The Raymond Clausen Archive

clausenSlit drums with Clausen's microphone, at Wor Tamat, Atchin, Vanuatu [1993.6.2.178]. Clausen made one recording at Wor Tamat dancing ground on Atchin in 1962 [recording accession number 1993.6.1.170] © Pitt Rivers MuseumRaymond Clausen was a pioneering and yet little known ethnomusicologist who conducted extensive fieldwork in Vanuatu during the early 1960s. Clausen was a musician and composer and pursued his work largely outside of institutional positions. He did, however, serve as secretary of the ethnomusicology committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute in the 1950s, membership of which included such luminaries as John Blacking, the Rev. A.M. Jones and Maud Karpeles. Clausen was a student of John Layard, the anthropologist who accompanied W.H.R. Rivers, A.C. Haddon and Malinowski on an expedition to the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in 1914. Layard himself conducted extensive research into ceremonies at Aitchin, a small islet near Malekula, recording the music and later publishing 'Stone Men of Malekula' in 1942. Using some of Layard's wax cylinder recordings and other materials, Clausen wrote a masters dissertation while at Exeter College, Oxford, entitled 'A Musicological Study of the Layard Collection of Recorded Malekulan Music in its Social and Ritual Setting' (1958). Clausen and his wife, Tandi, conducted fieldwork together for several years in Vanuatu and Tandi completed a Ph.D in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics, entitled 'An Analysis of Kinship Terminology and Social Organization in North East Malekula, Vanuatu (New Hebrides)' (1985).

The Recordings

The Clausen collection consists of 525 reels of music and soundscapes from Vanuatu recorded in the early 1960s. Clausen has recorded multiple examples of slit drum ceremonies and performances, often including locations and named individuals. He was interested in both indigineous music and the influence of Christian Missions and other popular forms. He recorded lots of Christian Hymns, including some beautiful harmonies, and even Christian folk and pop songs, as well as some examples of South Pacific popular music of the time. Clausen's collection includes many of the sounds of everyday life, including children playing, the ocean, preaching in churches, and conch trumpets being blown to distinguish and praise different varieties of tusked boars.

The Playlist

The playlist below includes several examples of slit drum performances (Durei-na-Mbwe songs), a guitar song, and the sounds of conch trumpets.

Sound Galleries

Musical torchlit trails at the Pitt Rivers Museum

On Friday November 23rd 2012, the galleries of the Pitt Rivers Museum were plunged into evening darkness and bathed in Bayaka music and sound from the Central African Republic. Visitors were given torches to explore the galleries that were transformed into a rich forest soundscape with sung fables, snatches of laughter, beautiful variations on harps and flutes, and the stunning polyphonic singing of Bayaka women. Hidden surprises included mini projections from the rainforests and a visualiser designed by Nathaniel Mann, the PRM's Embedded Composer in Residence. The evening was filmed By Mike Day of Intrepid Cinema as part of the Reel to Real project, and complemented the Oxford City-wide Christmas Light Night organised by Oxford Inspires. A four hour playlist of Bayaka music from the PRM's sound collections, originally recorded by Louis Sarno, was curated on the evening by Nathaniel Mann and Dr Noel Lobley. The event was streamed online, and was watched live in the Central African Republic by Louis Sarno and some of the Bayaka community.





Copyright 2012 The Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford