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  1. Oct 15, 2021 · Ethnomusicology is a field of musical study that examines how music relates to the society and culture in which it is created. See how the field evolved throughout history and how it is practiced ...

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    Ethnomusicologists study a wide range of topics and musical practices throughout the world. It is sometimes described as the study of non-Western music or “world music,” as opposed to musicology, which studies Western European classical music. However, the field is defined more by its research methods (i.e., ethnography, or immersive fieldwork within a given culture) than its topics. Thus, ethnomusicologists can study anything from folkloric music to mass-mediated popular music to musical practices associated with elite classes.

    The field, as it is currently named, emerged in the 1950s, but ethnomusicology originated as “comparative musicology” in the late 19th century. Linked to the 19th-century European focus on nationalism, comparative musicology emerged as a project of documenting the different musical features of diverse regions of the world. The field of musicology was established in 1885 by Austrian scholar Guido Adler, who conceived of historical musicology and comparative musicology as two separate branches, with historical musicology focused only on European classical music. Carl Stumpf, an early comparative musicologist, published one of the first musical ethnographies on an indigenous group in British Columbia in 1886. Comparative musicologists were primarily concerned with documenting the origins and evolution of musical practices. They often espoused social Darwinistnotions and assumed that music in non-Western societies was “simpler” than music in Western Europe, which they considered the cul...

    Ethnomusicology takes as given the notion that music can provide meaningful insight into a larger culture or group of people. Another foundational concept is cultural relativismand the idea that no culture/music is inherently more valuable or better than another. Ethnomusicologists avoid assigning value judgments like “good” or “bad” to musical practices. Theoretically, the field has been influenced most deeply by anthropology. For example, anthropologist Clifford Geertz’s notion of “thick description”—a detailed way of writing about fieldwork that immerses the reader in the researcher’s experience and tries to capture the context of the cultural phenomenon—has been very influential. In the later 1980s and 90s, anthropology’s “self-reflexive” turn—the push for ethnographers to reflect on the ways their presence in the field impacts their fieldwork and to recognize that it is impossible to maintain complete objectivity when observing and interacting with research participants—also to...

    Ethnography is the method that most distinguishes ethnomusicology from historical musicology, which largely entails doing archival research (examining texts). Ethnography involves conducting research with people, namely musicians, to understand their role within their larger culture, how they make music, and what meanings they assign to music, among other questions. Ethnomusicological research requires the researcher to immerse him/herself in the cultureabout which he/she writes. Interviewing and participant observationare principal methods associated with ethnographic research, and are the most common activities ethnomusicologists engage in when conducting fieldwork. Most ethnomusicologists also learn to play, sing, or dance to the music they study. This method is considered to be a form of gaining expertise/knowledge about a musical practice. Mantle Hood, an ethnomusicologist who founded the renowned program at UCLA in 1960, termed this “bi-musicality,” the ability to play both Eu...

    There are a number of ethical issues ethnomusicologists consider in the course of their research, and most relate to the representation of musical practices that are not “their own.” Ethnomusicologists are tasked with representing and disseminating, in their publications and public presentations, the music of a group of people who may not have the resources or access to represent themselves. There is a responsibility to produce accurate representations, but ethnomusicologists must also realize that they can never “speak for” a group of which they are not a member. There is also often a power differential between the mostly Western ethnomusicologists and their non-western “informants” or research participants in the field. This inequality is often economic, and sometimes ethnomusicologists give money or gifts to research participants as an informal exchange for the knowledge the informants are providing to the researcher. Finally, there are often questions of intellectual property ri...

    Barz, Gregory F., and Timothy J. Cooley, editors. Shadows in the Field: New Perspectives for Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology. Oxford University Press, 1997.
    Myers, Helen. Ethnomusicology: An Introduction. W.W. Norton & Company, 1992.
    Nettl, Bruno. The Study of Ethnomusicology: Thirty-three Discussions. 3rded., University of Illinois Press, 2015.
    Nettl, Bruno, and Philip V. Bohlman, editors. Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music: Essays on the History of Ethnomusicology. University of Chicago Press, 1991.
    • Rebecca Bodenheimer
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  3. About Ethnomusicology. Ethnomusicology is the study of music in its social and cultural contexts. Ethnomusicologists examine music as a social process in order to understand not only what music is but what it means to its practitioners and audiences. Ethnomusicology is highly interdisciplinary. Individuals working in the field may have training ...

  4. Ethnomusicologists are active in a variety of areas. As researchers, they study music from any part of the world and look at its connections to all elements of social life. As educators, they teach courses in musics of the world, popular music, the cultural study of music, and a range of more specialized classes (for example, sacred music ...

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  5. Jul 17, 2019 · This is a term that refers to the study of music from the cultural and social aspects of the people who make it. Let’s stop and think about that: the people who make it. When we look back on the evolution of ethnomusicological practices, we can see that the notion of exploring the music of an ‘other’ formed part of earlier practices.

  6. music of a given locality, as in "the ethnomusicology of Tokyo"; (f) the music that given population groups regard as their particular property, e.g. "black" music of the United States; (g) all contemporary music (Chase 1958); and (h) all human music. Those focusing on type of activity might choose among the following: (a) comparative study (of

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