Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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Jones, Arthur Morris

(b London, 4 June 1889; d St Albans, 12 April 1980). English ethnomusicologist, missionary and theologian. He studied theology at Oxford (BA 1921, MA 1928) and took an education diploma in London. From 1923 he worked as a missionary in Africa, for over 20 years (1929–50) as principal of St Mark’s College, Mapanza, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). On returning to England in 1952 he was appointed a lecturer in African music at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, a post he held until his retirement in 1966. He was awarded the Oxford DLitt in 1961. His main areas of study were African music and the xylophone; he also edited collections of hymns for schools in Africa. The dominant (and most controversial) theme of Jones’s research was his contention that the similarities between the African and Indonesian xylophone indicate cultural diffusion between Indonesia and Africa. He pointed out significant similarities between scales, tunings, construction, musical forms and other stylistic features; and on the basis of this and other evidence he proposed the theory that at some time in the early Christian era parts of Africa were colonized by peoples of Indonesia. He has been criticized for the selection and analysis of his evidence, as well as for his view (in opposition to historical evidence) that the xylophone was introduced to Africa from Indonesia. His final work (1980) continued this theme. His more enduring theories concern African rhythmic construction, particularly interlocking drumming patterns (1934; 1943).

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