The lecture started by emphasizing how important it was to listen closely to the sounds of the music. In between the lecture, we played a YouTube Video of the choir, through which Dr Sebanti had been able to do the Acoustemology of the Khasi Tribe. We then learned about the societal influence and the history of the land through the kinds of music and sound produced.
Dr Sebanti explained the origin of the word Acoustemology. Anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Steven Feld coined the term in 1992 through reflections on his research among the Kaluli of Papua New Guinea. Feld observed that the Kaluli had a sophisticated understanding and appreciation of their sound-rich rainforest environment; the sound was ‘central to making sense, knowing, and experiential truth’ (1996:97). Forest sounds were closely bound up with Kaluli notions of place and emplacement but were also integrated into local cosmology, poetry, and song. Building upon and critiquing existing vocabulary for theorizing human engagement with sound (such as Murray Schafer’s ‘soundscape’ and ‘acoustic ecology’), Feld used acoustemology to describe an accumulated set of hearing, listening and sounding practices consolidated as culture.
The different colonial histories of both the lands had a significant influence on the kinds of music these lands produced. The Goan sacred places showcased the continuation of the use of Konkani through the music and the catholic sacred places’ rituals and culture. The catholic population of Goa has retained Konkani.
Dr Sebanti would attend the practice sessions of several choirs in Shillong and try to understand th
e variety of different regions. It was noted that the Welsh and Khasi dialects are the same, but not their language.
Through her work, she mainly questioned the notion of “sacred” and what it means to people in these areas. She also looked at how faith functions. She claimed that the sacredness was not just in the worship but in the practice of this music, the dedication and passion also made it sacred.