royal is a musician, author, and activist for international social justice who tours the world to connect with people through music.
royal hartigan is a percussionist, pianist, and tap dancer who has studied and performed the musics of Asia, Africa, Europe, West Asia, and the Americas as well as African American blues, gospel, funk, hip-hop, and jazz traditions. He was awarded an A.B. in philosophy from St. Michael's College in 1968, a BA in African American Music with honors from UMass Amherst, and M.A. and PhD degrees in world music and ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University in 1983 and 1986, studying intensively with ethnomusicologist David McAllester and Bill Lowe, Bill Barron, Edward Blackwell, Freeman Kwadzo Donkor, Abraham Kobena Adzenyah, and other master artists/scholars from Java, India, and Ghana, West Africa.
royal has received many awards for global research, performance, and teaching. These include Healey and Whiting Award (2010), Asian Cultural Council Research Grant for the Philippines (2009), a J. William Fulbright Lecture/Research Award for the Philippines (2006) and Ghana, West Africa (2014-15), a New School University (NY) Dean’s Resident Master Artist Award (2005-06), and a Korean Foundation Fellowship (2001). He is an endorsee for Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, Istanbul Cymbals, and Remo drumheads.
royal has taught ethnomusicology, African drumming, and world music ensemble at the New School University (formerly the New School for Social Research) in New York, Wesleyan University’s Graduate Liberal Studies program, San Jose State University, and is a retired full Professor at UMass Dartmouth. His publications include Blood Drum Spirit: Drum Languages of West Africa, African America, Native America, Central Java, and South India, a 1700-page analysis of world drumming traditions (PAS archives); articles in Percussive Notes, World of Music, Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Music in China, and The African American Review; a book with compact disc, West African Rhythms for Drumset (Manhattan Music/Warner Brothers/Alfred 1995, 2004), named one of the top 25 percussion books in the history percussion publications by Modern Drummer Magazine, and two with digital video disc, Dancing on the Time (Tapspace 2006), and West African Eve Rhythms for Drumset (Print Tech 2011). He is completing a new book with DVD on African Music and Jazz (2019) and has given lectures and clinics on world music and jazz in Africa, China, the Philippines, Europe, and North America.
royal travels to West Africa most summers to teach, perform, and do research, collaborating with master artists and the people of various villages, including the Dagbe Cultural Centre at Kopeyia Village, Volta Region, Ghana, the Dagara Music Centre in Midie, Ghana, and Mampong, Asante Region, Ghana. He was a Visiting Professor and J. William Fulbright artist/scholar at the Centre for Culture and African Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumase, Ghana, in 2013-15. This work has resulted in a double CD, time changes (2019) and documentary film, entitled We Are One: blood drum spirit, whose theme is connections among global traditions, African music, and jazz. The film has been accepted at numerous festivals worldwide, and received many awards, including Best Feature Documentary (Jukebox International Film Festival, Carson City, NV, USA, 2018) and Best Music Score (Moscow, Russia, International Film Festival, 2018). Its site is at http://www.weareonethemovie.com and trailer at https://youtu.be/oIRaCdcJut0. royal and blood drum spirit toured Ghana in the summer of 2017 for the world premiere of the film and will present the film across the U. S., Africa, and Asia in 2018-19.
He has performed, given workshops, and recorded internationally with his own blood drum spirit ensemble and master artists (blood drum spirit, 1997 and 2003, Innova; ancestors and blood drum spirit: the royal hartigan ensemble live in china, both Innova, 2008), Juba (Look on the Rainbow, 1987), Talking Drums (Talking Drums, 1985 and Someday Catch, Someday Down, 1987) the Fred Ho Afro-Asian Music Ensemble, Hafez Modirzadeh's Paradox, the David Bindman-Tyrone Henderson Project, Nathaniel Mackey, Michael Heffley, soundSFound Orchestra, Global Phatness, and Paul Austerlitz, among others. He has released a documentary and artistic video of his work in West Africa and its relation to the African American music cultures (eve).