Music Ethnomusicology
by
Bruno Nettl
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0224

Introduction

Ethnomusicology is most frequently defined as the study of music in its relationship to the rest of human culture, and as the study of the musics of the world from a comparative perspective. But it has also been defined many other ways, including “the study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in local and global contexts” (Pegg, et al. 2001, cited under Publications after 1965, p. 367). Nettl 2015 (cited under Publications after 1965, pp. 3–18) discusses a number of definitions. It is frequently described as an interdiscipline, partaking of the perspectives of musicology and sociocultural anthropology, and also of the disciplines of folklore and linguistics. In fact, scholars who define themselves as ethnomusicologists have been principally concerned with the musics of non-Western societies, to a considerable extent also with folk music traditions of Western societies, and more recently, also with popular music traditions and with musics resulting from fusion of Western and non-Western cultures. Only most recently have ethnomusicologists begun to show a sustained interest in applying their approaches to the culture of Western classical music of the past or present. Ethnomusicologists deal with the musics of the world from a relativistic and egalitarian viewpoint, striving, for each music, to present the approaches and judgments of its own culture. Ethnomusicology is thought to have its starting point in 1885, but it has a substantial prehistory of publications about Asian and European folk musics. From 1885 it was ordinarily known as “comparative musicology” (vergleichende Musikwissenschaft in German, the language of most of its early literature). In the early 1950s, the term “ethnomusicology” began to be widely used, and by 1955 it had replaced the earlier terms. The bibliography presented here emphasizes works that deal with ethnomusicology as a whole as a field of research, and with some of its subdivisions, and pays considerable attention to its history. It also contains a sampling of significant studies often regarded models, of surveys of world music, and of significant landmark publications.

Overviews, Introductions, and Surveys

These publications present ethnomusicology as a field of research, looking holistically at its purposes, basic assumptions, methods, history, and schools of thought. A group of earlier works, illustrating the approaches of the field’s early history through the 1960s, when the center of research had moved from Europe to North America, is followed by a group of publications more illustrative of recent thinking.

Early Works

It is important to know that ethnomusicologists (and their predecessors) were concerned from the beginning with finding ways of circumscribing this field, on account of the diversity of its subject matter and the broad scope of its population of investigators. The purpose of Hornbostel 1904–1905 was to introduce the field to music historians. There followed several books by European scholars—Sachs 1959, Bose 1953, and Kunst 1959—providing relatively brief surveys all of which place ethnomusicology in the musicological sphere. Kunst 1959 may be considered a turning-point on account of its greater length, comprehensive bibliography, and appendix of photographs of many earlier scholars. This early period ends with three publications by American scholars which provide theory and methodology for future research. Hood 1963 sees ethnomusicology as a major and potentially very influential component of the discipline of musicology. Nettl 1964, directed to graduate students, sees ethnomusicology as occupying a middle ground between musicology and anthropology. Merriam 1964 presents it definitively as a domain of sociocultural anthropology.

  • Bose, Fritz. Musikalische Völkerkunde. Zurich, Switzerland: Atlantis, 1953.

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    A short survey written for scholars and students in other fields, it combines the explanation of theories and methods with a survey of the world’s musical phenomena. Emphasis is on the music itself: one chapter on “man and music” is followed by chapters on types of sound, melody and rhythm, and tone systems.

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  • Hood, Mantle. “Music, the Unknown.” In Musicology. By Frank Ll. Harrison, Mantle Hood, and Claude Palisca, 265–375. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1963.

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    In one of three long essays in a book presenting the field of musicology, Mantle Hood gives an account of the history of his field emphasizing its relationship to historical musicology and arguing the need to study music from the perspective of the performer

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  • Hornbostel, Erich M. von. “Die Probleme der vergleichenden Musikwissenschaft.” Zeitschrift der internationalen Musikgesellschaft 7 (1904–1905): 85–97.

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    A classic article in the history of the field, perhaps the first article literally about the discipline, by the scholar often labeled as its “father,” it discusses the central issues—preservation, methods of analysis, and universals—as guides to the origin and fundamental character of music.

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  • Kunst, Jaap. Ethnomusicology. 3d ed. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1959.

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    A major landmark in the development of this field, its first edition (1950) titled Musicologica, and the second (1955), the first book using the term “ethnomusicology” in its title. The third, much enlarged edition, contains a seventy-five-page survey of the field, an account emphasizing history, transcription, and instruments, and a bibliography of about forty-five hundred items, comprehensive for publications before around 1955. A supplement bibliography of about five hundred more items was published as a pamphlet in 1960.

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  • Merriam, Alan P. The Anthropology of Music. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1964.

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    A highly influential work which effected a change in direction of ethnomusicology to emphasis on the study of music in culture, this book surveys past accomplishments and sets new directions. Three chapters on methods and techniques are followed by subdivisions of music as a domain of culture, including chapters on the concept of music, learning and teaching, aesthetics, uses and functions of music, and more.

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  • Nettl, Bruno. Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology. New York: Free Press, 1964.

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    An early attempt to produce a graduate text on ethnomusicology as a field of research, this work emphasizes the analytical study of music with some coverage of the study of music in culture.

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  • Sachs, Curt. Vergleichende Musikwissenschaft—Musik der Fremdkulturen. Heidelberg, Germany: Quelle und Meyer, 1959.

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    First (and brief) attempt, originally published in 1930, at comprehensively surveying methods of scholarship and the character of world music, with short chapters on such diverse topics as tone systems, instruments, musicians, and spirituals aspects.

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Publications after 1965

The main purpose of the publications in this group is to introduce ethnomusicology comprehensively, with emphasis on current—or recently important—methods, theories, issues for a variety of readers. As a group, they illustrate the thinking of American and European scholars, indicating the ways in which they provide a unified perspective, and some of the national and disciplinary differences. Simon, et al. 1997–2002 and Pegg, et al. 2001 are lengthy articles in the two largest music encyclopedias (known colloquially as Grove and MGG), each by a group of distinguished authorities. Directed to scholarly users of these encyclopedias, their principal purpose is to show the relationship of ethnomusicology to music research at large. Myers 1992 and Nettl 2015 are the largest single-volume surveys—the first a multiauthor collection, and the second by one author—of ethnomusicology. Hood 1971 is principally a textbook for advanced students, with emphasis on music itself and on instruments, while Blacking 1973, briefer and directed to a diverse academic audience, tends to represent a more anthropological perspective. Aubert 2007, Arom and Alvarez-Péreyre 2007, Czekanowska 1971, and Rice 2014 all present the field briefly, and from different national perspectives, to an intellectual lay audience. Looking at this group of works in another way, changes in definition and approaches to the field can be traced by seeing these publications chronologically, with Hood 1971, Czekanowska 1971, and Blacking 1973 exhibiting viewpoints contrastive to those of the works published after 2000.

  • Arom, Simha, and Frank Alvarez-Péreyre. Précis d’ethnomusicologie. Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2007.

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    A short survey in three sections: the history of the field, concentrating on identifying schools of research; a summary of typical methods emphasizing transcription and analysis; and a detailed account of the relationship of ethnomusicology and general musicology.

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  • Aubert, Laurent. The Music of the Other: New Challenges for Ethnomusicology in a Global Age. Translated by Carla Ribeiro. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

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    Defines ethnomusicology as the intercultural study of music and introduces it from the perspective of challenges derived from changes in the world’s musical cultures, developments in technology, political and social change, and the need to justify ethnomusicology as a field beneficial to the world’s peoples. Originally in French, 2001.

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  • Blacking, John. How Musical Is Man? Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1973.

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    Four related essays discuss music as a human activity, emphasizing the qualitative equality of musics and the relationship of music to culture as a whole, with illustrations from the author’s experience of African musics and Western classical music. This work is included in the list of surveys because of the breadth of the author’s perspective, touching on all aspects of the field’s theories and methods.

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  • Czekanowska, Anna. Etnografia muzyczna: Metodologie i metodyka. Warsaw, Poland: Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1971.

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    An example of an introduction to the field in a language not widely read, this work by the foremost Polish ethnomusicologist surveys the field broadly, including interdisciplinary considerations, but also emphasizes the study of music, particularly folk music, through transcription and classification.

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  • Hood, Mantle. The Ethnomusicologist. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971.

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    In a book directed principally to graduate students as a text, the author surveys the field principally as the study of Asian art musics. Emphasis is on fieldwork and its methods, the transcription of music, and organology.

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  • Myers, Helen, ed. Ethnomusicology: An Introduction. New York: Norton, 1992.

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    A very important edited collection of essays on various aspects of methodology and theory. Of special value are long and authoritative chapters on field research by Myers, transcription by Ter Ellingson, analysis by Stephen Blum, and ethics by Mark Slobin. Appendices providing practical information including the Hornbostel-Sachs instrument classification are helpful.

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  • Nettl, Bruno. The Study of Ethnomusicology: Thirty-Three Discussions. 3d ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015.

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    The third, expanded edition of a work first published in 1983, it consists of essays discussing many issues and concepts confronted by ethnomusicologists. Divided into six sections each of which contemplates a major area of ethnomusicological endeavor—definition of music and its universals; the study of music as sound and structure; fieldwork; music in culture; the variety of the world’s musics; the diversity of the field’s perspectives.

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  • Pegg, Carole, Helen Myers, Philip Bohlman, and Martin Stokes. “Ethnomusicology.” In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2d ed. Vol. 8. Edited by Stanley Sadie, 367–403. London: Macmillan, 2001.

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    A thorough encyclopedic treatment by four authorities—Carole Pegg, Helen Myers, Philip Bohlman, and Martin Stokes—with emphasis on history and on the different regional and national schools of thought. This work also appears in Grove Music Online.

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  • Rice, Timothy. Ethnomusicology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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    A short survey of the field directed to intellectuals in other areas, covering more briefly what Merriam 1964 (cited under Early Works), Myers 1992, and Nettl 2015 deal with more extensively, but from Rice’s personal and imaginative point of view.

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  • Simon, Artur, Dieter Christensen, Gérard Behague, and Daniel Goldenhuys. “Musikethnologie.” In Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Rev. ed. Vol. 6. Edited by Ludwig Finscher, 1259–1291. Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter, 1997–2002.

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    A thorough survey of ethnomusicological approaches and methods with emphasis on their history, and with subdivisions devoted to scholarship in various parts of the world.

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Anthologies of Printed Music

Publications that contain notations of music are important to all musicologists, though somewhat less so to ethnomusicologists, because of the paramount significance of recordings in the research project. There is no comprehensive survey of notations of non-Western music. The publications in the following list are national or regional collections of notations or anthologies that have had a special significance, on account of their priority or because they became models.

  • Bartók, Béla. Hungarian Folk Music. London: Oxford University Press, 1931.

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    Best known as a composer, Bartók was a pioneer in putting together collections (from recordings made by himself in the field) of the folksongs of individual nations, classified by musical characteristics, notated, and analyzed. This collection, the most prominent of several made by Bartók in various Balkan nations, is noted for its detailed accompanying analytical apparatus. First published in Hungarian in 1924, containing about three hundred tunes, it became a model for European folk music collectors.

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  • Bronson, Bertrand H. The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1959–1972.

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    All of the tunes discovered by Bronson to have been associated with the 299 traditional ballads numbered by Francis James Child and regarded as the canon of ballad history and scholarship. Bronson reproduced thousands of tunes—around 150 for some of the most widely collected ballads such as “Barbara Allen” and “Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight”—from published, manuscript, and recorded sources in North America, the United Kingdom, and occasionally elsewhere.

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  • Deutsches Volksliedarchiv. Deutsche Volkslieder mit ihren Melodien. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1935–1974.

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    A vast collection made, over four decades, of German (i.e., Germanophone) folksongs, with words and music, arranged by textual and not musical relationships, with copious bibliographic information and commentary on both texts and music.

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  • Levine, Victoria Lindsay. Writing American Indian Music: Historic Transcriptions, Notations, and Arrangements. Music of the U.S.A., Vol. 11. Middleton, WI: A-R Editions, 2002.

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    An anthology, and a detailed study, of notated transcriptions of Native American music by scholars and others, beginning in the 18th century, representing many approaches, and with detailed commentary on each transcription. It thus functions also as a history of transcription. Notations by Native Americans and arrangements of Native songs by American composers are included.

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  • Lomax, Alan. The Folk Songs of North America in the English Language. New York: Doubleday, 1960.

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    A classic collection of three hundred songs representing various English-language traditions, divided by region (North, South, West, and African American). Sources are given, and piano and guitar accompaniment provided for some.

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  • Sharp, Cecil J. English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. London: Oxford University Press, 1952.

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    A classic collection of folk songs collected largely in Virginia, the Carolinas, Kentucky, and Tennessee, known to be of English origin, arranged by textual relationships but ordered in a way so as to make musical study convenient. This became the model for dozens of regional and state-oriented folk music collections made in the United States after 1930. Originally published in 1932.

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Bibliographies and Directories

Bibliographic resources, directories, and the related discographies for recent research are found in a variety of electronic sources. Among printed sources, from 1953 until around 2008 (when it had gradually divested itself of the commitment), the Society for Ethnomusicology maintained a “Current Bibliography” and “Current Discography” in the printed issues of the journal Ethnomusicology until 2000, then in separate electronic files. There is no modern current bibliography of the field as a whole, but readers should turn to more specialized bibliographies. The short list below may be helpful for a perspective of earlier materials and trends. Briegleb 1970 is valuable as an account of archives in the earlier history of this field. The largest general surveys of the field, for example, Myers 1992 and Nettl 2015 (both cited under Publications after 1965), provide bibliographies listing hundreds of items. Kunst 1959 contains a bibliography of forty-five hundred items valuable for the early period of ethnomusicology. Post 2004 is particularly helpful because it is the only 21st-century bibliography of ethnomusicology that while being selective comes close to being comprehensive. Keeling 1997 illustrates a type of regional bibliography important to ethnomusicologists.

Journals

A number of journals serve the field of ethnomusicology in the scholarly academy. The following list names the most prominent, and among them, Ethnomusicology has been the most influential and has most produced the largest number of articles of significance to the entire field. Asian Music, Latin-American Music Review, and Black Music Research Journal are geographically or topically defined, although they accept general articles of unusual theoretical significance. All others accept articles on any aspect of the field, include reviews of books and recordings, and are peer-reviewed. After the brief appearance of Zeitschrift für vegleichende Musikwissenschaft in the early 1930s, no periodical devoted explicitly to ethnomusicology appeared until the almost simultaneous emergence of the predecessors of Ethnomusicology and the Yearbook for Traditional Music about 1950. As the field developed and its population of scholars increased, World of Music and Ethnomusicology Forum were established without, however, filling markedly distinctive niches. Major articles in the field of ethnomusicology have also appeared in general musicological journals not listed here, such as Journal of the American Musicological Society and Musical Quarterly, as well as folklore journals such as Journal of American Folklore.

  • Asian Music: Journal of the Society for Asian Music. 1970–.

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    In addition to standard articles on ethnomusicological research involving the cultures of Asia as well as Asian diasporas, this journal includes historical studies, and many special issues on national and thematic topics.

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  • Black Music Research Journal. 1980–.

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    The official journal of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College, Chicago, this semiannual journal publishes articles about the philosophy, aesthetics, history, and criticism of black music.

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  • Ethnomusicology: Journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology. 1958–.

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    The leading journal of this field, covering the field broadly but with emphasis on articles of general theoretical significance. Most authors are North American, but about 25 percent of the articles are by scholars from other nations. Includes lengthy review sections for books, recordings, and films and, until 2000, a substantial “Current Bibliography” section. It was preceded by the Ethnomusicology Newsletter (1953–1957, nos. 1–11).

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  • Ethnomusicology Forum. 2004–.

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    The journal of the British ethnomusicological society, publishes scholarly articles on all aspects of ethnomusicology, but emphasizes theoretical issues, largely but not entirely by scholars in the United Kingdom. Published by the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, it was preceded by the British Journal for Ethnomusicology, 1992–2003.

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  • Latin-American Music Review. Revista de musical Latino Americana. 1980–.

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    Publishes scholarly ethnomusicological as well as historical articles on Latin American music, and music of Latin American communities in North America and elsewhere, in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.

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  • World of Music. 1959–.

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    Originally the journal of the Institute for Comparative Musical Studies founded by Alain Daniélou in Berlin, this has become a general periodical journal of ethnomusicological content, with articles largely by European scholars, and with frequent special issues on topics such as improvisation and modernization. Now published by the Musicology Department, University of Göttingen.

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  • Yearbook for Traditional Music. 1949–.

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    Originally titled Journal of the International Folk Music Council; changed title to Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council in 1969 (new Vol. 1), and to current title in 1984 (from Vol. 16). Published by the International Council for Traditional Music. The journal—one annual issue—of the principal explicitly international organization of ethnomusicology, with an international array of authors. Many issues consist of presentation of the organization’s biennial meetings.

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  • Zeitschrift für vergleichende Musikwissenschaft. 1933–1935.

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    Listed here because it was the earliest journal in its discipline and contains articles (in German, French, or English) by some of the founders of the field. This periodical was short-lived, having been abolished by the German government for reason of racial policies.

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The History of Ethnomusicology

Ethnomusicologists have maintained a strong interest in the history of their discipline, and most of the surveys of the field provide a historical perspective. A substantial body of literature is devoted specifically to this subject. The list below presents four categories: (1) narrative histories of the field; (2) histories of individual aspects of the field; (3) studies that played particularly prominent roles in the development of the field, divided into 19th- and 20th-century publications; and (4) collections of essays by major figures in this history

Histories

The publications in this group deal with the history of ethnomusicology comprehensively. McLean 2006 is the most comprehensive. Myers 1993 provides histories of the field in many nations and regions. The essays in Bohlman 2013 contemplate the history of research on world music from many perspectives. Nettl 2010 presents a group of essays covering the gamut of ethnomusicological history from the perspective of one author, while Nettl and Bohlman 1991 presents over twenty essays by an international group of scholars on a large variety of aspects and topics in the intellectual history of this field. Aretz 1991 provides information on scholars in an area of the world often neglected in general accounts of the field.

  • Aretz, Isabel. Historia de la ethnomusicologia en America Latina. Caracas, Venezuela: DUNDEF, 1991.

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    History of the discipline, with emphasis on bibliography and institutions, by country and by topic.

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  • Bohlman, Philip V., ed. The Cambridge History of World Music. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

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    A compendium of thirty-five very diverse essays that deal with musics of the world—in traditional and modern fused manifestations—in their interrelationships, with emphasis, throughout, on perspectives of intellectual history and the relationship of music to other domains of culture.

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  • McLean, Mervyn. Pioneers of Ethnomusicology. Coral Springs, FL: Llumina, 2006.

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    The only book that provides a comprehensive and detailed narration of the history of ethnomusicology. The author has strong opinions on the directions chosen by certain scholars. Vitas of one hundred ethnomusicologists and folk music scholars who were deceased by the time of publication are included. Also of importance are many photographs, a detailed chronology, and a substantial bibliography.

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  • Myers, Helen, ed. Ethnomusicology: Historical and Regional Studies. New York: Norton, 1993.

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    Accounts, in the form of essays written from a variety of perspectives, of the development of ethnomusicology in many of the world’s nations and all of the world’s major areas, largely by scholars from these areas. They are somewhat uneven in length and quality, but the book includes a number of distinguished and truly valuable contributions.

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  • Nettl, Bruno. Nettl’s Elephant: On the History of Ethnomusicology. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

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    A collection of the author’s essays on the history of ethnomusicology, about two-thirds published previously in a variety of contexts, the rest original.

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  • Nettl, Bruno, and Philip V. Bohlman, eds. Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music Essays on the History of Ethnomusicology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.

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    A book of essays resulting from a 1988 conference on many aspects of the history of this field, some (e.g., Anthony Seeger’s discussion of ethnography) viewing the discipline as a whole, and others (e.g., Charles Capwell on S. M. Tagore and N. A. Jairazbhoy on A. Bake) treating individual figures and events.

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On Selected Aspects of the History

Listed here are some of the most important of the studies that shed light on particular aspects of the history of ethnomusicology, from a variety of perspectives. Katz 2003 and Bick 2013 deal with individual incidents—the establishment of world music in the New School (New York) and of the ethnomusicological archives in Jerusalem. Sachs 1962 gives his evaluation of the early history of ethnomusicology, and Schneider 1976 critiques the role of music research in a major historical movement in anthropology. Ziegler 2006 contributes to the history of a major collection of field recordings, and Wilgus 1959 describes the history of research in one genre of music. Together, this group—a modest selection from a large body of literature—illustrates the variety of publications that speak to this issue.

  • Bick, Sally. “In the Tradition of Dissent: Music at the New School for Social Research 1926–33.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 66 (2013): 129–190.

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    Provides important information about the beginnings of the teaching of ethnomusicological subjects in America, by Charles Seeger and Henry Cowell in the New School for Social Research.

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  • Carlin, Richard. Worlds of Sound: The Story of Smithsonian Folkways. New Yok: HarperCollins, 2008.

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    A history of Folkways Records, a record company founded by Moses Asch, which, as the foremost producer of recordings of folk and non-Western music, in both popular and scholarly formats, served both the ethnomusicological profession and the music-loving public. When Folkways was dissolved after Asch’s death, it was taken over by the Smithsonian Institution and continues as a foremost producer of recordings useful to scholars and educators.

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  • Katz, Ruth. The Lachmann Problem: An Unsung Chapter in Comparative Musicology. Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnus Press, 2003.

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    A detailed account of the attempts of Robert Lachmann to establish ethnomusicological studies and a research center in Jerusalem, with considerable information in ethnomusicology in Germany before and under the Nazis.

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  • Sachs, Curt. The Wellsprings of Music. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1962.

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    A conjectural history of early human music, this book, the last in a long series by this monumental figure, contains a number of sections discussing the history of ethnomusicology, particularly its early period, and its concern with covering prehistory and early history of human music.

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  • Schneider, Albrecht. Musikwissenschaft und Kulturkreislehre. Bonn, Germany: Verlag für systematische Musikwissenschaft, 1976.

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    An account and thorough critique of the relationships of prominent ethnomusicologists, largely German, in the period before 1950, to the anthropological school associated with the concept of “Kulturkreis.” Although essentially discredited after World War II, this approach to the geographic distribution of cultural artifacts and its implication for history played a significant role in the pre-1950 development of comparative musicology.

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  • Wilgus, D. K. Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship since 1898. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1959.

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    An extensive history of the study of English-language folksongs in North America and the U.K. in the first half of the 20th century, following the landmark publication of Francis James Child’s collection of English and Scottish ballads. Wilgus includes publications and collections of music as well as of the words of folksongs in this history.

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  • Ziegler, Susanne. Die Wachszylinder des Berliner Phonogrammarchivs. Berlin: Ethnologisches Museum—Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 2006.

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    Essentially a catalogue of the thousands of wax cylinders of non-Western (and some European folk) music recordings in the longest-standing archive of recordings, established by the fathers of the discipline in 1901. This large work includes a historical account of the archive (with English summary) and a historical sketch of each individual collection. Biographies (about two hundred words) of several hundred collectors and a comprehensive bibliography enhance this valuable work.

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Works that Played a Significant Role in the History of the Field

The history of a discipline may revolve around a number of landmarks—discoveries; theoretical, technical, or methodological innovations; transformative insights—which may result in publications. The following list is a small selection of such publications, divided into a group of works which, as it were, gave the discipline its start, published before 1905 (i.e., Hornbostel 1904–1905, cited under Early Works), and a group of 20th-century milestones.

Publications before 1905

The following works were the first of their kind or the first to argue for the existence of ethnomusicology, ending with Hornbostel 1904–1905 (listed under Early Works). Herder and Bohlman 2017 provides work by Herder, arguably the first to deal intellectually with folk and national music. As a counterpart, Baker 1976 was the first book-length work to take seriously the music of tribal societies. Adler 1885 established a framework for a holistic discipline of musicology, including the predecessor of ethnomusicology, while Ellis 1885, appearing in the same year, argued for a holistic approach to the study of musical scales and tone systems. Stumpf 1886 established a format for the description of the musical style of a small society, and Fletcher 1904 provides a model for describing the interacting components, including music, of a complex tribal ceremony.

  • Adler, Guido. “Umfang, Methode und Ziel der Musikwissenschaft.” Vierteljahrschrift für Musikwissenschaft 1 (1885): 5–20.

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    The article usually regarded as the starting point of musicology as a discipline. It divides the discipline into categories of “historical” and “systematic,” the latter containing what became ethnomusicology, using the terms “Musikologie” and “vergleichende Musikwissenschaft,” an area which Adler singles out as being particularly promising. Translated by Erica Mugglestone, “Guido Adler’s ‘The Scope, Method, and Aim of Musicology’ (1885): An English Translation with an Historico-Analytical Commentary,” Yearbook for Traditional Music 13: 1–21, 1981.

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  • Baker, Theodore. On the Music of the North American Indians. Translated by Ann Buckley. Buren, The Netherlands: Frits Knuf, 1976.

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    Originally published in 1882 in German as Über die Musik der nordamrikanischen Wilden, this is the first book on North American Indian music, attempting to make generalizations on musical style and the use of music in Native life. Of strictly historical interest today, it preceded even the earliest development of the predecessor of ethnomusicology

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  • Ellis, Alexander J. “On the Musical Scales of Various Nations.” Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 33 (1885): 485–527.

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    An article that is often regarded as the starting point for ethnomusicology, because it proposes comparative study. Concludes that all of the world’s musics are equally natural (or unnatural), and suggests that the music of the world consists of a large number of distinct musics.

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  • Fletcher, Alice C. The Hako: A Pawnee Ceremony. Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, pt. 2. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1904.

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    An early landmark in musical ethnography, this detailed account of a single complex Native American ceremony provides notations of songs along with their words and descriptions of activities along with comments and analysis.

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  • Herder, Johann Gottfried, and Philip V. Bohlman. Song Loves the Masses: Herder on Music and Nationalism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520234949.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An anthology of the writings of Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) about folk music. Herder is arguably the inventor of the concept of folk music and perhaps the first serious scholar of folk music. A number of his essays and excerpts from his books are presented, translated here by Bohlman, who also provides lengthy commentaries

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  • Stumpf, Carl. “Lieder der Bellakula-Indianer.” Vierteljahrschrift für Musikwissenschaft 2 (1886): 405–426.

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    The earliest detailed presentation of a Native American tribal repertory, with transcriptions (made before the advent of recording by notating during the performance) and analyses, and with insightful commentary on the problems of dealing with music foreign to the investigator.

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Works Published after 1905

The following list provides the first of types of studies that were later to characterize the field. Stumpf 2012 (first published in 1911) begins the long series of publications dealing with the origins of music by examining musics of tribal societies. Densmore 1918 and Merriam 1967 provided models, in totally different ways, for giving a comprehensive account of a musical culture. Herzog 1934 is the first in a series of studies examining the ways music is composed in cultures with tone languages. Herzog 1928 and Kolinski 1965 are early works establishing contrasting methods for comparative study.

  • Densmore, Frances. Teton Sioux Music. Bull. 61 of the Bureau of American Ethnology. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1918.

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    An early and the most comprehensive book by Densmore, the most prolific author on American Indian music, who wrote monographs on around twenty Native American tribal repertories. Although now regarded as obsolete, it is an early attempt to survey comprehensively and with hundreds of notations the repertory of a Native people, and includes some information about the singers and about the cultural context of individual songs.

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  • Herzog, George. “The Yuman Musical Style.” Journal of American Folklore 41 (1928): 183–231.

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    First article about a tribal repertory by the principal American ethnomusicologist working before 1950. Herzog’s publications on these repertories follow a method and organization—notably including discussion of singing style—that became standard in the study of individual musical cultures for some decades.

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  • Herzog, George. “Speech-Melody and Primitive Music.” Musical Quarterly 20 (1934): 452–466.

    DOI: 10.1093/mq/XX.4.452Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A classic study of the relationship of text and tune in cultures with tone languages, using illustrations from the Navajo and the Jabo (Liberia), and concludes that the language tone system is often violated when set to music.

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  • Kolinski, Mieczyslaw. “The General Direction of Melodic Movement.” Ethnomusicology 9 (1965): 240–264.

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    One of the foremost and earliest proponents of comparative method, Kolinski developed rating systems for comparing elements of music in various repertories, and he published numerous articles about melody, scale, rhythm, tempo, and harmony, using these methods to discover unity and diversity in world music. The article cited here is a readily accessible sample.

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  • McAllester, David P. Enemy Way Music. Peabody Museum Papers, Vol. 41, no. 3. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Peabody Museum, 1954.

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    An early classic in the study of the relationship of music to other elements of culture, this work investigates the representation of cultural values in the music of a major Navajo ceremony.

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  • Merriam, Alan P. Ethnomusicology of the Flathead Indians. Chicago: Aldine, 1967.

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    The first work to provide a comprehensive description and analysis of the music of one (small) society from an anthropological perspective. Merriam deals separately with the ideas about music, activities involving music, and musical style (using transcription and analytical methods derived from Herzog). A major classic, this work led to a large number of works undertaking similar tasks, though often with different approaches.

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  • Stumpf, Carl. The Origins of Music. Edited and translated by David Trippett. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695737.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Prize-winning centennial translation of a book, Die Anfänge der Tonkunst, originally published in German in 1911 that was in its time regarded as a major work of the field. It contributes discussion on origin theories and music of indigenous societies.

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Collected Essays by Major Figures in the History of Ethnomusicology

Most ethnomusicologists of note did not write books that summarized their findings and views but published numbers of significant articles. In the case of some of these scholars, collections of essays and articles were published with editors’ comments. Each of the authors of the books listed below engaged with a number of significant issues in ethnomusicology. The publications listed below, then, represent the core of thinking and scholarship of five authors all of whom are regarded as major figures in the history of the field. Each work contains essays that have become landmarks in the development of ethnomusicology. Hornbostel 1986 represents the scholar most often titled as the founder of ethnomusicology, while Seeger 1977 represents work by the person most associated with the founding of a distinctly American school of musicology. Brailoiu 1973 contains articles by the most prominent Romanian folk music scholar, while Lomax 2003 samples the great variety of interests of a very prominent American collector, folk music scholar, and theoretician. Blacking 1995 presents major articles by the person who is arguably the most influential ethnomusicologist after 1970.

  • Blacking, John. Music, Culture and Experience: Selected Papers. Edited by Reginald Byron. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

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    Eight major essays provide an overview of the work of Blacking (1928–1990) after the publication of Blacking 1973 (cited under Publications after 1965). A thirty-page introduction by the editor summarizes Blacking’s contributions. The essays include his studies of Venda musical culture and his critical views of music and politics, the description of music, musical change, and music as symbol.

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  • Brailoiu, Constantin. Problèmes d’ethnomusicologie. Textes réunis et préfaces par Gilbert Rouget. Geneva, Switzerland: Minkoff Reprint, 1973.

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    Representing European ethnomusicological thought in the second half of the 20th century, Brailoiu (1893–1958) was concerned with maintaining an association between studies of folk in Western and classical musics. This selection of his work includes studies of Balkan folk songs, contemplations on musical creation in village cultures, and the study of Balkan rhythms.

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  • Hornbostel, Erich M. von. Tonart und Ethos: Aufsätze zur Musikethnologie und Musikpsychologie. Edited by Christian Kaden and Erich Stockmann. Leipzig: Reclam, 1986.

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    Hornbostel (1877–1935), a prolific scholar, did not write a book synthesizing his thought. This small anthology includes some of his important works such as a study of birdsong, a theoretical statement about scales, music of Tierra del Fuego, and the first article (written with Otto Abraham) making detailed recommendations for transcribing musical recordings.

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  • Lomax, Alan. Selected Writings 1934–1997. Edited by Ronald D. Cohen. New York: Routledge, 2003.

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    Lomax (1915–2002), a major figure in the history of 20th-century American music, published widely, and this volume provides a selection of his scholarly writings, articles for popular consumption, record liner notes, and more. It includes two of his most important contributions to ethnomusicology, the articles “Folk Song Style (1959) and “Song Structure and Social Structure” (1962)

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  • Seeger, Charles. Studies in Musicology 1835–1975. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977.

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    Seeger (1886–1979) a scholar and intellectual leader, who worked to establish ethnomusicology and integrate it with the other domains of musicology, did not write a book but published many influential articles, most of them included here. The ones exhibiting the variety of Seeger’s ethnomusicological interests include “Prescriptive and Descriptive Music Writing” (1958) and “Versions and Variants of Barbara Allen” (1966).

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Surveys and Introductions to Musics of the World’s Cultures

Although ethnomusicology and world music are not equivalent terms, surveys of world music and of major world areas are among the principal tools providing entry into the discipline. This list includes work used by researchers as well as a small sampling of the textbooks used to introduce students to the subject. Titon 2004 and Rommen 2016 are multiauthor texts suited for courses in musics of the world’s cultures, and provide chapters on all major world areas. Reck 1977, Malm 1977, and Miller and Shahriari 2006 are explicit textbooks whose authors make forays into world areas. All of these have gone through several editions. Fletcher 2001, by contrast, surveys the world’s musics in a style suited to readers with a broad education and a principal interest in history. Two multivolume works provide encyclopedic coverage. The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (Nettl and Stone 1997–2002) is a unique publication, providing information on all of the world’s musics, largely through essays on specific repertories, cultures, instruments, and issues, with a final volume of summaries and reference materials. Wade and Campbell 2003– is more accessible but less comprehensive.

  • Fletcher, Peter. World Musics in Context: A Comprehensive Survey of the World’s Musical Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    A survey of world music directed to lay readers, with emphasis on the histories of the musics discussed, and with explicit inclusion of Western music.

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  • Malm, William P. Music Cultures of the Pacific, the Near East, and Asia. 2d ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1977.

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    A survey (first edition 1965), directed to advanced music students, of the musics of South, East, and Southeast Asia and the Middle East. It is paired with Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents by Bruno Nettl (1st ed. 1965), about Europe, the Americas, and sub-Saharan Africa.

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  • Manuel, Peter. Popular Music of the Non-Western World: An Introductory Survey. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

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    A survey of popular music—best defined as music disseminated by the mass media of recording, radio, and television—in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. In earlier ethnomusicological work, popular music was generally ignored because of its commercial character. Manuel’s publication began a movement in which the direction of ethnomusicology was substantially changed to encompass and eventually emphasize popular music and to concentrate on cultural fusions of various sorts.

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  • Miller, Terry, and Andrew Shahriari. World Music: A Global Journey. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    A text for undergraduates which introduces the world’s musics area by area, associating each with a characterizing concept (e.g., spiritual dimensions for South Asia, rhythm for Africa).

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  • Nettl, Bruno, and Ruth Stone, eds. The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. New York: Routledge, 1997–2002.

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    A ten-volume survey of world music from many perspectives. Each volume is devoted to a major world area—for example, South Asia, Europe—and contains twenty to thirty essays on various types of subdivisions of the area—geographic and ethnic groupings, genres, perspectives such as instruments, musicians, history. Although encyclopedic in scope and valuable, this is not an encyclopedia in the usual sense, and specific information may be hard to find.

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  • Reck, David. Music of the Whole Earth. New York: Scribner, 1977.

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    A text using elements of music such as melody, harmony, rhythm, and instruments as a point of departure for a description of world music. In contrast to other texts, it emphasizes universals over cultural differences.

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  • Rommen, Timothy, ed. Excursions in World Music. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2016.

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    A text (first edition 1992) by eight authors describing the music of eleven world areas. Each chapter is written by a scholar with field experience on its music, and each chapter begins with description of an event or person which is then used as a point of departure for the more general account of the musical culture.

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  • Titon, Jeff Todd, ed. Worlds of Music: An Introduction to Music of the World’s Peoples. 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Schirmer/Thomson Learning, 2004.

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    A widely used text directed to undergraduates, first published in 1984 and gradually expanded, with individual chapters on exemplars of musics—communities, repertories, genres—representing a dozen cultures from all continents. Each chapter is by a recognized authority on its subject.

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  • Wade, Bonnie C., and Patricia S. Campbell, eds. Global Music Series. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003–.

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    A series of short (approximately 150-page) books each of which describes a musical culture defined geographically (e.g., Music in China; Music in the Andes) or by repertory (e.g., Carnival Music in Trinidad), each by an authoritative author, usable as texts or background reading for advanced undergraduate or graduate students as well as orientation for the musically educated reader. Beginning in 2003, this series consisted of twenty-six volumes in 2016 and continues expansion.

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Publications on Particular Approaches to Research

A major body of literature in ethnomusicology consists of studies that deal with approaches to research and to methodology, sometimes via discussion of a body of literature, sometimes as part of the presentation and description of a specific musical style, repertories, instrument, or issue, The works in this section illustrate this type of literature from five perspectives: musical and cultural change and history; music and social theory; methodology of research; gender studies; and applied ethnomusicology.

History and Change

These publications illustrate approaches to history, in the broadest sense, in sampling of prominent publications, but it must be noted that many items in this bibliography deal with issues of origins, history, and change. The earliest era in history is illustrated in Wallin, et al. 2000, while Sachs 1937 (on dance, but with much coverage of music) and Sachs 1943 view music of indigenous peoples as an indication of early stages in human music. Shiloah 1995 presents a historian’s perspective of music in the thinking of the early centuries of Islam. Jurková and Bidgood 2009 looks at continuity and change in the recent history of minority cultures. Blum, et al. 1991 and Bohlman 2013 each presents a variety of approaches to understanding history in an intercultural context. The prominence of essay collections reflects the importance of such publications in ethnomusicology since around 1990, and the desire of authors and editors to present it as a field with a variety of approaches.

  • Blum, Stephen, Philip V. Bohlman, and Daniel M. Neuman, eds. Ethnomusicology and Modern Music History. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991.

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    Each of these fifteen essays deals with a way in which ethnomusicology and historical musicology intersect by examining events and changes that took place in the 20th century. Examples: A. J. Racy on the 1932 Cairo congress on Arabic music; S. Slawek on the role of Ravi Shankar as mediator between traditional Hindustani music and Western art music.

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  • Bohlman, Philip V., ed. The Cambridge History of World Music. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

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    A large compendium of very diverse essays that explores musics of the world—in traditional and modern manifestations—in their interrelationships, with emphasis on historical perspectives. Also listed under Histories.

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  • Jurková, Zuzana, and Lee Bidgood, eds. Voices of the Weak: Music and Minorities. Prague, Czech Republic: NGO Slovo, 2009.

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    A collection that views ethnomusicology as significantly concerned with the music of minority populations and surveys research about a number of representative cultures.

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  • Sachs, Curt. World History of the Dance. New York: Norton, 1937.

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    A landmark history of dance and dancing, including non-Western cultures, this work provides a survey of non-Western music, particularly of indigenous societies.

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  • Sachs, Curt. The Rise of Music in the Ancient World, East and West. New York: Norton, 1943.

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    In the context of a history of the predecessors of Western music in the Greek and Roman era, this work provides a survey of non-Western music as context and as representative of the world’s earliest music.

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  • Shiloah, Amnon. Music in the World of Islam: A Socio-Cultural Study. Hants, UK: Scolar Press, 1995.

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    A group of essays by a foremost scholar of Middle Eastern music relating music, religion, and culture in a number of societies and historical periods.

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  • Wallin, Nils, Björn Merker, and Steven Brown, eds. The Origins of Music. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2000.

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    A series of essays, approaches to the understanding of the origins of music from the perspective of various sciences, with contributions on the universal concept and characteristics of music, universals, and music-like behavior in other species; the most important publication on the origins of music produced since about 1950.

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Theory

Although a large number of recent publications in ethnomusicology, while discussing specific musics and cultures, follow and discuss perspectives of social, anthropological, literary, and other forms of postmodern theory, the publications in this group are specifically about theory in ethnomusicological research and interpretation. Stone 2008 surveys this area with a historical perspective. Stokes 1994, Cook and Everist 1999, and Stobart 2008 are collections of essays most of which look critically at the theoretical perspectives taken by 20th-century music scholars, and propose changes and new directions. Rice 1987, Rice 2010, and Ruskin and Rice 2012 are a series of works advancing Timothy Rice’s effort to define ethnomusicology in terms of its purposes and structure.

Methodology

Considering the many diverse components of ethnomusicological research there are few manuals, but there is a modest literature bearing on techniques of research. Some of the works cited under “Overviews, Introductions, and Surveys” include chapters on methods and techniques. The list here is a sampling of more specialized approaches. Barz and Cooley 2008 is a collection about fieldwork, the primary data-gathering method. Kaufmann 1967 describes and makes possible interpretation of non-Western systems of musical notation. Hornbostel and Sachs 1961 presents the most widely used system for classifying musical instruments. Lomax 1968, Rahn 1983, and Tenzer and Roeder 2011 present different approaches to the analysis of music from an intercultural perspective. Arom 1991 illustrates a system of rhythmic analysis developed for a specific musical repertory.

  • Arom, Simha. African Polyphony and Polyrhythm: Musical Structure and Methodology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511518317Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores and presents methods of transcribing and analyzing the complex rhythmic structures of central African ensemble music. Original French publication.

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  • Barz, Gregory, and Timothy Cooley, eds. Shadows in the Field. 2d ed. rev. and expanded. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    A group of fifteen essays by largely American scholars giving detailed and often critical accounts of their own field experience. This is the only work devoted totally to the issues in fieldwork.

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  • Hornbostel, Erich M. von, and Curt Sachs. “Classification of Musical Instruments.” English translation by Anthony Baines and K. P. Wachsmann. Galpin Society Journal 14 (1961): 3–29.

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    Translation from the German original, “Systematik der Musikinstrumente.” Zeitschrift für Ethnologie (1914) 46: 553–590. The most important classification system for musical instruments, still widely used and based on earlier work by Victor Mahillon, and presenting the four principal classes of instruments—aerophones, chordophones, idiophones, and membranophones. Although not explicitly an ethnomusicological work, it presents a classification used more by ethnomusicologists than other scholars.

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  • Kaufmann, Walter. Musical Notations of the Orient. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1967.

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    Surveys notation systems in non-Western musical cultures, primarily those of India, China, Tibet, Japan, and Indonesia.

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  • Lomax, Alan. Folk Song Style and Culture. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1968.

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    Lomax’s landmark work presenting the technique and theory of cantometrics, whose purpose was to compare musics according to thirty-eight parameters—many of which involved singing style and performance practice—in order to draw conclusions about the relationship of musical style and culture. In the course of these studies, the styles of areas of the world are presented and compared.

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  • Rahn, Jay. A Theory for All Music: Problems and Solutions in the Analysis of Non-Western Forms. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983.

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    An early attempt by a scholars trained in both music theory and ethnomusicology to provide a system of music theory that can be use in the analytic study of any music, and in the comparative study of musics.

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  • Tenzer, Michael, and John Roeder, eds. Analytical and Cross-Cultural Studies in World Music. Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    A collection whose main purpose is to examine works, performances, and genres of non-Western music from an explicitly musical rather than an anthropologically informed perspective. Two studies concern the methodology and value of cross-cultural comparison.

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Gender Studies

Gender studies began to play a major role in ethnomusicology in the 1980s and has accounted for a considerable proportion of research since 2000. Koskoff 1987 and Moisala and Diamond 2000 provide studies of women in the musical culture of a number of non-Western societies. Brett, et al. 1994 is concerned principally with gender identity and music, Koskoff 2014 provides an overview of different kinds of studies carried out by one scholar over several decades.

  • Brett, Philip, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, eds. Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. New York: Routledge, 1994.

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    A series of essays on music of all sorts, but with emphasis on Western art music, as seen from the perspectives of gender identity.

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  • Koskoff, Ellen. A Feminist Ethnomusicology: Writings on Music and Gender. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014.

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    An anthology of the writings of the leading theoretician of the study of women in music, women’s music, and an approach to ethnomusicology from women’s perspectives, illustrating the development of this author’s approaches and accomplishments over three decades.

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  • Koskoff, Ellen, ed. Women and Music in Cross-Cultural Perspective. New York: Greenwood, 1987.

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    A pioneering group of studies of many different sorts, analyzing and critiquing the role of women in a variety of musical cultures, largely non-Western.

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  • Moisala, Pirkko, and Beverley Diamond, ed. Music and Gender. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

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    A series of essays, by an international group of authors, largely about the role, activities, and accomplishments of women in a large variety of contexts and themes, among them the image of women in a folk tradition, biographies of female musicians, women in the definition of nation, and the participation of women in musical technology.

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Applied Ethnomusicology

Applied ethnomusicology is a term widely used to designate research with practical is, such as contributing to music education, resolution of political and social conflict, health care, ecology, and the preservation of musical traditions. Titon 1992 and Harrison, et al. 2010 provide consideration of this field as a whole. Campbell 1991 and Solis 2004 contribute in contrastive ways to the role of ethnomusicology in musical education. O’Connell and Castelo-Branco 2010 give an accounting of the role of music in several instances of national and social conflict resolution. Koen 2008 presents real and potential contributions of ethnomusicology to heath care with an intercultural perspective. Schippers and Grant 2016 speaks to ways in which ethnomusicology can help to be the living preservation of musical cultures.

  • Campbell, Patricia Shehan. Lessons from the World. New York: Schirmer, 1991.

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    Surveys the musical cultures of the world from the perspective of the way in which they are taught and learned, directed to both music scholars and classroom music teachers.

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  • Harrison, Klisala, Elizabeth McKinlay, and Svanibor Pettan, eds. Applied Ethnomusicology: Historical and Contemporary Approaches. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2010.

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    A group of essays discussing and promoting approaches to research and study, in which ethnomusicological findings may benefit other areas of culture such as health care, conflict resolution, and social justice.

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  • Koen, Benjamin, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Medical Ethnomusicology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    A collection of essays illustrating various kinds of involvement of ethnomusicological findings and approaches to medical issues in the world’s cultures. Included are essays on music in nursing homes, the use of music in dealing with the problems of autism, and the use of music in combatting HIV-Aids in Africa.

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  • O’Connell, John Morgan, and Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco, ed. Music and Conflict. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

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    A collection of essays analyzing the role of music in cultural and national conflict, and in conflict resolution. The areas concerned include 20th-century conflicts in the Balkans, the Middle East, Korea, East Germany, Brazil, and the United States.

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  • Schippers, Huib, and Catherine Grant, ed. Sustainable Futures for Music Cultures: An Ecological Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

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    A group of essays directed to the preservation and continuation of diverse musical traditions throughout the world, in the face of Westernization and modernization. The basic assumption is that music traditions may be seen as ecosystems. The authors of these essays, largely ethnomusicologists, describe or recommend approaches and attitudes including contextualization, continued innovation, and building of an expression of national identity.

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  • Solis, Ted, ed. Performing Ethnomusicology: Teaching and Representation in World Music Ensembles. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

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    A collection of studies analyzing and interpreting the use of non-Western musical ensembles in American and European music education, particularly at the post-secondary level. Most of the authors are ethnomusicologists who direct ensembles such as gamelan mariachi, klezmer, African percussion, and Middle Eastern takht. An important issue is the ability to cross musical boundaries.

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  • Titon, Jeff Todd, ed. Special Issue: Ethnomusicology and the Public Interest. Ethnomusicology 36.3 (1992).

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    The first large-scale effort to draw the attention of ethnomusicologists to the opportunities of public-interest activities. The essays include discussions of strategies in applied ethnomusicology, ethnomusicologists as social activists, ethnomusicology and law, and the contributions of those in non-academic ethnomusicological careers.

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Exemplars of Ethnomusicological Research

This section is intended to give the user of this bibliography a sense of the kinds and varieties of research publications produced by ethnomusicologists in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It lists publications that are widely respected and recognized as important, but it is in no way an official list but reflects the judgment and preferences of the editor. They are divided into three categories—anthropology-oriented, music-oriented, and orientation from other fields—which reflect, very approximately, the kinds of approaches followed.

Anthropological Perspectives

These works, most by authors with a background in anthropology, are contributions to anthropology as well as to ethnomusicology, and reflect a variety of approaches to musical ethnography. Seeger 1988 describes a small tribal society, while Finnegan 1989 deals with a small urban culture. Ames and King 1971 and Feld 1982 both use language as the point of entry into the musical system, while Becker 2003 explores the relationship of music to emotion and trance. Mitchell 1978 sees a musical culture in detail through the eyes of one musician; Waterman 1990 uses a genre of music for the same purpose; while Neuman 1980 sees the relationship of teacher to student as being central.

  • Ames, David W., and Anthony V. King. Glossary of Hausa Music and Its Social Contexts. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1971.

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    These authors present the musical culture of a large Nigerian society by giving a dictionary of its musical terms and of terms that are important in musical life, importantly including instruments, kinds of persons involved in musical life, and ceremonies.

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  • Becker, Judith. Deep Listeners: Music, Emotion, and Trancing. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

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    A classic study of listeners’ cognition and responses to music, using approaches of psychology and cognitive science, with illustrations largely from Indonesian and American cultures.

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  • Feld, Steven. Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kabuli Expression. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.

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    A landmark study of the music of a small tribal society, noted for its treatment of the taxonomy of sounds including music, and the relationship of myths and music.

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  • Finnegan, Ruth. The Hidden Musicians. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

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    A study, carried out in the style of ethnomusicology, of musical life in a small British community, Milton Keynes, and focusing on both professional and amateur musicianship, on events, rehearsals, and the economics of musical life.

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  • Mitchell, Frank. Navajo Blessingway Singer. Edited by Charlotte Frisbie and David P. McAllester. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1978.

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    An autobiography, collected by the editors (and with their commentary and analysis) from the oral statements and accounts of the author, who was a major ceremonial figure in Navajo society. It functions as an ethnography that takes the perspective of one person as the point of departure.

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  • Neuman, Daniel M. The Life of Music in North India. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1980.

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    A study of Hindustani music from the perspective of the relationship between teachers and pupils (or “disciples”), the schools of musicians, social relations among musicians of Hindu and Muslim backgrounds, and the role of All-Indian Radio as a prominent patron of music.

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  • Seeger, Anthony. Why Suyá Sing. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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    Landmark ethnography of the musical culture of a small isolated tribe in Brazil, using as a point of departure and reference the “Mouse Ceremony,” a major ritual.

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  • Waterman, Christopher. Jùjú: A Social History and Ethnography of a West African Popular Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

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    A study of the background of Jùjú in the “Palmwine” and Highlife traditions of African popular music, as exhibited in Nigeria, particularly among the Yoruba people and in the city of Ibadan. This work contributes significantly to the understanding of social organization of musicians and of popular music as a response to colonialism.

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Musical Perspectives

Although maintaining an interest in music as a domain of culture, these publications give greater emphasis to the understanding of music itself. Berliner 1994 provides close analysis of jazz performances while Racy 2003 explains Arab music from the dual perspectives of performer and listener. Vander 1988 analyzes the repertories of five singers in one society; Charry 2000 provides a comparison of traditional and modern genres in one society. Tenzer 2000 provides a detailed musicological approach to one genre of Balinese music.

  • Berliner, Paul. Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226044521.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A voluminous and comprehensive study of jazz musicians in New York and Chicago, indicating how they learn their art, their methods of improvisation, how they think about improvisation, and how they interact musically and socially. It contains transcriptions of many performances and passages of music.

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  • Charry, Eric. Mande Music: Traditional and Modern Music of the Maninka and Mandinka of Western Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

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    A comprehensive musical ethnography of a large culture group mainly in Mali, covering ideas about music, musical behavior, and many aspects of musical style.

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  • Racy, Ali Jihad. Making Music in the Arab World: The Culture and Artistry of Tarab. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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    Analysis of classical Arabic music as practiced in the late 20th century, with emphasis on the relationship between performer and audience, the imparting of emotional content, improvisation, and gender issues, by an ethnomusicologist who is also a performer of this music.

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  • Tenzer, Michael. Gamelan Gong Kebyar: The Art of Twentieth-Century Balinese Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

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    A study of a gamelan genre that developed through the 20th century and that features complex interactions among instruments in a large orchestra. Although attention is given to the social relationships among musicians and parts and the role of this genre in contemporary Balinese culture, Tenzer is mainly concerned with explaining the structure of the music and the techniques used to compose and perform it.

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  • Vander, Judith. Songprints: The Musical Experience of Five Shoshone Women. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

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    A musical ethnography of the Shoshone people using the personal experience and individual repertories of five women as a guide.

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A Sampling of Other or Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Other, and interdisciplinary, approaches are illustrated here. Reyes 1999 and Brinner 2009 deal with social and political issues related to music, as does—from a different perspective—Agawu 2003. Danielson 1997 and Turino 2008 speak in different ways to nationalism. Solis and Nettl 2009 present a variety of approaches to one form of music-making. Madrid 2009 presents an ethnomusicological perspective on early-20th-century art music. Dependence on other disciplines is illustrated by Scales 2012 (modern recording technology), Wade 1998 (art history), Wolf 2014 (literary art), and Turino 2008 (semiotics). Agawu 2003, Turino 2008, Solis and Nettl 2009, and Reyes 1999, in the course of presenting research on specific musics, also contribute importantly to the critique of ethnomusicological method.

  • Agawu, V. Kofi. Representing African Music: Postcolonial Notes, Queries, Positions. New York: Routledge, 2003.

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    Agawu, a native of Ghana trained as a musicologist and music theorist, looks critically at the relationship between Western-derived scholarship and African musical culture, and the relationship between cultural insider and outsider that is central to the ethnomusicological enterprise.

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  • Brinner, Benjamin. Playing Across a Divide: Israeli-Palestinian Musical Encounters. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195395945.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of music and musical life in Israel and the West Bank, concentrating on the role of Arabic music in Israel.

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  • Danielson, Virginia. The Voice of Egypt: Umm Kulthum, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226136080.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A biography of the famous singer, and a detailed discussion of her repertory and of individual songs, as related to the history of Egyptian society and politics in the 20th century, this work is a contribution to ethnomusicology and to historical musicology.

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  • Koskoff, Ellen. Music in Lubavitcher Life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

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    An ethnography, written from the perspective of the author as participant, but with a historical perspective, of the musical life of the Lubavitcher community of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn, New York.

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  • Madrid, Alejandro. Sounds of the Modern Nation: Music, Culture and Ideas in Post-Revolutionary Mexico. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009.

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    An example of historical ethnomusicology, this work explores the development of modernist and avant-garde art music styles and aesthetics in Mexico in relation to the social and cultural changes that affected the country after the 1910–1920 revolution.

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  • Reyes, Adelaida. Songs of the Caged, Songs of the Free: Music and the Vietnamese Refugee Experience. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999.

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    Study of musical life in a Vietnamese refugee camp in the Philippines, and conclusions about the role of music in specialized environments of this type.

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  • Scales, Christopher. Recording Culture: Powwow Music and the Aboriginal Recording Industry on the Northern Plains. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822395720Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An ethnomusicological study that concentrates on the recording industry in the mesial cultures that is the subject of research—Native American peoples in inland western Canada—with attention to economic issues and technology as well as musical style and social structure.

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  • Solis, Gabriel, and Bruno Nettl, ed. Musical Improvisation: Art, Education, and Society. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

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    An anthology of studies of improvisation significant because it presents perspectives from music, anthropology, music education, as well as dance, and because it is among the few works on improvisation that include coverage of non-Western, jazz, and Western art music.

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  • Turino, Thomas. Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

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    A study of music in several cultures with which the author has done research, emphasizing the use of semiotics (in the style of C. S. Peirce) for analysis, and introducing the concept of music as primarily a process experienced in four ways—presentational, participatory, high fidelity recording, and studio art recording.

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  • Wade, Bonnie. Imaging Sound: An Ethnomusicological Study of Music, Art, and Culture in Mughal India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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    A major study of musical iconography—the representation of music in works of art—from a historical perspective, emphasizing the relationship of music and visual art.

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  • Wolf, Richard K. The Voice in the Drum: Music, Language, and Emotion in Islamicate South India. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014.

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    Presentation of Pakistani drumming culture that is unique because it makes use of a combination of traditional ethnographic writing and the format of a novel.

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