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ROYAL HARTIGAN: Biography

royal hartigan is a percussionist, pianist, and tap dancer who has studied and performed the musics of Asia, Africa, Europe, West Asia, and the Americas, including indigenous West African drumming, dance, song, and highlife; Turkish bendir frame drum; Japanese taiko drumming; Philippine kulintang gong and drum ensembles; Chinese Beijing, Cantonese, and Kunqu opera percussion; South Indian solkattu rhythms; Korean pungmul drum and gong ensemble; Javanese and Sumatran gamelan; Gaelic bodhran; Native American drumming; Dominican merengue; Brazilian samba; Cambodian sampho drums, Vietnamese clapper percussion, European symphony; and African American blues, gospel, funk, hip-hop, and jazz traditions.

He was awarded an A.B. in philosophy from St. Michael's College in 1968, specializing in medieval metaphysics and the existentialism of Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. royal received a B.A. degree in African American music with honors at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1981, studying with Roland Wiggins, Frederick Tillis, Reggie Workman, Archie Shepp, Max Roach, and Horace Clarence Boyer. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D degrees in world music and ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University in 1983 and 1986, studying intensively with ethnomusicologist David McAllester and Bill Lowe, Bill Barron, Edward Blackwell, Freeman Kwadzo Donkor, Abraham Kobena Adzenyah, and other master artists/scholars from Java, India, and Ghana, West Africa.

royal has received many awards for global research, performance, and teaching. These include a Whiting Travel grant and a UMD Healey Research grant for the Philippines (2010), an Asian Cultural Council Research Fellowship for the Philippines (2009), a J. William Fulbright Lecture/Research Award through the U.S. State Department for the Philippines (2006), a New School University (NY) Dean’s Resident Master Artist Award (2005-06), and a Korean Foundation Fellowship (2001). Also, research awards from San Jose State University for Ghana, West Africa (1994-97 and China (1999), the Middletown Commission on the Arts (1989-93), the National Endowment for the Arts (for study with Edward Blackwell, 1986), the Pittsfield, MA, Arts Council (1986), and scholarships from UMass Amherst (1979-81) and Wesleyan University (1981-86).

He has received numerous international research and teaching grants from UMass Dartmouth, including a Dean’s and Healy awards for China (2001), Innovations in Teaching (for China, 2001, and 2004), a SACHEM grant (2003), Chancellor’s Public Service for community projects (2004), Provost’s Travel grants for China and Africa (2004). He is also an endorsee for Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, Istanbul Cymbals, and Remo drumheads.

royal has taught ethnomusicology, African drumming, and world music ensemble at the New School University (formerly the New School for Social Research) in New York and the graduate liberal studies program at Wesleyan university. He helped develop and taught graduate and undergraduate courses in world music, large and small jazz ensembles, experimental music ensemble, Asian music ensembles (Philippine kulintang and Javanese gamelan), African American music history, and West African drumming and dance at San Jose State University before assuming a position as professor in world music at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He has taught music theory and fundamentals, western music history, and introduction to world music at UMass Dartmouth, and currently teaches music of the African diaspora, area studies, and world music survey there. royal has served on the numerous university, college, and Music Department committees as well as initiating grants for numerous workshops and concerts of world music from 1999 to the present.

His publications include Blood Drum Spirit: Drum Languages of West Africa, African America, Native America, Central Java, and South India, a 1700-page analysis of world drumming traditions (UMI/ProQuest); articles in Percussive Notes, World of Music, Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Music in China, and The African American Review; a book with compact disc, West African Rhythms for Drumset (Manhattan Music/Warner Brothers/Alfred 1995, 2004), and two with digital video disc, Dancing on the Time (Tapspace 2006), and West African Eve Rhythms for Drumset (Print Tech 2008). He has given lectures and clinics on world music and jazz in Africa, China, the Philippines, Europe, and North America. royal travels to West Africa most summers to teach, perform, and do research, collaborating with master artists and the people of various villages, including the Dagbe Cultural Centre at Kopeyia Village, Volta Region, Ghana, the Dagara Music Centre in Midie, Ghana, and Mampong, Asante Region, Ghana.

He has performed, given workshops, and recorded internationally with his own blood drum spirit ensemble and master artists (blood drum spirit, 1997 and 2003, Innova; ancestors and blood drum spirit: the royal hartigan ensemble live in china, both Innova, 2008), Juba (Look on the Rainbow, 1987), Talking Drums (Talking Drums, 1985 and Someday Catch, Someday Down, 1987) the Fred Ho Afro-Asian Music Ensemble (We Refuse to be Used and Abused and Song for Manong, 1988, Underground Railroad to My Heart, 1994, Monkey Epic: Part 1, 1996, Turn Pain into Power, 1997, Monkey Epic Part 2, 1997, Yes Means Yes, No Means No! 1998, Night Vision 2000), Hafez Modirzadeh's Paradox ensemble (Chromodal Discourse, 1993 and The People's Blues, 1996, The Mystery of Sama 1998), the David Bindman-Tyrone Henderson Project (Strawman Dance, 1993 and Iliana's Dance, 1996), Nathaniel Mackey (Songs of the Andoumboulou, 1995), Michael Heffley (Collaborations with Dead and Living Males and Females from Different Gene Pools; Fishy Scales, Fuji Scaled; Big and Little Instrus, Parts 1 and 2; 1999, 2003, 2007, Heffleyrecords), soundSFound Orchestra (Classical Stretch, 2005), Global Phatness (Suraghati, 2005), Paul Austerlitz (Journey, 2008). He has released a documentary and artistic video of his work in West Africa and its relation to the African American music cultures (eve).

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AB cum laude in Philosophy, Saint Michael’s College (VT) 1968; international service in the U.S. Peace Corps, Philippines (1968-70), BA honors in Music, concentration in African American traditions, UMass Amherst (1981), MA in World Music, Wesleyan University (CT, 1983), Ph.D in Ethnomusicology, Wesleyan University (1986), post-graduate courses and licensure in Public School teaching, Wesleyan University and the Hartford, CT, Public School System (1987-88).

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