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DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


At once a discipline, a practice, and a scholarly approach to music, the term “ethnomusicology” was first published by Jaap Kunst in his Musicologica: A Study of the Nature of Ethno-musicology, its Problems, Methods, and Representative Personalities (1950). Conceived as a revision of the field's previous designation “comparative musicology” ( “vergleichende Musikwissenschaft”) , the dividing hyphen in Kunst's subtitle was soon dropped from the word in an ideological move to reflect important distinctions between ethnomusicology and (historical) musicology. While there is no single definition of ethnomusicology that has been universally accepted by its practitioners, a brief review of several posited characterizations provides both a limited survey of shifting perspectives on the discipline over time and a general overview of trends in the field. Austrian musicologist Guido Adler declared that comparative musicology “takes as its task the comparing of tonal products, in particular the folk songs of various peoples, countries, and territories, with an ethnographic purpose in mind, grouping and ordering these according to the variety of [differences] in their characteristics” (1885, trans. Mugglestone, 1981). This assertion has been echoed for over a century in common descriptions, with scholars identifying the field as “the study of exotic music” (Apel, 1945), “the comparative study ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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