Ethnomusicology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Ethnomusicology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Timothy Rice

Language: English

Pages: 168

ISBN: 0199794375

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Ethnomusicologists believe that all humans, not just those we call musicians, are musical, and that musicality is one of the essential touchstones of the human experience. This insight raises big questions about the nature of music and the nature of humankind, and ethnomusicologists argue that to properly address these questions, we must study music in all its geographical and historical diversity.

In this Very Short Introduction, one of the foremost ethnomusicologists, Timothy Rice, offers a compact and illuminating account of this growing discipline, showing how modern researchers go about studying music from around the world, looking for insights into both music and humanity. The reader discovers that ethnomusicologists today not only examine traditional forms of music-such as Japanese gagaku, Bulgarian folk music, Javanese gamelan, or Native American drumming and singing-but also explore more contemporary musical forms, from rap and reggae to Tex-Mex, Serbian turbofolk, and even the piped-in music at the Mall of America. To investigate these diverse musical forms, Rice shows, ethnomusicologists typically live in a community, participate in and observe and record musical events, interview the musicians, their patrons, and the audience, and learn to sing, play, and dance. It's important to establish rapport with musicians and community members, and obtain the permission of those they will work with closely over the course of many months and years. We see how the researcher analyzes the data to understand how a particular musical tradition works, what is distinctive about it, and how it bears the personal, social, and cultural meanings attributed to it. Rice also discusses how researchers may apply theories from anthropology and other social sciences, to shed further light on the nature of music as a human behavior and cultural practice.

About the Series:
Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.

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cultural values and philosophy; the role and status of singers; cultural change; and the relationship between Frank Mitchell’s role as a musical ritual practitioner and his other life roles, including husband, politician, tribal judge, and sawmill worker. Focusing on life history is a way to elicit details about the relationship between music and culture in a manner that amplifies the voices of so-called native practitioners. Foregrounding oral history transforms the objects of

musical forms to new purposes, in the process making the color vibrant for a new age. But some genres have been lost or their importance reduced and, even when the genre is not lost, key elements of its style may have changed. Even as ethnomusicologists report enthusiastically on the continued vitality of older styles and the emergence of new ones, David Coplan believes that at least some “are to some degree concerned by the retreat of genuinely non-European music and musicians into dwindling,

joik people, landscapes, and animals into existence, in the process placing themselves discursively in the environment rather than in relationship to it, a way of talking about the human-nature relationship rather different from familiar European ones. In his 1993 Bird Symphony Nils-Aslak Valkeapää (1943–2001), a Sámi composer, poet, and activist, placed joiks within a recorded soundscape of birdsong, water sounds, and reindeer bells. He wanted to express the unity of man and nature, and to call

of Congress, and the Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music. Other national archives, such as the Archive and Research Center for Ethnomusicology in India, the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization Archives, play important roles in preserving a record of local musical traditions. The ethnomusicologists who work in sound archives, whether large international ones or small local ones, face a plethora of ethical issues. For example, the

State University Press, 1980). Timothy Rice, “Bulgaria or Chalgaria: The Attenuation of Bulgarian Nationalism in a Mass-Mediated Popular Music,” Yearbook for Traditional Music 34 (2002): 25–46. Timothy Rice, “Time, Place, and Metaphor in Musical Experience and Ethnography,” Ethnomusicology 47, no. 2 (2003): 151–79. Anthony Seeger, Why Suyá Sing: A Musical Anthropology of an Amazonian People (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004 [1987]), quote from 78. Michael Tenzer, ed., Analytical

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