Associate Professor: Musicology/Ethnomusicology
Affiliate Faculty: Asian Literatures, Cultures & Media, Religious Studies, Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature
Matt Rahaim is a practicing Hindustani vocalist in the Gwalior tradition, and has trained since 2000 with Vikas Kashalkar and Laxman Krishnarao Pandit. His first book, Musicking Bodies: Gesture and Voice in Hindustani Music, dealt with the tacit bodily disciplines passed down through generations of Hindustani vocalists. His new book (Ways of the Voice: Vocal Striving and Moral Contestation in North India and Beyond, forthcoming, 2021 in the Music/Culture series of Wesleyan University Press) investigates various traditions of voice production in India. In this project, he works not only with classical vocalists, but also with singers of Sufi ritual music, devotional bhajans, and the cluster of cosmopolitan musics often called "Western"--all with an eye toward training, practice and dynamic striving.
At the U of M, Matt teaches the undergraduate courses World Music (which focuses on several traditions of Terran music) and Music, Society, and Cultures (which teaches how to write about performance, politics, and ethics across musical worlds). He also teaches a range of seminars that are open to graduate and undergraduate students: Practices of Listening; Sonic Ecology; Raga Music; Performance and Sociality; and What do Voices Do?. In addition, Matt teaches a summer Indian vocal music intensive class which is open to all. Students in all of these courses sing.
Other research and teaching interests include comparative voice production, the anthropology of ethics, practical ontology, Middle Eastern music, metaphysics, the politics of tuning systems, rhythmic tendencies in raga, the performance of speech, the interface of raga and maqam in the 16th-19th centuries, devotional performance, phenomenologies of listening, birdsong, and theories of tuning and temperament that bridge arithmetic, aesthetics, and politics.
His research and review articles have appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies, Theory in Ethnomusicology Today, World of Music, Asian Music, Yearbook for Traditional Music, Gesture, The Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies, Music and Empathy, and New Perspectives on Music and Gesture. He also is the author of the article "Music" in the Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Before coming to the U of M, he taught Religious Studies, Music and Asian Studies at Berkeley, Stanford, and St. Olaf College.
His other performance experience includes oud, Afro-Cuban drumming, simulogue, improvised drones, shape-note singing, experimental vocal performance, Thank-You-Play, and Javanese gamelan. Matt also studies and teaches Middle Eastern music. In spring of 2010, he was studying oud performance and Arabic language in Damascus, Syria, funded by an ACM-Mellon Post-Doctoral fellowship; in 2012, he was a visiting fellow at the Center for Behavioral Research at the American University in Beirut.
Matt studied at Wesleyan University (BA, 2000) and UC Berkeley (PhD, 2009). His mentors in scholarship have included Bonnie Wade, Eve Sweetser, Vasudha Dalmia, Richard Crocker, Ben Brinner, Linda Hess, and Jon K. Barlow. His primary music teachers are Vikas Kashalkar and L.K. Pandit. Matt believes in the liberal arts, and he believes in going slowly.