Monday, July 29, 2019

Sharon Graf, UIS ethnomusicology professor

Why you should know her: Sharon Graf, an associate professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Illinois Springfield, a musician, and a sailor, took a 15-month sea voyage to study the music, culture, and language of the Pacific Islands in 2010. She and her husband sailed there from Alton, Illinois on their 42-foot yacht, the Larabeck.

What is ethnomusicology? “The study of people making music. It encompasses a global perspective, so we look at people making music around the world.” She studied anthropology and music in college.

Why did you go to the Pacific Islands? “I had a very special opportunity because my husband, Michael Graf, wanted to go on a sailing trip. It wouldn’t have been possible without his interest and expertise. I wanted to visit and learn more about the world and other cultures.”

What did you learn about music in these cultures? “People in the Polynesian triangle were pioneers of sailing and populated all these islands, and their languages and musical customs are related. I find that really fascinating. It was interesting to go from island to island, to see the linguistics part of it, the ways their greetings were different but very related. The same with musical customs.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on July 29, 2019.

Read the entire story online.