Ethnomusicology (A Study of Intercultural Musicology)

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About the Book This work describes how the discipline Ethnomusicology is a study of intercultural musicology. The history theory and methodology of Ethnomusicology, the emergence of Ethnomusicology in India, the intercultural aspects in the scholastic and performing traditions in the music's and theaters in Asia are dealt with to high light that Ethnomusicology is primarily a study of intercultural Musicology. This is the first work written by a non-western Ethnomusicologist who got her Ph. D...
About the Book

This work describes how the discipline Ethnomusicology is a study of intercultural musicology.

The history theory and methodology of Ethnomusicology, the emergence of Ethnomusicology in India, the intercultural aspects in the scholastic and performing traditions in the music's and theaters in Asia are dealt with to high light that Ethnomusicology is primarily a study of intercultural Musicology. This is the first work written by a non-western Ethnomusicologist who got her Ph. D in Ethnomusicology from the University in USA on the discipline of Ethnomusicology.

The concept of intercultural Musicology which Dr Durga articulates in the work is a major breakthrough and her foresight in introducing the concept into the literature is commendable.

About the Author

Dr. S.A.K. Durga is the Professor Emeritus, Department of Indian Music, University of Madras, the Founder Director of the Center for Ethnomusicology, Madras. She has received her Ph.D in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University USA and did her Post Doctoral Research in Ethnomusicology at Yale University, USA. She has also to her credit M.A. and M. Lit and Ph.D in Indian Music from Madras University, India.

Dr. Durga has a wide teaching experience in Indian and Foreign Universities to Indian and non-Indian student. Dr. Durga has published seven books on Indian Music and Ethnomusicology besides her many research papers in Indian and overseas journals of repute. Besides being an academician, Dr. Durga is a performing artist of Indian classical music and producerperformer of Avante Garde Music.


The theoretical principles of ethnomusicology (designed by Westerners) largely reflect Western interests and priorities and are of dubious value for non-western societies. If Western ethnomusicologists were truly interested in the "preservation" and development of the music cultures of non-western societies, they would design theories that would lead, for example, to greater creativity in non-western idioms of music and to more jobs and income for non-western composers, performers and scholars. Instead, the theories of ethnomusicology, as they currently exist, are designed to provide job security for Western academics. Even so, these theories have had only short term effectiveness, judging by the increasingly fewer jobs available to Western ethnomusicologists in Western institutions.

The theoretical principles of ethnomusicology are mostly based on information derived from the analysis of non-western music cultures and it is therefore paradoxical that the views of non-western scholars are little reflected in the discipline. The status quo suggests that ethnomusicology is a western rather than global discipline and in order to give it a global status, Westerners need to recognize that their non-western colleagues have their own perceptions of the discipline and that these perceptions should be given a voice.

There is indeed a need for non-Western ethnomusicologists to find their own voice, for although they have become increasingly active in the discipline, they have tended to practice it as defined by Westerners, subduing their own voice in the process. This position is unlikely to continue much longer, however, and it is my view that non-western scholars will become influential in the actual definition of the field.

This book by Dr. Durga is a process in the right direction, an effort to empower other non-western scholars by giving voice to her own perceptions.

The concept of intercultural musicology, which Dr. Durga articulates in this work, is to my mind a major breakthrough and her foresight in introducing the concept into the literature is commendable. In my definition, intercultural musicology is (a) the study of one's own indigenous music culture using techniques that are applicable to other music cultures or (b) the study of music cultures other than one's indigenous culture, irrespective of the techniques used in such a study. Intercultural musicology includes those areas of scholarship that belong to ethnomusicology but also accommodates aspects of modern interculturalism (for example, symphonic music based on elements of non-western traditional music) which seem to lie outside the scope of ethnomusicology. The concept of intercultural musicology encourages a healthy attitude towards change and innovation in music.

Dr. Durga's book is not only a valuable model for non-western scholarship in music but also one that Western ethnomusicologists cannot afford to ignore. The non-western voice can only become more and more decisive and the trend manifested by Dr. Durga's book is unlikely to be reversible.


The new discipline Ethnomusicology is widely known throughout the world but the term "Ethnomusicology" has become an unsatisfactory terminology for many musicologists and Ethnomusicologists in India and other countries especially in non-western countries because of the prefix "Ethno" before musicology. The term Ethnomusicology was introduced by Jaap Kunst, a Dutch Ethnomusicologist in 1950 who was dissatisfied with the term 'Comparative Musicology'. Through the years, Ethnomusicology like any other academic field began to widen its scope through research and teaching of the subject at the various universities in the world. After five decades, the prefix "Ethno" before Musicology lost its meaning, purpose and context for which it was attached with the term Musicology for this discipline. The study of world music’s with socio-cultural perspective has made the discipline Ethnomusicology more as a study of Intercultural Musicology.

My Doctoral study in Ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University, Connecticut, USA and my Post-Post Doctoral Research at the Yale University, USA in Ethnomusicology and my teaching experience at the S.N.D.T. Women's University, Bombay, India as visiting Professor where I teach the Course "World Music’s" from 1987 gave me an insight to understand that the discipline Ethnomusicology is a study of Intercultural Musicology.

The present work deals with the concept if Intercultural musicology, the emergence of Ethnomusicology in India from late 19th Century y British writers and the Intercultural aspects in classical music’s of India and the musical and theatric 11 traditions of South East Asia and South Asia to emphasize that Ethnomusicology is a study of Intercultural musicology.

I express my sincere thanks to Prof. John Blacking for his invaluable suggestions and inspiring discussers which helped me to understand the concept of Intercultural Music/Musicology during his visit to India and to my center for Ethnomusicology at Madras in 1987 and Dr. Akin Euba, Director, Centre for Intercultural Music Arts, London and Andrew Mellon Professor, Department of Music, University of Pittsburgh USA for his encouragement to work on this area and also for his kind acceptance to write the Foreword for my work.


Ethnomusicology is a branch of Musicology which gives special emphasis for the socio-cultural perpective to the study of World Music Cultures. This phenomenon has transformed the discipline Ethnomusicology into Intercultural Musicology. "The relationship among most of the world's cultures has become so close that cultural interaction viewed through music has become a major focus of Ethnomusicological research" (Nettl: 1986).

The term Ethnomusicology was first coined by Jaap Kunst in 1950 to replace the term 'Comparative Musicology'. The discipline began to grow through the years and the definitions for the term Ethnomusicology began to change according to the modifications of its concept such as "Musicology" Systematic musicology", "Cultural Musicology" and "Intercultural Musicology". The prefix "Ethno" before Musicology has lost its meaning, purpose and context for which it was attached. Ethnomusicology is "the study of any and all Musics" (Hood : 1972) became an acceptable definition.

Ethnomusicology was also viewed as the study of music outside one's own culture and the discipline was introduced as "World Musics" program in many American Universities instead of "Ethnomusicology". The nature of Ethno musicological studies has been enlarged during the past fifty years and at the fag end of the 20th century, Ethnomusicology has turned into a study of intercultural Musicology mainly because of its methodology - the socio-cultural perspective on the world Musics cultures. In 1972 Gilbert chase remarked "I favor the idea of Ethnomusicology... but I do not favor the terminology ... What we need is a term of lager scope ... For this I propose the term "Cultural Musicology" (220p). Though the term "Cultural Musicology" was preferred to identify Ethnomusicology, the socio-cultural perspective on Music brought forth the various types of inter-cultural relationships or acculturation that have taken place in the history of World Music Cultures. Ethomusicology is oriented more towards Intercultural studies and is a study of Intercultural Musicology.

Prof. Bruno Nettl is of the opinion that "if there is any official date for the beginning of inter cultural studies in Ethnomusicology, it is 1952 the year of the publication of Richard Waterman's work about Syncretism" (1991:558p.)

It can be said that when the discipline Ethnomusicology began to focus on the study of other music cultures from one's own and followed the methodology to study the musics with socio-cultural perspective, the intercultural aspects in all Musics in the World are revealed. Therefore it will be more appropriate to describe Ethnomusicology as a study of Intercultural Musicology than cultural musicology.

"Ethnomusicology is an approach to the study of any Music not only in terms of itself but also in relation to the cultural contexts" (Hood; 1978) also points out that the discipline Ethnomusicology is oriented towards the study of Cultural Musicology.

The present work describes the differences between Musicology and Ethnomusicology by bringing out the methodological variations, and the growth of the discipline for the past five decades which has brought forth number of definitions by practitioners for the term Ethnomusicology. The present day focus of Ethnomusicology on the Intercultural Music studies reveal that All Musics are Intercultural in the sense that the Intercultural Aspects in Music are found in Religious, Traditional, classical, Folk and popular musics of the world. This work studies as to how the intercultural aspects in the scholastic tradition of Indian music has brought forth the Emergence of Ethnomusicology in India. Intercultural aspects in the performing tradition of the classical Musics of India, the "Hindustani" system of North India, the "Sufyana Kalam", the Classical Music of Kashmir and the "Karnatic" system of the South India; and the western influence upon the Asian Musics and Intercultural aspects in the Musical and Theatrical traditions of South East Asia and South Asia are also dealt with in detail.

The first chapter entitled "Understanding Ethnomusicology" describes the birth of the new discipline and its growth through the years, the second chapter "Ethnomusicology as a Methodology" discusses the various methodologies used in the study of Ethnomusicology, the third chapter "Ethnomusicology and Folk Music Research" describes the scientific methodologies to be used for the study of Folk Music with special reference to Indian Folk Music and the importance of Documentation, Field work and Field Techniques in the Folk music research as emphasized in Ethnomusicology. The fourth chapter "Ethnomusicology in India" brings out the contributions of British writers on Indian Music and the beginning of intercultural Musicology with the English writings on Indian Musicology.

From the fifth chapter onwards the intercultural Music studies in Ethnomusicology are brought out through a study on the Intercultural aspects in the Musics of Asia. The fifth chapter deals with western influence upon the Music of Japan, China, India and Indonesia. The sixth chapter speaks about the Intercultural aspects in the performing Traditions of Indian Classical Musics - the North Indian "Hindustani" system, the classical Music of Kashmir - the "Sufyana Kalam" and the South Indian "Larnatic" system. The seventh chapter is on the Indian Influence upon the Musical and the Theatrical Traditions of South East Asia with special reference to Ramayana Theatre of India and South East Asia. The last chapter brings out the Intercultural aspects in the Non-Classical Music’s of South Asia" - Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Srilanka and Pakistan.

The purpose of the present work is to highlight the concept of Intercultural studies in Ethnomusicology to emphasize that Ethnomusicology is more a study of Intercultural Musicology.

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Item Code: NAR612 Author: S.A.K Durga Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 2017 Publisher: B.R. Rhythms, Delhi ISBN: 9788188827015 Language: English Size: 9.00 X 6.00 inch Pages: 150 (7 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.29 Kg
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