Raymond Clausen was a pioneering ethnomusicologist who conducted extensive fieldwork in Vanuatu during the early 1960s.
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. Using some of Layard’s wax cylinder recordings and other materials he wrote his Masters dissertation in 1958 at Exeter College, Oxford entitled ‘A Musicological Study of the Layard Collection of Recorded Malekulan Music in its Social and Ritual Setting’.
Clausen was interested in both indigenous music and the influence of Christian Missions and popular forms. He conducted fieldwork with his wife for several years, in Vanuatu, recording multiple examples of slit drum ceremonies and performances. 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.
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