||The term ethnomusicology (Greek ethnos, â€˜nationâ€™ + musicology) literally means the study of music from different cultures. It was originally coined in 1950, by the Dutch musicologist and authority on Indonesian music Jaap Kunst, as a more appropriate name for an area of scholarly investigation previously known (by Europeans) as â€˜comparative musicologyâ€™. Comparative musicology was understood to be the study of â€˜exoticâ€™ music, that is of musical cultures outside the European tradition, and was therefore thought of as the primitive and Oriental branch of music history. As a scientific discipline it was regarded as fundamentally distinct from conventional, European musicology. Non-European music was handed down orally, without the means of writing, and because of its improvised nature and the immense variety of tonal and tuning systems, its investigation required methods other than those used for Western art music.
The idea that there exists a universal definition of music and that this is easily distinguishable from non-music was also challenged. Consideration of one\'s own society raises the problem of the fine line between music and non-music. In other societies, for instance in a Bulgarian village context, vocal but not instrumental performances are considered as music. Other ethnomusicological studies have discovered that musical thought and classifications vary widely. Linguistic models have been used to enquire into such matters. The most common construct is that of the emic-etic distinction. This was first coined by Kenneth Pike in 1967 to designate the subjective viewpoint shared by a group, emic, and the analytical models applied by the outside, etic. Even though hard and fast lines between insider\'s and outsider\'s viewpoint are difficult to draw, the emic-etic dimensions have provided a useful way of clarifying and comparing musical concepts across societies.
In 1950 Kunst wrote that, â€˜The study-object of comparative musicology is mainly the music and musical instruments of all non-European peoples, including both the so-called primitive peoples and the civilized Eastern nationsâ€™. By 1959, however, he had revised and extended his definition: â€˜The study-object of ethnomusicology is the traditional music and musical instruments of all cultural strata of mankind, from the so-called primitive peoples to the civilized nations. Our science therefore investigates all tribal and folk music and every kind of non-Western art music. It studies as well the sociological aspects of music, as the phenomena of musical acculturation, i.e. the hybridizing influence of alien musical elements.â€™ However, he added that Western art music and popular or entertainment music should be excluded from this field.
There is still no real consensus as to the precise meaning of the term ethnomusicology. But the main debate has centred on two points of scholarly view. The anthropological view sees ethnomusicology as the study of music in culture, within the context of its society, and as the study of music as a universal aspect of human social behaviour. If this stance places emphasis on the rules of a particular culture or society, of which music-making is an active feature, the musicological view prefers as its objective the rules of that society\'s musical system, working towards an understanding of the music studied in terms of itself.
Even though many have accepted ethnomusicology as a borderline area between musicology and anthropology, emphasis continues to remain on the study of musical cultures outside the investigator\'s own background. Although Westerners might describe the study of, for example, Javanese gamelan (a type of orchestra) music as ethnomusicology, that is to say music outside our own culture, how would Javanese scholars view it? After all, European scholars are unlikely to regard the study of a Beethoven symphony as ethnomusicology, even though the Javanese might. The term could, therefore, be construed as ethnocentric. More recently, however, some ethnomusicologists have extended the term to include the study of various kinds of music found on their own doorsteps, bringing into focus the social and popular music of urban subcultures and the music-making of so-called ethnic minority groups.
In 1977, Alan Lomax developed a system of musical notation that was intended to apply to all musical cultures. It was called cantometrics and used to relate features of musical performance to the social and cultural context. Examples included how the complexity of economic and political organizations might relate to the styles of music people produced. He also remarked that the degree to which women sing in a shrill, high-pitch voice, was dependent on the severity of their sexual subordination in the community. Critics have pointed out that although Lomax\'s theories are illuminating, they are no more substantial than chance correspondences, for though there are plenty of cases that support his cantometric theories, there are just as many that subvert them. In addition, they do not take into account the perspectives of the musicians and performers.
Lomax also warned of a â€˜cultural grey-outâ€™ the more cultural and musical systems come under the spread of the widening travel and communication networks. His particular fear was that they may be submerged by the influences of Western music. However, detailed ethnomusicological studies have refuted these forecasts. Musical developments show myriad paths of changes and fusions with other musical systems. Sometimes Western music is appropriated by the practitioners into their own genres of musical styles. At other times it is the technological innovations that are used to modernize different forms of music, while its distinctive musical elements are retained. Occasionally, musical styles may be hybridized with other forms of music, such as Hindi film music or reggae. These three broad dimensions are illustrated by the changes undergone in the UK since the mid-1980s with the traditionally rural Punjabi musical performance called Bhangra.
Ethnomusicology has now emerged as an approach to the study of any music, providing it does so not only in terms of itself, but also in relation to its cultural context. Music often forms an essential part of the kinds of identities individuals construct for themselvesâ€”identities which may transcend divisions in society. In addition, musical forms and styles are often identifiable with the traditions of particular social groups. This is the main driving force in the late-20th century broadening of the scope of ethnomusicology to include studies of Western genres of music in their social and cultural contextsâ€”indeed, to embrace all kinds of music not included in conventional, historical musicology (that is to say, the study of cultivated music in the Western European art tradition). RK SSt
See also culture; dance; ethnicity; gender; syncretism; traditions, Westernization.Further reading Marcia Herndon and , Norma Mcleod, Music as Culture; , Alan Merriam, The Anthropology of Music; , Bruno Nettl, The Study of Ethnomusicology: Twenty-nine Issues and Concepts.