Robert Garfias

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Robert Garfias (born 1932) is a figure in ethnomusicology and musicology. He is a professor of Anthropology[1] and a member of The Social Dynamics and Complexity Group[2] at the University of California, Irvine as well as a professor at the Japanese National Museum of Ethnology[3] in Senri, Osaka. He completed his doctorate at University of California, Los Angeles and taught at the University of Washington where he established the graduate program in ethnomusicology before coming to University of California, Irvine. He has conducted research on the analysis of complex music systems, including the Turkish Ottoman Classical system, Japanese court music and many other musical traditions in which he is fluent as a musical performer, linguist, and archivist. He has also written on The Role of Dreams and Spirit Possession in the Mbira Dza Vadzimu Music of the Shona People of Zimbabwe.[4] Complexity in the domain of expressive culture, music, and the social organization of complex musical traditions is one of his major specialties.

He has been actively engaged in the area of public policy and the arts as a presidentially appointed member of the National Council on the Arts and as a member of the Council of the Smithsonian Institution as well as with numerous state and local arts agencies. In these areas his primary concern is with ethnicity and cultural diversity.

In 2005 the Government of Japan awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, which represents the third highest of eight classes associated with this award.[5] He was cited for his contributions to promoting traditional Japanese culture and cultural exchanges between Japan and the United States.

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