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
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contact the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
N:So if I understand you, this is one of the first places you
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
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.
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.
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
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
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: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
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.
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
N:You have the first Brazilian ensemble and the second Brazilian
ensemble. The first you take the best of the best and you
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.