Fulbright Study Takes Musicologist to India

This month, Tulane religious studies instructor Guy Beck is leaving for six months in India as a Fulbright Scholar. A musicologist with expertise in sacred hymns and chants, Beck will be learning from senior musicians in Calcutta, Delhi and Mumbai.

Musicologist Guy Beck, recipient of a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellowship, will be in India for six months to archive sacred hymns and chants. (Photo from Guy Beck)

Beck is one of three Tulane faculty members who received prestigious Fulbright Scholar grants for the 2009–2010 academic year, giving them the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research internationally.

Beck, Dr. Donald Krogstad in tropical medicine and Judith Maxwell in anthropology were selected for their academic achievements and leadership in their fields, and for their potential to increase international understanding.

Beck's grant is a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellowship, a new partnership this year between India and the U.S. An instructor in the School of Continuing Studies, Beck is researching the history and performance of Agra Gharana, a vocal music tradition in danger of extinction that traces its roots to Hindu temple music. He will study and document the music with renowned Indian vocalist Pandit Vijay Kichlu at Sangeet Ashram, a classical music research facility in Calcutta.

"I'll be learning, collecting and archiving rare, sacred music compositions from senior musicians and singers, who are getting on in age," Beck says. He is a vocalist and plays the harmonium, a Western "parlor organ" that was adopted by musicians in India and is now used in classical music. Beck has taught courses in world music, world religions, and religion and music.

Krogstad, Henderson Professor of Tropical Medicine, is conducting efficacy studies at the University of Bamako in Mali of AQ-13, an oral anti-malaria treatment.

Maxwell, professor of anthropology and director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Linguistics, is helping Mayan communities in Guatemala learn linguistics and document their languages. She is training a cadre of local bilingual linguists to teach Mayan languages and research sacred sites.