The following is a guest post from Music Archivist Chris Hartten.
Laurence Picken (featured at right as our Pic of the Week!) first made his mark in academia as a scientist, but here in the Music Division we remember Picken as an eminent musicologist who spent nearly sixty years studying the musical traditions of East Asia. After making important strides in medicine as an officer-in-charge of a blood transfusion unit during World War II, Picken was invited to travel to China in 1944 on a scientific mission. It was this trip that would lay the foundation for his lasting interest in ancient East Asian music. After over 20 years of continued research and publication on Chinese and Japanese music, Picken changed disciplines and became a professor of Oriental Studies in 1966. Among his many accomplishments in musicology, Picken founded the journal Musica Asiatica.
Picken’s interest in the music of the Chinese Tang and Song dynasties culminated in his publication of the seven-volume Music from the Tang Court (1981-2000). He also wrote extensively on the folk music and instruments of Turkey and the Middle East. The Laurence Picken Papers provides a rich collection of research materials in East Asian music and contains papers, lectures, transcriptions, correspondence, and other documents related to Picken’s work.