Music at CSUMB – Meet a new Faculty Member

Jeff Jones

Meet Jeff Jones. He is a newcomer who arrived last August to join the faculty of California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). If you want to know something about his background, here is his CV.

Jeffrey A. Jones holds a Ph.D. in musicology with an emphasis in ethnomusicology from Florida State University, an M.M. in percussion performance from Appalachian State University, and a B.M. in percussion performance and music education from Appalachian State University. He is currently Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Chair of Music and Performing Arts at California State University Monterey Bay. His research on music and community development through the arts, Afro-Caribbean music, applied ethnomusicology, and world music ensemble pedagogy has been published in a variety of media and he has presented papers at regional, national, and international conferences. Dr. Jones’s work as a composer and arranger has been featured in theatrical productions and concerts throughout the United States as well as Japan, Russia, Trinidad, and Australia. As a percussionist he has performed throughout the United States and internationally with a diverse group of artists and ensembles, including Skiffle Steel Orchestra, III MEF U.S. Marine Corps Field Band, and blues artists Thomas “Guitar” Gable, Dr. Dixon, and Charlie Bristol.

Studying music at CSUMB involves a rather different curriculum than what you might expect to find at many other universities. You won’t encounter a music department where you can stroll down corridors outside practice rooms and hear students working away at piano, strings, wind instruments or vocal exercises. In fact, the Music & Performing Arts Department at CSUMB has hardly any practice rooms and does not yet offer a B.Mus. in applied music, but rather a B.A. in music. CSUMB does offer the core curriculum in theory and performance, plus it has a very active music production program in which students learn to create music using synthesizers and sequencers that can lead to lucrative careers in producing music for film scores and video games.

In the past fifty years the term “World Music” has entered the vernacular and embraces Ethnomusicology — music coming to us from all parts of the globe. Last week I attended and reviewed a concert by Korean pianist Tien Hsieh at CSUMB’s “World Theater,” a 450-seat concert venue that hosts a variety of non-standard-classical music programs. This classical piano recital was a rare event, yet surprisingly it attracted a sizable audience.

Jeff Jones is an expert on steel orchestras and skiffle music. Although American “Skiffle Music” has its origin in American jazz or folk music played entirely or in part on nonstandard instruments (such as jugs and washboards), the Afro-Caribbean genre reached its highest stage of development in Trinidad through the advanced evolution of highly refined steel pans and drums resulting in increasingly more impressive steel band orchestras. Here is a link to a Steel Orchestra concert so you can ear for yourself how significant this music is: https://youtu.be/ZibpSe8qDnI

Jeff has contributed articles to learned journals pertaining to this Afro-Caribbean music genre. In his own words he says about this music: “The steel pans are tonal instruments, fully chromatic idiophones that produce bell-like tones. The steel orchestra has a range that spans almost five octaves, from below the bass clef to above the treble clef. The single pan instruments along the front of the orchestra in the videos are the principal melodic instrument (roughly equivalent to the violin in a string orchestra). They are called tenor pans and have a range that spans from middle-C to the third ledger line E above the treble clef.”

Wherever Jeff has held tenured faculty positions at previous institutions, it wasn’t long before he was bringing in Steel Band Orchestras for concerts in local college venues, so we can count on an announcement fairly soon that “A Steel Band Orchestra concert is coming to a theater near you!”

Don’t miss it!

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