Judith Becker

Professor Emerita of Music


Judith Becker received her degrees in music and her PhD from the University of Michigan.  She is an authority on the music of Southeast Asia. She is a co-founder of the Center for World Performance Studies at the University of Michigan and was its first director.  For most of her years at the University of Michigan, she has been director of the University gamelan ensemble, which she helped to establish in 1967.  She has written numerous articles for publications such as The Galpin Society Journal, Ethnomusicology, Journal of Music Theory, Journal of Musicological Research, The World of Music, Asian Music, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The New Grove Handbook of Ethnomusicology, The New Grove Handbook of World Music, Leonardo Music Journal, and The Musical Quarterly.

Becker is the author of three books: Deep Listeners: Music, Emotion and Trancing (2004), awarded the Merriam prize as the best book published in Ethnomusicology for that year; Traditional Music in Modern Java (1980); and Gamelan Stories: Tantrism, Islam and Aesthetics in Central Java (1993).  She is the editor of Art, Ritual and Society in Indonesia (1979) and the three-volume set of translations entitled Karawitan: Source Readings in Javanese Gamelan and Vocal Music (1984/1987/1988).  These three volumes are the first substantial set of translations ever made of musical works written by Southeast Asian scholars and musicians.

Becker has received numerous awards, grants, and fellowships.   In 1967 she was awarded the Charles Seeger prize by the Society for Ethnomusicology.  Since then her research has been honored and supported by the Society for Ethnomusicology, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institute, the Social Science Research Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation, as well as grants from the School of Music Faculty Research Fund, the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, and the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Michigan.  She was the first recipient of Michigan’s John D’Arms Award for graduate student mentoring, and was awarded the Glenn McGeoch Collegiate Professorship of Music (2000).