The sounds of culture to be Prof. Apodaca’s topic in special lecture


Dr. Paul Apodaca

Professor Paul Apodaca, Ph.D., knows that to understand the inner workings of a thing, sometimes you have to unravel its parts and have a good look.

Or in the case of Indian American music, a good listen. So
Dr. Apodaca
, who teaches sociology and American studies at Chapman University and whose work is focused on the study of American Indian music, slid a CD into his computer and hit the play key. The distinctive sounds of an American Indian song poured out.

But he realizes that the melody may not be picked up by the untrained ear. So after a few moments, he silences the computer and in a light but resonant voice sings the song, filling his Roosevelt Hall office with a rising and falling melody. Then he plays the same music with just a rattle and no voice. The now-familiar melody again fills the air, even though the only instrument is the rattle.

“Now you hear it. You can hear the rhythm in the rattle,” he says, smiling broadly.

It’s that kind of simple but effective demonstration that Dr. Apodaca will make during a special lecture at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at The Autry National Center in Griffith Park, 4700 Western Heritage Way in Los Angeles. The lecture,
Musical Traditions of American Indian Cultures,
is part of the museum’s continuing
American Indian Lecture Series
. Dr. Apodaca is the lecturer in residence at the Autry Center and coordinator of the popular lecture series.

Helping to dispel the stereotype that Indian American musical instruments are just pounded without nuance is just one of the lessons Dr. Apodaca hopes to impart during the lecture. Such presentations have long been part of Dr. Apodaca’s work to share and preserve American Indian culture and arts. Music is one of the natural ways to do that, he says.

“There’s a big thirst for information about American Indians that’s growing,” he says. “The songs are the tunnels into the soul of these cultures.”

Dr. Apodaca was part of a team winning the Academy Award in 1985 for the feature documentary
Broken Rainbow
. More information about the museum and Saturday’s program is available at the
Autry National Center

Dawn Bonker

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