed on your vita here, without actually taking the time

to list it all since it is all on your vita, your grants,

awards, and honors are enormous. That is TIP Award on top

that you won?

C:Yes, teaching.

N:Yes, for teaching. Congratulations. Now, pre-tenure. You got

the job. You were hired. How much of your own signature

were you able to place on things pre-tenure? I want to do

this. I want to specialize in these performance areas. I

need to do a little writing. I need to be on subcommittees.

How was that balance before you were tenured?

C:Pretty much, I was able to put in place a series of courses

that I wanted to teach and have an ensemble. I was told I

should have a performing ensemble, which is fine. So I

turned around and wanted to do the Brazilian. I had

complete free reign to do that however I wanted to do it,

teaching Latin American and African music courses. I

completely created them myself and got the constituency for

them. It has been a fight to get those kind of things

mainstream within music curriculum because none of them are

still required courses or options to fill a requirement in

the department. No one tells me how to teach them, what to

cover, or what not to cover. I had to teach one semester of

2010. Since then, because no one else does anything like I

do, I have been given pretty much free range to teach those

courses and do not drop them. I also have a joint

appointment with anthropology, so I have access to funds

outside the department that other people do not. Really, I

can do those things. If I had just basically fucked off and

had not done anything, I probably would be called to

question. I have been pretty active at a number of

different levels creating stuff. That is what is good about

academic life--if you can work hard and you have some things

on the ball and you get those things going you get kind of

more a leash release. You get a longer tether. So right

now I am involved in writing. I just applied for some grant

monies to bring different guests artists here for eighteen

months to work with music and dance students, and have that

kind of a mainstream. I think that will create a very solid

base for music majors in ethnomusicology at the

undergraduate level. That is where I am going in the next

few years. [I am trying] to get that institutionalized. I

envision within about five years the activities that are

going on in the department will look radically different.

Places like the Center for Performing Arts is another area

that brings in major guest artists that everyone on campus

knows about and is associated with fine art. That is what

fine arts is about. It is not just having a symphony

orchestra or having something else. That is real high

profile stuff.

N:Let me ask you a question of direct importance and curiosity to

me. I know you have had some direct experience. You

brought the Puerto Rican guitarist whose name is Louis a

couple years ago. Will this department ever add a guitar

program? I think it would generate enormous income and draw

great numbers? Will they ever incorporate that as we move

into the twenty-first century?

C:I do not know. I think it is basically at this point an

administrative executive decision. Although, there are a

number of people who would definitely love to have it. It

is not that people are against it. Again, we do not have a

bassoon player. So it is a matter to me of executive

decision saying, well this is just something we have got to

have. If it means we do not get another choral person, if

it means we have to have an adjunct on something else,

[then] that is just what we have to do. Frankly, I do not

know. If I get in a position where I make that decision,

then we will have one by hook or crook.

N:There has to be somebody in a leadership position saying, yes,

we are going to do this, because you cannot do everything.

C:Yes. We do not have the vihuela yet. Let us face it--which

instrument is more important on our globe? Yes, if we had

money, we would have all of that stuff. We would have a

fabulous string quartet. We would have a high powered

string program. We would have everything covered plus

everything else. That is just not reality.

N:Getting back to the five years or so that you were in the

tenuring process, how much do committees play a part in

academic life?

C:Pragmatically, it plays a very important role. Although, I am

not sure if that really amounts to a hill of beans in tenure

votes. For instance, right now I on a committee to hire the

new director for the for Center Latin American Studies. So

my input will hopefully assure the person we get will see a

fundamental role for expressive culture and arts within the

mission of Latin American Studies. I am part of that

community and I have a vested interest in having someone who

is a real interdisciplinary program builder as opposed to

someone who just wants to their own research or maybe just

link up with the heart of social sciences. From that

standpoint, it is extremely important to be on committees.

You have to balance that out against how much energy you

have to do that work. I have been on certain committees

where I wanted to have input, but it just came down to very

weird situations where people just wanted to hire someone

they could keep under their thumb or whatever. In those

cases, you wonder what your efforts amounted to.

Nonetheless, being a part of a university committee is just

something you need to do unless you want to just say, oh, I

do not want to have anything to do with those. I just do my

own little thing. You see plenty of professors who take

that role. I guess I am just not to that point yet, to

where I am that cynical about it. I still feel like I can

have an effect. I think throughout the University, there

are some people who have energy and some people who do not.

Some people are in positions of power without energy, and

others are in positions of power with energy. It is the

ones who have the energy that at a certain level you just

have to say, I am not always going to get all support that I

should get, however you perceive that. As long as you are

moving forward, people either wave at the train as it goes

by, or they figure out their own way to make something move.

That is how things go forward.

N:So it seems to me, in summarizing the committee life, with some

committees there may not be a whole lot of input either

because you are too busy with other more pressing

priorities, or because of the dynamics of politics of that

particular decision being made. For instance, I was the

token graduate student on the Horn Search Committee.

C:You know the dynamics of those things. It is not just who is

the best candidate.

N:Right. Then [with] other committees, like this Latin American

Studies Committee or the Director Search Committee, you feel

you can have a strong input and can put energy into it if

you want to.

C:You never know when enter it what different dynamics are going

to be involved and how much actual influence you are going

to have. It is not a given. Sometimes you can get some

inkling. There are all different types of agendas at play.

I hope that my being on the committee will have a big

input, but you can never say for sure whether things will

turn out to your liking or not.

N:Right. When you got your dissertation finished, you decided to

take a certain block of your time for yourself and for your

family, maybe a Saturday or maybe the whole weekend where

you can. Is that balance pretty satisfying for you now?

C:It is satisfying. It is still not balanced as much as I want.

I think it is something that constantly has to be worked

at. In the fall, I had the African artist, and he was like

an extra thing that I took on. There are different ways of

trying to make it work, and trying to plan out scheduling so

that those times when you have to be working so hard are not

just taking up everything. You have to have some down time.

N:I am particularly interested pre-tenure. Is there a way that

you can moderate that kind of thing? In other words, maybe

a certain type of person gets an assistant professor, tenure

tract position. They are going to be on every committee

doing every activity they can possible do eight days a week

because they want to really impress people and they really

want to get in there. Is there a way that you can moderate

that? Maybe you are not going to be on every single

committee. Maybe you are going to take a little longer to

get tenured, and you are not going to publish at the same


C:There are usually expectations as to when you would come up for

tenure. Certain places say you can come up for tenure

anytime as soon as you are ready. You have to come up by

the end of say, your sixth year. So you can do that. If

you work through your chair and through a mentoring system

through senior college, you just get a feel for how it is

looking, or what you should be doing. [You ask yourself],

am I on too many committees? Should I be doing more effort

in this area? Am I spending too much time on the teaching

or too much time on the review? It just depends on what the

job description is and what the expectations are in terms of

making tenure. The more you can get that spelled out in

your job description, the better you are knowing [about]

what is going on. It also depends on where you are. If you

are in Chicago, they do not want to hire people. They say,

if we hire people, people will think our standards are too

low, so we cannot. Columbia is the same way. There a

number of places with a very elitist atmosphere. You can go

to Podunk College and get tenured very easily. It is

probably in the middle here. You can be in some music

departments that have no performance. It is all academic.

I did not want to be in a place like that. You have

obviously got to have either the book or whatever. In

certain fields you have to have history or something.

Expectations are different. There is no one way that you

are going to get tenure. I really feel the tenure system is

going to be abolished at some point, not too far removed.

[There is going to be] some kind of phasing out, which I do

not have any problem with as long we either have strong

unionization or something that [offers] long term contracts.

I do not mind moving more to a model that can incorporate

some things that go on in corporate world. The idea that it

is so great for academic freedom has some real holes in it.

To get tenure, you cannot go and just do whatever. You do

not have academic freedom. You have to live up to what your

senior colleagues want. That is right when scholars and

the young people have the energy to do different things. If

they step on the senior peoples' toes, they can get denied

tenure very easily.

N:It is a real game you have to play.

C:Yes, and I sat in committee meetings where untenured faculty

just would not say anything. They say, oh, I cannot because

I do not want to and you cannot do this. That is not

academic freedom. The main thing is that it does insulate

you from legislatures to a degree, which is a real issue.

It breeds a lot of complacency.

N:The front of the question we have already been discussing--

that was can a new junior professor or assistant professor

rank approach the tenure process in one's own unique manner?

We have been discussing that to an extent.

C:To a certain extent. It depends on who you are and what you


N:In this musicology department, the musicology tract in the

music department, would Dr. Kushner have a lot of say so?

You would really have to please Dr. Kushner?

C:The music department would divide it into performance area,

music education, composition theory, and music history. All

the other senior faculty are going to look to the senior

person in that field to give their stamp of approval.

Obviously, that person's opinion is going to weigh fairly

heavily. Depending on how he or she is respected by the

other colleagues, they will defer to that. It is just


N:Yes, it sure would be natural.

C:It is not that you could not get tenure without that approval,

but it just would definitely be harder.

N:When you say the whole tenure notion is coming to an end, do

you see a time anywhere in the near future when there would

be a contractual type hiring, maybe a five year contract?

C:Sure. I think some places are already starting to do it. That

is a distinct possibility. Legislatures are demanding it.

Tenure is under review. If you look at the kind of a

popular conception of tenure, you just have a bunch of fat

cat professors doing nothing. That is not true, but you

really have to take that popular perception and the symbolic

value that is attached to that popular perception into

account. It is an important aspect of universities

positions in society. If that is the perception, you have

got to do something to change that perception. Whether that

means you get out the message more that we are not really

that, which I think all universities try to do, or whether

you have to modify the system, which means phasing out,

changing tenure, or whatever, something has to be adjusted.

Then there is some grain of truth to that popular

perception as well. There are perception problems. Why

universities are much slower moving, like molasses, to

change as opposed to say the corporate model, where someone

can by executive decree come in and change the entire

department around. One is out of a job. They can

definitely change or make a shift in position. There are

good and bad things about that. I do not think the

University can operate at that level, but I think you can

definitely learn to incorporate some aspects of that so that

you do foster a more dynamics within the structure.

N:I have been hearing about people. Janice Hayworth got a one

got a one year contract at the University of Arkansas, I

think. I do not know that I would want to relocate to too

many one year positions.

C:That is what a lot of people have to do to get going. Then

they finally land something that is a little bit longer


N:I am not saying I would not do it. Is it possible to put

together a pretty strong career of university teaching on a

part-time basis and also have other artistic pursuits

outside of the university?

C:I think you can do that. It depends on what your expectations

are and what kind of place you want to be at. You can teach

in community colleges, and supplement that with outside

things. That is a distinct possibility. Symphonic players

have done that for a long time. They get hired in a major

metropolitan area, they play with the symphony, and then

they get hired by the local university to be the instructor

there. That model has always been in the arts.

N:Generally when you hear the word adjunct, you hear a string of

negatives associated with it. Do you see in some cases an

adjunct professor or instructor as a positive thing?

C:It depends on the individual. It can be positive. One of the

problems is if you are trying to build a program at that

university, those adjuncts do not have as much of a vested

interest in doing things like committee work. Why does it

matter to them? If they are not getting fringe benefits, or

if it is just a way to lessen the amount of insurance that

the university has to provide, then obviously you are not

going to build much commitment from those people to that


N:The institution is not making that much of a commitment to



N:In a full-time position, what is it like in the summertime? I

noticed in summer 1996 that the course offerings have really

shrunk in the schedule catalog. Is it hard to get teaching

work in the summer? Does everyone clamor for what little

there is? Are you required to be here during the summer?

What if you wanted to take the whole summer off? What would


C:If you are on a nine month position, it is at your discretion.

Now certain pressures can be applied. I have never really

met with that. This summer I am going to be teaching summer

school. To a certain extent, a lot of people want to teach

because they want to supplement their income. It is like an

apple or a carrot that is dangled out there. Why are they

chosen? There are different ground rules. We should have

exact rotation. We have to match that up against with what

courses need to be taught to fulfill degree requirements for

students. It is a can of worms. You do not have to teach,

not if you are on a nine month appointment.

N:Is yours a nine month appointment?

C:Yes. Almost all the academic faculty are nine month

appointments. The administrative things are typically

twelve month appointments. So the chair, the assistant

chair, and those kinds of things are around twelve months


N:Most academic professors [are appointed] for nine months. One

other question about our department. Jack Kitts-Turner

[John Stewart Kitts-Turner, Professor of Music] is about to

retire. If we keep this model, of course you propose a

different model for the teaching of music history which I

find attractive, but when he [Jack] leaves, there is no one

to teach early music. There are a number of other courses

in the catalog that I do not think there is personnel to

teach right now. Is it possible that this Department of

Music would try to satisfy some of those needs with an

adjunct instructor, or would they look for a full-time

[instructor] who could sort of just fill in the gaps?

C:It depends on what we can already successfully afford. That is

always an issue of whether the dean will support that and

whether he can then sell that to the provost as getting a

line for that or filling a line that has become vacant. My

proposal was that we really try to get a guitarist who can

teach some early music stuff--someone who has definitely

Middle Eastern, early Spanish music, or maybe Latin American

and combine that together. I am not sure that person is out

there. We definitely have not ever made that commitment.

[I also do not know] whether we go for another musicologist.

There are some real problems with having somebody do two

things. We really need some more specialists. [We need] a

musicologist, but I would want it to be someone who is very

open-minded, not just follow this model that art music of

Western Europe is the stuff that we have to really focus on.

I think that if you get someone who is an Iberian

specialist and Middle Eastern, they obviously have to be a

little bit more broad-minded. I definitely would not say

that we have to get someone who can just do early music.

When I leave, how much of a commitment are we going to have

to Brazilian music? It depends on who they get. The idea

that we have an early music group now does not mean that we

have to have it forever.

N:Dr. Kushner said to me about a month ago, did you know that

high on this department's wish list is someone who can teach

music history/guitar. Oh really? He says yes, that is

about number two on the list now. That is interesting. We

talked about also having the early music capability, which

spurred me to do something I was about to do three years

ago, and did not do which was have a vihuela built. So I

have ordered that, the Spanish version of the lute. I have

that repertoire already, which to me goes hand in hand with

playing jazz too. I see a lot of parallels. It is

interesting from my point. I have a lot of work to do just

to finish the degree, and I really do not need to be getting

too far into the future imagining what could happen. Yet, I

do like Gainesville a lot and have a lot of connections

here. If there is a possibility of contributing to the

department in some way, I would be very interested in that.

I also have a family. It is important to me to keep that

balance. I do not want to be in my office twenty hours a

day, seven days a week, neglecting Ian and my wife. Then I

see Miriam Zack and Michelle Tabor who are doing sort of an

independent thing. I guess there are just lots, and lots of

options. I want to keep my options wide open and just see

what comes.

C:Fall into different kinds of things. I think we definitely

need guitar here to create the possibility for hiring a

guitarist under various different scenarios. To me a

perfect fit would be someone who does Latin American stuff,

does the most popular music, and has some classical

training. I do not think we should hire someone that is

just going to create a classical studio and not going to

interact with other things. That would be kind of missing

the boat a little bit, even though we would have guitar. I

would much rather have that than not have guitar, but I

think there are a lot of possibilities out there that would

argue for someone else. If you have someone who could

really intersect with the jazz program which per se means

they would be fluent in some Latin styles if they do any

contemporary stuff as opposed to older big band white jazz

[[please finish thought]]. Whether it has to be tied to

music history is another [concern]. I just came up with

that scenario when I was trying to figure out how to go

about getting one here because we had a need in musicology.

I thought maybe we will find someone like that. The other

great need that we have, as I see it, is a full-time

percussionist. Again I think you need someone who is not

just a legit player. There are plenty of my colleagues that

would just argue. I think that we need someone who can do

either a steel drum band or some kind of thing that

intersects with my interests that we can build a huge

thriving percussion studio around. Obviously that person

has to service all of the other ensembles too, and has to

have the classical chops. I do not think that that has to

be there. I do not think that we have to hire them just on

that capability alone.

N:I think too, when you are talking about people born in the

1950s or later, we have grown up on so much good (for lack

of a better word) pop music, Beatles, Stones you name it.

Most of us do span both worlds I think. There are some that

do not. Then there are some that do span both experiences,

but consider everything that is not art music to be like the

McDonald's of music. Popular music, of course, is just

stamped out which is ridiculous because it is not. People

who do not know it think that, oh, yes I love pop music.

Yes, every now and then I love to stop by McDonald's. It is

a good hamburger. It is ridiculous. Yes, I guess we will

just have to see how all that comes out in wash. I played

guitar. I played Vihuela pieces and a Rodrigo piece at the

CMS recently in Columbus, Mississippi, at the Southeast

conference. Afterwards, I got all of these complements from

all of these professors saying, you played so beautifully.

I loved this piece. I loved that piece. Now I am getting

in the mail all these full professors of composition, five

of them so far, are e-mailing me or sending me pieces saying

would you consider playing my piece? Sincerely can. One

from Tennessee sent me four of his CD's and said, I am

considering writing a concerto for guitar and tape

accompaniment or small orchestra, and you have inspired me.

Would you please consider playing it? We will see where

that [goes].

C:You could imagine how that could link up someone who plays

electric guitar. Composers like Jim Sane or Paul Bazzler

would love to write for something like that. A lot of the

other instrumentals would think [[inaudible]] that. From

the composers stand point, hell yes, why not, sure let us do

that. Composers have always kind of followed what is

feasible within their own location, [based on] the

instrumentalists that are available. Bach did that. his

cantatas were for certain, specific sets of instruments that

were around. That is how symphony orchestra was devised.

It is just that we have come up with this funny idea that

there is this one set of instruments that are the ones that

are valued and the others that are kind of the unwashed

ones. So [there are] all those possibilities. Guitar kind

of was very much open for that.

N:I think we will draw things to a close here. When I heard the

African drum ensemble and the Brazilian ensemble play a

joint gig at the Orange and Brew, I was just really

impressed by the precision. I am into that. I am a

perfectionist anyway. Just a very tight crack ensemble. So

what seven, eight players? Five? Not too large. The

control of the Ghanian drummer just really impressed me.

C:Unless I had two or three ensembles of the Brazilian, it is

hard to have that kind of stratification of different

talents. I do not have three and four other colleagues that

are training people to bring along those specifically. If

we had a big jazz program that really had hot instrumental

stuff going, I think it would be a lot easier too. Even

non-Brazilian stuff.

N:You have the first Brazilian ensemble and the second Brazilian

ensemble. The first you take the best of the best and you

really rip.

C:So what I am trying to do now is create a situation where we

have visiting artists come that can essentially do that.

Next year I am going to also have, if it comes through the

way that I am planning it, Welson will be taking over the

day to day operations of the ensemble. I will be doing more

with the percussionist and more with the African ensemble.

Then I will have other Brazilian artists coming in to give

workshops and working with the students to then bring along

the level of play.

N:And you need also people that can speak Portuguese.

C:I have got a lot better singers now, but all that stuff takes a

long time. I have been here for five years. The quality

has increased every year, but it is just something you have

to build on. Imagine Raymond coming here and there is no

violin instruction. There are just all these people he has

to start creating. It takes a long time. You can see even

the orchestra, even with a lot of those people in place, you

just do not do that overnight. It takes a long term

commitment to do something well.

N:Has that been difficult for you? Has it been frustrating? You

get everybody lumped in there. You cannot turn 20 percent

of them away saying, come back when you really have your

samba chops. You get them all. Has that been hard for you

to deal with?

C:Yes. So I had to institute an audition kind of process. I

have to get some kind of feel for how people can play. It

is not based on whether they read notes and regurgitate

something on that basis. Yes it has been kind of difficult,

but I still enjoy doing it.

N:It has been a building process. We have talked about a lot of

things and I really appreciate your time. I have learned a

lot of particular interest to me. I am sure a lot of this

will be very useful to the University. Is there anything

that we have left out?

C:I think that we have covered pretty much lots of stuff, so it

is probably a pretty good time to end it.

N:Yes. Let us call it quits here. Thank you very much.

C:You are welcome.

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