Highlights from the Ethnomusicology Archive: the Flora Baker collection

Flora Twyman Baker was a doctoral student at the Institute of Ethnomusicology in the late 1960s and early 1970s, specializing in vocal techniques around the world.  By 1976, she had received her Candidate in Philosophy (C. Phil.) degree in Ethnomusicology.

Baker received her B.A. and M.A. in Music from Cal State University Long Beach.  She was organist at Holy Trinity Church, choir director and organist at Fort MacArthur Catholic Chapel, as well as a private piano and voice teacher in the Harbor Area.  She taught music in secondary schools in Downey and Torrance before beginning her doctoral research at UCLA. 

She studied and performed Philippine Suluese songs, classical and modern Chinese operas, classical Persian dastagh singing, and Indian songs (including Northern India musical studies with Pandit Ravi Shankar).  Her dissertation research focused on the stylistic analysis of melodic themes (tjengkok, cengkok or chengkok) used in classical Javanese music.

Baker studied Solonese style with Bpk Wiranto, the principle of Konservatory Karawitan Surakarta, during his tenure at UCLA’s Institute of Ethnomusicology.  In Java, she  continued her studies with Wiranto at the conservatory and began studies with Javanese court singer Nji Bei Mardusari. 

Flora Baker singing with the Music of Thailand Ensemble, David Morton leading ensemble

An article featuring Baker, "Former San Pedran to live and study in Java," was published in the San Pedro News Pilot, June 26, 1971. 

“Mrs. Baker spoke about her coming adventure in a voice filled with enthusiasm.  Having already studied the Javanese music and culture for seven years, she will probably feel very much at home in that country.”

The Archive holds several recordings of Baker during her time as a UCLA student.

[Philippines, Sulu Baat - recreation of Bang ba tagha sung by Flora Baker] / Ricardo Diosdad Trimillos.   Tape 5229

[(United States, California, Los Angeles), Seminar: "Vocal classification demonstration tape", Spring 1968] / Flora Baker.   Tape 11046

Baker donated her field recordings (133 reels) to the Ethnomusicology Archive in 2006.


Flora Twyman Baker 1920-2008


All these wonderful photos of Flora Baker are screen captures from the 1972 documentary short about the Institute of Ethnomusicology entitled A World of Music (produced by UCLA Public Information). 

All photos © The Regents of the University of California, All Right Reserved.

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