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Mantle Hood, 87, dies
Mantle Hood in the Gamelan Room of the Schoenberg Music Building at UCLA, early 1960s. (Photo courtesy of the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive)

Mantle Hood, 87, dies

UCLA professor emeritus founded the prestigious Institute for Ethnomusicology and brought the Indonesian gamelan to the United States.

Angilee Shah Email AngileeShah

Mantle Hood, founder of the Institute for Ethnomusicology at UCLA, passed away on Sunday, July 31, 2005, at his Ellicott City, Maryland home from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

Mantle Hood was a prolific writer and scholar publishing many books including Music in Indonesia (1972) and The Nuclear Theme as a Determinant of Patet in Javanese Music (1954). His most recent work was the 2002 novel Trompin' the Wraparound, a fictional story set in post-Civil War central Illinois. In addition to teaching at UCLA, Hood enlivened instruction at Harvard, Yale and other American, European, African, and Asian institutions. He was a fellow of the East-West Center of Arts and Sciences and a Senior Distinguished Professor at West Virginia University.

In 2002, Hood was awarded the prestigious USINDO award by the United States-Indonesia Society, which recognized his contributions to U.S.-Indonesia relations. Hood established a gamelan performance program at UCLA in 1958, helping to produce the teachers and leaders of the more than 100 gamelan groups in the United States today. A renowned expert in Javanese/Balinese music and culture, Hood received honors from the Indonesian government for his research, among them the conferral of the title ki (literally "the venerable") in 1986 and membership into the Dharma Kusuma (Society of National Heroes) in 1992.

Hood filming "Atumpan: The Talking Drums of Ghana" (Photo courtesy of the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive)

In 1951 Hood earned both his AB in music and MA in composition from UCLA. As a Fulbright Fellow, Hood studied Indonesian music under Jaap Kunst at the University of Amsterdam, where he received his Ph.D. in 1954 just before joining the UCLA faculty.

Judith Mitoma, Hood's colleague and UCLA professor of World Arts and Cultures, describes Hood as a person of vision who was able to create and build up the department of ethnomusicology. "His strong conviction that we bring individuals from abroad to study along side Americans resulted in life long friendships and professional associations. UCLA to this day benefits from his legacy," she says.

One of Hood's major contributions to his field was "bi-musicality," the idea that ethnomusicologists should learn to play the music of the cultures they study. "This method, controversial when published in 1960, has now become a taken-for-granted part of the discipline of ethnomusicology," says Timothy Rice, UCLA professor and president of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM).

Dale Olsen is director of the Ethnomusicology Program at Florida State University. He earned his doctorate at UCLA and recently wrote of Hood in an SEM newsletter: "This emphasis upon music as communication, human understanding, and world peace, not only through musical performance, but also through research, teaching, and other forms of dissemination, is one of the greatest gifts Mantle Hood has given to ethnomusicology" (May, 2005).

Hood's definition of an ethnomusicologist (articulated in his 1971 book, The Ethnomusicologist) might be seen as an accurate description of his own attidtudes and practices: "He shows restraint in finding his way in new worlds and fans the flame of friendship gently with an intuitive avoidance of barging in where delicate values may be involved. In the most literal sense, he is a humanist attuned to the world of the arts."

Hood is survived by his wife, Hazel Chung, of the Ohashi Institute in Maryland, four sons and three grandchildren. He was 87 years old.

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