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Scholars have long known that world music was not merely the globalized
product of modern media, but rather that it connected religions, cultures,
languages, and nations throughout world history. The chapters in this
History take readers to foundational historical moments in Europe,
Oceania, China, India, the Muslim world, North and South America in
search of the connections provided by a truly world music. Historically,
world music emerged from ritual and religion, labor and life cycles,
which occupy chapters on Native American musicians, religious practices
in India and Indonesia, and nationalism in Argentina and Portugal. The
contributors critically examine music in cultural encounter and conict,
and as the critical core of scientic theories from the Arabic Middle Ages
through the Enlightenment to postmodernism. Overall, the book contains
the histories of the music of diverse cultures, which increasingly become
the folk, popular, and classical music of our own era.

is the Mary Werkman Distinguished Service Professor

of Music and the Humanities at the University of Chicago, and
Honorary Professor at the Hochschule fr Musik, Theater und Medien
Hannover. A pianist, he is the Artistic Director of the New Budapest
Orpheum Society, a Jewish cabaret and ensemble-in-residence at the
University of Chicago. Among his honors are the Edward Dent Medal,
the Berlin Prize, the Derek Allen Prize from the British Academy, and the
Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society. He is
currently completing the volume Ethnomusicology for the Cambridge
Introductions to Music series.



P H I L IP V . B O H L M A N

University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge.
It furthers the Universitys mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of
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Information on this title:
Cambridge University Press 2013
This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without the written
permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published 2013
Printed in the United Kingdom by TJ International Ltd. Padstow Cornwall
A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data
The Cambridge history of world music / edited by Philip V. Bohlman.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-521-86848-8 (alk. paper)
1. World music History and criticism. I. Bohlman, Philip Vilas.
ML3545.C26 2014

978-0-521-86848-8 Hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of

URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication,
and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain,
accurate or appropriate.

For our teachers,

from whom we learned to value the histories of world music.

List of illustrations xi
List of tables xiv
Notes on contributors xv
Acknowledgments xxiv
Introduction: world musics histories 1



1 . On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


2 . Music cultures of mechanical reproduction



3 . Western music as world music




B E F O R E H I S T O R Y 101

4 . Foundations of musical knowledge in the Muslim world



5 . Indian music history in the context of global encounters


6 . Native American ways of (music) history









E N C O U N T E R A N D E X C H A N G E 181

7 . Encounter music in Oceania: cross-cultural musical exchange

in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century voyage accounts 183

8 . Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia



9 . Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic




M U S I C S H I S T O R I C A L T U R N 253

10 . Johann Gottfried Herder and the global moment

of world-music history 255

11 . Tartini the Indian: perspectives on world music

in the Enlightenment 277

12 . The music of non-Western nations and the evolution of British

ethnomusicology 298


A N D T H E N A T I O N 319

13 . Korean music before and after the West



14 . Folk music in Eastern Europe 352


15 . A story with(out) Gauchos: folk music in the building

of the Argentine nation 371





16 . Four recurring themes in histories of Chinese music



17 . On the history of the musical arts in Southeast Asia



18 . Musicians and the politics of dignity in South India




R E P R E S E N T A T I O N 473

19 . Images of sound: Erich M. von Hornbostel and the Berlin

Phonogram Archive 475

20 . Music in the mirror of multiple nationalisms: sound archives

and ideology in Israel and Palestine 498

21 . Repatriation as reanimation through reciprocity




M U S I C I N H I S T O R Y 555

22 . Landscapes of diaspora



23 . Susm and the globalization of sacred music



24 . Global exoticism and modernity




25 . Encountering African music in history and modernity





26 . The politics of music categorization in Portugal



27 . The world according to the Roma




G L O B A L I Z A T I O N 703

28 . Disseminating world music



29 . Musical antinomies of race and empire



30 . Globalized new capitalism and the commodication of taste




31 . The time of music and the time of history




32 . The ethics of ethnomusicology in a cosmopolitan age



33 . Toward a new world? The vicissitudes of American popular

music 807

Afterword: a worldly musicology?












Transcription of Tupinamba melody in

de Lry 1578 page 15
South Asia in Asia perspective. Joseph
Schwartzberg, A Historical Atlas of South Asia, Digital
South Asia Library, Regenstein Library, University
of Chicago. Courtesy of the Digital South Asia
Library, 126
Tupaia, [Musicians of Tahiti, June 1769] Four
Tahitians: two dressed in the mare playing the
nose ute; two dressed in the tiputa beating
drums. British Library, London. Add.
MS. 15508, f. 10 189
Engraving by F. Bartolozzi after Giovanni Battista
Cipriani, A View of the Inside of a House in the Island of
Ulietea [Raiatea], with the representation of a dance
to the music of the country (Hawkesworth 1773, II,
pl. 7 [fp. 265]) 190
Engraving by John Record after John Frederick
Miller [Tools and instruments from the Society
Islands] (Hawkesworth 1773, II, pl. 9, p. 213) 191
William Sharp, A Night Dance by Men in Hapaee/
J. Webber del.; W. Sharp sculp., London:
s.n., 1784 193
Church of Our Lady of the Pillar, Ouro Preto, Minas
Gerais. Courtesy of Antonio Marciano
Ribeiro 231
A page from the manuscript of Maria Mater
Gratiae by Marcos Coelho Netto, showing his
signature and date. Courtesy of the Museu da
Incondncia 233



List of illustrations



10.1a and 10.1b



Jos Joaquim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita, Antiphona

de Nossa Senhora, measures 2231. Francisco Curt
Lange, ed. 1951. Mendoza, Argentina: Universidad
Nacional de Cuyo 236
Manoel Dias de Oliveira, Bajulans, measures 18.
Adapted from Mauricio Dottori, ed., n.d.,
unpublished manuscript 238
A passo in Campanha, Minas Gerais 239
The candombe drums. Courtesy of the Arturos
(photo by Lcio Dias) 246
Vissungo no. 29, collected by Aires da Mata
Machado Filho 247
O sanctissima! Sicilian sailors song
(from Herders Nachla) 260
Herderian polymath identities 264
Additional Herderian polymath identities 264
Woodcut from the 1869 edition of Herders Cid
translation El Cid in Valencia and in death
(romance 49) 266
Lines 783 and 784 from the Poema de Mio Cid 271
Herders Cid, romance 68, lines 4954 273
Bla Bartk recording songs in Zobordarzs
(Draovce), Slovakia, with a wax-cylinder
recorder, 1907. Photograph by Gyula Ksa and
housed in the Bartk Archives of the Institute
for Musicology, Research Centre for the
Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences,
Budapest 356
Ozwodna (c. circle dance), sung by Krzysztof
Trebunia-Tutka, Zakopane, Poland, 2003 360
Ganga, sung by Azra Bandic, Mevla Luckin, and
Emsija Tatarovic 361
Yang Yinlius A Draft History of Ancient Chinese
Music 400
Musicologist Shen Zhibai (photo by Zhao Jiaqin;
published in Shen 1982, n.p.) 409
Section of a score for the nanyin chamber music
genre 413

List of illustrations







M. T. Manoharan performs on the oboe-like kurum

kul al for a local Hindu teyyam at a sacred grove in

Kannur District, Northern Kerala, March, 2004

(photo by Kaley Mason) 446
Religious festival organizers serve Malayan musicians in Kannur District, Northern Kerala. January,
2004 (photo by Kaley Mason) 455
Carl Friedrich Stumpf 476
Erich Moritz von Hornbostel 478
Three galvanos and copies made from them (photo
by Dietrich Graf ) 482
Transcription by Carl Stumpf Siamese
Nationalhymne 483
Transcription by Erich Moritz von
Hornbostel 483
Edison phonograph for the home (c. 1905) (photo
by Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preuischer
Kulturbesitz) 484
The Hornbostel Black Box 487
Measurements from a xylophone from Burma by
Hornbostel 488
Typescript of Hornbostels unpublished manuscript
on experiments with music psychology 489
First Landing of Columbus, Theodore de Bry, 1596.
Copper engraving, tinted. From H. Benzano,
Amaricae Retectio, Frankfurt 1596. akg-images.
Used with permission 558
Flyer for Caribbean Festival 07
(Philadelphia) 571
Poster for Philly Carnival 07 572
Landfall of Columbus, Roots junkanoo group on
parade, Nassau 2004 (photograph by Andr J. M.
Major). Used with permission 580
The Czigany melody from the Uhersk
collection 682
Score of ern cign 690
Cover of original ern cign (1922) 691
Score of Cign 692


4.1a Species of melodic and rhythmic composition
(Cleonides, Kind) page 109
4.1b Frbs classication of melodic frameworks
(alh n) 109
4.1c Avicennas commentary on Aristotles Poetics 109
4.1d af al-Dn al-Urmaws classication of Shudd 109
4.2 The seven divisions of harmonics (Aristoxenus
and al-Kind) 115
16.1 Summary of historical primary sources compared
in this chapter 398
31.1 Interpretations of cosmic symbolism 770


V A N E S S A A G N E W is Associate Professor in Germanic Languages and Literatures
at the University of Michigan, where she works on the cultural history of music,
the history of science, postcolonial theory, travel, and historical reenactment.
Enlightenment Orpheus: The Power of Music in Other Worlds (2008), her monograph on
Charles Burney and musical travel, received the Kenshur Prize for EighteenthCentury Studies and the American Musicological Societys Lewis Lockwood Award.
Major fellowships include those from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation,
DAAD, Australian Research Council, and National Maritime Museum. Her current
book project deals with a 1925 collecting expedition to Angola.
G R E G O R Y B A R Z is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at Vanderbilt
University and Professor at the Odeion School of Music, University of the Free
State, South Africa. General editor of African Soundscapes (Temple University
Press), he co-edited The Culture of AIDS in Africa: Hope and Healing in Music and the
Arts (2011) and Shadows in the Field: New Perspectives for Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology
(2nd edn, 2008). He published Singing for Life: HIV/AIDS and Music in Uganda
(2006), Music in East Africa (2004), and Performing Religion: Negotiating Past and
Present in Kwaya Music of Tanzania (2003) and is a Grammy-nominated producer
for Singing for Life: Songs of Hope, Healing, and HIV/AIDS in Uganda (2007).
M I C H A E L B E C K E R M A N is Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Music at New
York University and Distinguished Professor at Lancaster University. He is the
author of numerous books, including Janek as Theorist (1994) and New Worlds of
Dvok: Searching in America for the Composers Inner Life (2003) and is currently
writing on such subjects as composition in Terezn, musical middles, the way
stories about disability aect performance, and the genesis of Happy Birthday.
S T E P H E N B L U M teaches in the music doctoral programs of the City University
of New York Graduate Center. He is the consulting editor for music of the
Encyclopaedia Iranica and is currently completing a short book on Ethnomusicology
and Music Theory to be published by Oxford University Press in the series Theory in




Ethnomusicology. A Persian-language collection of his writings on Iranian

musical practices will be published by the Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art in
P H I L I P V . B O H L M A N is the Mary Werkman Distinguished Service Professor of
Music and the Humanities at the University of Chicago, and Honorarprofessor at
the Hochschule fr Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover. A pianist, he is the
Artistic Director of the New Budapest Orpheum Society, a Jewish cabaret and
ensemble-in-residence at the University of Chicago. Among his honors are the
Edward Dent Medal, the Berlin Prize, the Derek Allen Prize from the British
Academy, and the Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological
Society. He is currently completing the volume Ethnomusicology for the
Cambridge Introductions to Music.
S A L W A E L - S H A W A N C A S T E L O - B R A N C O is Professor of Ethnomusicology and
Director of the Instituto de Etnomusicologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa,
Portugal. Her eld research in Egypt, Portugal, and Oman resulted in publications
on cultural politics, musical nationalism, identity, music media, modernity, and
music and conict. Recent publications include her edited four-volume Enciclopdia
da Msica em Portugal no Sculo XX (2010) and her co-edited Music and Conict (2010).
With Dieter Christensen she wrote Traditional Arts in Southern Arabia: Music and
Society in Sohar, Sultanate of Oman (2009). She has served as Vice President of the
Society for Ethnomusicology (20079) and of the International Council for
Traditional Music (19972001, and 200913). She was elected President of the
International Council for Traditional Music in 2013.
M A R T I N C L A Y T O N is Professor of Ethnomusicology at Durham University.
He has published widely on topics including North Indian classical music, rhythm
and metrical theory, interactions between Indian and Western music, and the
history of ethnomusicology. He is the author of Time in Indian Music: Rhythm,
Metre, and Form in North Indian Rg Performance (2000) and Music, Time, and Place:
Essays in Comparative Musicology (2007), and the co-editor of The Cultural Study of
Music: A Critical Introduction (2nd edn, 2012).
N I C H O L A S C O O K is 1684 Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge.
His books include Music: A Very Short Introduction (1998), which has appeared in
fourteen dierent languages, and The Schenker Project: Culture, Race, and Music Theory
in Fin-de-sicle Vienna (2007), which won the Society for Music Theorys 2010 Wallace
Berry Award. His most recent book, Beyond the Score: Music as Performance, appears in
2013. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of Academia Europaea.



T I M O T H Y J . C O O L E Y is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the

University of California, Santa Barbara, where he teaches courses on Polish
and North American vernacular and popular musics. His book, Making Music
in the Polish Tatras: Tourists, Ethnographers, and Mountain Musicians (2005),
received the 2006 Orbis Prize for Polish Studies. He served as the Editor of
the journal Ethnomusicology from 2006 to 2009. His current research considers
how musical practices are combined with lifestyle sports to create meaningful
anity groups with global reach and is the subject of his forthcoming book,
Surng about Music.
R U T H F . D A V I S is Reader in Ethnomusicology and Fellow and Director of
Studies in Music at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge. She has
published extensively on the music of the Arab and Jewish Mediterranean and
the wider Middle East, especially on her eldwork in mainland Tunisia and the
island of Djerba. Her most recent volume, A Musical Ethnography of British
Mandate Palestine, 19361937, based on Robert Lachmanns Oriental Music
archive and broadcasting projects in Jerusalem, is published with A-R Editions
(2013). She has recently held positions as a Fellow at the Yale Institute of Sacred
Music and as a Scholar-in-Residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio
Center, Italy.
B E V E R L E Y D I A M O N D is the Canada Research Chair in Ethnomusicology at
Memorial University of Newfoundland where she established the Research Centre
for the Study of Music, Media, and Place. Her research on indigenous music has
ranged from Inuit drum dances, and Smi joik, to indigenous audio recording and
expressive culture in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential
schools. She co-edited Aboriginal Music in Contemporary Canada: Echoes and Exchanges
(2012). Among her other publications are Native American Music in Eastern North
America (2008) and Music and Gender (2000). She was elected to the Royal Society of
Canada in 2008, named a Trudeau Fellow (200912), and a Member of the Order of
Canada (2013). She is President of the Society for Ethnomusicology (201315).
A A R O N A . F O X is Associate Professor of Music at Columbia University, where he
served as Director of the Center for Ethnomusicology from 2003 to 2008 and as
Chair from 2008 to 2011. His research broadly focuses on language and music
relations, working-class and popular culture, music and social identity, issues of
place and subjectivity, ethnographic methodology, and semiotics and poetics. His
recent work engages issues of cultural and intellectual property and the repatriation
of Native American cultural resources. He is the author of Real Country: Music and
Language in Working-Class Culture (2004).



K E I T H H O W A R D is Professor of Music at SOAS, University of London.

Currently researching Korean dance and North Korean music, he has written
or edited seventeen books, including Music as Intangible Cultural Heritage (2012),
Singing the Kyrgyz Manas (with Saparbek Kasmambetov, 2011), Korean Kayagum
Sanjo (with Chaesuk Lee and Nicholas Casswell, 2008), Zimbabwean Mbira Music
on an International Stage (with Chartwell Dutiro, 2007), Creating Korean Music
(2006), Preserving Korean Music (2006), and Korean Pop Music (2006). He founded
and managed the SOASIS CD/DVD label and OpenAir Radio, and is editorial
chair of the SOAS Musicology Series (Ashgate).
B E R N A R D O I L L A R I has taught at the University of North Texas since 2001, where
he specializes in Latin American music between 1600 and 1800. He is the author of
Domnico Zipoli: Para una genealoga de la msica clsica latinoamericana (2011), and
the editor of Juan Pedro Esnaolas Cuaderno de msica (1844) (2009) and Msica
barroca del Chiquitos jesutico (1998). He has published articles in the Revista Argentina
de Musicologa, of which he was founding co-editor, Revista de Musicologa, Msica e
Investigacin, and Resonancias, among others. He is the recipient of a career recognition award from the Konex Foundation (2009) and the Premio de Musicologa
Casa de las Amricas (2003).
T R A V I S A . J A C K S O N is Associate Professor of Music and the Humanities at
the University of Chicago. He is the author of Blowin the Blues Away: Performance
and Meaning on the New York Jazz Scene (2012). His other writings include essays
on jazz history and historiography, intersections between jazz and poetry, Duke
Ellingtons travel suites and world music, the politics of punk, and popular music
and recording technology. He is currently conducting research for a monograph
on post-punk music, graphic design, discourses of branding, and attitudes regarding race and empire in the United Kingdom between 1977 and 1984.
J A I M E J O N E S is a College Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at University College
Dublin, where she also coordinates the Masters in Diaspora Studies. She is a fellow
of the Humanities Institute of Ireland and the Chair of ICTM Ireland. Her research
has focused on music and religion in India. She is currently writing a book that
addresses the performance and positioning of devotional Hindu musics in
Maharashtra state, India.
M A R G A R E T K A R T O M I is Professor of Music in the Sir Zelman Cowen School of
Music at Australias Monash University, where she pioneered the study of Asian
music and other aspects of ethnomusicology from 1969, was elected a Fellow of the
Australian Academy of the Humanities, and was awarded the Order of Australia and



the Centenary Medal for services to music. Her books include On Concepts and
Classications of Musical Instruments (1990), The Gamelan Digul and the Prison-Camp
Musician Who Built It (2002), and Musical Journeys in Sumatra (2012).
S E B A S T I A N K L O T Z is Professor of Systematic Musicology at the University of
Leipzig. His research interests are broadly interdisciplinary, including music
and knowledge cultures, ecological theories of auditory perception, music and
the technological unconscious, and comparative musicologies of the metropolis.
He is the author of Music with Her Silver Sound: Kommunikationsformen im Goldenen
Zeitalter der englischen Musik (1998) and Kombinatorik und die Verbindungsknste der
Zeichen in der Musik zwischen 1630 bis 1780 (2006). He is the editor of Musik als Agens
urbaner Lebenswelten: Musiksoziologische, musikethnologische und organologische
Perspektiven (2008).
L A R S - C H R I S T I A N K O C H is Head of the Department of Ethnomusicology and
the Berlin Phonogram Archive at the Museum of Ethnology, Professor for
Ethnomusicology at the University of Cologne, and Honorary Professor for
Ethnomusicology at the University of the Arts in Berlin. His research focuses on
the theory and practice of North Indian raga-music, organology, Buddhist music,
the aesthetics of music in intercultural perspective, music and medicine, media
and ethnomusicology, popular music and urban culture, historical recordings, and
music archeology. Most recently, he is the author of My Heart Sings: Die Lieder
Rabindranath Tagores zwischen Tradition und Moderne (2012). In 2012, he was the
co-recipient of the Bruno Nettl Prize for the History of Ethnomusicology from
the Society for Ethnomusicology.
P E T E R M A N U E L has researched and published extensively on musics of India,
the Caribbean, and Spain. His several books include Cassette Culture: Popular
Musics and Technology in North India (1993) and Popular Musics of the Non-Western
World: An Introductory Survey (1988), as well as two documentary videos on IndoCaribbean music. Formerly an amateur performer of amenco guitar, jazz
piano, and sitar, he has served as editor of Ethnomusicology and teaches ethnomusicology at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University
of New York.
W A Y N E M A R S H A L L has held postdoctoral fellowships at MIT, the University of
Chicago, and Brandeis University, and he currently teaches in the Music
Department at Harvard University. His work deals with media technologies, public
spheres, and cultural politics vis--vis hip-hop and reggae and their global circulations. An active blogger at, he has published in the Journal of



Popular Music Studies, Popular Music, and The Wire, among others, and co-edited
Reggaeton (2009).
K A L E Y M A S O N is Assistant Professor of Music and the Humanities at the
University of Chicago. He is currently nishing the book The Labor of Music: South
Indian Performers and Cultural Mobility, which examines how a subaltern performer
caste merged feudal traditions of ritual servitude with modern practices of musical
work in the Indian state of Kerala. He is also engaged in research that traces
the relations between radical socialism and song in Malayalam popular music.
He is the co-recipient of a fellowship from the Neubauer Family Collegium at
the University of Chicago, which will be dedicated to the archeological analysis
of early recordings of Indian music.
R I C H A R D M I D D L E T O N is Emeritus Professor of Music at Newcastle University.
Having taught for many years at the Open University, he works principally in the
areas of popular music and the cultural theory of music. Recent publications
include Voicing the Popular: On the Subjects of Popular Music (2006), Musical
Belongings: Selected Essays (2009), and a revised edition of The Cultural Study of
Music: A Critical Introduction (co-edited with Martin Clayton and Trevor Herbert,
2012). He is a Fellow of the British Academy.
B R U N O N E T T L has taught since 1964 at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, where he is now Professor Emeritus of Music and Anthropology.
His research interests have been Native American music, the music of Iran,
improvisation, and, recently, the intellectual history of ethnomusicology. Among
his several books, the best known is The Study of Ethnomusicology (revised edition,
2005), and the most recent is Becoming an Ethnomusicologist: A Miscellany of Inuences
(2013). Recipient of several honorary doctorates, he is a fellow of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences and, in 2012, received the Haskins Prize of the
American Council of Learned Societies.
R E G U L A B U R C K H A R D T Q U R E S H I is Professor Emerita of Music at the University
of Alberta, where she is also a member of the Religious Studies Advisory Council, a
Research Fellow at folkwaysAlive!, and the Director of the Canadian Centre for
Ethnomusicology. Her research interests include musical agency, poetics and
politics, diaspora and globalization, South Asia, Canada, and Islam. Among her
major publications are Su Music of India and Pakistan: Sound, Context, and Meaning in
Qawwali (1986, 1995), Music and Marx: Ideas, Practice, Politics (2002), and Master
Musicians of India: Hereditary Sarangi Players Speak (2007). She is a Fellow of the
Royal Canadian Society.



R O N A L D R A D A N O teaches ethnomusicology at the University of WisconsinMadison. His books include New Musical Figurations: Anthony Braxtons Cultural
Critique (1993) and Lying Up a Nation: Race and Black Music (2003). He is currently
at work on a book, tentatively titled Properties of Animation: The Racial Feeling of
US Black Music, and on a co-edited collection, Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics,
Critique. He co-edits the book series Reguring American Music (Duke
University Press) and Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology (University of
Chicago Press).
S U Z E L A N A R E I L Y is a Reader in Ethnomusicology and Social Anthropology
and Associate Director of the Latin American Studies Forum at Queens
University Belfast. Her publications include the monograph Voices of the Magi:
Enchanted Journeys in Southeast Brazil (2002), and the edited volumes Brazilian
Musics, Brazilian Identities (2000) and The Musical Human: Rethinking John Blackings
Ethnomusicology in the Twenty-First Century (2006). She has produced a website/
CD-Rom based on John Blackings ethnography of the Venda girls initiation
T I M O T H Y R O M M E N is Associate Professor of Music at the University of
Pennsylvania. He specializes in the music of the Caribbean, with research interests
that include folk and popular sacred music, popular music, critical theory, ethics,
mobility studies, diaspora, and the intellectual history of ethnomusicology.
He is the author of Mek Some Noise: Gospel Music and the Ethics of Style in
Trinidad (2007), which was awarded the Alan P. Merriam Prize by the Society
for Ethnomusicology in 2008, and of Funky Nassau: Roots, Routes, and
Representation in Bahamian Popular Music (2011).
K A Y K A U F M A N S H E L E M A Y is the G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and
Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.
Her recent publications include Pain and Its Transformations: The Interface of Biology
and Culture (co-edited with Sarah Coakley, 2007), Creating the Ethiopian Diaspora, a
special double volume of the journal Diaspora (co-edited with Steven Kaplan, 2011),
and Soundscapes: Exploring Music in a Changing World (3rd edn, 2013). Her 2009
article The Power of Silent Voices, Women in the Syrian Jewish Musical
Tradition was awarded the Society for Ethnomusicology Jaap Kunst Prize.
She was the national Phi Beta Kappa/Frank M. Updike Memorial Scholar
for 201011.
W . A N T H O N Y S H E P P A R D is Professor of Music and Department Chair at Williams
College and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Musicological Society.



His interests include twentieth- and twenty-rst-century opera, lm music,

vocal timbre, and cross-cultural inuence and exoticism. He has received the
ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, the Kurt Weill Prize, and the Alfred Einstein
Award, and his research has been supported by the National Endowment for the
Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the Institute for Advanced
Study, Princeton. He is author of Revealing Masks: Exotic Inuences and Ritualized
Performance in Modernist Music Theater (2001) and is completing Extreme Exoticism:
Japan in the American Musical Imagination.
J O N A T H A N P . J . S T O C K is Professor and Head of the Department of Music at
University College Cork, Ireland, having recently served at the University of
Sydney as Associate Dean for Research, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. His
current research interests include the history of Chinese music, everyday musical
life in Taiwan, and research ethics. He is author of two books on music in China and
one world-music education textbook, as well as articles in these subject areas and in
the elds of English traditional music, music analysis, and eldwork methods.
M A R T I N S T O K E S is King Edward Professor of Music at Kings College, London.
He is also Honorary Professor of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of
Copenhagen. His research interests lie in Europe and the Middle East, particularly
in Turkey and Egypt. His The Republic of Love: Cultural Intimacy in Turkish Popular
Music (2010) was awarded the Alan Merriam Prize from the Society for
Ethnomusicology. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2012.
T I M O T H Y D . T A Y L O R is Professor in the Departments of Ethnomusicology and
Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Global
Pop: World Music, World Markets (1997), Strange Sounds: Music, Technology and Culture
(2001), Beyond Exoticism: Western Music and the World (2007), and The Sounds of
Capitalism: Advertising, Music, and the Conquest of Culture (2012), and is the co-editor,
with Mark Katz and Tony Grajeda, of Music, Sound, and Technology in America:
A Documentary History of Early Phonograph, Cinema, and Radio (2012). He is currently
writing a book on capitalism, music, and social theory.
B O N N I E C . W A D E is Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of California
at Berkeley. She has published widely on India, including Music in India: The
Classical Traditions (1979), Khyl: Creativity within North Indias Classical Music
Tradition (1984), and Imaging Sound: An Ethnomusicological Study of Music, Art, and
Culture in Mughal India (1998). She has held the Chambers Chair in Music and the
Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Chair in Interdisciplinary Studies, and
has twice served as Chair of the Department of Music, as well as Dean of the College



of Letters and Science at Berkeley. She is a past president of the Society for
B E N N E T T Z O N is Professor of Music at Durham University. He is General Editor
of Nineteenth-Century Music Review (Cambridge University Press) and the book
series Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Ashgate). His research interests
include nineteenth- and twentieth-century musical culture, with particular interest
in British science, theology, and intellectual history. He has published The English
Plainchant Revival (1999), Music and Metaphor in Nineteenth-Century British Musicology
(2000), and Representing Non-Western Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain (2007), and
is currently writing Evolution and Victorian Musical Culture (Cambridge University

History books are themselves the products of long and complex histories, and
The Cambridge History of World Music is no exception. The origins of the book
responded to discussions during the 1990s about whether world music, still
regarded by many as a music without history, could be contained by and in a
volume of history or histories. Initial discussions about the shape and contents
of the book inevitably navigated a series of queries about where the sources
of history might be. Would the volumes narratives borrow from world or
universal history? From the world domination of the West and the response of
postcolonialism? From national folk musics or transnational popular musics?
From the institutions that mass produce music on a global scale or those that
disseminate knowledge about all musics? Because the common models of
historiography and music historiography, not least because of their dependence on the privileged position of music literacy in the histories of Europe
and North America, oered few answers to these questions, it became necessary to reframe the questions, indeed, the very ways in which we think about
the ontologies of music historically. Questions and discussions, therefore,
accompanied this book at every stage, newly posed by each contributor, most
often with substantial doubt about the viability of any kind of history of world
music. So it was that the book grew, not out of the ascription of order to music
already occupying a place in a history whose outlines were familiar to the West.
The challenge embraced by the contributors was that of moving beyond
the familiar outlines to explore the writing of music history and music historiography anew. It is the ways in which this challenge was embraced by the
many who shaped this book that I gratefully acknowledge here.
At the moment of my rst conversation with Penny Souster of Cambridge
University Press at the 1997 IMS Congress in London, she expressed an
unwavering conviction that the Cambridge Histories would provide a home
for world music, not because of the familiarity of parallel projects, but rather
because of the possibilities of rethinking music historiography that a history of
world music would set in motion. I have been no less indebted for the strength
of conviction from Cambridge University Press to Victoria Cooper, Pennys




successor, both at the Press and in her stewardship of this project. Vicki truly
believed in this project, and I can only hope the book honors her belief. I
express my deepest gratitude to both Vicki and Penny for their support. That
support has also depended on the marvelous assistants in Humanities at the
Press, whose patience I tested far too often. In its nal stages, the book has
beneted enormously from the assistance of Fleur Jones and Jessica Ann
Murphy, whose practicality and wisdom I gratefully acknowledge. During
copyediting I was very fortunate indeed to work with Jan Baiton, whose
attention to detail and generous spirit always made the book better.
Two institutions one historically old, the other relatively young have
been particularly important for the ways in which they provided the intellectual foundations for CHWM. As the book took shape, it was my privilege to
work increasingly at the Phonogram Archive at the Berlin Ethnology Museum.
So steeped in the historical reassessment of world music since the rise of
recording technologies is the Phonogram Archive that research at the archive,
in Berlin and beyond throughout the world, provides a laboratory for historiography itself. I beneted from remarkable hospitality in Berlin, especially in
the projects in which I share with the director, Lars-Christian Koch. The study
of world music at the University of Chicago began in earnest in the late 1980s
when ethnomusicology was established in the Music Department. As ethnography took students and colleagues farther aeld into the world, the historical
grounding upon which we all stood also responded. The historiographic
imagination of former and current students and colleagues from Chicago
(among them, Vicki Cooper) lls the pages of CHWM, and I should like to
take this opportunity to express my gratitude. I am particularly indebted to my
Chicago colleagues in ethnomusicology: Melvin L. Butler, Travis A. Jackson,
Kaley Mason, and (as ever, even in London) Martin Stokes. As the book took
shape, I also beneted from a series of marvelous graduate assistants, and I
could not be more grateful to them: Suzanne Wint, Jaime Jones, Rachel
Adelstein, Andrea F. Bohlman, Rumya Putcha, and Michael A. Figueroa.
The contributors to CHWM have shaped its histories and multiplied its
historiographies to a remarkable degree. They bring their own disciplinary
alignments, and they write of world musics in distinctively dierent ways.
Some have felt a conviction that a larger historical project for world music
was long overdue; others have remained suspicious of such a project even as
they helped to shape it. The book that they have collectively realized is
massive in scope and sweeping in erudition. My heartfelt thanks go to all
the contributors, for your patience and for your willingness to take on
history so boldly.



The pages of the present book powerfully bear witness to the ways in which
music histories are ultimately histories of human beings, their labors and their
loves, and the ways in which music is intimately and indelibly imprinted upon
labor and love. In the historical longue dure of my personal music history, the
labor and love of Ben, Andrea, and Christine accompany me every day.
Philip V. Bohlman
Oak Park and Berlin

Introduction: world musics histories


I give the strange and bitter and yet ennobling thanks for the monumental
groaning and soldering of two great worlds, like the halves of a fruit seamed
by its own bitter juice, that exiled from your own Edens you have placed
me in the wonder of another, and that was my inheritance and your gift.
Derek Walcott, The muse of history (1990)
How little is really civilized in a civilized people? And how might we
account for this condition? And to what degree does this provide a
measure of happiness? That is to say, to the happiness of individual
beings, for the abstraction that an entire people can be happy, when
any part thereof suers, is a paradox, or more to the point an illusion that
reveals itself as such, even when we rst observe it.
Johann Gottfried Herder, Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der

The paradox of history and world music

There are those who believe that world music does not and cannot have
history. In the division of the world between the West and the rest, so these
naysayers would have it, history is the domain of the West, and even when
history is extended to the rest, it is a history that is not their own. Similarly, the
music of the West, at least as it is imagined, performed, ordered, taught, and
inherited by the generations, is a music that is inherently historical, if not for
the very fact that it survives in notated and literate forms, however conventional or experimental (see, e.g., Taruskin 2005, which takes the commitment
to literacy as its point of historical departure). The questions of inheritance and
survival are dierent, so the belief in an alterity that parses the world between
the West and the rest has it, when they pertain to world music. The oral is
coupled with the traditional, not least in the commitment to oral tradition,
and context is valued even more than text. World music may also possess its
own forms of temporality, but they do not cohere around the canons of
historiography that privilege both the West and the modernity it has claimed
as its own since the rise of printing in the fteenth century.


The paradox attending the assertions and anxieties that world music does
not have history is the purview of neither the West nor the rest, but rather of
the common ground of history they share and the connections between them
that, in the twenty-rst century, but surely long before, have ceased being a
matter of reasonable debate (Nettl and Bohlman 1991). History is a matter to be
celebrated and proclaimed, if we take seriously the etymology of the
Greek root in the name for the muse of history, Clio (). By extension, we
might observe that historians of Western music are primarily interested
in celebrating selfness their music history, the world wherein they live and
the historians who engage with world music, barely removed from their
more accustomed designations as ethnographers (and ethnomusicologists),
are primarily interested in proclaiming otherness recognizing the integrity
of the music in worlds inhabited by others.
The paradox is evident the moment a historical project shifts beyond the
celebration of selfness, as the Cambridge History of World Music does. There is no
grand narrative that accelerates as individual chapters move from our past to
our present. There is no body of repertory or canon of theoretical treatises that
the contributors to this volume share or, for that matter, that provides any
measure of underlying unity to what world music at a given historical moment
meant to any given self or other. The paradox of a history of world music also
mutes the celebration that might accompany this volume as the considerable
undertaking that it is. Cautionary tales ll every chapter; self makes an appearance only to be subject to criticism. Rather than Clio singing celebratory
praises, the muses whose voices resonate in the following pages come from
times and places in which the historical narratives were unsettled and
The muses who proclaim world-music history may possess the attributes of
sacred avatars, who move between cosmological and lived-in worlds in South
Asia or between the earth and the dreamworlds of indigenous peoples. The
muses of world-music history must also bear witness to the West, proclaiming
the injustices of the past but seeking a narrative of reconciliation borne by
remembering the violence of racism and colonialism. In Derek Walcotts
guration in the opening epigraph, Clio gives way to the new muse of history,
who seeks a language that liberates the past from enslavement (Walcott 1995).
In modern Jewish historiography, drawing upon biblical allegory, it is the
angel of history who enters as the promise of modernity disintegrates into
racism and oppression in the twentieth century. For a twentieth-century critic
like Walter Benjamin (18921940), confronting history during the rise of
fascism, it is not so much a speech-act that reroutes the relation of Jewish to
European modernism, but rather the struggle necessitated by wrestling with

Introduction: world musics histories

the angel, not unlike the prophet Elijah with the Angel of Death (Benjamin
2010; see also Moss 2009). The allegorical muses who enunciate world history,
thus, embrace the paradox whereof they are born, searching narrative for action
and investing historiography with the power to suture parts to a greater whole.
And so, too, the Cambridge History of World Music was born of the paradox
that there are still those who want world music to have no history. The history
constituted by the chapters that follow may contain dierent narratives about
dierent musics and music cultures, but it is not dierence that provides the
overarching method of the volume. Taking the chapters together, the volume
gathers narratives from which history emerges as action, as historiography.
Accordingly, we bear witness to a shift in narrative strategy that connects the
disciplines dedicated to the study of world music: in order to rescue world
music from alterity, we shift our eorts from history to historiography.
The contributors insist that the paradox of world-music history can be
productive because it opens possibilities for a music historiography that
reaches far beyond simple celebration and proclamation. As a whole, this
volume represents the common ground, liberated from the schism between
the West and the rest, yet contested by the histories lived by the many rather
than the few.

Moments of world-music history

History does not become world history by chance, but rather there are
moments in which the subject formations of history acquire global dimensions.
In the history of world music, the early twenty-rst century has been one of
those moments. The chapters of this volume reect what I should like to call
historys global moment. Contact and encounter are particularly critical for the
emergence of global moments. The circulation of culture between the Mughal
expansion into South Asia, for example, formed moments of exchange, which,
in turn, led to the historical conditions necessary for Indian classical music,
not least the canonization of a music theory based on mode, or rga, and
the musician lineages, gharns, that provided the foundations for the transmission of classical music knowledge and practice, thereby investing it with
history (see chapter by Wade in this volume). The encounter between Africa
and the Western Hemispheres, too, calibrated history and music history in
dierent ways, mapping it onto the historical contact zones of the Black
Atlantic and Golden Atlantic (see Rommen and Reily). Moments of encounter
were disruptive, but they also led to new forms of connection, with history
owing in several directions across these. The spread of music theory in the
medieval Islamic world (see Blum) and sacred musical practices in Islam until


the present (see Qureshi) were historiographically signicant for the new types
of narratives they made possible.
Global moments of music history also arose during the displacement
that results from power imbalance, the attempts of one culture, nation, or
empire to remake the world in its image (see chapters by Beckerman,
Castelo-Branco, and Kartomi in this volume). The spread of empire created
many of the global moments that we attribute to the making of the West.
Critically, however, the spread of music and music history often accompanied the spread of empire (see Cook, Cooley, Jones, and Zon). With attributes of both exchange-value and use-value in Marxian terms, African, Indian,
and African American musics owed as commodities along the borders of
empires, reinscribing them for the history of world music (see Manuel,
Mason, and Marshall and Radano). The contact zones exposed by colonial
expansion also provided possibilities for the rise of indigenous narratives
of music history, which might lead to revitalization, revival, and resistance
(see Diamond, Illari, Barz, Fox, and Middleton).
The power of national narratives of music is by no means a privilege of
the West, for their contribution to world history may be to serve as the models
for national music histories outside the West, as in the cases of Korea and
China (see the chapters by Howard and Stock in this volume; cf. also
Sheppard). Historiography, too, has had global dimensions, in the twentyrst century no less than at earlier global moments. Music entered Arabic
writing on music in various forms, as theoretical structure and narrative
discourse (see Blum), but also in sweeping attempts to write universal histories;
for example, that of the fourteenth-century polymath and Muslim intellectual
Ibn Khaldn (13321406), whose Muqadimmah (prolegomenon), or introduction to universal history, contains some of the most incisive observations about
the musics of dierent African peoples in comparison with the music of Islam
prior to the rise of the West (Ibn Khaldun 1958). For Ibn Khaldn the
historical task coalesced around the philological and the ethnographic in
other words, the impulse to collect music in many forms and fragments:
At the beginning of Islam, singing belonged to this discipline . . . Ab l-Faraj
al-Isfahn wrote a book on songs, the Kitb al-Aghn. In it, he dealt with the
whole of the history, poetry, genealogy, battle days, and ruling dynasties of the
(Ibn Khaldun 1958)

As Stephen Blum richly illustrates in his chapter in the present volume,

the history of Muslim peoples and places has never been without music
history. Global moments, such as the 1932 Cairo Congress on Arab Music,
are not merely the products of colonial encounter, but rather the moments

Introduction: world musics histories

at which Muslim musicians and intellectuals turn their historical gaze on

the West (see Congress of Cairo 1934; see also Koch on Hornbostel in this
A historiography of world music necessarily embraces the universal histories
written from the perspectives of other worlds, even universes. The great
Bengali writer, musical scholar, and intellectual Sourindro Mohun Tagore
(18401914) wrote extensively about all aspects of South Asian music, especially in books on rga and organology, but he devoted himself also to an
understanding of world music; for example, in his own sweeping Universal
History of Music (Tagore 1963), which includes a history of European music that
is no less detailed than it is seemingly idiosyncratic for the Western reader. In a
historiography of world music, nonetheless, the views on universal history that
we gather from Ibn Khaldn and S. M. Tagore are just as critical to a historical
discourse as any others (see Nettl in this volume).
Global moments bear witness to the force of materiality and commodity
exchange, conditions particularly evident in the history of world music.
The world musics that reached Europe during the Age of Discovery, for
example, did so not in small measure because of the rise of print technology
and the subsequent revolution in the representation of music (see, e.g.,
Fig. 0.1). The history of recording technology unfolds in relatively strict
counterpoint with the history of world music itself, anchoring it in the materiality of wax cylinders, long-playing records, magnetic tape, audio and video
cassettes, and the digital media of CDs and MP3s (see Manuel and Taylor, this
volume). The foundation of sound archives not only followed the transformation of recording materials, but also stimulated innovation and experimentation (see Koch), which in turn led to the new materials that revolutionized the
dissemination of world music (see Jackson).
The Cambridge History of World Music bears witness to the global moment
of music history that we encounter and shape as our own. The globalization
of world music has not eected the end of history (see, e.g., Bohlman 2002),
but rather it has made it possible to muster new historical discourses and
turn them toward dierent historiographic ends. The conict at postcolonial
contact zones, the unequal distribution of power, the atavism of racism, and
the worldwide exchange of musical materials, all these remain conditions in
a world history of the present. If the history of world music that follows
succeeds in focusing criticism on the contact zones that converge as the
global moment of our own era, and if its authors point toward the ways in
which action can be meaningful, we shall have made considerable progress
toward a historiography that takes all the musics of the world as its
subject matter.


Technologies of subject formation

Technology old, new, aging, changing, alienating, mediating provides one
of the most persistent accompaniments to the production of world-music
history. Every chapter in this volume bears witness to technology as a critical
mode of historical change. In some chapters, technology functions indirectly to
transform the object music to the subject music history; for example,
when recordings are gathered in archives or produced for distribution as global
commodities. In other chapters, the technologies of reproduction and dissemination are implicit in the denition of new musical objects; for example, as a
three-minute piece on a wax cylinder but explicit in the formation of new
musical subjects, the religious rites or dances of the colonized organized as
discrete cultures. In still other chapters, technology has a presence so direct
that the historical narrative follows technological change in the rst order,
musical change in the second. The diverse forms and conditions of technology
that connect these chapters notwithstanding, all are linked because technology
makes music historical by locating it in time and place. If, indeed, we speak of
multiple technologies and multiple musics, their multitude nonetheless suggests the very possibility of a common ground aorded by history in the
contexts of the global.
From a historiographic perspective, technology acquires historical potential
because of the ways it combines the objective and subjective qualities of music,
and it is because of this potential and the attempts to realize it that we can
speak about the narrative inuence of technology across the longue dure of
world-music history. In the broadest sense, the most fundamental transformation wrought by technologies is that from oral to written tradition (and in this
transformation, too, ethnomusicologists would insist on the multiple forms of
orality and literacy). Acts of writing, transcribing, printing, sound recording,
and reproducing all result from the ways in which technology is permitted to
intervene (see Brady 1999). By transforming the oral to the written, those
employing technology recalibrate the relation of music to time, making it
possible to represent and describe music in new ways, with speech or images
about music, which combine to create discourse about music.
Technology repositions music, not only from the moment of performance to
the symbols on paper that are meant to approximate it, but also from one place
in the world to another. Already in the intervention of technology at this
fundamental stage of historical discourse, the acts that render the oral as
literate reveal the persistent belief that technology can and should advance
and improve. It changes because of a belief that it mediates in order to close the
gap between the oral and the written, the distant and the intimate, the musics

Introduction: world musics histories

of the other and those we claim for the self. These acts on music become the
stu of world-music history.
That the acts on music technology makes possible are both local and
global, individual and collective, personal and political, is critical to the
ways in which the contributors to this volume examine the impact of
technology on world music. In North American ethnomusicology, the
possibilities opened by wax-cylinder recording equipment launches history
by recording the acts of early collector-scholars Alice Fletcher and Frances
Densmore best known among them responding to the initial endeavors of
Walter Fewkes, recording Passamaquoddy music in 1889, and Benjamin Ives
Gilman, recording Javanese, Turkish, Kwakiutl, and South Sea Islander
music at the Worlds Columbian Exposition of Chicago in 1893 (see Nettl
2010, 321). During the four years between these rst acts of recording, the
move from the metaphysics of technology that gathered individual songs to
those capable of contextualizing music as a global narrative could not be
more direct.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the technologies of wax-cylinder
recording created both past and future for the musics of the world (see Klotz
1998). For the collector and the archivist for example, Carl Stumpf and Erich
Moritz von Hornbostel, founders of the Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv in 1900
(see Koch and Jackson in this volume) it was this metahistorical potential that
transformed new uses of technology into new discourses of world music. For
Carl Stumpf, educated as a psychologist, the technologies of the archive led to a
type of experimentation, a reconguration of parts and wholes from throughout the world as local recording endeavors near Berlin were archived together
with the recordings from colonial and other expeditions. For Hornbostel, the
transferral from wax cylinders to the copper galvanos on which eld recordings
were stored and thereafter the destruction of the wax cylinders in order to
negate the seemingly reverse historical direction produced by disintegrating
surfaces suggested new possibilities for making world music available for
future generations (see Ziegler 2006). From 1900 to 1913, Hornbostel reproduced recordings from the Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv and packaged them
for distribution as the Demonstration Collection, above all sustaining their
function for scientic comparison and study, complete with eldnotes, commentary, and transcriptions (see Hornbostel 1963). Drawing upon the same
archival materials a generation later, Hornbostel compiled the set of recordings
known as Music of the Orient, which were disseminated commercially in 1934 on
78 rpm discs on the Odeon label, intended for more general consumption
(see Hornbostel 1979). Both sets were later re-recorded on LP technology
by the Ethnic Folkways label, extending their historical scope in the second


half of the twentieth century to a growing public interested in the folk-music

revival, but especially the expanding discipline of ethnomusicology.
If Hornbostels Berlin recording projects became a history of world music in
and of themselves, with technology providing the historical discourse in which
they lived and changed, the work of early Jewish-music scholars turned to
technology to provide the musical data that would speak for themselves in oral
and written forms. The recording projects of Abraham Zvi Idelsohn and
Robert Lachmann provide the historical contexts in Ruth Daviss chapter in
this volume, both foundational for the understanding of the past and present
histories of the Jewish people, for millennia in diaspora, but in the twentieth
century gathering in Israel. Both Idelsohn and Lachmann depended on the
technological discourses emerging in Berlin Idelsohn more indirectly, but
Lachmann in close association. From 1911 to 1913, Idelsohn conducted eldwork in Jerusalem, largely within Jewish communities from across the North
African, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian diasporas, which he systematically
transcribed, with the aid of early tone measurement technologies, mapping the
two-millennia diaspora in the printed volumes of the Thesaurus of Hebrew
Oriental Melodies (Idelsohn 191432). From the perspective of the reception
history that followed, it might be possible to say that Idelsohn invented
modern Jewish music from the recordings of the past, for this is how his
recordings (e.g., in archival and library collections in Israel) were often used; in
the twenty-rst century, CD technology, once again, makes it possible to
analyze and study the Idelsohn recordings, and to place them in a new history
of world music (Lechleitner 2005).
In her chapter, Ruth Davis shows how technology enabled Robert
Lachmann to create a dierent historical discourse, in which Jewish musicians
(and communities) interacted with neighboring musical practices not only in
the diaspora but also in the historical and modern lands of Israel in the Levant
(Lachmann 1940; cf. Davis 2013, and Davis in this volume). Recording technology served Idelsohn and Lachmann, working with related materials at the
same moment in history, in very dierent ways, generating historical discourses about Jewish music, ancient and modern, that provide very dierent
contexts for Middle Eastern history, even in the twenty-rst century.
Technology played a particularly important role in the mid-twentieth century,
when the disciplinary heterogeneity of comparative musicology (vergleichende
Musikwissenschaft) underwent the transition to the relative disciplinary unity that
would be called ethnomusicology in the early 1950s, soon thereafter becoming
the name for the eld devoted primarily to world music. This foundational
moment followed the global devastation of World War II and the rapid path
into the postcolonial era, but the paradigm shift that accompanied the rise of

Introduction: world musics histories

ethnomusicology was also closely allied to the technological revolution made

possible by long-playing records and magnetic tape recording in the 1940s.
These two technological innovations together made it possible 1) to do eldwork
in vastly more intensive and extensive ways and 2) to disseminate the results of
ethnographic work in recorded anthologies that could be analyzed scientically,
stored in archives throughout the world, and experienced by listeners with very
dierent interests and needs. Just as printed collections of folk song proliferated
after Herders late eighteenth-century anthology (see the chapter by Bohlman in
this volume), so too did recorded collections of world music proliferate rapidly as
the postcolonial era was ushered in.
The discourses of object and subject what ethnomusicologists study and
how they go about studying follow surprisingly disjunct paths in the foundational years of ethnomusicology. Disciplinary discourse takes shape cautiously
in the Ethno-Musicology Newsletter (Vol. 1, December 1953), the publication that
documented and consolidated the membership of what would become the
Society for Ethnomusicology in 1955, but as a historical text it provides an
interesting focus of the debates about gathering world music and distilling a
common historiography from its many forms. The discussions that ll the
pages of the Society of Ethnomusicologys earliest publication most commonly
concern themselves with institution-building. That the early discourse of the
SEM was about the who rather than the what of ethnomusicology, marking a shift from object to subject, is increasingly apparent in each consecutive
mimeographed Newsletter. The number of individuals receiving the Newsletter
increases issue by issue, expanding to 472 in the fourth number (April 1955).
Alan P. Merriam, the editor, endeavors to be as inclusive as possible, with
reports, comments, and letters in French and German as well as English.
Bibliographies, eld reports, and descriptions of technical problems appear
together, providing discursive witness to the eclectic scholars allying themselves with the call for an in-gathering that appears on almost every page. Not
surprisingly, it is in the nal issue of the mimeographed Newsletter in 1955 that
the call for the foundational meeting of the SEM appears. It was telling that,
instead of a keynote address, there would be an ethnographic lm to symbolize
and formalize the foundational moment itself:
ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING. There will be an organizational meeting for
the purpose of forming an ethno-musicological society, at the 54th Annual
Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, November 1719, at
the Sheraton Plaza Hotel, Boston.
The meeting will be held in the evening, Friday, November 18, in Parlor
133 at the hotel, following the American Anthropological Association banquet
and the showing of an ethnographic lm.



As the Newsletter has depended on its readers contributions of news,

ideas and bibliography, so any organization will depend on their presence
and help in selecting ocers and an editorial board to continue ETHNOMUSICOLOGY and to implement any other enterprises the society may
(Ethno-Musicology Newsletter [1955], 1)

Object and subject continue to occupy dierent levels of discussion in the early
years of the Society for Ethnomusicology, even with the establishment of the
society itself and the transformation of the Newsletter as a medium of communication into a forum for the publication of research. In Ethnomusicology
Newsletter 7, Willard Rhodes writes On the Subject of Ethno-Musicology
(Rhodes 1956). It might have seemed as if Rhodes should refer to object rather
than subject, thus taking a step toward clarifying what the members of the new
society would study, hence, what kind of world music. Rhodes does, however,
mean subject, and after a historical summary of fundamental queries of
comparative study, he explicitly stakes out a subjective position that many
maintain until the present ethnomusicology is what ethnomusicologists do,
and what they do worldwide:
What of the future of ethno-musicology? The answer lies with every worker in
the discipline. We can make it what we will. The world is our laboratory and
the achievement of the past, though notable, is small in relation to that which
remains to be accomplished. The vastness of our subject matter with its worldwide distribution oers unlimited opportunities for the specialist. (Ibid., 7)

In a survey and census of the central disciplinary writings in the Newsletter and
the journal during the foundational years of the Society for Ethnomusicology,
we rarely encounter discourse that limits and focuses the object of study. There
are articles that on their surfaces would seem to call for more focused approaches
to well-dened objects (e.g., Mieczyslaw Kolinskis Ethnomusicology, Its
Problems and Methods; Kolinski 1957), but these reveal themselves to be
open calls for more breadth rather than increased specication. This was true
also of the frequent discussions of technology that provided the base for much
discussion in the Newsletter, for it was the kind of recording machine the
ethnographer brought to the eld, and the technical guidelines in which recordings were made, that in turn led to the translation tools that turned object
to subject.
Whether or not the discussions of object and subject, technology and
transmission, really constituted a discourse of world history is dicult to say.
The contributors to the early newsletters and journals were deliberately
cautious about building their eld around a discourse that was too narrow.
Their caution may have grown from their experiences in other scholarly

Introduction: world musics histories


societies; for example, a growing centrality of Western art music in the

American Musicological Society that seemingly pushed non-Western musics
to the periphery. It is also possible that they intentionally redirected their
denitions from the center to the peripheries, where they developed as discourses of in-betweenness, accommodating multiple disciplinary possibilities
and searching for ways in which the gap between object and subject might best
be closed. The expansion of technology provided one crucial way in which that
search was carried out.
There are media theorists, nonetheless, who claim that technology widens
rather than narrows the gap between object and subject, and the inuence of
such theorists has left its impact on the history of world music. The alienation
of the art object that Walter Benjamin attributed to the age of mechanical
reproducibility (Benjamin 2008), in which technology produced commodities
that are the same, seemed capable of spreading across the soundscapes of world
music (cf. Sharma 2000; Das Gupta 2007; Suisman and Strasser 2010). World
music, especially when reduced to the commodities circulated by transnational
recording industries, would increasingly bear witness to a media culture accessible only through technological means. Any history of world music, it followed, would be reduced to temporal stasis, in which object and subject had no
other connection than the mediation of the reproducing technology.
As modernism modulated to postmodernism in the closing decades of the
twentieth century, the question of technologies capacity to connect object
to subject shifted to the growing possibility of an even greater alienation and
displacement (Greene and Porcello 2005). R. Murray Schafer described the
ssures of postmodern soundscapes as schizophonia (Schafer 1977), and
Steven Feld took the criticism of technological alienation several steps farther, applying it as schizmogenesis to the popular musics called variously
world beat and world music (Feld 1994). Neither Schafer nor Feld
blamed technology itself for bringing about the ruptures opening in the
history of world music, even as they observed that, to a certain degree,
world music had inevitably become a phenomenon of multisitedness.
Therein, once again, lay the historical paradox; in this case, whether technology would connect the sites or short-circuit them. Mark Katz (2010) has
argued most convincingly for a force of global change that leaves its impact
on the very ontologies of music in the twenty-rst century. Whereas music
changes, according to Katz, the subject positions of both musicians and
listeners, producers and consumers, change along with music. Timothy
Taylor, however, draws upon extensive media data to illustrate the ways in
which internet sites determine how and to which world musics any given use
of media technologies might be connected, that is, to consume the music that



a music supervisor determines suits the taste of the world-music consumer

(Taylor 2012; see also Taylor in this volume).
As the contributors to the Cambridge History of World Music seek to expand
the narratives that contribute to a larger understanding of the history of world
music, technology shapes method and discourse alike. Historiography, again,
opens up within the soundscapes of in-betweenness, with the narratives of
music empowered, through technology and the many media that reproduce
sound and other qualities of music, multiplying the possibilities of experiencing music inside our histories and the histories of others.

Music history and its others

The ethnomusicologists whose historical work is examined in this volume were
united by the common cause of discovering and representing the meaning of a
music that belonged to those dierent from themselves: their others. As the
contributors to this volume make clear in chapter after chapter, the alterity and
dierence implicit in distinguishing peoples unlike ourselves assume many
forms, always, however, investing the history of world music with politics
and power. Many chroniclers were motivated at the point of encounter by the
strong desire to oer history some form of Western history to those who, to
use Eric Wolfs phrase, were people without history (Wolf 1982). Otherness
was a condition rendered by the absence of history, making it impossible to
abandon myth for the narratives of modernity, be these religious, cultural, or
economic. The question of owning history remained open, not least because
the earliest chroniclers and ethnomusicologists today, as we witness in the
chapters by Beverley Diamond and Bernardo Illari were unsure who should
and could represent their own music histories, and for whom they should be
producing them. The discourses of alterity may have appeared to produce and
reproduce a dialectic of self and other, but, in fact, alterity has never been
dichotomous in the history of world music. That which has been self and
other in the English-language tradition has already shifted to the conditions
of ownership and alienation in the German Eigenes und Fremdes (ones own and
that of the foreign).
The crucial question that remains is whether the desire to give history
to those whose cultures are sounded through world music is actually condemned to alterity by the very narratives that are meant to rescue them
from the fate of lacking history. Ko Agawu, as noted in numerous instances in this volume, has argued forcefully for what he regards as a deafness to
similarity resulting from an obsession of hearing other music cultures as
dierent; for example, in the obsessive concern for the essential principles

Introduction: world musics histories


of African rhythm (Agawu 2003). Martin Clayton, following a similar vein

in his chapter, describes the degree to which Western observers nd cyclical
time patterns in South Asian music and then connect that seemingly cosmic
temporality to Indian music history, something Indian musicians themselves
do not do. The others we study may not, therefore, desire the narratives we use
to describe them. For the distant music cultures appropriated in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries by British imperialism for example, the isms
(developmentalism, evolutionism, polygenism, etc.) that Bennett Zon interpellates in his chapter held little meaning and provided no means of tracking
their way to anyones history, their own or that of the well-meaning West.
The others of world-music history may reject the narratives devised from the
self, or they may simply nd them false, irrelevant to the narratives with which
they understand their own musics and music cultures (see Fox and Jones in
this volume).
It is with these unsettling questions about the concern for alterity as a
condition of world music that I turn in this section from the music history
of otherness to the music historiography of otherness, which is itself more
properly the subject of the present volume. The music historiography of
otherness reroutes the narratives of world music, through politics and ideology
(e.g., Castelo-Branco, Manuel, and Middleton in this volume) or ethics and
religion (e.g., Shelemay, Jones, and Qureshi). Historiographic alterity does not
so much exit into or from history, but rather it challenges us to resituate power
and relinquish power when writing the history of world music.

Missionized and colonized alterity

The missionary and colonial endeavors that led to the rst encounters with
those who performed world music were founded on many motivations, most
of which began with an attempt to reconcile the relation between self and
other, albeit by privileging the position of the former and by confronting the
latter with narratives of the West (see Agnew 2008). Historiographically, it is
important to remember that the rst moment of encounter was not motivated by destruction and erasure; these would come later, when the other
failed to yield to the self. Broadly speaking, missionaries sought to save souls,
and colonial ocials sought to utilize the lands they entered to extract raw
materials that would produce global commodities. Music was a catalyst for
both the saving of souls and the production of commodities (see Reily in this
volume). As a catalyst, moreover, music could close the gap between self and
other, but it could be eective only by foregoing its catalytic role, moving
into history as an accompaniment to a violence that enforced the hegemonic
narratives of the West.



Music entered the history of colonial encounter as a record of loss and

death. In his volumes of folk song, Stimmen der Vlker in Liedern and
Volkslieder (Herder 1778/1779), or world music as Philip Bohlman refers
to it in his chapter, Johann Gottfried Herder (17441803) uses musical
fragments taken from the encounter of early modern Europe to formulate
a history that accrued at an accelerating pace from the earliest sections of
the collections to the nal sections, which appeared posthumously in print
four years after Herders death in 1803. The teleology of Herders representation of encounter is powerfully eschatological, by no means surprising
for, as a Lutheran pastor, by training and profession, Herder was acutely
aware of the need for ethical underpinnings to the missionary encounter
with otherness. Folk songs the music of the many parts of the world to
which he turned for his examples were imbued with history and with
ethical meaning that reected moral practice. Increasingly, as we move
through his collections of songs previously gathered in the colonial encounter, the number of laments and songs of death proliferates. The laments
record sadness and terror, the loss that occurs at moments of encounter.
In the posthumously published appendix, the violence of colonial encounter
overwhelms Herders folk songs, particularly in the concluding folio of songs
from and about the colonization of Madagascar, eleven songs vocal commentaries in various genres that Herder has translated from the songs from
Madagascar by the French colonial ocial, Count variste de Forges de
Parny (17531814). The terror in colonial Madagascar is that of encounter
with the armies and the missionaries of the Europeans, the racialized white
people whose presence is vilied in the songs. In the rst anthology of folk
songs as world music, Herder captures the lament, the Totenklage, for the fallen
son of the King of Madagascar, sung by King Ampanani himself, and in call and
response by the people of Madagascar:
Ampanani: My son has fallen in battle! Oh, my friends, weep over the son of
your leader. Take his body to the place in which the dead live. A high wall
will protect him, for there will be the heads of bulls on that wall, which will
be armed with threatening horns. Respect the place in which the dead live.
Their sadness is terrible, and their revenge is gruesome. Weep over my son.
The Men: Never again will the blood of the enemies turn his arm red.
The Women: Never again will his lips kiss those of another.
The Men: Never again will fruit ripen for him.
The Women: Never again will his head rest on a tender bosom.
The Men: Never again will he sing, resting under a tree thick with leaves.
The Women: Never again will he whisper new enticements to his beloved.

Introduction: world musics histories


Ampanani: Cease, now, with your weeping over my son! Happiness should
follow the mourning! Tomorrow, perhaps, we too will follow to the place he
(Herder 1807, from Parny; in Herder 1973, 5401)
has gone.
The history of encounter is one of subjugating and resistance to subjugation,
yielding violence. Amartya Sen argues that violence results when encounter is
between monolithic systems, the self and other as irreconcilably dierent
entities resulting from what Sen calls the illusion of singular identity (Sen
2006, 175, and passim). Whereas encounter should bring civilizations
together, it only heightens the gap between them, yielding Aim Csaires
innite distance (Csaire 1972, 11). Critical to the recognition of violence as
a persistent trope in the historiography of alterity is the reality that violence
returns again and again to mark the music of encounter. For the Protestant
missionary evangelical hymnody becomes the music of a Christianity going o
to war on a global scale. Turkish music enters Europe with the sound of an
invading army. Resistance resounds in the music of civil war and insurgency.
Where there is violence at encounter, there is also music.
The search for alterity in early modern Europe challenges us to recognize a
discourse that becomes particularly historical, for the violence of music at
encounter is unidirectional and teleological. The violence of music at encounter has the power to silence otherness. Once the colonized and the missionized become the same, once they become mere stereotypes, it becomes
impossible to experience their music as theirs. We witness this in the very
rst transcription of music from colonial encounter, published by Jean de
Lry (15361613), the Calvinist missionary writing of the Tupinamba in the
region around the Bay of Rio de Janeiro in the mid-sixteenth century.
Observing music and ritual carefully, de Lry acts to inscribe the music of
the other as his own, through the image and iconography of Christian chant,
sacred in its melodic aura (see Fig. 0.1).
Crucial for the themes in the present volume, Jean de Lrys descriptions and
transcriptions of musical alterity entered the early history of world music.

Fig. 0.1 Transcription of Tupinamba melody in de Lry 1578



It was de Lrys missionary encounter with the Tupinamba that provided

Michel de Montaigne (153392) with a model for his essay De Cannibales
(Of Cannibals; see Montaigne 1587), in which form it would provide a model of
alterity for early modern historiographers, reaching eventually Johann
Gottfried Herder, who employed it as a model for folk song as world music.
The ciphers of otherness are too often reduced to sameness in music, for they
inhabit the music history of the West, sounding the sonic Orientalism of
Occidental selfness. It is in this projection of self and other in historical
encounter that African bodies must make music by always dancing, thereby
failing to enter history (see Barz in this volume); South Asian music is endowed
with a universal and cosmic spirituality (see Clayton and Jones in this volume);
exoticism levels the modal richness of East Asia; from perspectives politically
both neoliberal and neoconservative, Latin American is always already hybrid;
Islam comes to be constituted as radical, fundamentalist, extreme (see Qureshi
in this volume). The history of encounter has so brutally violated otherness that
it is hardly surprising that the music of otherness enters world-music history in
such troubling ways. The paradox, nonetheless, remains that, because the
violence of encounter refuses to subside, it becomes ever more pressing to
turn ethnomusicology toward a music historiography of alterity.

Conclusion the labor of history

For this purpose I wish to collect data about the history of every historical
moment, each evoking a picture of its own use, function, custom, burdens, and
pleasures. Accordingly, I shall assemble everything I can, leading up to the
present-day, in order to put it to good use.
Johann Gottfried Herder, Journal meiner Reise im Jahr 1769
But our goals are far more ambitious: We want to uncover the deepest recesses
of the past and to reveal the full and timeless sweep of the present. In other
words, we want to encounter everything there is to know about the historical
and aesthetic foundations of music.
Erich M. von Hornbostel, Die Probleme der vergleichenden
Musikwissenschaft (1905)

I turn toward the conclusion of this introductory chapter with two epigraphs,
both enunciating the goal of world-music history at global moments of particular
signicance: the collection of folk songs that began with the Enlightenment
and the founding of a comparative musicology made possible by recording
technology. In these two epigraphs, Johann Gottfried Herder and Erich
M. von Hornbostel draw attention to a shift in historical voice, from proclamation to celebration. The shift in historical voice is paradigmatic not because it

Introduction: world musics histories


celebrates the object, world music, but rather because it emphasizes the
refocus of historiography on the task at hand: the labor of music history.
Writing in his eldnotes from a sea journey in 1769, almost a decade before
the rst collections of folk songs will appear, Herder has an epiphany about
collecting songs (see Herder 1997). Whereas previously he had gathered songs
from publications and the areas of the Baltic lands in which he spent his youth
(roughly from Knigsberg/Kaliningrad to Riga, but including also some areas in
modern Estonia), Herder discovers the ethnographic impulse as his ship bears
him farther from Europe, as it makes its way into a world notable because he did
not know it. If still inchoate, he recognizes that his own journey draws him into a
world in which world music reects the subject formations of musicians and
peoples who have spread across the world. The study of that music, by Herder
and those who followed, would require agency and action, which, in turn,
would produce the narratives of a new, more global music history. The history
of world music, as envisioned by Herder, must put the music of the past
to good use in the present.
Hornbostels goals were indeed ambitious, dizzyingly so, as we witness in his
celebration of the world-music history now possible because of the rapid
advancement of recording technology (Hornbostel 1986). The disciplinary
labor that Hornbostel would muster, too, advances beyond that of Herder, the
solitary Enlightenment intellectual on his ship crossing the North Sea, for
Hornbostel speaks now of the collective, the we whose challenges are no
less than encountering everything there is to know about the historical and
aesthetic foundations of music. Hornbostels we also extended to the collectors who, by 1905, were beginning to send the music as sonic object, as
subjective representation that the Demonstration Collection would make available. The collector and the collection were becoming the connections that made
new collectivities possible because of the description and analysis of their
musical coordinates. By extension, the action of collectors, musicians, and
collections not only recognized the mobility between and among collectives,
but it also contributed to realizing that mobility (see Koch in this volume).
Both Herder and Hornbostel turned to history because of the ways it
eected connections of many kinds: between past and present; object and
subject; perception and analysis; among the production, dissemination, and
consumption of sound. By searching for and creating these connections, they,
and the growing collectives around the world, interested in musics shared
across borders, encouraged and celebrated the historiographic turn toward
world music. The narratives of labor that produced the historiographic turn
toward world music ll the chapters of the Cambridge History of World Music.
The fundamental contribution of individual musicians to the values of self and



society is perhaps the most persistent theme underlying the entire volume
(Jones, Kartomi, Manuel, Marshall and Radano, Mason, Middleton, Reily,
Shelemay). The rupture of encounter and the repair wrought by subsequent
revitalization through musical labor form another historiographic leitmotiv
(Agnew, Barz, Clayton, Diamond, Illari, Qureshi, Rommen). The disjunctures
of colonialism, followed by the labor invested in retrieving voices lost to
history, raises common themes both unsettling and hopeful (Beckerman,
Castelo-Branco, Howard, Klotz, Stock, Stokes, Wade). Finally, the labor of
music historiography itself, intensied by the modern reconguration of
world musics subject formations, provides connections among the chapters
that collectively narrate histories of histories (Blum, Bohlman, Cook, Fox,
Jackson, Koch, Nettl, Taylor, Zon).
As the history of world music coalesces around the labors of those who form
the collectives of musicians, listeners, travelers, and scholars whom we encounter in the Cambridge History of World Music, it remains to be seen which of Clios
two forms of historical enunciation holds sway: proclamation or celebration.
Or will the paradoxes of Derek Walcotts muse of history and Walter
Benjamins angel of history sustain the challenges of encountering and gathering a world music that is not ones own? If less enchanted than Herder on his
sea voyage, and more measured than Hornbostel in his embrace of the technologies of modernity, the contributors who join together as a collective in this
volume chart new possibilities for the labor of the historiographer, as it
includes, ineluctably in the twenty-rst century, the musics of the world.

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Agnew, V. (2008) Enlightenment Orpheus: The Power of Music in Other Worlds, New York:
Oxford University Press
Benjamin, W. (2008) The World of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and
Other Writings on Media, ed. M. W. Jennings, B. Doherty, and T. Y. Levin, trans.
E. Jephcott et al., Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
(2010) ber den Begri der Geschichte, vol. 19 in Werke und Nachla: Kritische
Gesamtausgabe, ed. G. Raulet, Berlin: Suhrkamp
Bohlman, P. V. (2002) World music at the end of history, Ethnomusicology, 46, 1: 132
Brady, E. (1999) A Spiral Way: How the Phonograph Changed Ethnography, Jackson:
University Press of Mississippi
Csaire, A. (1972, orig. publ. 1955) Discourse on Colonialism, trans. J. Pinkham, New York:
Monthly Review Press
Congress of Cairo (1934) Recueil des travaux du Congrs de musique arabe, Paris:
Imprimerie nationale, Boulac

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Davis, R. (2013) Robert Lachmanns Oriental Music Broadcasts, 19361937: A Musical

Ethnography of Mandatory Palestine, Middleton, WI: A-R Editions
Das Gupta, A. (2007) Music and Modernity: North Indian Classical Music in an Age of
Mechanical Reproduction, Kolkata: Thema
Ethno-Musicology Newsletter (1955) Organizational meeting, 5 (September): 1
Feld, S. (1994) From schizophonia to schismogenesis: On the discourses and commodication practices of World Music and World Beat, in C. Keil and S. Feld
(eds.), Music Grooves: Essays and Dialogues, University of Chicago Press
Greene, P. D., and T. Porcello (eds.) (2005) Wired for Sound: Engineering and Technology in
Sonic Cultures, Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press and the University Press of
New England
Herder, J. G. (1778/1779) Stimmen der Vlker in Liedern and Volkslieder, 2 vols., Leipzig:
Weygandsche Buchhandlung
(1973) Stimmen der Vlker in Liedern and Volkslieder, modern, expanded edn, Stuttgart:
(1997) Journal meiner Reise im Jahre 1769, in vol. 9/2: Johann Gottfried Herder Werke, ed.
R. Wisbert, Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag
Hornbostel, E. M. von (1986, orig. publ. 1905) Die Probleme der vergleichenden
Musikwissenschaft, in C. Kaden and E. Stockmann (eds.), Erich Moritz von
Hornbostel Tonart und Ethos: Aufstze zur Musikethnologie und Musikpsychologie,
Leipzig: Reclam, pp. 4058
(1963, orig. 190013) The Demonstration Collection of E. M. von Hornbostel and the Berlin
Phonogramm-Archiv, 2 LPs and booklet, Ethnic Folkways FE 4175,
(1979; orig. 1934) Music of the Orient, 2 LPs and booklet, Ethnic Folkways FE 4157
Ibn Khaldun (1958) The Muqadimmah: An Introduction to History, 3 vols., New York:
Idelsohn, A. Z. (191432) Hebrisch-orientalischer Melodienschatz, 10 vols., Berlin:
Benjamin Harz et al.
Katz, M. (2010) Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, rev. edn, Berkeley:
University of California Press
Klotz, S. (ed.) (1998) Vom tnenden Wirbel menschlichen Tuns: Erich M. von Hornbostel als
Gestaltpsychologe, Archivar und Musikwissenschaftler, Uckerland: Schibri-Verlag
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. 1 .

On world music as a concept in the history

of music scholarship

No publication can narrate, in the most comprehensive sense, the total history
of the music of the world. There are, nevertheless, many works that endeavor,
in one way or another, to do this, works that appear to claim such an accomplishment, or that engage this issue in various ways. And there are traditions of
scholarship and thought that take the concept of a world-music history as a
point of departure. In this opening chapter I contemplate from a historical
perspective some of the concepts and processes that are suggested by the rubric
world music, trying to examine certain fundamental issues suggested by this
line of inquiry, and discussing a sampling of the relevant literature. To a large
extent, this has to be unabashedly an enterprise principally concerning
Western and Western-derived traditions of scholarship. The worlds societies,
however, have a variety of conceptions of music, of history, and of the world,
and such conceptions have naturally changed over time.
We begin with a consideration of these fundamental concepts, go on to examine
early scholarly literature, return to central issues such as processes in which
twentieth-century works that set out to narrate and comment on the history
of world music are based, and close with the role that the world-music concept,
viewed historically, has played in the recent history of music scholarship.

Fundamental questions
Music and musics
So, we ask, rst: what is music? Dictionary denitions in European languages
are not too helpful, as they inevitably foreground the art music of Western
culture. It is dicult to take as a point of departure, however, anything other
than Western music, because the holistic concept of music is in fact not shared
with all or even many other societies. In European languages (but perhaps more
Some material in this chapter appeared in a dierent form in Nettls Elephant: On the History of Ethnomusicology
(Nettl 2010)




in English than in some others), music is an enormously overarching concept,

including meaningful sounds made by humans and contrasted with speech, but
extending further to sounds made by animals that remind us of music, sounds
(e.g., industrial noises or silences) dened by musicians as music for the occasion,
and further, to metaphorical extensions such as pleasant sounds of any sort. In
contemporary Anglo-American use, all things considered to be music are music
to an equal degree; they may not be equally good or valuable, to individuals or to
society, but one does not speak of one piece being very much music and
another one being barely music. Even in some other European languages,
this unity does not quite apply as in the distinction in German between Musik
and Tonkunst (art music) and between Musikant (vernacular musician) and Musiker
(practitioner of art music, and, along the same lines, between Czech muzika and
hudba, and muzikant and hudebnik). In Persian, the distinction between musiqi
(normally instrumental, metric, composed, often ensemble music) and khandan
(lit., read, recite, sing; applied to vocal, usually improvised, nonmetric, soloistic)
provide a continuum along which various sounds could be designated as very or
slightly musical. In many of the worlds cultures, terms for music at large do not
exist, but the entity that the English-speaking world considers to be music is
represented by a variety of concepts or terms.
There appears to be no denition of music that would be accepted by all
cultures; and our task here is not to look for one. Inevitably, we take as a point
of departure the English form of discourse about music, but throughout our
considerations, the variegated nature of the conception around the world
ought to be kept in mind.
For some two centuries, beginning perhaps with Johann Gottfried Herder in
the late eighteenth century (17789; see Bohlman 2002) and in any event with
Ellis (1885) in the late nineteenth century, we have believed that each of the
worlds societies has its own music that is, that the world of music comprises
a number of discrete musical systems most recently called musics. One might
argue about the nature or requisite size of the culture group whose music
deserves to be considered a music; for example, whether Native North
Americans are members of one culture unit, or of a thousand. But the concept
of our music being familiar and natural, while that of other peoples is
strange, weird, perhaps ugly, most likely unintelligible, has been around for a
long time. Only in the 1970s did ethnomusicologists begin to use the plural of
music to specify this characteristic of their subject. It is a term that should have
seemed easily acceptable, music and musics being analogous to language and
languages, or to culture and cultures. It was, nonetheless, resisted by academics
for several (not necessarily justiable) reasons: foreign musics can be appreciated more easily than foreign languages; a music is not as coherent a system

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


as a language; the user of the word musics is othering the music of others.
Maybe most important, in some possibly indenable way, the musics of the
world have more to do with each other than languages, and it behooves us to
emphasize their unity more than the boundaries between them.
I have believed that the music/musics terminology is explanatory and
dignies the musical systems of the worlds cultures. Whether musical
systems leak at the borders or not, languages are not all that coherent,
being subject to constant change, and failing in the test of precise geographic
borders. Whether there is something still to be said for the concept of music
as the universal language of mankind, and whether enjoying the sounds of a
foreign music is identical with understanding may be argued. The issue is
not one or many, but in what ways the notion of music and musics
provide insight. A history of world music should, if it does not come down on
one side or the other, show how the two perspectives provide dierent
interpretations of what happened.

Origin and origins

Theories of the origin of music play a role here, for a formulation of history
may well be molded by the attitude taken to the question of origins. Thus,
scholars and scientists coming from Western culture and seeing music as
basically a unit were, while perhaps using as a basic assumption that each society
has its own music, inclined to feel that at some level, all of the worlds musics
are one, and that whatever the dierences among them, in some respect they
must have had a common origin. This is surely true of the older theories of the
origin of music, formulated in the nineteenth century or soon after: music had
a single origin. The options included imitation of animal sounds, communicating over distances with the use of sustained pitches, producing sounds that
support rhythmic labor and make it more ecient, the abstraction of emotional or formulaic speech. In general, these theories assumed a human society,
with culture and language more or less in place, while music came along to
help, fullling specic needs. Later on, additional suggestions were made:
the invention of music as a way of communicating with the supernatural
(Nadel 1930); music as a biological adaptation signifying tness to mate
(Miller 2000a; Wallin et al. 2000); an adaptation resulting from soothing sounds
made by mothers to young babies (Dissanayake 2000); and adaptation supporting cohesion of a society (Freeman 2000).
A history of world music, if in some sense it applies to all the worlds music,
present and past, would have to take the origins of music into account. World
music and origins of music, as concepts, connect signicantly when we
consider the question of music versus musics. Did music originate once,



and then split into the musics of cultures, subcultures, idiolects? The alternative possibility, of multiple origins, has received far less attention. Yet I must
confess to being attracted to the idea that music originated in one prehistoric
society as virtuosic singing signifying tness to mate; and in another, as group
vocalization to help a group of not particularly organized people feel unied;
and in a third, to frighten enemy hordes elsewhere by developing powerful
unison sounds; and in a fourth, developing a chant to address a fearsome deity.
Of course, all of these might successively have appeared in one society, whose
people might not have considered them to be the same thing at all, to have no
sense that somewhere else, in the distant future, these would all be considered
as music.
Since these dierent wellsprings might have resulted in some considerable
variety of sounds or styles, the term history of world musics might be
preferable to the singular even from the beginning. I would propose to
replace the usual often simply implied model in which a single origin
invention, adaptation of music gradually split into varieties of styles,
genres, functions. There is a widely accepted chronology following on the
single-origin theory in which a single moment of invention leads to inexorably increasing levels of complexity, from ditonic and tritonic melodies to
pentatonic, heptatonic, chromatic; or from monophony to simple harmony
to homophony and counterpoint, and eventually to dissonance. I am more
persuaded by the suggestion that various kinds of sound communication
were established at dierent times, in dierent societies or proto-societies,
sometimes preceding and sometimes following the development of language,
and that all of these were eventually many millennia later united under
the concept of music in only a few cultures.
Which of the kinds of music mating calls, war cries, lullabies, and the
rest came rst, in the overall chronology, or in the history of an individual
society of early humans? Of course we shall never know which is why many
ethnomusicologists around 1950 came to consider delving into origins as
useless speculation. But the forms of proto- or pre-music that came, chronologically, second, third, or fourth, probably were developed by peoples
who had no inkling of the earlier developments elsewhere. Yet if they had
had this awareness, the suggestion that these kinds of probably contrastive
sounds, dierent in function, performing personnel, and social context,
might together be molded into a unied concept could well have seemed
quite strange to them.
Clearly, this is all speculation, but it leads to a dierent model of the worlds
musical history one in which a diversity of social function and variety of
musical style are there from the beginning.

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


Culture and cultures

History is written by the victors, so we are told, and as an extension, the
interactions among musics have ordinarily been described and interpreted by
scholars whose own music replaced or changed or strongly aected the
music and musical lives of other societies. Thus, histories of non-Western
music by European and North American scholars have normally looked at
their subject matter as artifacts and activities moving from a distance to
proximity to the Western models of styles and contexts. Music changes to
become sounding more Western, peoples change their music by adopting
Western practices and repertories, traditional perhaps religious functions of
classical traditions may have been replaced by art for arts sake and great art
for all time. There may be a conventional view of world-music history: music
came into existence after humans had other aspects of culture to provide for
certain needs. For the people whose culture turned into Western civilization,
music was then developed inexorably to greater complexity until it reached
various kinds of climax in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Other
societies dropped o along the way, remaining stuck in monophonic, aural,
functional practices until, recently, beginning in various ways to be reunited
with the mainstream.
Of course, other societies may look at the history of the worlds music from
its origins onward quite dierently. In the context of a discussion of the
histories of world music, the view of music history in various parts of the world
ought at least to be touched upon (Allen 1939; Harrison 1973; Wiora 1965).
Two brief examples, which in dierent ways see the emergence of music as
preceding the coming of human culture or the rest of culture. They involve
a complex of myths found in both North and South American indigenous
cultures, in which a woman is taken to a distant place the sky, or under water,
or a land in which the sun lives and then returns to her people, bringing the
gift of music or enabling her people to learn the fundamental songs of their
culture. Central to it is a story studied by Stith Thompson (1953) and labeled
the star-husband tale, although Thompson did not emphasize its relation
to music.
In a myth of the Amuesha people of Bolivia (Smith 1971), a woman meets a
stranger and agrees to marry him. He reveals himself as a star and takes her to
live with him in the heavens. After a time, homesick, she asks to be allowed to
return to her people. Her star-husband agrees but says that before she departs,
he will teach her something essential; and he teaches her to sing, and songs.
She returns to her people, who have all along been living in a state of noncivilized chaos, and teaches them to sing, after which they begin to live orderly



lives; in other words, they have acquired culture and its values and requirements. Now, it is not clear whether this applies to the Amuesha alone, or
to all peoples; many origin myths are essentially ethnocentric or at least
A related case comes from the Blackfoot myth that tells the origins of the
beaver medicine bundle (Nettl 1989, 130, 134; Wissler and Duvall 1909, 79).
This bundle, the most important complex of religious artifacts, is actually a
group of perhaps close to two hundred objects that are kept wrapped together
and opened for ceremonial purposes. The objects are the dressed bird and
animal skins of all the local wildlife, plus a few other objects and a large number
of sticks representing the songs that accompany the bundle. It is associated
with the beaver, who is a kind of lord of the part of the world below the surface
of water; and thus it is one of the principal ceremonies of the Blackfoot
religious system. Before the bundle was opened and its ceremony carried
out, the following story was told. I summarize:
A great human hunter has killed a specimen of each animal and bird, and their
dressed skins decorate his tent. While he is hunting, a beaver comes to visit his
wife and seduces her, and she follows him into the water. After four days she
returns to her husband, and in time gives birth to a beaver child. Aairs were
unforgivable in Blackfoot society, but the hunter continues to be kind to his
wife and the child. The beaver, visiting, expresses pleasure at this and oers to
give the hunter some of his supernatural power as a reward. They smoke
together, and then the beaver begins to sing songs, each containing a request
for a particular bird or animal skin. The hunter gives the skins, one by one, and
receives, in return, the songs of the beaver and the supernatural power that
goes with them, and thus, the principal Blackfoot ritual, which may be seen as a
principal emblem of Blackfoot and in traditional society human culture.

This myth suggests important things about Blackfoot thinking about music.
Here are some. Music comes from the supernatural. Songs come as whole units,
and you learn them in one hearing, and they are objects that can be traded, as it
were, for physical objects. The musical system reects the cultural system, as
each being in the environment has its song. Music reects and contains supernatural power. It is something that only men use and perform, but women are
instrumental in bringing its existence about. Music is given to a human who
acts morally, gently, in a civilized manner. It comes about as the result of a
period of dwelling with the supernatural, after which a major aspect of culture
is brought, so in a way it symbolizes humanness. In the contemporary
Blackfoot view of the history of world music, songs came about as told in
myths. The world of music today contains many other kinds of songs and
styles, principally of white (Western) origin, but also including other Native

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


peoples. But the basic conception is that these musics, like the peoples who
brought them, came into history later. It is a view not too dierent from that
of early Western historians of music, who saw primordial humankind as having
music somewhat like that of Native Americans (or as the historians imagined
these to be), while the things that characterize Western music came later. The
conventional Western view of world-music history, nonetheless, provides for
gradual unication under the umbrella of functional harmony. The Blackfoot
view sees the (their) world of music as becoming increasingly diverse.

Landmark publications and their authors

before 1915
Philip Bohlman (2002) makes a case for the invention of world music by Johann
Gottfried Herder, whose Stimmen der Vlker in Liedern (17789) may be the
rst work to propose that each people has its music that there is such a thing
as folk song, Volkslied, which is peculiar to each people, but some of whose
characteristics all peoples have in common. Not the rst to notice musical
diversity, Herder may indeed have been the rst who prominently made the
point and suggested a term. His works of 1773 and 17789 proposed a new
approach to the understanding of music, introducing the concept of oral
tradition, but these works also appeared in a period in which a major principal
tradition of music historiography had its rst owering with the virtually
simultaneous publication of some of the earliest expansive histories of
European art music (see Bohlman on Herder in the present volume). The
following paragraphs summarize some of the landmarks among the early
works that may claim in some way to be, or were considered to be, histories
of world music.

Charles Burney
The 1770s formed a major period in the history of musicography. In 1776,
Charles Burney and John Hawkins published the two earliest inuential
histories of Western music. Burneys, thought by some to be the less scholarly
and more popularizing, has always received more attention. It sees music as a
feature of human culture, but in its excellent and proper form, it is specic to
certain peoples. It contains no mention of India or China, nor of Africa or
Native North America, but there is a large section approximately 20 percent
of the total work devoted to ancient music with chapters on Egyptian,
Hebrew, and Greek music, all of these presented as complex systems. Burney
does opine on the origins of music, asserting that the art or practice of music
cannot be said to have been invented by any one man, for that must have had



its infancy, childhood, and youth, before it arrived at maturity (Burney

177689, 164). And also, the rst attempts must have been rude and artless:
the rst ute, a whistling reed, and the rst lyre, perhaps the dried sinews
of a dead tortoise (ibid., 165). There is a concept of music as something
that developed gradually, but it is not true music until it has a conceptual
body of theory and, so Burney implies, at least a rudimentary system of
notation. And further, Burney, rather in concert with modern evolutionists
but also with Native American tribes, suggested that the origins of song
are coeval with mankind . . . This primitive and instinctive language . . . is
still retained by animals (ibid.).
Burney and Herder thus represent two viewpoints that have divided
music scholarship, though not necessarily scholars, some of whom try to
mediate between the two: 1) All peoples have their own music, or 2) all
music is part of a single development leading to well, is it Bach, Mozart,
Beethoven, or high-tech?
Actually, the concept of a world of music made occasional appearances
before Burney and Herder. One of the high points in musical thought is
Rousseaus dictionary of 1768, in which the musical world is illustrated by
three notations Chinese, Native Canadian, and European folk music
a harbinger of the dominant division of musics under the purview of comparative
musicology before c. 1950.
The end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth
provide the earliest important reports on the musics of Asian cultures: most
prominently the works of Amiot (1779) and du Halde (1735) on Chinese music,
of William Jones (1784) on the Indian rga system, and of Raphael Kiesewetter
(1842) on Arabic music. Taken as a group, these examples, along with numerous less prominent others, show that in the consciousness of European scholars
the concept of music as a world of musics began to grow. These works, and
some others like them, seem to have had an eect on the authors of some
nineteenth-century works that claim to be histories of music.

Johann Gottfried Herder

Philip Bohlman has discussed Herder in a number of publications (see, e.g.,
Bohlman 2002, Bohlman 2007, Bohlman 2010, Bohlman 2011, and in the
present volume) and lists him as an inventor sometimes the inventor of
world music. There are a number of ways in which Herder deserves that title:
by paying attention to the music of the ordinary and rural people in addition to
the art music of court and church; by considering and collecting the folk music
of diverse peoples in Europe and by adding, late in life, some interest, as
Bohlman (2007, 4) points out, to non-Western music; perhaps most important,

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


by coining the term Volkslied, which labeled a genre that all peoples were
thought to possess, the common core of a world music. Surely he had ideas
of what the history of music, and of the folk music of the worlds cultures,
might have been, but in his day this subject was not one of the issues of
scholarship. Suce it to say that were he writing today, he might, like many
others, have been of two minds: music had a single origin he considered it
coeval with speech, something inherent to humans (hard-wired one would
say today), its character represented by what the worlds folk musics more
recently, perhaps in his time, had in common. But also, each Volk, each
nation, had its own distinct folk music with its own long history. Although he
was principally concerned with the words of songs, he was a competent and
active musician; and his work pointed the way for a number of disciplines
folklore, philology, literary scholarship, historiography, and even ethnomusicology. He speaks to us from another age, virtually another culture, but the
musical issues that he illuminates universals versus cultural diversity, music as
isolated art versus music as a mainstay of life are in various ways still with us.
His importance to humanistic scholarship, nonetheless, was so great that many
articles in standard reference sources (e.g., Encyclopedia Britannica) hardly
mention his interest in folk music and do not credit him as a seminal gure
in the discipline of folklore.

August Wilhelm Ambros

The rst author who seriously confronted the issue of music and musics was
August Wilhelm Ambros, whose Geschichte der Musik, which began publication
with its rst volume in 1862, is regarded by many scholars as a major landmark
in the history of musicology. The rst volume (of what was intended as ve
volumes) is entirely devoted to non-Western music, the music of the ancient
Near East, and the classical cultures of Greece and Italy. His discussion of
non-Western musics, based almost entirely on second-hand apprehension of
theoretical sources along with quotation of a small number of transcriptions
(made, naturally, without the use of recordings) does more than pay lip-service
to a world-music concept. He sees the world of music as consisting of a number
of areas that developed as a result of diusion from culture centers China,
South Asia, and the Arabic world, to which he adds, by implication, the ancient
GreekEgyptian culture that led to Western music. Claiming that the ability for
musicking is using the modern term imprinted in humans, he describes a
series of situations (Ambros 1862, 34) conict, child-rearing, expression of
joy or sorrow that as a group look like a precursor to the multiple-origin
concept (cf., however, ibid., xvixvii). Ambros suggests that the non-Western
art musics should be seen as parts of his overall chronology because 1) the music



of non-Western cultures should be acknowledged as ancient, perhaps predating the origins of Western culture, but 2) that their development was truncated
at a certain point, and they were overtaken by Western music, which continued
to develop further. Without explicitly claiming to be writing about world
music, Ambros tries to establish it in both geographic and chronological

Carl Engel
On a somewhat parallel track, the older of the two unrelated Carl Engels
active in music research followed Herder as a precursor of twentieth-century
ethnomusicology with its concern for the musics of the world. Engel
(181882), who lived largely in England, pursued a number of interests in
his career, including organology and piano music, but it is for his work on
national music that he is best remembered. In his principal book on the
subject (Engel 1866), he denes national music as music appertaining to a
nation or tribe, whose individual emotions and passions it expresses, which
distinguish it from the music of any other nation or tribe (ibid., 1).
Rendering it as equivalent to Volksmusik, he nevertheless avoids throughout
the work issues that later came to dominate scholarly thinking about folk
music, such as its presumed (and required) great age (as both style and
repertory), its association with particular social classes, its rural provenance,
and the question of authenticity; rather, he discusses a great deal of music
that in the twentieth century would have been labeled as vernacular
functional folk songs, hymns, patriotic songs, some European and a lot of
non-European popular art music.
Engels Introduction to the Study of National Music is not a work that could
today be used as documentation of ethnographic or historical research. Yet it is
astonishingly broad and broad-minded. There are abundant notations, mainly
from published sources, but many other transcriptions made by ear, and while
the emphasis is on Europe (and mainly England, Germany, and Central
Europe), Engel tries to include music from many cultures, managing to present
examples and comments on music of Africa, Native America, Persia, India,
Central Asia, and China. Engels principal purpose was to demonstrate that
each culture has its own music. But following upon the heels of that aim is an
insistence that the worlds musics have a lot to do with each other. He tells us
that among nations and even continents there are signicant parallels in
performance practices of many kinds, in social functions, and even in specic
tunes. He works hard at providing ways for comparing musics, and even when
these, in retrospect, turn out to be wrong-headed or of dubious relevance
(e.g., ibid., 174, a table indicating percentages of songs in major and minor in

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


twenty-two European nations and ethnicities), they show Engel as a uniquely

forward-looking scholar. Arguably, this is the rst general book about
world music.
It is worth mentioning, as virtually contemporary to Engels, the work of
Wilhelm Tappert (Tappert 1968), whose small book, Wandernde Melodien
(Wandering Melodies), suggests that we look at the world not only as a
group of musics, but also as a group of melodies each of which has diused
throughout the world (at the very least, throughout Europe) and maintained
its integrity while taking up, in each venue, signicant characteristics of
local music.

Guido Adler
If musicologists agree that they have a disciplinary father, it is likely to be Guido
Adler, who was the author of the most inuential article laying out the eld
(Adler 1885) and principal editor of the rst successful musicological journal.
The eld that was to become ethnomusicology, with its concern with the musics
of the world, makes a cameo appearance in Adlers outline, but it is there as
Musikologie Untersuchung und Vergleichung zu ethnographischen
Zwecken (Musicology investigation and comparison for ethnographic
purposes). The music of the world is there for more than just a speculative
introduction to Western art music. The journal, Vierteljahrsschrift fr
Musikwissenschaft (Musicological Quarterly) (188595), in its rst two volumes,
makes a stab at looking at the entire world, or at least the part of it to which
musicologists had access. Thus, besides studies of music from European history
to c. 1800, there are articles on ancient Indian music, music of Native Americans,
medieval Arabic music, and related materials for example, psychology of music
and the origins of music and there are reviews of Alexander Elliss pioneering
1885 article and of publications on folk music. One might maintain that the
Vierteljahrsschrift qualies as the rst journal to use a world-music perspective,
despite its grounding in the European canon. The only thing conspicuously
missing is discussion of recent music (e.g., folk songs collected in the 1860s,
Asian music in more or less contemporary manifestations, and, most surprising,
Mozart, Beethoven, and nineteenth-century opera).
Forty years and many research projects later, at the age of almost seventy,
Adler had moved away from a broad world view, editing an inuential
compendium, Handbuch der Musikgeschichte (1924), which very clearly interprets the history of music as the history of Western music. In the second
edition, there is a brief chapter (about thirty pages, 2.5 percent of the book)
by Robert Lach, titled Die Musik der auereuropischen Natur- und orientalischen Kulturvlker (Music of the non-European natural and oriental



peoples) (1930), which looks at the history of world music as a sequence of

increasingly complex scales, avoiding separation of nonliterate from Asian high
cultures, and beginning with several pages on origins. Evidently, it was Adlers
view that there is a history of music; even the individual nations of Europe
are not accorded separate histories until the modern era, from 1880 to 1924.
Folk music is mentioned occasionally, but the concept of folk song as a point
of departure for art music, perhaps on a national basis, does not come to the
fore. Adlers collection is characteristic of many larger histories of music
published in the seventy years after the 1885 breakthrough.

Sourindro Mohun Tagore

The rst prominent book that interprets the world of musics as a group of
musics, each with its own history, though not neglecting interrelations, is by a
scholar who worked outside the European scholarly canon, though he was
signicantly inuenced by Carl Engels work the Bengali intellectual
Sourindro Mohun Tagore. Tagores Universal History of Music (rst published
in Calcutta in 1896) is perhaps the earliest book in which some measure of
equality is given to the treatment of the various continents. This is one of
Tagores last publications, as it follows a long series of scholarly and hortatory
works on Indian music and other subjects; much of his work is discussed in
publications by Charles Capwell (especially Capwell 1987 and 1991; see also
Bohlmans introduction to this volume), who also describes his involvement in
the creation of a national anthem appropriate to India as a constituent part of
the British Empire. Active in many projects developing musical life in Bengal,
Tagore organized his ambitious history of world music principally by discussing each of a multitude of nations, but he consistently emphasizes, as well, the
ways in which music crosses national boundaries. Thus, he begins by pointing
out that the primitive tones of the human voice are much the same in all
countries but quickly moves to assert that the Moors have exercised a
perceptible inuence upon the music of Spain and the well-known
German Dessauer March is of Italian origin (Tagore 1896, 11).
Tagores Universal History, based on fragmentary secondary and tertiary
sources (except when dealing with South Asian subjects), is valuable principally for its perspective: it tries to tell some important things about the music
of every nation. Beginning with The Savage Nations (tribal societies of
the Americas and North Asia), it devotes about one hundred pages to
Asia (forty of them unsurprisingly on India subdivided by regions but
devoting several pages each to China, Siam, Japan, Korea, Tibet, Persia,
etc.); about 45 pages to Africa, 115 to Europe, 35 to the Americas, and 25 to
Oceania. In each case there is some account of older traditions currently still

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


practiced, instruments, and a few assorted (and not very organized) facts on
history. Often, the matter of national anthems comes up, as does the use of
foreign musics (e.g., Italian music performed in Germany). There is a brief
account of opera in Germany (ibid., 217), and Tagore provides a few words
about Mozart (and a list of six major works) and mentions minor gures
such as Louis Spohr and Gyrowetz. The main point is that there are actually
chapterlets on such obscure regions as Iceland, Borneo, Tyrol, and Dahomey.
No doubt, Tagore knew that his information was spotty and supercial, but
he considered it important to make a gesture, showing that all nations had
their music, that each deserved appropriate attention, and that the universe
of music consisted of these separate, though interrelated, musics. Tagores
was a viewpoint that did not become prominent until several decades after
his death in 1914.
An Indian successor to S. M. Tagores universal history, almost a century
later, is Music of the Nations by Swami Prajnanananda (1973), who presents his
book as a comparative study of the musical systems of the civilised nations of
the world. With chapters on India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, on Arabic,
Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Burmese, and Korean music, and on Russian
and Western European musics, it cannot claim great authority. It is worth
mentioning, nonetheless, as a modern attempt by a non-Western scholar to
write about world music, and, parallel to its Western counterparts, it does so
from an Indian perspective, devoting its longest chapter to Indian music, and
providing a separate chapter on the inuence of Indian music on the rest of the
world. I do not know whether Swami Prajnanananda was inclined to irony, but
it seems that he might have been saying, If you Europeans think Ive provided
an unbalanced, Indo-centric view of world music, this may tell you how we are
usually made to feel.

Hugo Riemann
In his long career as a musicologist and theorist, Hugo Riemann touched on an
immense variety of musical subjects. Central to his output was his Handbuch der
Musikgeschichte, a ve-volume publication more or less contemporary to
Tagores. Enormously erudite and in control of the voluminous European
literature on music, Riemann devotes the entire rst volume of the work to
ancient Greece, beginning with a thorough account of Greek and Roman
sources, but he starts out with several caveats. Extolling the recent development of musikalische Ethnographie (musical ethnography; see Riemann
1904, vi, for perhaps the earliest use of this term), Riemann maintains that
this is not history, but rather observation of the present, from which, he warns
in a precursor of more recent thought, one must not extrapolate earlier stages



of history. He further points out (ibid., 1) that while it has been customary to
include Chinese, Egyptian, and Indian music as a prologue to the history of
Western music, because these cultures were well advanced at the time of the
owering of ancient Greek culture, he feels that they should not be seen as part
of Western music history. Chinese music is too distant, Egyptian music known
only from depictions of instruments, and Indian music a mix of materials
of ancient provenance with inuences from the beginning of the Islamic period
in South Asia. Thus these and other non-Western cultures are only mentioned
at various points in passing. Trying in a sophisticated way to separate history
from other disciplines of musical scholarship and recognizing that nonWestern music is interesting not only for what it might tell about the Wests
earlier past, Riemann can only be blamed for little more than claiming
inclusivity in his title, a fault that he shares with most scholars before and
many long after his work.

The twentieth century

The world changed after World War I, so many historians tell us, and musicology did as well at the same time, though it is hard to make a case for causality.
Indeed, the defeat of the German-speaking countries of Central Europe
seems to have been accompanied by a virtual hegemony of German-speaking
musicologists. While most of the worlds music scholars were engaged mainly
in the study of their own national musics, it was German and Austrian scholars,
more than others by far, who undertook studies in what were for them the
most far-ung musical cultures. Whimsically, one might ask whether this was a
kind of compensatory victory, but we know better, as German polity was not
for long content with the designation of nation of poets and thinkers. Yet it
was the notion of musicology as a discipline interested in all kinds of music
everywhere, a kind of German invention, that characterized the eld for
decades and is ultimately perhaps responsible for the notion that we have, in
the eld of music scholarship, of a concept that may be labeled as world music.
As musicology turned a corner soon after 1900, we turn once more to the
basic concepts and denitions that undergird these pages.

Denitions and concepts revisited

The term world music provides the point of departure for Philip Bohlmans
short but inuential eponymous book (Bohlman 2002), and Bohlman goes
on to take an almost immensely broad view the way in which music of
the worlds cultures exists in each cultures world, going on to provide a
discussion of alternative meanings. On these pages, and particularly in

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


transitioning to consideration of the concept in the twentieth century, we

are taking a somewhat narrower perspective. It may indeed be tempting
virtually to equate world music with the term music world music then
meaning all music, everywhere, and everything about it. In fact, the term
world music did not enjoy widespread use in English until the 1960s, when it
began to be used coined, we are told, by Robert E. Brown as an alternative
term for ethnomusicology in the curricula of Wesleyan University, to distinguish it from what was usually meant by music in higher education. The need
to say world music when one means all music continued through
twentieth-century American academic practice, in the shadow of an odd
paradox. In my institution, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
an introductory course on Western art music is titled simply Introduction to
the Art of Music, while an introductory course on all music is titled
Introduction to World Music. Just as the term began to gain some currency
in American use, the issue became confused by the introduction of world music
to mean a branch of popular music in which intercultural inuences were
particularly emphasized. The enthusiasm with which the term and what
it implied were accepted ignores the fact that most Western popular music
back to the early twentieth century had an intercultural base. The naive
denition of world music as all of the worlds music leads to concepts with a
number of dierent emphases.
This chapter began with the assertion that the world of music may be
thought to consist of a group of discrete musics that are somewhat coeval
with culture units and languages. What then denes a music? It may be a
repertory, a group of pieces or songs shared by a people. Or it may be a
distinctive group of stylistic characteristics, perhaps a set of rules to which
members of a society must adhere in order to create a sense of belonging. Or a
set of ideas, perhaps including concepts such as genius in Western society, or
supernatural creation in some Native American cultures. Or a set of requirements for use (e.g., music belonging or not belonging in certain social contexts). There are more along those lines, but there are also criteria involving
music in society. For example, does a music comprise what the members of a
society accept, or should it include anything that any member of a society
anywhere includes in his or her cognitive map as music? The sounds of certain
nonhuman species, the silence required in John Cages famous work, industrial
sounds, music that exists only in dreams or on the pages of literature? These
issues play a role in our contemplation of the way in which various authors and
various societies have used the concept of world music when writing history,
sometimes by trying to write history explicitly, sometimes to provide a context
for narrower concerns.



World music as context for the great historical compendia

As they look at the history of music comprehensively throughout most of the
twentieth century, Western scholars have rarely done what S. M. Tagore tried to
do take a stab at writing the history of all of the worlds cultures or nations.
Mainly, if they touched on the music of the world at all, they did so in order to
provide a context for understanding the history of Western art music. In the
forefront of twentieth-century literature are several large compendia, a number
of which covered the issue in essentially parallel fashion. Leaving aside some
comprehensive histories of European music, such as the rst edition of
The Oxford History of Music (Hadow 19015), the rst serious attempt to assemble
this kind of compendium may have been the Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft,
ten volumes edited by Ernst Bcken (192731), which includes volumes on
periods in European music history along with others devoted to overarching
issues (e.g., performance practice) and narrower subjects (e.g., Lutheran church
music). One volume is devoted to four parts, paginated separately (and possibly
once available separately for purchase): Instrumentenkunde (Organology, the
longest part), Musik der aussereuropischen Natur- und Kulturvlker (Music
of non-European natural and cultured peoples), a brief introduction to music of
antiquity, and, perhaps surprisingly, Altslavische Volks- und Kirchenmusik
(Old Slavic folk and church music), which seems to be included because it, like
the non-Western section, is seen as part of this volume of exotica, even though it
comprises European cultures from Russia to Bulgaria and Serbia. This volume
seems to have been intended as a supplement to the other nine. World music, in
Robert Lachmanns section on non-Western music (thirty-three pages), consists
essentially of two parts and two types primitive and Asian cultured
peoples and musics; each of these is presented as an essentially homogeneous
corpus with stylistic and functional similarities (Lachmann 1929a). Illustrations
for a particular point in the rst part may be taken from African, Melanesian, and
Native American, and in the second from Chinese, Javanese, and Indian cultures.
It would be foolish to impute to Lachmann the attitude that all this music was
just one big mix. But to him (as seen also in his book Musik des Orients [Music of
the Orient] 1929b) the similarities and relationships among the worlds musics
(Europe excepted) are the most important touchstones of insight. Peter Panos
section on Slavic music is the only one in the entire set that has a part devoted
explicitly to folk music. The understanding of popular music as a separate genre
does not come into play at all.
A somewhat dierent approach was followed, a couple of decades later, by
The New Oxford History of Music (Westrup et al. 195765), which departed
substantially from its predecessor, The Oxford History of Music, a set that began

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


with the establishment of polyphonic music in medieval Europe, thereby

perhaps making a unique statement dening what music truly is. The New
Oxford begins with a rst volume (of ten) on Ancient and Oriental Music with
chapters on primitive music (Marius Schneider), the Asian high cultures
(Arnold Bake, Henry George Farmer, and Lawrence Picken), ancient Greece,
Jewish and Islamic traditions, altogether by a total of eight specialists. The
introduction, by Egon Wellesz, dwells on the essential dierence between this
volume and the others. It is surprising to read these rather uninsightful lines
from the pen of the distinguished scholar of Byzantine music and student of
Arnold Schoenberg: In the East music has . . . still preserved its ritual, even its
magic character . . . To the Western musician conciseness of expression, clearly
shaped form, and individuality are the highest criteria . . . The Eastern musician
likes to improvise on given patterns, he favors repetition, his music does not
develop (Wellesz 1957, xviii). It would seem that the editors of The New
Oxford were more interested in fullling an obligation to appear modern than
in providing a kind of world-music background for their concentration on
Western art music. While much of the data on African, American Indian, and
Asian musics in these chapters comes from recent sources, there is no attempt
to show that these musical cultures are part of the modern, twentieth-century
world of music.
Shortly thereafter, and in some respects parallel to The New Oxford, appeared
the Histoire de la musique edited by Roland-Manuel as part of the series
Encyclopdie de la Pleiade. The rst (2,000 pages in all) of two volumes,
published in 1960, includes a chapter on music in myth and ritual in nonWestern (read: primitive) societies by Marius Schneider (approx. eighty-ve
pages), preceded by a fteen-page chapter of speculative prehistory by
Constantin Brailoiu. Chapters on Africa, Bali, China, Japan, India, and
Vietnam occupy two hundred pages; and after chapters on Egyptian,
Mesopotamian, Jewish, and Greek music, there are three on Musique dans
le monde Musulman (Iran, the Arabic world, and Turkey, 165 pages). While
the survey of non-Western musics occupies a small proportion of the total
volume, it is really quite large, easily the equivalent of a well-sized volume.
These chapters discuss the musics of their respective cultures holistically,
looking at ancient as well as recent developments, including folk and art
musics. In most cases, one gets the feeling that ancient practices continued
with only slight changes until Western musical culture intruded. If these
chapters provide a context, then the message of the Roland-Manuel collection
may, by both organization and tone, be that in ancient times perhaps the
times of the ancient Greeks, putting it very generally the various musics of
the world were in a certain sense equal, but later on, the non-Western cultures



stayed behind while Western music advanced. It does not present nonWestern musics as manifestations of earlier stages of Western music.
Appearing in a new incarnation after fty years, Bckens Handbuch
of c. 1930, titled Neues Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft (198492) and edited
by Carl Dahlhaus, moved somewhat more closely to an even treatment of the
worlds cultures, devoting three of its twelve volumes to non-Western and
European folk and popular music, with a thirty-page chapter on Jazz,
Rock, und Popmusik. This is the rst large compendium to include folk
music in the concept of music history, and while folk music is separated
from art music, its role in history and its historical components are given
attention in a separate chapter. Lip-service, at least, is paid to popular music
and, perhaps more signicantly, to jazz, whose ambiguous place in the
standard taxonomy has stood in the way of its inclusion in comprehensive
accounts of music. In contemplating the place of non-Western and folk
music in large publications devoted principally to the history of art music,
it seems appropriate to mention briey encyclopedias, of which the most
prominent, The New Grove (second edn, 2001), comes closest to providing
even-handed treatment of the worlds cultures. It does so by providing
survey articles on large world regions (Africa, Middle East) and concepts
(folk music), as well as an article on each of the worlds nations. The same is
true of the recent edition of Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, the major
German-language encyclopedia of music. The presence of world music has
increased in this genre through the last one hundred years, but the cleavage
between Western art music and all the rest continues to be quite obvious.
The latest among the compendia approaching a history of world music,
The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (Porter and Rice 19982002), takes
a more ethnographic than historical perspective. While earlier works
emphasize history but provide a bit of ethnography (mainly for cultures in
which source material is largely contemporary), the Garland has a few
chapters of specically historical interest. In the volume on Europe (and to
a small extent in others), the history of Western art music is given attention
as simply one of many traditions.
All this suggests a very gradual move toward increasingly even-handed
treatment of the worlds musics in works whose titles imply that this is what
the reader should expect. At the same time, historical treatments of Western
music such as the six-volume The Oxford History of Western Music by Richard
Taruskin (2005), but going back to Paul Henry Langs Music in Western
Civilization (1941) restrict themselves to Europe and increasingly avoid
introductory lip-service to the great non-West. In the late twentieth century,
we also see a shift from the concept of music as a single unit with one history

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


to multiple histories. Garland, New Grove 2, and to some degree Dahlhauss

Neues Handbuch (19802) move in the direction of emphasis on the dierences
among the worlds musics. It would have been a short hop from the recognition of the national and culture-specic histories to the idea that each culture
also has, as it were, its own musicology that the world of musicology is really a
world of many musicologies. While this concept has been discussed (e.g., by
Regula Qureshi) principally from a theoretical perspective, its application was
attempted in a large compendium only once, in a project that was never
completed. Under the leadership of Barry Brook, a project titled Music in the
Life of Man, later changed to Music in Human Experience, was planned, with the
support of UNESCO. Each of a dozen volumes was to include histories of
regions and nations throughout the world, each written largely by scholars
from that region. The usual distinction historical treatment for Europe,
ethnographic for all other regions was to be replaced by an essentially
historical perspective for all. This would have been, surely, one very distinctive
sort of history of world music.

Some twentieth-century culture heroes

of the history of world music
Many authors of histories of music in the twentieth century paid lip-service
of one sort or another to the concept of world music as a context for Western
music history, or as something that precedes the history of Western art music.
A few scholars, however, devoted themselves substantially to the notion that
there is a world history of music in which Western music plays an important
(or maybe not even so important) role. In the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries, Johann Gottfried Herder and S. M. Tagore, in quite dierent and
certainly idiosyncratic ways, were their predecessors. In the twentieth century,
the scholars in question were members of the newly established discipline or
subdiscipline of ethnomusicology. I take the liberty of commenting on the
work of three of them.

Curt Sachs
The career of Curt Sachs could almost be described as a history of world
music. In any event, in a number of his publications, Sachs wanted to present
the history of music, and of dance as well, as a world event. His Rise of Music in
the Ancient World, East and West (1943), which is part of the so-called Norton
Series in which each of the volumes is devoted to a period in Western music
history, is largely about non-Western music; only some 75 of its 300 pages are
about Greece and Rome. If one had eliminated this, one would have been



left with a 175-page account of non-Western music, with a historical slant,

rather idiosyncratically oriented (the music of Islam is presented largely as a
preserver of ancient Greek traditions). That this was not done suggests that the
editors and author considered non-Western music of interest only insofar as it
could be shown relevant to the history of European music. Sachs ends with a
short chapter on Europe and the Road to Major and Minor. For Sachs, the
world of music today shows a number of historical strata, and Western music
represents a tremendous leap forward that began in the Middle Ages. The
concept of the present as a group of phenomena that represents historical strata
goes back, in Sachss work, to his Geist und Werden der Musikinstrumente (1929),
in which the distribution of clusters of instruments throughout the world is
interpreted, using the approaches of the Kulturkreis (theory of culture areas)
school of historical reconstruction, as a group of twenty-three stages in the
history of instruments.
More than half of Curt Sachss The History of Musical Instruments (1940) is
devoted to non-Western societies, and the notion of a single-stranded history
leading to the superiority of Western technology is essentially abandoned,
except in the order in which the cultures are presented (cf. Kartomi 1990).
The notion that all cultures have their own histories becomes evident when we
see Asian and European cultures appearing in the sections on antiquity and on
the Middle Ages. Sachss World History of the Dance (1937) consists of two
sections: a survey of dance throughout the world, thematically organized
with examples from many societies including Western; and a history that
touches briey on stone age cultures, even more briey on evolution to
the spectacular dance and the oriental civilizations, and a section occupying
almost half of the book on the history of dance in Europe.
Sachs wrote about the musics and particularly the instruments of many
cultures, but in his view of the history of world music, he mainly comes
down on the side of a homogeneous beginning moving to a group of
diverse branches, all of which ceased to develop at some point, with the
exception of the Western, which, for reasons of technology, social organization, and a certain kind of energy, kept moving forward after others
ceased to make progress. It is a widespread view in the literature on music,
one ethnomusicologists no longer accept. Actually, it seems that Sachs, in
his last book, The Wellsprings of Music (published posthumously in 1962),
was beginning to take a dierent view, moving away from the concept of a
single unied history of world music, beginning with the suggestion (based
on the logogenic and pathogenic concepts Sachs had previously used
to describe the simplest musics) of two kinds of origin the tumbling
strains which suggest a genesis from emotional expression, and one-step

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


melodies which suggest a development from speech. A series of stages in

which many cultures participated types of scales, polyphony, rhythmic
complexity, professionalization of music is followed by a brief critique
of the concept of progress to the European harmonic, dissonant, and
technological models, and suggests that the interaction of the worlds
musics may be the future.

Alan Lomax
Alan Lomax was outstanding among the scholars who tried to contemplate
all of the worlds music. While he did not attempt to narrate the history,
his development of a technique for making comparative descriptions of
musical styles and his theories of the determination of musical styles
suggest a specic view of how music history works. He recognized that
each of the worlds societies had a music with which it principally identied (the cultures favored song style), and that all were equally worthy of
attention. In most of his work, he viewed these musics from a synchronic
perspective. Chronology was not absent from his considerations, as, for
example, in his 1959 delineation of folk-song styles, he viewed the soloistic
and virtuosic music of the kingdoms and empires in his Eurasian musical
area as developments from earlier, more participatory cultures, and his
modern European song styles were more recent developments than the
old European of the outskirts of Europe. But if Lomax is viewed as a
historian of world music, it is mainly in his concern with determinants of
musical style. He famously stated that a cultures favored song style
reects and reinforces the kind of behavior essential to its main subsistence
eort and to its central and controlling social institutions (Lomax 1968,
133). Lomax did not see the world of music as a single unit but as a group
of musics, the growth of each of which was determined by its unique social
and economic history.

Mieczyslaw Kolinski
To some extent a predecessor of Lomax, Mieczyslaw Kolinski devoted much
of his career to trying to establish systems for the comparative study of
musical style traits. While not directly concerned with chronology or
diachronic considerations, he does ask, What is the world of music
like? or more specically, in separate publications, what scales, melodic
contours, tempos, rhythmic structure, consonance and dissonance are like,
in world music. The implication throughout his work is that music is
one kind of thing in which the character of stylistic parameters varies freely.



Concepts and processes: comments

on developments since 1950
A book on the history of Europe usually does not discuss the history of each
nation, and the author of a history of the United States would be nonplussed
if confronted with the question, You mean ALL of the states? The European
historian would concentrate on those factors that signicantly aected most or
much of the population of Europe, and on those trends that a number of
nations had in common, or on the peoples with the largest populations; or
on concepts and processes that involved, or could be comprehended by,
interrelationships among nations and peoples. Similarly, the history of world
music can mean many things.
It is widely believed that the term world music was coined by Robert
E. Brown, who joined the faculty of Wesleyan University in 1960 and moved to
establish authentic instruction in the performance of a number of non-Western
musics. Realizing that the term ethnomusicology, already in use, meant, to
most people, a focus on the study of music in culture, and academic rather than
artistic study, Brown began to use world music. It would have been reasonable
to expect the Wesleyan department to introduce the study of all musics of the
world though, when I wished to introduce a course titled Introduction to
World Music, I was asked, with some seriousness, whether I would deal with
all musics. What was meant, however, was that within the framework of this
curriculum, all musics were eligible for inclusion.
There is no doubt that as the twentieth century passed, musicians in many of
the worlds cultures, as well as music scholars, began increasingly to think of
the term music as including all imaginable music; that the scope of the term
meant that all kinds of music, the music of all societies, historical periods,
subcultures, idiosyncrasies, were eligible for inclusion.
Well, that is an ideal, but hardly a practical suggestion for a discipline. What
now should the term world music imply, as distinct from simply music?
What should we talk about when we consider world music?

If we see the musics of the various world cultures as essentially one music,
one system, what are the features that identify it? At the end of the twentieth
century, one could claim that most of the worlds people had access to the same
music, could hear, on radios and through other media, the same songs.
Everyone knew The Beatles and Elvis, and everyone could be surrounded by
functional harmony on guitars; perhaps everyone had heard and seen the

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


eighty-eight-key keyboard. But that is a recent development. Are there concepts that could be (could have been) used to identify music as a single world
phenomenon in earlier times? Let me comment, without drawing conclusions,
on a few.
In the period from c. 1960 to 1985, ethnomusicological activity surged
briey toward an interest in universals, asking, in a good many articles and
special issues of journals, whether there were such things, whether musical
universals could be heard, and what conclusions one might draw from them
(Wachsmann 1971; Blacking 1977). Conclusions? There might be evidence for
a psychic unity of mankind or evidence for the origins of music, or for the
characteristics of a very early stage in human music history an early stage of
world music. Going through that exercise required one to look at music as a
discrete set of musics, each of which could theoretically be tested for the
presence or absence of presumably universal traits. When it came to enumerating universals, we found that there really were not many of these, that the
worlds musics were really more divergent than alike; that the only thing truly
universal was the properties of music itself in other words, that all that the
worlds musics had in common was simply the fact of being music and that
certain simple styles such as the existence of two- and three-tone scales everywhere amounted to a mere enumerative, not an intrinsic, feature. The most
widespread uses of music its ubiquitous use in religious practices, the
exhibition of virtuosity, the concept of common participation might shed
light on ultimate origins and support arguments for multiple origins. In all of
this comparative work, nonetheless, the identication of commonality comes
from Western perspectives of music. Thus, the fact that two musics use the
same tone inventory for example, GAD may seem to be a very signicant
commonality, but to the peoples of these musics, such tone inventories may be
coincidental similarities in otherwise totally divergent forms of the art.

Families and types as unities of musical creation

We tend to think of a music as being dened by stylistic traits, and that
those style traits that all musics share are the universals. But the dierences
between the musical style of the Blackfoot, Crow, and Arapaho vary in only
insignicant ways. Members of these tribes, nevertheless, could distinguish
their musics and separate them from those of their neighbors. The same, to a
much greater extent, must have been true of the tribal groups that represented the 1,100 distinct languages (see Nettle and Romaine 2000) spoken in
Papua New Guinea, each by a tiny tribe; or of the hundreds of tribes that
comprised the million or so Native Americans in aboriginal California.



Although songs could be learned from neighbors, each tribe thought it had
its music, dened by its repertory. Our songs may be the most important
thing we Blackfeet have, but songs are taught across tribal and national
borders, and they can usually still be recognized even though their words
are translated (or, usually, changed more drastically) and their style traits
scale, rhythm, singing style also changed. So, we could argue that the world
of music consists of a large number of units melodies, rhythmic patterns,
harmonic sequences each of which has a distribution beyond, perhaps far
beyond, the musical system in which it began. The concept of wandering
melodies was recognized in the nineteenth century by Wilhelm Tappert
(1868), and carried forward by Walter Wiora (1953).
So we could argue that the fundamental stratum of a world music is a
group of tunes, with their variants, with enormously wide geographic
distribution. Tune-plus-variants, one way of dening the concept of tune
family, may be expanded to the concept of tune type, in which the question
of genetic relationship is laid aside. The notion that there is a limited number
of tune types that occupy the world has been suggested, particularly by
T. Leisio who argues that there are ten grammars, a term he used as
synonymous with tune type, that dominate the worlds music and suggest
the earliest developments (2005). There is something to be said for the
concept of the world of music consisting of a group (larger or smaller) of
musical ideas, each of which, in transformed manifestations, is widely
distributed among societies and nations.

Interrelations: what unites the worlds musics

The late twentieth century developed the phenomenon known as world
music, a group of musical styles based largely on a variety of conuences of
Western, African, and secondarily South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin
American styles widely distributed and heard throughout the world. In the
sphere of Western and Western-derived art music, elements of other musics
Indonesian, African, Indian, and much more play a major role and work
toward a kind of concept, if not style, of world music. The classical musics of
many cultures, largely Asian, have incorporated elements of Western music,
particularly including instruments, technology, and the system of functional
harmony, as well as concepts such as the hegemony of large ensembles and
notation. While this syndrome of interrelations would seem to be a twentiethcentury phenomenon, it is actually much older. It might explain how the
prehistoric world of a vast number of small societies, each with its own
language and music, changed to a small number of reasonably homogeneous

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


cultural and musical areas. The spread of musical artifacts instruments, tunes,
style traits as individual diusions or as parts of culture complexes are
documented throughout recorded history and conjectural prehistory.
We sometimes say that culture is what people in a society agree on, but
also, what people in a society argue about, suggesting that processes of
various sorts are the dening components of what unies a society. Taking
this as a cue, we might also dene the world of music as a group of processes
that eects the interrelations of discrete musics and works, determining cohesion or diversity. As musical systems confront each other in the lives of
individual societies (speaking of music as if it had a life of its own), we can
use the metaphor of debate to observe ways in which musics (and the people
who create and use them) persuade each other with the results, conquest,
standos, and compromises. A good many processes, sometimes labeled by
their result, have been listed in many publications, processes invoked by
societies to preserve their traditions in the face of musical and cultural competition from the outside, and to nd ways of mediating between competing
musical systems that seek attention from the same people among them are
abandonment, reduction, consolidation, diversication, and development
of syncretism (see Nettl 1985), also transculturation, articial preservation,
compartmentalization, nativistic revivals, pluralistic coexistence (of music), as
suggested by Kartomi (1981). The point here is not to explain or illustrate
these, but to suggest that one way of seeing the world of music is in terms
of processes that bring about the global interrelations of musics.

Histories of individual domains of world music

In the course of the twentieth century, several publications addressed individual components of musical systems. Let me mention three inuential works.
In his Bausteine zu einer Geschichte der Melodie, Bence Szabolcsi (1959) presents
the history as consisting of two processes. In the rst, melody moves from
two-tone to tritonic, pentatonic, and heptatonic, and eventually to domination
by the majorminor dyad. The sequence is discovered in contemporary
manifestations of music because various societies, so to speak, got stuck
at specic stages and ceased moving forward. Szabolcsi believed, citing Bartk,
that all folk music of the entire world . . . is fundamentally based on several
original forms, types, and styles (ibid., 29). To Szabolcsi its one history.
Hugo Riemann (1904), generally also inclined to see human music history
as one process, nevertheless questions whether the music of tribal societies
is actually old enough to show the earliest stages of music, and whether
contemporary Chinese and Indian music have much to do with the music of



ancient Greece, surface similarities notwithstanding (ibid., 1). Szabolcsi (1959)

proposes a second way of examining the history of melody: by analysis of
melodic types and their variants, which he labels as the mqam principle,
suggesting that not only musical style but melodic content identities of
tunes may be traced, somewhat in the manner of the tune families or types
suggested by Wiora (1953).
Curt Sachss history of rhythm and tempo (1953), unsurprisingly, is largely
devoted to Western music, and provides a chronological treatment. About
one-third of Sachss history is devoted to world music outside Europe, and
while we still get the idea that tribal societies, and then Asian high cultures, in
their contemporary guises, represent earlier stages of music, Sachs is not able to
make much of a case for increasing complexity as he discusses the Middle
Eastern qusul system and the Indian tlas, and thus does not give us a single,
unidirectional history of rhythm. Tying the origins of musical rhythm to body
movement and to the rhythm of speech, he suggests that in many tribal
societies and thus perhaps in early humanity men and women sang
(and, he argues in his World History of Dance [1937], also danced) dierently.
These dierences, originally markers of gender, became widespread categories
in rhythmic typology, and thus Sachs might be saying that these are really two
or perhaps more separate but gradually merging histories of rhythmic behavior.

World music in music education, the signicance

of minorities, and the decline of authenticity
The idea of a world music and the term itself became widespread after c. 1980,
but actually there are multiple concepts, and in each of these is embodied a
conception of its history. In a book signicantly informed by pedagogical
aims, Peter Fletcher, in World Musics in Context (2001), follows a somewhat
idiosyncratic approach. His title suggests multiplicity of musics, and from the
beginning a number of dierent origins of music are suggested, but the
structure of early history suggests the development of diverging traditions
from common, not completely specied, roots. Thus, a strand of history begins
in Egypt and Mesopotamia and diverges into a) European and African, and b)
South (and Central) Asian branches. European art music is not seen as a
culmination, but only as one, quite specialized development. And the diversity
of musics found, with the use of recording devices, in the period since 1900 is
simply treated as a contemporary phenomenon, and its isolated forms are not
seen as remnants of stone-age culture or evidence of early developments.
For Fletcher, the history of the worlds musics is one of ever-increasing

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


Fletcher, a composer, conductor, and educator, considered this book as

primarily a contribution to music education, a eld that has had to dene its
own conception of world music in both theoretical and practical ways. The
main thrust of the history of music education since c. 1970 in the United States
and elsewhere has been the expansion of subject matter. It is probably correct
to assume that in most systems of music teaching, pupils and student-musicians
were taught what was considered in some way the students (or maybe the
teachers) own culture; music teaching was, on an individual basis and in the
classroom, the passing on of a dened heritage, never mind that the teachers
and the pupils or their parents denition of the heritage may have diered.
Around 1970, music educators as a profession began to be aware of the
diversity of the worlds music, and thus to participate in the interest in
multicultural education. Two contrastive thrusts could be identied, both
expanding the curriculum from the emphasis on Western classical (or classicalderived) music from 1720 to 1920. On the one hand, recognizing the cultural
diversity of the pupils, one wished to make it possible for each of them to be
exposed to his or her own music. I was told by a music teacher, for example,
that she had a large number of children from India in her class and thus felt
obliged to teach Indian music. And then there was the opposite: teach all pupils
something about the music of the world, emphasizing those they did not
already know. I believe the rst was the alternative more frequently
chosen. What is the concept of history that underlies these changes in orientation? The traditional Western-art-music approach looked at the classical tradition as something from a grand past that needs to be preserved and nurtured;
normal music was music composed long ago, and music composed recently
must prove itself worthy. The multicultural approach suggests that what is
being taught is not music of earlier times of the Stone Age or the Asian
Middle Ages, as Curt Sachss presentations often suggest but the contemporary music of distant societies, or of people in class. The emphasis is on the
notion that the worlds musical diversity is a present-day phenomenon.
Much of the cross-cultural content of music taught in schools might not easily
be recognized in its original home as the cultures normal music. Thus, gamelans
in American schools might include some instruments only remotely like those of
the Javanese or Balinese originals. A world-music concert by a sixth-grade choir
might include songs of African, Caribbean, French, Chinese, and Central Asian
origins, all of them arranged for diatonic scales with functional harmony piano
accompaniment. Clearly, the purpose here is not so much to introduce students
to the diversity of the worlds musical sounds, but rather to persuade them that
all of the worlds people have music that can be comprehended; that all of the
worlds musics have a lot in common. We are back to universals.



Ethnomusicologists and folk-music scholars before c. 1950 devoted a lot

of eort to the study and nurturing of authenticity. Authenticity is a dicult
concept. In the 1950s, it was widely used by folk-music scholars (including the
International Folk Music Council) and folklorists to designate artifacts and
works of art that could be said to belong, truly, to a society, and would be
accepted as such by all of its members, and also artifacts that had reached a
certain age. The diculties in making the necessary denitions were not suciently recognized. It seemed important, for example, to distinguish a Child
ballad sung by an Appalachian miner and learned from his grandmother from
the same ballad sung by a trained singer, such as John Jacob Niles, or arranged
by a composer of art music, such as Carl Loewe. Clearly, however, many
scholars before 1950 worked on the basic assumption that music was normally
unchanging, and that changes, imposed from without, decreased its authenticity. After 1950, one aspect of history concerns the value and signicance of
what is being studied; most music historians, for example, wish to study
signicant composers, or to elevate less signicant ones to higher levels
of accreditation. Beethoven was preferable to Antonio Salieri. The great
composers dened the music around them for the historian; they were the
most authentic of their periods and nations.
In ethnomusicology, where individual musicians played less of a role, a
certain canon emerged after 1950 gamelan music, Indian classical music,
African and Native North American music. I do not speculate here why these
areas became prominent there are dierent reasons for each but it was
assumed that no matter what an ethnomusicologists specialty, he or she ought
to have some command of these areas. Beyond that, however, authenticity
meant: 1) assumed representativeness to a society; 2) homogeneity; and 3)
absence of mixing with other musics. Cultural mix is one of the major characteristics of popular music in the age of mass media, beginning early in the
twentieth century, though to a smaller extent than is true in late twentiethcentury world beat. Still, ethnomusicologists before but also somewhat after
1950, for whom authenticity was a major criterion of acceptable research,
avoided popular music as inauthentic and polluted, contradicting their interest
in what music was considered normal by each society.
After 1950, the ethnomusicological view of normal history was gradually
revised; change came to be seen as the norm, and the study of music in the
process of change, of peoples undertaking changes in their musical culture,
became the main focus of this eld. The basic assumption, therefore,
changed from music as essentially static to characteristically dynamic;
and scholars, having once worked hard at developing methods of description
and analysis and ethnography that would show musical culture in repose,

On world music as a concept in the history of music scholarship


began developing concepts that would show music in motion (Rahn 1983;
Tenzer 2006).

We accept that there is such a thing as world music. But it is many things
all music of all peoples everywhere at all times; the conglomeration of the
principal musics of all cultures; the worlds musics, which have something
to do with each other; that music or those musical styles and genres that
are accepted by, which speak to, the worlds cultures. Scholars of music
particularly ethnomusicologists, who have an interest in looking at music as
widely as possible have not often overtly constructed a history of world
music, but their attitudes and conclusions, and their individual methodologies, have often suggested a music-historical worldview, and it is that
larger historical worldview that underlies the present volume (cf. Merriam
1964; Nettl 2005; Nettl and Bohlman 1991). The history of ethnomusicology seems to me to have been guided by the interfacing of two principal
attitudes frequently mentioned in this chapter: music as one whole, with
one origin, the most important elements of which are the universals or
commonalities that characterize the worlds music in their diversity; or
music as a diverse group of phenomena, perhaps with multiple origins,
intelligible primarily from the standpoint of the individual culture. In the
course of the past 125 years, both perspectives have provided signicant

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. 2 .

Music cultures of mechanical reproduction


Popular musics are best understood as comprising those genres whose styles
have evolved in an inextricable relation with their dissemination via the mass
media and their marketing and sale on a mass-commodity basis. While much
popular-music activity takes place independently of the mass media, other
essential aspects of popular-music production and marketing are inevitably
inseparable from technologies of mechanical reproduction, which perforce
condition aspects of music culture in general. Hence, just as one could speak
of military cultures based around the stirrup, or later the rearm, or agrarian
cultures based on the hoe, the ox, or the tractor, so do diverse means of
mechanical reproduction form the cores of technocultures with their own
attendant characteristic forms of production, exchange, meaning, and even
specic musical features. The advent of recording has tended to promote,
among other things, the popularity of the three- or four-minute song, an
unprecedented standard of perfectionism in performance, and, in a genre like
early jazz, a preference for some instruments and techniques (such as slap-bass
playing) over others (such as the drum-set, which did not record well)
(Katz 2010). The history of popular musics is in many respects a study of
how producers and consumers, as active agents, form music cultures conditioned by the distinctive limitations and opportunities presented by specic
forms of technologies. In this chapter, I use the notion of technocultures to
suggest some broad perspectives on the historical development of popular
music, especially outside the mainstream West, and to look at a set of distinctive music subcultures based around specic uses of extant technologies.
In his dense, erudite, and widely cited Studying Popular Music, Richard
Middleton (1990) sketches a rough history of Western popular music in
terms of three moments really prolonged stages of radical situational
change (in Gramscis use of the term). The rst of these is the nineteenthcentury era of bourgeois revolution, marked, among other things, by the
spread of the market system through almost all musical activities, with
musical production increasingly mediated by commercial music publishers
and concert and theater impresarios. New forms of bourgeois song and social




dance emerge, together with commercialized versions of traditional musics,

all representing forms of bourgeois synthesis. From c. 1900, the spread
of recording technology inaugurates a second major situational fracture,
characterized by the growing internationalization and especially
Americanization of music culture, in which corporate entities use capitalintensive, predominantly one-way mass media (records, radio, and especially
lm) increasingly to monopolize marketing and production, at the expense
of local, small-scale, grass-roots producers. In the decades after World War II,
an auent baby-boom generation cultivates a youth counterculture, whose
dramatically new tastes in popular music, combined with the advent of cheaper
recording technologies (based especially on magnetic tape), stimulate a third
moment that of pop culture and especially rock music. In this period,
the oligopolistic music industry, although challenged and forced to diversify in
control and product, is able to adapt and expand, even in oering musics
associated with auras of rebellion and sensuality (Middleton 1990, 1215;
see also Middleton in this volume).
The acuity of Middletons scheme, coupled with its specically Western
focus, naturally invites questions as to what extent it might be applicable to
music cultures elsewhere. An obvious obstacle to such a broadened application
lies in the sheer diversity of non-Western cultures in terms of their trajectories
of socioeconomic development, and the absence of any culture that closely
resembles the West in this respect. The presence, nevertheless, of certain
general anities including the uses of some of the same technologies of
mechanical reproduction do aord some minimal use of Middletons scheme
as a template; and further, the very dierences that emerge may stand out more
clearly when contrasted with such a scheme.
One parallel that does stand out, in the prehistory of popular music both
in the West and elsewhere, is the use of printed chapbooks and broadsheets
of song lyrics, constituting an early form of mechanical reproduction, not
of music per se, but surely of one of its dimensions. Such publications,
disseminated by street-hawkers, constituted in many ways appendages to,
rather than bases of, extant performance traditions, whether of traditional
oral narrative ballads or of emerging proto-bourgeois song forms. But insofar as they stimulated production of certain new genres, with new sorts
of commercial lyricists and new forms of marketing and performance, one
can also begin to speak of new cultures of mechanical reproduction associated with them. The role of broadside ballads in popularizing British Music
Hall music in the latter nineteenth century is well known. In Japan during
the Edo period (16031868) and to the early 1900s, commercial publishers
mass produced cheap songbooks (complete with advertisements for local

Music cultures of mechanical reproduction


products) of old and new genres, initiating a commodication process

characteristic of popular-music industries later emerging (Groemer 1995/
1996). In Spain, similar chapbooks were called pliegos de cordel (strap-bound
folders), as marketed by blind hawkers who sang excerpts of the songs,
including not only traditional long-winded romances, but also fandangos and
topical songs that fed the evolution of commercial popular musics in the
early twentieth century. In India, one of the foremost genres of publication
in the explosion of vernacular-language printing in the 1800s and early 1900s
consisted of songbooks, whether traditional epic ballads, devotional bhajans,
or commercial Parsi theater songs. Among East Indian singers of local
classical music in Trinidad and Guyana, something of a subculture of
mechanical reproduction still remains intact around these dog-eared and
now rare turn-of-the-century lyric anthologies, which are zealously prized as
sources of exclusive repertory by competitive semi-professional vocalists
(Manuel 2000, 7782).

Moment one: bourgeois revolution,

or the emergence of a commercial public sector?
In Richard Middletons outline of Western popular-music history, such
songbooks and broadsheets constituted one aspect of the extension of
commercial capitalist modes of production throughout many aspects of
musical life. Such penetration was itself a ramication of a much broader
socioeconomic, cultural, and technological revolution linked to the triumph
of bourgeois capitalism and modernity in general. Of Middletons three
moments, this is the least broadly applicable outside the mainstream West, in
that nowhere else did such an extensive capitalist socioeconomic revolution
occur during the nineteenth century, with the partial exception of Edo period
and early Meiji Japan. Although Japans industrial revolution commenced only
belatedly in the 1870s, since well before that period Edo/Tokyo did indeed
host a lively urban commercial music scene, formed around theater songs,
courtesans, and patronage by an idiosyncratic sort of local bourgeoisie consisting of the rising merchant class. Elsewhere in the developing world, however,
one can nd only pockets of local bourgeois culture, typically consisting of
comprador merchants, petty bourgeois clerks and entrepreneurs, and modernizing members of traditional elites constituting urban progressive sectors
embedded in and coexisting with otherwise premodern and precapitalist socioeconomic milieus. In many cases, the musical activities of these islands
of bourgeois culture might be oriented toward mimicking the culture of
their Western colonial masters.



As such, rather than seeking counterparts to a broad bourgeois revolution

outside the mainstream West, it may be more appropriate and constructive
to focus on those limited, emergent, urban sectors of colonial-era societies in
which specic kinds of commercial music production and dissemination took
place. The crucial dimension here is the commercial exchange of music in a
free market, unmediated by traditional patronage obligations and premodern
social hierarchies. During the dawn of the recording era, such exchanges
tended to occur in specic kinds of milieus.
One of these was music theater, as performed not as an obligatory oering to
some bejeweled feudal prince, but as a commercial venture marketed to a
ticket-purchasing, proto-bourgeois urban public. Such music theater was
well established in Edo-period Japan, and emerged in the decades around
1900 as a lively aspect of urban music culture in such places as Shanghai,
Havana, and Bombay. Music genres used in these contexts were typically
mixtures of extant traditional styles (e.g., in India, ghazal, lavni, and others)
and new forms of through-composed topical songs that pregured and often
evolved into the commercial popular-song styles of subsequent decades. While
live performance remained at the heart of music theater, mechanically reproduced chapbooks of lyrics (e.g., in Tokyo and Bombay), sheet music (e.g., in
Havana), and from c. 1900 commercial phonograph recordings became important ancillary components of composite music-theater cultures.
Another social setting for the commercially mediated but socially free
consumption of music involved the diverse sorts of performers generically
classied or regarded as courtesans. Such women can in many ways be regarded
as relics of premodern society, and it may be customary, and not entirely
inappropriate, to regard them as socially unfree in terms of their specic
and delimiting social status in traditional societies. In the early twentieth
century, however, courtesans could also embody a certain sort of modernity
in being professional performers who were in many ways markedly free from
premodern forms of patronage, and who marketed their skills as free agents in
an emerging capitalist entertainment scene. In many cases, such a performer
might not have engaged in any particular nancially mediated sexual liaisons
with clients, such that as may have been the case with celebrated Indian
songstress Gauhar Jan the label courtesan constitutes little more than a
catch-all category for a socially independent female professional performer
(of unknown or irrelevant hereditary caste). Gauhar Jan, like counterparts
elsewhere in the developing world, also enhanced her fame and fortune by
commercial recordings, for whose production she charged prodigious sums.
Courtesan performers, furthermore, were often closely allied with music
theater, and the music genres they recorded were accordingly seminal in the

Music cultures of mechanical reproduction


emergence of commercial popular idioms. The existence of a lively courtesanbased performance scene in Oran, Algeria, from the early twentieth century
contributed to that citys role as a crucible of a lively popular-music culture
centered around ra.
A third social milieu was that of the lumpen proletariat, which served as the
crucible for genres as varied as Greek rebetika, the Argentine tango, and South
African marabi. Again, the distinguishing characteristic of this subculture was a
certain sort of freedom not only from premodern forms of patronage
and exchange, but also from elite, including bourgeois, musical tastes and
inhibitions, which could be limiting in their own way. As with courtesan
and theater music, access to commercial recording technology provided a
catalyst for the evolution of modern commercial popular musics out of what
would otherwise have remained urban folk genres. Thus, in the absence of an
all-encompassing bourgeois revolution in non-Western societies, it was
particular and limited sociomusical milieus such as were provided by music
theater, courtesans, and lumpen classes, together with emergent pockets of
bourgeois culture that constituted some of the primary crucibles for
commercial popular musics once they interacted with the mass media.
Although revolutionary in constituting free markets for the commercial
production and exchange of music, they were in some cases islands of modern
capitalist culture rather than constituents of a broader bourgeois revolution
such as characterized the developed West.

Moment two: mass culture

If Middletons rst moment that of bourgeois revolution nds counterparts
only in limited pockets of societies outside the mainstream West during the
turn-of-the-century decades, his second moment that of mass culture
does indeed characterize much developing-world music production in the
period after 1930. As Middleton notes, Western popular-music culture from
the early twentieth century was marked by a trend toward oligopolistic
corporate ownership, capital-intensive one-way media (with little or no
scope for direct consumer input or interaction), and, in many respects, a
streamlined and narrow stylistic spread conditioned by formulaic approaches
to production. The concept of mass culture was trenchantly invoked by
Adorno, Marcuse, and others to highlight the undemocratic, alienating, and
politically conservative nature of an entertainment industry increasingly
monopolized by corporate elites during a period of European fascism and
subsequent Cold War conformism (Marcuse 1964; Adorno 1976; Adorno
and Horkheimer 1944 [1987]).



The epoch of mass culture in the West naturally accommodated a fair

amount of diverse and independent commercial musical activity at its margins
and interstices, especially as represented by indie (independent) record
companies and grass-roots producers and entrepreneurs. Similarly, the rst
half of the twentieth century saw the emergence of diverse commercial popularmusic styles from Nigerian jj to the Spanish cupl catalyzed by local
recordings, whether marketed by growing multinationals or by local producers.
If, however, the monopolistic mass-culture model does little justice to the
organic, grass-roots ways in which such genres evolved, the same period was
also characterized by the emergence of a set of pan-regional music genres, most
typically embedded in commercial cinema, whose patterns of production and
marketing epitomized the mass-culture model even more radically than did
counterparts in the developed West. Film, in the form of melodramas with
inserted music and dance scenes, was especially widespread as a medium for
popular-music dissemination in regions where most consumers were too poor to
aord records and record players, but could aord occasional cinema tickets.
These developments were not ubiquitous, universal aspects of the
developing-world music scenes, but were instead associated with a nite set
of production centers. In the Arab Middle East from the early 1930s, Cairo
became the center for the production of cinematic musicals, whose popular
songs became cherished and set stylistic standards throughout the region.
In Spanish-speaking Latin America, Buenos Aires and Mexico City emerged
as twin lodestars, oering, respectively, sentimental tango-based lms
(especially featuring Carlos Gardel) and the swashbuckling charro lms
featuring rancheras and ballads sung by Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, and
others. Yet by far the most long-lasting and vast music cinema center has
been Bombay (Mumbai), which has continued to generate over seven hundred
cinematic musicals annually, decades after such lms went largely out of style
in other regions.
Film culture such as that centered around Bollywood constitutes a
quintessential culture of mechanical reproduction. For hundreds of millions
of enthusiasts in South Asia and elsewhere Indian lm constitutes a major
source and inspiration for fantasy, fashion, moral values, and styles of discourse; one can similarly speak of lm-music culture, based around production,
consumption, and also rearticulation of lm songs, as South Asians recycle lm
melodies in local style with new lyrics and incorporate songs and dances into
live amateur and professional performances. Bollywood cinema especially the
Hindi-language cinema that dominates North India also epitomizes the most
positive and negative aspects of mass culture, illustrating the applicability of
Middletons second situational conjuncture outside the West. On the one

Music cultures of mechanical reproduction


hand, lm-music culture is enriching, exposing rural Indians, with their

often quite limited range of traditional melodies and styles, to an unprecedented breadth of repertory, as produced by teams of highly skilled Bombay
composers, arrangers, and vocalists. On the other hand, Bollywood music
culture can be also seen as epitomizing the smothering, homogenizing,
and arguably alienating aspects of mass culture. Rather than reecting the
extraordinary diversity of vocal styles, languages, lyrics traditions, and song
topics found throughout India, mainstream Bollywood cinema has tended to
superimpose a relatively homogeneous song style, as generated by a tiny
coterie of producers and sound-alike singers, in a single language (Hindi),
and generally about a single topic (romantic love). Hence many commentators
in India came to regard lm music as a menace insofar as it undermined diverse
local traditions and replaced them with the songs and dances embedded in
the glittery escapist fantasies produced by far-o Bombay studios (see Manuel
1993, chap. 3; see, also, Mason in this volume). Accordingly, production of lm
music has traditionally been highly monopolistic and undemocratic, dominated as it has been by a coterie of producers linked to the capital-intensive
lm industry and marketed, for around forty years, primarily by a single
multinational: the British-owned multinational with the appropriate logo of
His Masters Voice. Film music produced in this fashion, allied to the
expensive, one-way media of vinyl records and cinema, also thoroughly dominated the Indian popular-music scene in general from the 1940s to the 1980s,
in accordance with HMVs monopoly of the nations recording industry.

Moment three: modern modes of mechanical

Indian lm culture and lm-music culture, which continue to ourish
vigorously today, reect the persistence of the mass-culture mode of production in specic regional centers even in the new millennium. The continued
domination of much of the worlds recording industry by a handful of multinationals (including EMI, Polygram, SONY, and RCA) also reects a certain
sort of oligopolization, although it should not necessarily be taken to imply
homogenization of content or superimposition of Western music. In other
respects, the owering of diverse non-Western popular-music cultures since
the mid-twentieth century has exhibited a variety of forms of ownership,
concentration, and modes of production, most of which depart signicantly
from the mass-culture model.
In Middletons analysis of Western popular-music history, the postwar
decades inaugurated a third situational change, that of pop culture,



marked by the emergence of rock n roll, a baby-boom youth counterculture,

and the spread of electronic (and magnetic-tape-based) rather than electromechanical means of production. Like the bourgeois revolution moment, these
features apply only in a limited and uneven fashion to popular-music cultures
outside the mainstream West. The rock revolution certainly became a global
phenomenon, as forms of rock music, whether inected with local stylistic
features or not, came to be widely consumed and even produced throughout
much of the world, typically retaining associations with social freedom,
modernity, sensuality, and the West. In other respects, however, such as the
role of a specic baby-boom generation, Middletons framework is clearly
more applicable to the West than to any broad spectrum of global societies.
What is more evident in this period, and as a global situational change,
are the exponential expansion of the regional and transnational recording
industries and the concomitant owering of innumerable syncretic popularmusic genres. While the Big Five record multinationals grew in size and
extended their presence worldwide, so were innumerable diverse regional
popular-music styles able to emerge and thrive, whether disseminated by
these conglomerates or by small independent producers. Hence, throughout
urban Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere, records
and record players, while still beyond the reach of many consumers, were able
to catalyze the emergence of dynamic new genres, from highlife to cumbia. In
Latin America and the Middle East, cinematic musicals declined in popularity,
opening the way for a greater diversity of regional or class-based genres to
thrive. Democratization of production was further stimulated by the advent of
cassette technology, which, in contrast to the capital-intensive, one-way nature
of the old media like records and lm, lent itself to small-scale, grass-roots
production. By the late 1970s, cassettes were the dominant medium of music
marketing in Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere, precipitating the owering of innumerable local genres that would not have been represented on the
corporate old media.
The cassette revolution was perhaps most dramatic in India, since import
restrictions delayed its advent until the mid-1980s, until which period the
mass-culture hegemony of EMI lm-music culture had continued. The marked
decentralization of the music industry brought by cassettes ended this hegemony, and led to the emergence of several hundred cassette producers, large and
small, throughout the country, marketing a variety of music genres which
included many regional grass-roots syncretic idioms, and revitalizing innumerable local traditions previously ignored by the capital-intensive commercial
mass media. With local entrepreneurs recording and marketing modernized
versions of regional folk and folk-pop for local, often lower-class consumers, in

Music cultures of mechanical reproduction


local dialects, one could speak of a particular cassette culture, or set of cassette
cultures, based on distinctively democratic-participant and often subaltern
modes of production (see Manuel 1993).
The notion of cassette culture implying its distinctive modes of production, exchange, and consumption would connote a variety of phenomena.
These could include the Rajasthani village enthusiast recording local folk
musicians, duplicating copies on his backroom rickety machine, and marketing
them on the street. It would include the entire culture including modes of
dance, song, and notions of fashion based around genres like Andean chicha
and Sundanese jaipongan that arose in connection with cassettes. It would
embrace the young Hmong Americans who circulate cassettes of courtship
songs via the mail to nd spouses (Catlin 1992, 50). It encompassed the
progressive Latin Americans living under right-wing dictatorships in the
1970s, who circulated cassettes of nueva trova singers Pablo Milans and
Silvio Rodrguez, or Palestinians on the occupied West Bank exchanging
cassettes of Marcel Khalife and others. And it would include the cassettes
distributed by right-wing Hindu fundamentalists in the early 1990s containing
speeches and songs that were eectively used to incite pogroms against
Muslims. Meanwhile, needless to say, popular musics disseminated via cassette
encompassed an innitely wide range of styles, target audiences, and recording
techniques. In some cases, the recorded genre might be essentially a studio art
form, as with elaborate recordings of Hindi lm songs that were not meant to
duplicate the sound of any particular live performance idiom. Other recorded
genres, like Greek bouzouki music, were largely conceived as replicating ideal
forms of live performance styles. Another approach would be represented by
Algerian ra, whose recording process would typically commence with an a
cappella vocal track, resembling in style, structure, and (lack of) instrumentation the traditional folk songs that constituted ancestors of the genre.
The techno-pop, electried accompanying tracks would be added later, and
live performances in clubs would generally try to reproduce that studio sound.
Cassettes, however, were not the only medium for decentralized popularmusic production, nor did they entirely eliminate vinyl records. In many
locales, small-scale production of vinyl records by independent labels formed
the nuclei of regional popular-music cultures, as in the case of Texan-Mexican
(tejano) and norteo musics before the CD era, or African urban genres like
Congolese soukous. Elsewhere, vinyl records continued even into the new
millennium to be preferred formats, to some extent because of their special
capabilities. The use of record players as musical instruments in hip-hop,
dating from c. 1980, is well known, with its special techniques of scratching,
juxtaposing, or superimposing tracks from disparate songs, and repeating



passages (especially instrumental breaks) as dance music and/or to accompany

Jamaican dancehall music culture illustrates two distinctive sorts of production and performance technique based on distinctive uses of vinyl records.
One of these is what I have called the riddim method, in which a given
instrumental accompaniment track, or riddim, is recycled in dozens of
songs, used as a backing over which vocalists (or deejays) sing or voice
their original songs. Thus, at any given time, around a dozen riddims are in
vogue, and numerous deejays will sing whether in live performances or on
recordings their own songs over popular riddims. A given song might also be
heard over dierent riddims, whether in a studio remix or a live performance in
which the vocalist must sing over whatever riddim the selector is playing. In
this riddim method, vocalization and instrumental tracks can exist as detachable
entities rather than as parts of a unique and autonomous song. Although often
produced on CDs today, the system derives from the practice of deejays at
sound-system dances, vocalizing over instrumental tracks of hit reggae songs,
found on the B-sides of vinyl singles. Such records remain a preferred medium
in Jamaica itself, especially insofar as they are used by the over two thousand
sound systems, who might oer amateur or established vocalists chances to
chat over riddims on B-sides of records (Manuel and Marshall 2006).
Another distinctive Jamaican subculture of mechanical reproduction centered around vinyl records is the institution of the sound clash, featuring a
duel between two or more sound systems. Each system has its own equipment,
personnel, and, above all, its exclusive collection of vinyl acetate dub plates,
in which known artists, hired by the system, sing new lyrics praising that
system, typically set to the tune of one of their hit songs. Sound clashes are
unique performance events, whose innovative use of exclusive recordings
illustrates how, as Middleton notes, there can be a continuum, rather than a
sharp dichotomy, between formats of recorded music and live performance,
especially in the sense that recordings can play roles in diverse live performance
Some of the most distinctive music subcultures have been based not on
particular genres, but rather around particular uses of modes of mechanical
reproduction that further blur distinction between performers and audiences.
One of the most widespread and best known of such formats is karaoke, which,
after emerging in Japan in the early 1970s, has spread throughout East
and Southeast Asia and their diasporic communities in the United States and
elsewhere. In the typical karaoke format, amateur solo singers, in taverns,
rented karaoke halls, or private homes, croon familiar pop songs to the accompaniment of commercially marketed accompanimental tracks, often with the

Music cultures of mechanical reproduction


song lyrics and romantic video scene projected from a television monitor
(see, e.g., Lum 1996). Karaoke is a social as well as musical event, and as
such constitutes yet another subculture of mechanical reproduction, using a
modied music technology in a distinctive manner.
Yet another music subculture involving a distinctive use of technology is that
based around Mexican sound systems and deejays called sonideros. New Yorkarea sonidero events, as described by Ragland (2003), are attended primarily by
Mexican-American, predominantly male, migrant workers, most of whom are
separated from their families in the homeland. The deejay, after playing a
section of introductory, synthesized space-age travel sounds, plays a series
of cumbias, while animatedly reading, into an amplied mike, dedications to
loved ones at home written on scraps of paper by those present, only some of
whom actually dance. After his set, audio cassettes or CDs of the show,
complete with dedications, are duplicated on the spot, purchased by attendees,
and then sent by the attendees to their relatives at home. The sonideros also
travel to Mexico and perform there in the same communities whence the
migrants come; both they and their dances serve as conduits for ties between
otherwise painfully separated individuals. At such events, far less important
than the actual music played is the way the deejays and attendees use the
amplication and recording technology and the postal system to rearm
links to loved ones abroad.
Sonidero subculture can be seen as a particular variety of deejay-based
popular-music scenes that have emerged in various sites worldwide, which
center not around live musicians but around sound systems with their distinctive record collections and charismatic mike-men (in Jamaican parlance).
In some cases, the music featured by such systems may not even be of local
creation, as in the case of the Afro-pop played in Atlantic coast Colombian pic
dances, in which dancers may not even know the origin of the music selected
(see Pacini-Hernandez 1993).

Moment four: the digital age

Middletons Studying Popular Music was published in 1990, when the digital
revolution in communications and music was in many ways just gathering
steam. In the developed West, personal computers had come into wide popular
use only a few years earlier, and MP3 le-to-le sharing technologies did not
emerge until the late 1990s. As of the early years of the new millennium,
however, it is clear that a new situational change, resulting from a technological development, has taken place, constituting a new moment in the history
of world popular musics. From a sociomusical perspective, the intensied



phenomenon of globalization including transnational ows of people, ideas,

money, media, and technologies can itself be said to have inaugurated a new
situational conjuncture in world popular music, but in these pages I restrict my
comments more specically to the ramications of new technology-driven
modes of musical production and exchange, in particular those associated
with digital technology.
If the advent of electrical and electromagnetic technologies including
records, cassettes, and magnetic tape were part of a second industrial
revolution, digital synthesizers, computers, and MP3 software can well be
seen as creating a third revolution, with dramatic eects on music culture.
Many practices associated with this revolution from burning compact discs
(CDs) to using synthesizers to replace live performers may involve forms of
cost-cutting attractive and useful outside the developed world. At the same
time, much of the most distinctive and basic features of digital culture such as
personal computers involves technologies that, for economic reasons, are
far less widespread in the developing world than in the West. Hence, it is
important to maintain a global perspective on the digital revolution, aspects of
which are only beginning to aect music culture outside the industrialized
nations and may never become as pervasive as they are in the latter regions.
Ultimately of interest is the manner and extent to which new technologies have
inuenced, or even created, new sociomusical practices of production, dissemination, and consumption, both in the developed world and elsewhere.
Perhaps the rst digital technology to make a marked impact on music
production worldwide was the synthesizer, including in its simpler forms of
Casio keyboards. By the mid-1980s, synthesizers had come to be widely used in
a diverse set of international popular-music genres. Although relatively expensive compared to many regionally produced acoustic instruments, synthesizers
could naturally be used in place of live musicians and hence had obvious
economic utility in the developing world. Thus, one obvious use was to imitate
the sounds of acoustic instruments, as in many North Indian version
cassettes that oered cover versions of classic lm songs, sung by sound-alike
vocalists accompanied by synthesizer-generated imitations of the original large
ensemble backings. In Indo-Trinidadian soca-chutney music, the diculty of
amplifying the dholak barrel drum in live performances constituted a further
incentive to replace it both in the studio and live with a suitably programmed drum machine. In other cases, synthesizers have been used not to
imitate extant traditional instrumentation, but to generate distinctively new
and clearly synthetic timbres. Hence, the standard timbres that soon became
familiar in genres like Algerian ra, Andean techno-huayno (Romero 2002),
Mexican techno-cumbia, and Jamaican dancehall reggae (and especially ragga)

Music cultures of mechanical reproduction


in the wake of the 1985 Sleng Teng, which was the rst hit using a synthetically generated riddim. Such distinctively studio-produced timbres naturally
convey an aura of modernity and fashion, but they also can come to be widely
regarded as cheap, cheesy, and tinselly in comparison to other kinds
of productions as with version Hindi lm songs in relation to standard
ones which continue to use live ensemble musicians. Accordingly, in some
genres, as with the horn-driven salsa ensembles, synthesizers have made no
inroads in replacing acoustic instruments, and a genre like the Mexican banda
illustrates a surprising resilience of traditional instrumentation even in the
most contemporary pop circles.
In the realm of recording, much of the impact of digital technology
has constituted less the introduction of completely new techniques than
the dramatic simplication of practices already possible, though dicult,
with extant analog or magnetic-tape-based technologies. Sampling constitutes an obvious example, especially as used to loop repeated excerpts in rap
and dancehall accompaniment tracks. Samples highlighting synthetic alterations of familiar vocal or instrumental sounds often reect an aesthetic
postmodernism in their generation of playful simulacra that is, media
images (or in this case, sounds) that have no counterpart in real life but
they can nevertheless be used to arm ethnic identity or other more
quintessentially modernist agendas. Hence, for example, the tassa drum is
cherished by Trinidad Indians as an icon of ethnic identity; in pop chutneysoca songs one often hears synthetically generated tassa-like rolls played
at absurdly and inhumanly fast speeds, at once constituting a whimsical
blank parody of the original sound and arming and rearticulating its role
as an icon (Manuel 1995).
CDs have in many respects served to intensify the processes earlier
stimulated by cassettes of decentralization and democratization of the
music industry. By the 1990s, CDs had rapidly replaced vinyl records in the
developed world, but their adoption beyond upper-class sectors of poorer
countries was delayed by their relatively high cost. In the years after 2000,
however, costs of production, duplication, retail products, and players
(especially walkman-style) dropped to the level of cassette products and even
below. With their superior audio delity, convenience of playback, and adaptability to computers and internet sources, CDs are increasingly coming to
replace cassettes throughout most of the developing world. In countries such
as the Dominican Republic in which cassettes never took strong root, the
preferred format has changed directly from vinyl records to CDs. A recent
parallel development has been the spread of cheap MP3-format CDs, which can
accommodate several hours of recorded music, playable either on a computer



or an inexpensive walkman-style MP3 player. Like cassettes and standard CDs,

MP3 CDs are particularly hospitable to use by pirates.
The rst decade of the new millennium witnessed the extraordinary
spread of another new medium, the video compact disc or VCD, which, like
the DVD, accommodates moving pictures and sound (as in a music video),
but is considerably cheaper than a DVD. Like the technologies discussed in the
previous paragraphs, VCDs have not served to invent a new performance
format in this case, the music video but have made it incomparably
less expensive and thus suitable for production and dissemination on an
unprecedented scale, even in association with lower-class rural musics in
poor countries. In fact, a particularly distinctive feature of VCDs is that despite
being a modern digital technology, they are common primarily in the
developing world, and especially in association with lower-class genres within
those countries. Their adoption in the developed West and Japan was actively
suppressed in the 1990s by entertainment corporations concerned about
unauthorized duplication, during which period the DVD format became
more rmly entrenched.
While the music video format per se may not be new, VCD technology has
served to stimulate music video production among genres that were never
previously marketed in such fashion, including Nigerian jj, Andean chicha,
Thai-Malay shadow puppetry, and Cuban timba. The music videos may present a
range of styles, variously showing concert footage, studio performances
(generally in lip-sync) replete with cheap computer-enhanced graphics, or a
standard in Indian rural folk-pop a few dancers and singers cavorting (again in
lip-sync) in a local park. Unlike MTV music videos, VCD videos are not produced
primarily to promote record sales, nor are they isolated song-and-dance scenes
in a feature cinematic musical, but rather are marketed as mass commodities in
themselves, and are priced accordingly. In India, for example, a low-end
Bhojpuri or Punjabi popular music VCD might involve a video production
cost of the rupee equivalent of around $1,700, with editing done on a used PC
available for $350 and a CD writer ($20), with the nished discs sold wholesale to
shopkeepers for around 60 cents and retailing for under one dollar. Consumers
can listen to the discs on walkman-style CD/VCD/MP3 players which sell for
around $16; for video viewing, a patch cord can be connected to a black-andwhite television, itself available for $25 and able to run o a car battery. VCDs
can thus entertain viewers in villages lacking regular electric power, and whose
only other television options might consist of dreary government-produced
programming. In Peru, where despite poverty computers are widespread, a
remarkable parallel development is the popularity of viewing music videos and
performances of campesino-oriented music on YouTube.

Music cultures of mechanical reproduction


Another recording technique dramatically facilitated, though not necessarily

inaugurated, by digital technology is the multisite production of recordings.
It was and remains not an uncommon practice for master tapes to be produced
in more than one locale, as with a recording of a Bob Marley song that
might commence as a set of tracks laid down in Kingston, Jamaica, and then
sent to London to be enhanced with further tracks. Such transnational
production techniques have been especially useful to diasporic communities,
such as Albanian cassettes with tracks variously recorded in Kosovo, Germany,
and New Jersey and subsequently marketed in all three locales and elsewhere
(Sugarman 2004). The ability to send digital les electronically, however, has
made such practices incomparably easier and more common.
Digital technology has also had a dramatically democratizing eect on
standards and forms of musicianship, often making musical literacy unprecedentedly irrelevant. While keyboard facility has attained a new sort of prominence, virtuoso technique per se is often unnecessary, and even the piano-style
keyboard is optional. Using MIDI sequencers, a producer can now generate
synthetic versions of drum parts, bass lines (including idiomatic features like
slaps), and other eects by entering data on graphic charts, and at his or her
leisure rather than in real time. Guitar is the one instrument that has proved
most resistant to being eliminated in this fashion. As simple cellphones enable
one to construct jingles in dierent styles by selecting various elements in a
composite set of tracks, even teenagers in the developed world develop a basic
facility in the elements of digital song production. As with other new audio
technologies, such developments blur distinctions between consumption and
production, and oer users new kinds of choices and ability to personalize their
environments; for example, by selecting or even creating ringtones. At the
same time, there is no doubt that such technologies are unevenly spread in the
world, being concentrated in the developed countries and the more auent
and modernized sectors of other societies. Personal computers remain prohibitively expensive for most people in Asia and Africa.
The eects of digital technology on modes of dissemination and exchange
have been equally dramatic, although similarly concentrated in wealthier
and modernized societies or pockets of societies. The development of the
MP3 format in the latter 1990s has been especially revolutionary. In the
West, as is well known, music is increasingly obtained through the internet,
whether via, iTunes, or peer-to-peer (P2P) le-sharing sites,
which pose new challenges to copyright enforcement and, say some, to the
basic functioning of the commercial music industry (extensively debated topics
which we will not explore here). Traditional forms of promotion and popularization have been supplemented, and to some extent even replaced, by new



ones. In the United States today, a edgling rock band, without even a
constituency in its own neighborhood, can establish a national audience by
placing its music, band member proles, and other data on MySpace sites and
selected other websites like frequented by certain sorts of
listeners, who may download certain songs and, if inspired, purchase others via
iTunes and/or An aspiring hip-hop or dancehall beatmaker
who learns composition and marketing techniques on chat sites like may create beats or riddims in her or his bedroom studio,
consisting of a MIDI and a computer, and market and distribute them entirely
on the internet. Communities of acionados of specialized genres from
fado to pop amenco can exchange, purchase, and discuss new recordings
from their home computers, illustrating yet again how new technologies
can oer greater choice and access to consumers, and contrasting with the
one-way, capital-intensive modes of production and dissemination once
associated with the old media of cinema and long-playing records. New consumption formats continue to exert their own inuences on music form itself:
in Japan, as cellphones become able to download music, combining the functions of internet computers and iPods in the West, song producers have begun
to tailor their output to the production of short refrains that can be used as
ringtones; in other cases, bands and composers commence by composing and
marketing only ringtones, and prepare a full song only if the ringtone catches
on (Manabe 2007).
Like earlier forms of mass media oriented toward home usage, the new
digital technologies have in some ways intensied trends toward the privatization of music culture. In earlier decades, television was similarly accused of
replacing a rich public sphere of taverns, evening strolls, cinema and concert
attendance, and other forms of collective recreation with a culture of atomized
families staring silently at televisions in their homes. The advent of the
walkman and, more recently, the iPod have extended such trends, in which
users whether the commuter on the sidewalk or the teenage daughter at the
dinner table isolate themselves from those around them and experience
the world through a private soundscape. Another form of atomization takes
place as commercial and amateur recordings are generated not by the creative
and social interaction of musicians in the studio but by the hermetic individual
at his MIDI. Even such a minimally public act as going to a record store is
increasingly obviated by the ability to obtain music online. For its part, the
internet itself in many respects intensies our habituation to experiencing the
world in the form of simulacra and cyber-images rather than rst-order reality,
with its online communities oering what some have described as a mere
illusion of presence in a digital ghost town (see Lyslo 2003, 23, 32).

Music cultures of mechanical reproduction


At the same time, as Lyslo and others have noted, digital technologies, and
especially internet culture, have created new, signicant, and unprecedented
forms of links between individuals, and new forms of communities with their
own validity (Lyslo and Gay 2003). The internet user, whether in Nairobi,
New York, or rural Nebraska, can enjoy access to an innite world of musics,
via or le-sharing networks. He or she can cultivate interests in
specialized niche musics from death metal to Afro-pop in ways which have
no parallel in earlier decades. And while such specialization might conceivably
lead to a narrowing of personal tastes, many consumers attest to the degree to
which they are exposed to new musics in the internet, whether via recommendations of internet acquaintances, MySpace lists of favorite groups, or specialist
sites. Moreover, via chat rooms, listservs, and other forms of specialist
websites, music enthusiasts and producers establish new sorts of internet
communities. While these cyber-communities are virtual in some respects,
in other ways they are quite real, oering their own sorts of social interaction,
stimulation, and group identity. Lyslo (2003) provides an ethnography of
one such internet community: the mod scene in which techno-pop
producers exchange and, in many cases, modify each others creations, in a
manner free from commercial concerns, but with its own notions of community, creativity, compositional authority, and sociability. Like other aspects of
digital technoculture, nevertheless, such intensive internet communities
remain largely limited to the industrialized world and pockets of auence
and modernity elsewhere.

Concluding perspectives
Mechanical modes of reproduction, although originally created by individuals,
can soon come to constitute inherited and all-enveloping technocultural
environments within which artists and consumers often nd themselves
obliged to operate. To rephrase Marx, individuals can create music history,
but they do not choose the conditions under which they do so. At the same
time, individuals and communities may cultivate their own distinctive uses of
extant technologies in ways that rearm human agency and community
sensibilities. Both the limitations imposed by technologies and the distinctive
opportunities they present constitute bases of unique music technocultures,
which may be more specic but in other ways comparable to familiar entities
like print culture, lm culture, or internet virtual culture.
One aspect of such technocultures is the way that a mode of mechanical
reproduction can aect actual music itself. As has often been noted, notation
especially as printed on a mass basis tended in Western art music to limit



improvisation and stimulate the use of symmetrical, sectional throughcomposed forms like the sonata. The mass media introduced their own
sorts of inuences on music structure, most evident in the realm of popular
music. Vinyl records promoted the creation of tightly constructed three- and
four-minute songs rather than open-ended structures, in a format that has long
outlasted the dependence on vinyl. At the same time, ingenious performers,
such as Jamaican deejays, have found ways to use such extant technologies
in this case, seven-inch singles to create stylistically new genres. Digital
technologies, from MIDI hardware to ringtones, have all exerted their own
diverse inuences on musical styles.
Subcultures of mechanical reproduction have also developed their own
distinctive norms of what constitutes musicianship and performativity
which may depart dramatically from earlier norms. For the Afro-Colombia
pic deejay, it may constitute a air for acquiring, selecting, and playing a
certain style of record; for the karaoke singer, it may be a question of singing
familiar songs to prepackaged recordings. Perhaps most conspicuous is the
manner in which technocultures can inaugurate new modes of consumption
and exchange, eectively transforming the public sphere. Dancing to a recording in a club in Kinshasa, watching a lm song-and-dance sequence in a theater
in Mumbai, or listening via the internet to a streamed radio show from
across the world all involve distinctive forms of dissemination and exchange,
which themselves constitute aspects of unique subcultures of mechanical
Modes of mechanical reproduction and their particular uses constitute
basic aspects of popular-music cultures worldwide, whether in auent,
industrialized societies or elsewhere. Music cultures outside the mainstream
West, nevertheless, do not lend themselves to such a convenient historical
framework as in Middletons three-part scheme. Aspects of his three moments
and perhaps especially the intermediate stage dominated by mass-culture
oligopolistic media networks do nd marked parallels in parts of the developing world, but in other respects the global popular-music scene requires a
more exible and nuanced interpretation. Socioeconomic development in the
developing world has been strikingly uneven, and even today is marked by the
coexistence of highly modernized urban elites who may be active participants
in the postmodern world of the internet alongside impoverished rural and
urban underclasses who perpetuate many aspects of premodern cultures.
The extension of capitalist media cultures to such classes whether via cinema,
cassettes, or other technologies further confounds any attempt neatly to
categorize broad historical trends; for example, in terms of a bourgeois
revolution. What instead emerges from a global perspective is the striking

Music cultures of mechanical reproduction


diversity not only of media, but also of uses of media, and a concomitant rich
heterogeneity of media-based popular-music subcultures.

For input on VCD uses worldwide, I thank Rebecca Bodenheimer, Amy Catlin,
Scott Marcus, Kayla McGhee, Kevin Miller, Richard Miller, Lawrence Ross,
Anna Stirr, Julie Strand, Joshua Tucker (especially regarding YouTube),
Andrew Weintraub, and members of the SARAI collective in Delhi.

Adorno, T. W. (1976) Introduction to the Sociology of Music, New York: Seabury
Adorno, T. W., and M. Horkheimer (1944, [orig. publ.], 1987) Dialectic of Enlightenment,
New York: Continuum
Catlin, A. (1992) Homo Canteus: Why Hmong sing during interactive courtship
rituals, in idem (ed.), Text, Context, and Performance in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam,
vol. 9: Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology, pp. 4360
Groemer, G. (1995/1996) Edos Tin Pan Alley: Authors and publishers of Japanese
popular song during the Tokugawa Period, Asian Music, 27, 1: 136
Katz, M. (2010) Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, rev. edn, Berkeley:
University of California Press
Lum, C. M. K. (1996) In Search of a Voice: Karaoke and the Construction of Identity in Chinese
America, Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Lyslo, R. (2003) Musical life in Softcity: An internet ethnography, in R. Lyslo and
L. Gay (eds.), Music and Technoculture, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press,
pp. 2363
Lyslo, R., and L. Gay (eds.) (2003) Music and Technoculture, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan
University Press
Manabe, N. (2007) Ring my bell: Impact of cell phone technologies on the Japanese
music market, in M. McClelland (ed.), Internationalizing the Internet, New York:
Manuel, P. (1995) Music as symbol, music as simulacrum: Pre-modern, modern, and
postmodern aesthetics in subcultural musics, Popular Music, 1, 2: 22739
(1993) Cassette Culture: Popular Music and Technology in North India, University of
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(2000) Tan-Singing, Chutney, and the Making of Indo-Caribbean Culture, Philadelphia:
Temple University Press
Manuel, P., and W. Marshall (2006) The Riddim Method: Aesthetics, practice, and
ownership in Jamaican dancehall, Popular Music, 25, 3: 44770
Marcuse, H. (1964) One-Dimensional Man, Boston: Beacon Press
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Ragland, C. (2003) Mexican deejays and the transnational space of youth dances in
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Warren, MI: Harmonie Park Press

. 3 .

Western music as world music


Music of hegemony
The transformation of Western music into world music might be seen as quite
simply the musical dimension of a much larger historical process: what Ramsay
Muir, in his classic book on the subject, termed the expansion of Europe
(Muir 1917). As, from the nal years of the fteenth century, explorers and
colonizers began to radiate out from Europe, they took music with them, initially
to North and South America, India, and East Asia, and thereafter to Australasia
and Africa, where settlement around the Cape goes back to the seventeenth
century, though the interior was penetrated only in the nineteenth century.
On the basis of contemporary documentation, Ian Woodeld has traced the
role of music from the very earliest stages of this process: on board the ships,
at the rst encounter with indigenous inhabitants, and in symbolic Acts of
Possession. He refers to the strategy of using musicians as shoreline ambassadors, with trumpets and drums playing the leading role, while drums also served
to punctuate the main divisions of the working day in early colonies (Woodeld
1995, 112, 137). Another early site of music in the new worlds that opened
during the sixteenth century was missionary activity, from Hispanic Florida
and California to Japan, where Portuguese missionary activity began in 1541
and developed with such success that within forty years there were over
100,000 Japanese Christians (Koegel 2001; Harich-Schneider 1973, 445, 457).
Instrumental music, particularly for keyboard, proved as eective an aid to conversion as plainchant, and in 1577 Father Organtino Gnecchi wrote from Kyoto
that if only we had more organs and other musical instruments Japan would be
converted to Christianity in less than a year (Harich-Schneider 1973, 457).
Indeed, virginals and organs proved such acceptable gifts to local potentates
that Woodeld speaks of oriental keyboard diplomacy (Woodeld 1995, 199).
Western music was also rmly embedded in the culture of more mature
colonies, from the religious institutions of seventeenth-century Cuzco

My thanks to Christine Lucia for her very helpful comments on a draft of this chapter.




(in Spanish Peru) to the secular concert life of eighteenth-century Calcutta

where Haydns symphonies were heard as early as the 1780s or nineteenthcentury Lagos, where a Handel Festival was held in October 1882
(Baker 2003; Woodeld 2000, 220; Agawu 2003, 12). Far-ung reaches of
the British Empire in eect attempted to replicate the musical life of a
provincial English or Scottish town, generally with diculty, but the role
of music as an instrument of colonial and imperial regimes went much further
than that. It took the form of events, such as the 1911 Delhi Durbar, which
included music for a twenty-piece fe and drum corps, and three bagpipes;
Elgars The Crown of India, a commemoration of the Durbar rst performed in
the following year at the Coliseum Theatre, London, celebrated the glory
and rightness of British rule in India, so conveying the imperial message to a
home audience (Richards 2001, 65). It took the form of buildings: it was
again in 1911 that the Hanoi Opera House was completed, a bold though
foolhardy attempt to replicate French metropolitan culture in East Asia
(McClellan 2003). Werner Herzogs lm Fitzcarraldo depicts an attempt to
build an opera house at just this time in Iquitos, in the heart of the Amazonian
rainforest; though this is ctional, opera was performed in Iquitos, at the
Grand Hotel Malecon Palacio, while a dedicated opera house had been built
in 1892 at Manaus, ve hundred miles downstream (Fletcher 2001, 496).
Then again, it took the form of education, whether through the establishment of colonial conservatories (in Adelaide, for example, the Elder
Conservatorium dates back to 1883), or through links between the colonies
and the metropolis, as in the case of the procession of South African musicians who trained at the Royal College of Music, London (van der Mescht
2005). Linked to this were the colonial examination systems. The Associated
Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), established in 1889, exerted a
direct inuence on music education throughout the British Empire, its political
dimension being thrown into relief when, shortly before the Afrikaaner victory
in 1948 and as a result of nationalist pressures, the University of South Africa
(Unisa) set up its own examination system (Unisa n.d.). The ABRSM, however,
survived the collapse of the British Empire, making a highly successful transition
to the economic order that replaced it: at the end of the twentieth century,
50,000 students a year were sitting its examinations in Hong Kong alone
(Fletcher 2001, 665). Under such circumstances there is every reason to see the
so-called common practice style, in eect the music of hegemony, as an
integral part of the machinery of empire, an ideological construct whose very
name embodies a claim to universality.
Western music was also intimately involved in developments outside the
colonial possessions of the enlarged Europe that came to dene itself as

Western music as world music


the West. In Japan, the early missionaries had been expelled by 1639,
and Western music was not reintroduced in any extensive way until the 1860s,
when a Western-style military band was established at the Meiji court
(the British band leader John Fenton was engaged to train it), and thereafter a
small orchestra, also trained by Fenton, which played light music such as
waltzes and polkas on ceremonial occasions (Harich-Schneider 1973, 5347).
Astonishingly, the musicians charged with learning Western music were the
same gakunin who were simultaneously involved in inventing (under the guise of
reconstructing) the ceremonial court music known as gagaku, and their concerts
mixed Japanese and Western styles. This formed part of the Meiji program
to reverse Japans previous isolationism and develop the country along the
lines of a Western nation-state; in Judith Herds words, Western music was
selected not for its artistic merit but for the promise of social adaptability
(Herd 2004, 40). By 1880, Western music, complete with sta notation, had
been introduced into all Japanese schools, and thereafter it began to attract an
audience among the bourgeoisie, while a conservatory was established at Tokyo
in 1890 (Harich-Schneider 1973, 5402; Fletcher 2001, 659). As Japan acquired
colonies of its own, again following the Western model, similar educational
policies were implemented: in Korea, for example, which was under Japanese
rule from 1905 to 1945, not only was Western music introduced in the schools,
but also formal performances of traditional Korean music were forbidden, and
Korean composers went to Japan to train just as South African composers went
to London (Everett 2004, 6; Sang-Mann 1991, 251).
In China, the development of Western music was not initially statecontrolled, rather it was taken up by the cosmopolitan middle classes, such as
Fou Tsongs family, with the Shanghai Conservatory being established in 1927
(under the name National College of Music). The Central Conservatory
(Beijing) was established in 1950, the year after the formation of the Peoples
Republic, under which Western music assumed considerable ideological
importance. There were, for example, widespread debates over the signicance
of Beethovens music during the Cultural Revolution (I shall return to this)
(Kraus 1989). Again, anniversaries of Western composers were commemorated
in a highly selective manner that reected current political allegiances (Chopin
but not Debussy, Rimsky-Korsakov but not Verdi) (Yang 2007). Western
music also became a means of national self-representation abroad, much in
the manner of the ping-pong diplomacy of the 1970s: Chinese performers
achieved prominence through winning major international competitions, the
rst being Fou Tsong, who in 1955 won the fth Chopin International Piano
Competition in Warsaw. (Like some of the Chinese ping-pong players, Tsong
subsequently defected to the West.) And what might be termed the Shanghai



Conservatorys prodigy division became a regular stop on foreign dignitaries

itineraries; a bilingual souvenir brochure issued by the Shanghai Conservatory
in the 1980s contains a photograph with the caption Outside the practice
rooms of the Primary School, Isaac Stern exclaims, There is a talent inside
every window.1 Nor was the use of Western music for purposes of political
representation restricted to the Peoples Republic. One of the ways in which
Hong Kong demonstrated its evolution from oriental sweat-shop to cosmopolitan modernity was through the regular participation of its composers at
international festivals of new music, with the ISCM (International Society for
Contemporary Music) World Music Days being held there in 1988.
The development of Western music within East Asia in Japan, Korea,
China, Taiwan has been so eective that on many indicators these, together
with Israel, might be seen as the heartlands of classical music in the twenty-rst
century (and without their East Asian students, European and North American
conservatories could not survive in their present form). But the introduction of
originally European musical styles formed only one side of Western musics
role as an instrument of national or postcolonial identity outside the West.
Equally important was the way in which, all over the world, Western
approaches transformed indigenous musical cultures. The Cairo Congress on
Arab Music, sponsored in 1932 by King Faud of Egypt, aimed at reviving and
systematizing Arab music so that it will rise upon an artistic foundation, as
Western music did earlier (Fletcher 2001, 6289); it advocated a program for
the standardization of intonation, the adoption of Western sta notation, and
the establishment of conservatories in which Western and Arab music would
be taught side by side a program that was put into eect not only in Egypt
but also elsewhere in the Arab world (El-Shawan 1980). Much the same pattern
was followed in Indonesia after World War II, where the foundation in 1950
of the Konservatori Karawitan Indonesia in Surikarta had a further aim,
in Judith Beckers words, to make gamelan traditions acceptable to nonJavanese . . . The hope was that the faculty . . . would combine elements of
the music of non-Javanese Indonesians with the gamelan traditions, resulting
in a truly Indonesian national music (Powers 1980, 31).2
Ten years later, the Ghanaian National Dance Ensemble was formed, again
bringing together dierent ethnic traditions and so establishing, as Ko Agawu
puts it, a transethnic canon, a classic collection of cultural artefacts; the same
idea was taken a stage further with the establishment of the Pan-African
Orchestra, whose members play traditional music from all over Africa from
1 The practice rooms are arranged around a courtyard (where Stern is standing), with windows through
which the young musicians can be observed.
2 For conservatories and traditional music more generally, see Stock 2004, 313.

Western music as world music


carefully notated scores (Agawu 2003, 19; Scherzinger 2004, 5912). A further
example of such syncretism is the Chinese orchestras that rst developed in
the 1930s and are now found across the Chinese-speaking world. Organized
very much along the lines of a Western orchestra, these are made up
of Chinese instruments that would not play together in traditional
repertories (which is a reminder that modernization involves the relationship
of dierent traditions with one another, not just with the West); they play a
combination of arrangements of Western orchestral standards, such as
Pung Siu-Wens arrangement of Mussorgskys Pictures at an Exhibition,
arrangements of Chinese traditional music, and original compositions.
These orchestras have also stimulated the development of graded families
of traditional Chinese instruments, on the model of Western orchestral
strings, and indeed instrument design represents another sphere in which
traditional musics have been modernized (Stock 2004, 202).
The most fundamental aspect of musical modernization, however, arguably
lies in the inuence of Western aesthetic values. Fundamental to the t arab
culture of traditional Arab music is an intimate performing situation in which
performers can interact in an improvisatory manner with their listeners: the
big Arab orchestras, which like Chinese orchestras bring together disparate
instruments on a Western orchestral model, play from scores, and in this
way (in Habib Hassan Toumas words) the musicians have relinquished
their dual function as creators and performers and have become one hundred
percent interpreters in the Western sense (Racy 1998; Touma 1996, 145).
Again, the qin is by tradition the instrument of the Chinese scholar, to be
played for oneself or before a small group of discerning friends; in todays
Hong Kong, virtuosos of the instrument perform in large concert halls with
amplication. Even traditional African music is frequently presented in
Western concert style, played by professionals before a paying audience. In
all these contexts, then, elements of traditional musical culture have been
recongured in accordance with the values of Western concert music, that is
to say, music that expresses an original compositional vision and is understood
as inherently meaningful rather than grounded in social context. Indeed, one
might say that in East Asia, possibly through the lingering inuence of Romain
Rollands once enormously inuential writings, Romantic aesthetic values of
heroism and transcendence retain a currency that they can hardly be said to
have in the West.
Much the same story of the assimilation of Western music and the values
underlying it, and of its interaction with indigenous traditions, might be told
of popular music, though I do not have space here to join the dots. Brazilian
popular music represents an inextricable combination of Native American,



Portuguese, African, and North American styles, and has itself had a major
inuence in North America and Europe. Afropop is the outcome of complex
interactions between traditional African musics, Christian missionary singing,
and international popular musical styles. Cantopop developed in Hong Kong
as a consequence of the emigration of nightclub musicians from Shanghai in
1949, cross-fertilizing with successive waves of British, American, and Japanese
popular music, and has now become so widespread throughout the world of
the Chinese diaspora that it would be hard to see any principled reason for not
calling it a world music (Lee 1999). But that term, of course, has a quite
dierent connotation and history, reecting the transition of First World
hegemony from the political domain of colony and empire to the more purely
economic domain of global capitalism. As is well known, the term has its
origins in a series of meetings held in a London pub during summer 1987, at
which representatives from a number of London-based record companies
agreed on a collective name (others considered were World beat,
Tropical, and Hot) and a marketing strategy for a variety of international
popular or semi-popular musics: the perceived problem was that record
retailers did not know where to le these items, and potential customers did
not know where to look for them, so a total of 3,500 was spent on a publicity
campaign and pack.3 This spectacularly successful investment did not simply
have the eect of multiplying sales for existing products: it eectively recongured the entire market and had far-reaching commercial, musical, and (for
Third World musicians) personal consequences.
What the participants in the Empress of Russia meetings could not do,
however, was satisfactorily dene the label they had invented. In the words of
their second press release, Trying to reach a denition of WORLD MUSIC
provoked much lengthy discussion and nally it was agreed that it means
practically any music that isnt, at present, catered for by its own category
e.g.: Reggae, jazz, blues, folk. The press release weakly concluded, Perhaps
the most common factor unifying all these WORLD MUSIC labels is the
passionate commitment of all the individuals to the music itself. As many
commentators have said (Taylor 1997, 1617), world music I shall omit the
scare quotes from now on is easier to dene in terms of what is excluded: not
only the genres mentioned in the press release, together of course with
Western classical music, but also Cantopop, karaoke, Bollywood, and to a
large extent the classical cultures of Asian music. World music is, in short,
a commercial construct, open to analysis as a merchandizing of Third World

3 The minutes and press releases are at

minutes/ (all websites accessed December 22, 2007).

Western music as world music


commodities on the basis of First World business structures, similar, for

example, to coee and posing comparable issues of fair trade. It can also be
seen in the terms in which Agawu has characterized the impact on Africa of
European music in general: it colonized signicant portions of the African
landscape, taking over its body and leaving an African dress, transforming
the musical background while allowing a few salient foreground features to
indicate an African presence (Agawu 2003, 6). As Agawus use of the words
background and foreground might suggest, this is an ideological analysis
that can be pursued in strictly musical terms: the Western pop basis of world
music the real common practice style of the late twentieth and early
twenty-rst century provides a structure that is as ubiquitous and universal
as Western science and engineering, while local elements merely add exotic
color. Music, as I said at the beginning, is just a dimension of a larger historical

Contrary representations
Or maybe not just. While the grand narrative of Western musics transformation into world music may be one of social, economic, and political
determinism, there is within this framework a multiplicity of little narratives
in which music may form a countercurrent to social, economic, and political
processes, or act as an agent for the negotiation or transformation of personal
or group identity. Sometimes music may embody resistance to political ideologies; Martin Stokes writes of the multiplicity of ethnic identities embodied in
the musics of the Mediterranean area where ocial ethnicities are dened
through opposition to a pernicious otherness embodied by neighbouring
states, this celebration of ethnic profusion in what we might loosely call the
popular musics it seeks to control is always a potential threat (Stokes 1994,
1617). Perhaps more commonly, at least in the case of art music, it has
served as a vehicle for national identity. Either way, the same analyses that
reveal the ideological embeddedness of world music can bring to light the
complexities of cultural action and interaction. The second section of this
chapter, then, oers a second pass over much of the terrain outlined in the
rst, but now with a focus on musics contribution to the negotiation of an
often problematic identity.
To start where I started before, music oered an arena for the sharing
of experience on terms that belied the hierarchical relationship between
colonizer and colonized. Both indigenous and Spanish musics were performed
on ceremonial occasions in the missions of sixteenth-century Florida, while
European visitors frequently commented on the general excellence of Indian



musicians, singers and instrumentalists (Koegel 2001, 40). And in contrast to

traditional, cathedral-centered accounts of music in seventeenth-century
Cuzco, recent research demonstrates the extent to which indigenous communities not only embraced Western music, but also used it for purposes of social
advancement or the contestation of power relations (Baker 2008). But one of
the most striking examples of music acting as a countercurrent to the colonial
hierarchy is provided by British India during the last two decades of the
eighteenth century, where a number of Anglo-Indians, particularly women,
worked closely with Indian musicians to transcribe their music for harpsichord.4 The resulting notations, known at the time as Hindostannie airs,
are a bizarre stylistic amalgam in which the principles of the common-practice
style have been sacriced without being replaced by anything recognizable to
us today as stylistically Indian. That was also the reaction of musicians back in
London or Edinburgh, where successive editions of the airs eliminated or
corrected their anomalous features to the point that only the titles remained
to indicate their exotic origins. (Recall Agawus metaphor of body and dress.)
Yet the accounts of contemporary Anglo-Indians, who had heard Indian music
at rst hand, constantly emphasize how authentically like the Indian originals
the Hindostannie airs were. There is even an account of a masquerade in
Calcutta, at which one of the most prominent collectors, Sophia Plowden,
performed some of these; everyone wore local dress, and, as Plowden wrote to
her sister, many people insisted on our really being Indostanis. Two conclusions can be drawn from this picturesque tale of musical and racial crossdressing. The rst is that the very deciencies of the original transcriptions,
with their deviations from the common-practice style, show them to be the
traces of a genuine if ultimately unproductive attempt to penetrate an alien
musical culture, and to this extent a bracketing of the colonial hierarchy. The
second is that the transcriptions proved unintelligible outside their original
context precisely because local dress, to borrow Agawus image, was not
adequately supported on the body of the common-practice style.
For this reason, the Hindostannie air was without any real inuence on the
history of Western musical depictions of the colonial or exotic other. The
arguably all-too-intelligible tradition of such depiction that developed within
European music during the second half of the nineteenth and rst half of the
twentieth century was precisely one conforming to Agawus description: in
such works as Bizets Pearl Fishers (rst performed in 1863), Sullivans Mikado
(1885), Ketlbeys In a Persian Market (1920), and Puccinis Turandot (1926),

4 The following is based on Cook 2007, where further references (principally to the work of Ian
Woodeld and Gerry Farrell) may be found.

Western music as world music


a common-practice musical structure was clothed with what became a stereotypical, all-purpose set of signiers of exotic alterity (arabesques, parallel
fourths and fths, augmented seconds, and so forth). Such music is vulnerable
to criticism on much the same grounds as commercial world music, and was
indeed one of the principal targets of Edward Saids critique of orientalism.
There were, however, during this period some examples of an alternative
approach, one based on a perhaps more genuine interest and certainly greater
knowledge of non-Western musical traditions, and on a greater willingness
to rethink common-practice principles in light of cross-cultural encounter.
An early example is Henry Cowell, who grew up in San Franciscos Chinatown,
and who described his work as not an attempt to imitate primitive music,
but rather to draw on those materials common to the music of all the peoples of
the world, to build a new music particularly relating to our own century;
accordingly, he wrote of his United Quartet, which combines an approach to
structure based on rhythmic patterning with quasi-oriental scale formations,
that it should be understood equally well by Americans, Europeans, Orientals,
or higher primitives; or by anybody from a coal miner to a bank president . . . It
may be said that it concerns human and social relationships (Everett 2004, 2;
Nicholls 1995, 199).5 Such sentiments are redolent of the postwar Weltmusik
movement associated with Karlheinz Stockhausen, according to whom Every
human being has the whole of humanity within him- or herself. A European
can experience Balinese music, a Japanese music from Mozambique, and a
Mexican music from India (Stockhausen n.d.). After 1945, a more progressive tradition of cross-cultural composition became well established in
the works of, for instance, Olivier Messiaen, John Cage, Benjamin Britten,
Lou Harrison, and George Crumb. But while such music may be interpreted as
a form of social protest against the hegemony of European musical culture
(Everett 2004, 203, citing Catherine Cameron), Bjrn Heiles study (2009) of
Weltmusik shows how the problems of exoticizing representation evident
in the prewar orientalizing tradition did not go away.
As in the rst section, it is when Western musical style comes to be used
outside the West as a means of self-representation that these issues become
most complex. The postwar European and American composers I have just
mentioned were mirrored, so to speak, by Asian counterparts such as Chou
Wen-Chung, who emigrated from China to the United States in 1946, or in
Japan Toshiro Mayazumi and Tru Takemitsu. The case of Takemitsu is
perhaps the most revealing, because his early compositional identity was
resolutely Western, in part as a reaction against the nationalist style of the
5 For Cowells background in San Francisco see Rao 2004.



previous generation, which incorporated traditional Japanese elements within

an essentially Western compositional framework, paradoxically very much
along the lines of the Western orientalists. According to Takemitsu (1989,
199), it was only through the detour of Cages music and aesthetics that he
came to realize the compositional potential of traditional Japanese music, and
in this sense he came upon it from the position of an outsider. His aim in
bringing together aspects of Western and Japanese culture might be seen as
exactly the opposite of the prewar nationalists: to create a music of primarily
Western elements but informed by a distinctively Japanese aesthetic. As
Takemitsu himself put it, in writing Western music . . . I learn and absorb
something from traditional Japanese musics denial of the ego, and its yearning
toward a union of sound with nature (Takemitsu 2004, 205).
Using Western musical style to construct a non-Western identity: this is the
delicate balancing act attempted in many countries during the twentieth
century. In China, both pre-Revolutionary works such as Xian Xinghais
Yellow River Cantata (1939) and communist-period ones such as Chen Gang
and He Zhanhaos Buttery Lovers Concerto (1959) could be rationalized according to the old principle of letting foreign things serve China (Li 1991, 209).
In eect, this principle draws a distinction between Westernization and a
process of modernization seen as available to all countries regardless of geography or history; it is closely related to the principal opposition that informed
debate about Western music during the Cultural Revolution, between, on the
one hand, those who saw national self-realization in scientic progress and
advocated Western-style music as embodying such progress and, on the other
hand, those who identied progress with revolutionary ideology. The debate
that raged over Beethovens Ninth Symphony, for instance, revolved around
how far Beethovens music could be seen as transcending its origins in a feudal
society and so achieving permanent ideological value (Cook 1993, 957).
The same tensions can be discerned behind the curiously stopgo history of
rock music in China, as illustrated by the career of Cui Jian, its only exponent to
have achieved a signicant prole outside of China. Cui, at that time a professional trumpet-player with the Beijing Philharmonic Orchestra, shot to
prominence in 1985, six years after the government rst ocially endorsed
rock music and the same year that the China News Agency announced that
China had an estimated ten million guitarists (Fletcher 2001, 656). He was at
the height of his popularity at the time of the Tiananmen Square protests in
1989, during which he was frequently seen with the students, and was thereafter forced into hiding in the provinces (Cui Jian n.d.). For the next ten years
he was unocially banned from giving public concerts in Beijing, though
appearances elsewhere were tolerated. At one level a response to Cui Jians

Western music as world music


actions (e.g., his perfomance in 1990 of A Piece of Red Cloth, a song strongly
associated with the Tiananmen Square protests), the Chinese governments
indecision as to how to handle rock can also be seen as reecting larger,
unresolved tensions regarding the relationship between Western music, modernization, and revolutionary sentiment.
Similar stories might be told of Indonesia or the Middle East, for instance,
and the outcomes largely reect the degree of condence felt by dierent
countries in their own musical traditions (to generalize wildly, high in Japan
and Indonesia and even more so in India but low in China and the Middle
East). But I shall restrict myself to two examples, both of them countries
seeking to construct their own identity in relation to a hegemonic other. In
the interwar period, reacting against the long established dominance of
German music in Norway, the composer Geirr Tveitt sought to construct a
distinctively Norwegian musical identity through embracing French inuences (Aksnes 2002), based on what one might term the following logic of
alterity: French = not-German = Norse. In the same way, attempting to create
a distinctively Australian musical identity in the late 1960s, Peter Sculthorpe
reacted against the British-dominated past of Australian music and his own
training at the University of Oxford by means of close engagement with
Balinese music, for example, in Sun Music II and III: here the syllogism is
Balinese = not-British = Australian. The interesting question, of course, is
why Sculthorpe drew on Balinese rather than aboriginal music in his attempt
to forge a distinctively Australian musical identity. One answer might be that
the desired identity was as much Australasian as Australian, which on a generous interpretation might include Indonesia. But that does not t with the
fact that Sculthorpe had from the rst incorporated native Australian titles and
texts into his compositions: it is the music itself on which he did not draw until
the 1970s, as if he came to realize its compositional viability only through the
detour via Bali. There is a comparison with Takemitsus discovery of traditional Japanese music via Cage.
In my second example South Africa, issues of Western music and local identity
took on a sharper political edge, both during and after the period of apartheid
(194894). In some ways the basic objective, and therefore the compositional
strategies adopted to achieve it, remained unaected by the birth of the rainbow
nation: to represent South Africa as an autonomous entity rather than a
colonial extension of Europe, an entity dened by both internationalism and
the African heritage. It is not surprising, then, that the white South African
composer Hans Rosenschoon could claim that, even before the end of apartheid,
South African creative artists, many of them composers, voiced their conceptual
rejection of apartheid not only verbally, but also, and perhaps more deeply,



via the elemental voice of their art (Rosenschoon 1998a, 265). But an
examination of Rosenschoons own composition Timbila (1985), for Chopi xylophone orchestra and symphony orchestra, reveals sensitivities that belie so condent an assertion. In his account of the composition of Timbila, Rosenschoons
starting point is what in terms of Western art music might be seen as a skills
decit: the Chopi do not read music, he says, and therefore he was obliged to use
one of their pieces of music with which they were familiar, which could then be
incorporated within his composition (Rosenschoon 1998b, 291). His choice fell
on Mtsitso No. 3 by Venancio Mbande, the leader of the Chopi xylophone
orchestra from the Wildebeestfontein North Mine, which falls into three sections
(ABC) and features a simple do-re-mi-do motif. The following extract from
Rosenschoons account illustrates both the kind of interactions he devised
between the indigenous and the Western symphonic components of the
composition and the way in which such interactions are open to being interpreted in a manner contrary to Rosenchoons declared inclusiveness:
While the Chopi are busy with their B section, the symphony orchestra
tries to impose the do-re-mi-do motif, and eventually they succeed in
convincing the Chopi to follow suit . . . The do-re-mi-do motif leads, as far
as I am concerned, towards its logical conclusion in the rendering of Frere
Jacques by the horns.
(ibid., 292)

Rosenschoons as far as I am concerned conveys a certain defensiveness, and

indeed the way he made Mbandes music culminate in a European nursery song
was criticized by several reviewers. Alain Barker, for example, claimed that No
structural, organizational or melodic elements have been absorbed and integrated
into the orchestral body except for the simplistic use of an underlying three-note
theme. As the piece progresses, the European orchestra magnies the theme,
nally ending up with a triumphant (universal?) rendering of a recognizable
clich (Barker 1996, 71).6 This is the context for Rosenschoons insistence that:
musical composition is, and must ever remain, an entirely subjective statement
about ones approach to art and life . . . Having a conscience about the South
African situation in the sociopolitical sense is a personal crux, while addressing
such topics in ones music is a matter of choice . . . But to place the fact that one
is or is not doing so above quintessential issues like the artistic integrity of
ones work is, to me at least, utter nonsense.
(Rosenschoon 1998, 268)

Not everyone would see the invocation of artistic integrity as a satisfactory

response to questions about cultural sensitivity, although it is only fair to

6 See also David Smith, who refers to the aristocratic Chopi music (which eventually ows alongside
Frre Jacques!) (1995, 61).

Western music as world music


recognize that, in Barkers words, Timbila represents an anticipatory positioning, an early endeavor to come to terms with the future of a predominantly
black South African cultural mainstream (Barker 1996, 71). It is also fair to
recognize that there is a Catch-22 situation here, one, moreover, that is not
restricted to white musicians. If a South African composer of European extraction
incorporates indigenous elements, then she is open to criticism on grounds of
patronizing or appropriating local culture; if an indigenous composer does so, he is
open to criticism for perpetuating a stereotypical view of African composition, a
kind of musical apartheid. At the same time, if a composer of European extraction
composes in an advanced Western style, then she is open to criticism on grounds
of disregarding national identity, while if an indigenous South African composer
does so, she is open to criticism on grounds of disregarding cultural heritage.
From whatever geographical or ethnic perspective the problem is
approached, most people are likely to agree in principle on the solution:
neither to ignore nor to imitate local music, but rather (in the words of the
British composer Georey Poole, who lived in East Africa from 1985 to 1987)
to understand how [indigenous] music relates in its own terms . . . to African
sensibilities and feeling, to custom, and to fundamental spiritual needs and
then to try and see how the warmth of that relationship might be transferred to
the benet of our own post-everything situation (Poole 1998, 332). But that
raises the question of how such estimable principles are to be translated into
practice. Jrgen Bruninger discerns a solution in the last of the German
composer Reinhard Febels Four Pieces for Violin and Orchestra, which is based
on the South African gumboot dance, itself a Western-African hybrid:
by rst reclaiming and then transforming and recontextualising gumboot
dance just as local groups do, he says, Febel pre-empts possible accusations
in relation to ethical problems (Bruninger 1998, 11). Martin Scherzinger
sees solutions in the compositions of Michael Blake and Kevin Volans
(Scherzinger 2004, 60910). Moving north, Agawu sees them in the work of
the Nigerian composers Akin Euba and Joshua Uzoigwe (Agawu 2003, 17).
The issues concerning the relationship between Western and local music
that I have presented in terms of (self-)representation can also be seen in terms
of ownership. Braningers principal criticism of Timbila is that Rosenschoon
does not credit Mbande, even though the latter is responsible for at least half
of the composition (Bruninger 1998, 6). In a more traditional musical context, Christopher Cockburn argues that there is a long-standing black tradition
of communal performances of choruses from Handels Messiah that are close in
style to the Victorian versions in which the work was introduced to South
Africa: the traditional British performance style has been appropriated within
African culture, and as a result attempts (e.g., by choral adjudicators) to impose



a more historically informed performance style, which in Europe might be a

purely aesthetic issue, challenge what has become an indigenous tradition
(Cockburn 2003, 89). As Grant Olwage has shown, similar issues arise in
relation to vocal production (Olwage 2005); there is also a parallel with what
Euba and Kwabena Nketia call African pianism, which appropriates a highprestige Western technology to African musical ends a case of letting foreign
things serve Africa.7
In the South African context such issues of the ownership of tradition have
arisen most conspicuously in the debate prompted by Graceland, the 1986 album
on which Paul Simon collaborated with a number of South African musicians, in
particular the male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and which brought
an unparalleled international visibility to black South African music. On the one
hand, Simon could be seen (and in South Africa generally was seen) as an
invasive outsider in a neocolonial mold, while, on the other, he opened up
new markets to black musicians; on the one hand he appropriated African
tradition within a Western musical framework in the manner of world music
(this was the year before the Empress of Russia meetings), while on the other
Graceland stimulated interest in African traditions among white South Africans,
so contributing to what Louise Meintjes calls a possible White African (as
opposed to colonial) identity (Meintjes 1990, 50, 67). As Meintjes argues,
Graceland is a composite polysemic sign vehicle whose musical, textual, and
contextual dimensions allow for a multiplicity of interpretations, which is how it
was able to structure and sustain a prolonged debate on issues of ownership and
identity both within and outside South Africa (ibid., 69).
Agawu writes of the Founders Day celebrations at the Ghanaian school he
attended in the 1970s that the self-consciousness with which these African
students performed African traditions was no dierent from the selfawareness with which they played Bach on the violin or sang Vivaldis
Gloria. Musics of Western and other traditions intersect at locations
where issues of cultural ownership are contested and identities negotiated.
Something of this kind was going on, however blithely, at the Calcutta
masquerade where Sophia Plowden and her friends played for an hour or
two at being Indians. It was going on in the traditions of blackface minstrelsy
that lasted throughout the nineteenth and most of the twentieth centuries in
the United States and Britain (and in some other colonial centers, too). It
continued in what might be termed the blackvoice minstrelsy of British rock
from Eric Burdon to Amy Winehouse. And here the little narratives of
7 Euba wrote in 1970 that the Piano already displays certain anities with African music, and by creating
a type of African Pianism to blend with African instruments it should be possible to achieve a successful
fusion (quoted in Omojola 2001, 156).

Western music as world music


musical countercurrents to larger social, economic, and political processes with

which I have been concerned in this section give way to a story so big that it
seems easy to overlook it. Scherzinger argues that the contribution of Africa
though not, one might observe, Asia to twentieth-century Western art music
has been systematically under-narrated (Scherzinger 2004, 611), but as Paul
Gilroy (1992) has shown, what might be termed the twentieth-century
Africanization of popular music one might almost say the Africanization
of world music represents a massive countercurrent to the established hegemonies of global capitalism. When Peter Fletcher writes that Whether we like
it or not, the music of Europe is now dominant in most of the developed and
developing world, one might reasonably ask which planet he is thinking of
(Fletcher 2001, 610). Only, of course, to call it Africanization is to oversimplify.
Beyond the interactions I mentioned between African tradition and missionary
music, todays dominant styles of popular music have been shaped in the
Caribbean and in both North and South America, exported to Europe and
Asia, and back to Africa, and thats just for starters. We are talking about an
intermingling of Western and world elements so comprehensive that reverse
engineering it is unimaginable, a music in the formation of which all continents
except Antarctica have played an active role.
The conclusion is inevitable and illustrates what I meant when at the
beginning of this section I spoke of musics exposing the complexities of
cultural action and interaction. On the one hand, what we call world music
is a Western construct par excellence, a marketing category invented by the
London-based record industry; dened any other way, the term is impossibly inclusive, given that Beethoven, Tan Dun, reggae, Cantopop, and Tuku
beat are all consumed worldwide (since the invention of the internet, what
isnt?). On the other hand, Western music refers to a classical tradition
now most strongly rooted in Asia, and a popular tradition that is in reality a
global hybrid. But these paradoxes are hardly surprising. The concept of the
West, at least as used in those parts of the world that have styled themselves
that way, goes back no further than the late nineteenth century and its
ostensibly geographical denition is given the lie by such formulations as
pre-Western (Bonnett 2004); the term is probably best thought of as an
implicit claim to socioeconomic domination in a world in which power is
actually shifting rapidly to Asia. And as much as its antonym non-Western,
it is an essentializing term, suggesting a homogeneity that is largely spurious. The concept of Western music is then as much in need of scare quotes
as world music, reecting the fact that Western is a paradigmatically
relational term. Unless you are at the North or South Pole, everywhere is
west of somewhere.



Practical utopias
It is in musics power to act as an unambiguous signier of place. World music
can be seen as a form of aural tourism, as illustrated by the extension of the
Rough Guide series of travel books to include world, popular, and even classical
musics. Sugo Music advertises its Cultural Exploration series of CDs, You
dont need to leave the country to learn about other cultures. Why, you dont
even need to leave your house. Music is a perfect way to experience the world
in a whole new light and learn about people and customs from another land.
Spice up your life a bit while you experience the wonderful songs on these
amazing collections of world music.8 Among these collections of world
music is one called Destination Vienna, which includes selections from a
Haydn horn concerto and piano concertos by Mozart and Beethoven. It is
classical music as world music in the most literal sense, since to nd it you must
look in the world music bins of record stores. And while Vienna sells itself as
City of Music, so asserting its ownership of the classics, Poland provides an
example of something more extreme: a national identity constructed round a
single composer. When you board the Lot Polish Airlines plane at London
Heathrow, Chopins Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 is already playing over the sound
system; two and a half hours later you land at Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport.
Arriving serendipitously at the recently refurbished Frederick Chopin
Museum, you sign the visitors book and see testimonials in Japanese and
Korean as well as Polish, English, and other European languages; one reads
As soon as I saw Chopins personal possessions and the scores he wrote, I burst
into tears. A world composer, Chopin has been adopted as a national symbol
with an intensity explicable only by reference to Polands long history
of partition and subjection: the composer whose works crystallized Polish
identity but were mostly written in Paris.
Yet the technologies that brought world music into being have acted powerfully to neutralize its signication of place. Paul Thberge refers to the Emu
Proteus/3 World synthesizer, which came out in 1991, as the world in a box
(Thberge 1997, 201). But in a sense there has been a succession of musical
worlds in a box. The rst was the piano, a playback device for musical souvenirs
such as Les musiques bizarres lExposition, a book of arrangements of the world
music heard at the 1889 Paris Worlds Fair (Benedictus 1889; Fauser 2005,
chap. 4) or romanticized evocations of musical never-never lands such as
Amy Woodforde-Findens Four Indian Love Lyrics of 1902. (The surprising
thing about the Four Indian Love Lyrics is that they were actually written


Western music as world music


in India; they were particularly popular in Anglo-Indian homes, prompting

questions of how the colonials imagined the country in which they were
actually living.) The second was the gramophone, from the rst a global
technology. In 19012 the Gramophone Company, at that time called the
Gramophone & Typewriter Ltd, sent Fred Gaisberg to collect recordings
and assess the potential for local businesses in India, Burma, Thailand, China,
and Japan (Gronow and Saunio 1998, 12). Because sound recording is a less
obviously interventionist technology than notation because it does not
reconstruct or Westernize the original as overtly as Les musiques bizarres inevitably did it acted even more eectively to give a life to music divorced from
context. As illustration, the contents of the fth volume of the Folkways
series Music of the Worlds Peoples, issued in 1961, are listed as U.S.A.:
Cajun; South-West Asia; Malaya; Burma; Syria; Afrikaans; Poland; Bolivia;
Morocco; Copts of Lebanon; Fiji; Scotland; Jamaica; Asturia; African
Bushmen; Honduras; Byelorussia; Algeria; Zulu; Hawaii; Haiti; Ethiopia;9
small wonder that a reviewer commented, the reason for putting together
these particular items escapes me (Krader 1961, 227). Actually the reason
may not be so hard to nd, considering the universalist beliefs of Henry
Cowell, who compiled the series.
Electronic technology, mainly from Japan, created the third kind of world in
a box, as exemplied by the Proteus/3 World with its built-in samples ranging
from didjeridoos and bagpipes to celtic harps and gamelan instruments.
Designed for what Laurent Aubert calls those laboratories of universal syncretism that are Parisian and British studios (Aubert 2007, 53) (and nowadays
teenagers bedrooms around the world), these devices opened up the possibilities of composing, layering, and fusing global sounds on a purely aesthetic
basis, without regard to their cultural or geographical origins. Such musical
practices are further reinforced by todays playback technologies, which deliver
the world via broadband (the box is now obsolete), and by the movement away
from coherently designed musical wholes such as the record album to individually mixed and matched tracks. What might be termed playlist culture is
largely invisible, instantiated in ten million iPods, but radio programs such as
BBC Radio 3s Late Junction provide a tangible illustration. Late Junction,
which styles itself as a laid-back, eclectic mix of music from across the
globe,10 includes a feature called Your 3, in which contributors are invited
to submit a sequence of three recordings which works as [a] whole very much
in the spirit of a Late Junction playlist. The listener should be taken on an
9 Taken from; Folkways
FE 4508. Thanks to Anthony Seeger for this point.



exciting yet smooth musical journey . . . Ideally the 3 pieces should segue
together, i.e. where they run seamlessly together without the need for
presentation.11 For example, on June 22, 2006 Fergus Simpson submitted a
sequence consisting of trance music from El Fayyum (Egypt), Pharoah
Sanderss album Jewels of Thought, and a track from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
and Michael Brooks Night Song (released by Real World Records, Peter
Gabriels world-music label) or as Simpson himself summarized it, from an
Egyptian oasis to a modern electronic re-mix via sixties Black America.
Enjoy.12 Other contributions juxtapose Purcell and Victor Cerullo (I especially love ancient music and electroacoustic music), or Dave Brubeck, music
of the qin, and Jerry Garcia (totally personal . . . they are all tracks o records
that have mysteriously disappeared over the years from my collection . . . They
are all cool and beautiful too).13
As David Clarke comments, Your 3 contributors tend overwhelmingly to
connect tracks through those tracks phenomenal appearance as free-oating,
quasi-autonomous particulars. Only rarely are tracks related on the basis of
cultural or historical delineations (Clarke 2007, 96 pars, para 54). The result is
a world musical culture in which geography has been collapsed into personal
preference. Ross Daly, the Irish world musician now resident in Crete
(a virtuoso of Eastern musical instruments, he plays the Cretan lyra, Afghan
rabab, tarhu, laouto, kemence, oud, saz and tanbur),14 lambasts this culture:
I have met world music freaks kitted out with all the latest hi- gadgetry,
surrounded by hundreds of CDs, records, cassettes and DAT recordings, who
listen to West African Griots one minute, Japanese Koto music the next and
then Bengali music and when you talk to them about the music, you realise
that they dont understand the rst thing about the music, that they havent
got a clue about the cultural and human background (quoted in Aubert 2007,
55). He goes on to pin the blame squarely on technology: If we are going to be
able to appreciate fully the wide variety of music which exists in the world, we
should forget all these recordings and drastically increase the amount of live
music we listen to. And surely it is easy to believe that it is through actual
interpersonal work, through face-to-face collaboration, that the potential of
world music for bridging cultures is to be realized.
Meintjes observes of Graceland that it did not just symbolize cross-cultural
interaction but enacted it. As she says, the musical collaboration both points


Western music as world music


to and is isomorphic with social collaboration (Meintjes 1990, 48). Others

have made the same point in dierent South African contexts. Bruninger
shrewdly asks of Timbila, Has not a good chance for collaborative composition
been wasted? (Bruninger 1998, 6). Andrew Tracey, who attended the rst
performance, recalls how bored the Chopis were, sitting in the middle of the
orchestra (Lucia 2006/7).15 In eect, Traceys complaint is that Rosenschoon
treated Chopi music as a sound source, the human equivalent of a Proteus/3
World sample, and not as the social action and interaction of real people: that,
perhaps, lies at the core of the issues of sensitivity to which I referred. Bruninger
also quotes Timothy Taylors suggestion that what Volans really needs in order
to enact musically his desire for reconciliation is a collaborative model of music
making, where his individuality isnt foregrounded (Bruninger 1998, 67).16
But the point of course applies far beyond Africa. Intercultural collaboration is
both symbolized and memorably enacted in music such as the New Zealand
composer Jack Bodys Paradise Regained, one of a series of compositions
commissioned by the Indonesian pianist Ananda Sukarlan in memory of the
victims of the 2000 Bali bombing, in which Body collaborated with the gangsa
(Balinese metallophone) player and composer I Wayan Gde Yudane. When in the
rst few seconds of the piece the pianos repeated notes are taken up by the
gangsa, a direct contact is established between alien sound worlds, creating an
eect like the arcing of an electric current and evoking Stockhausens description
of cross-cultural encounter: The great shock occurs when someone who
approached an unfamiliar culture with harmless curiosity is so moved by this
experience that he or she falls head over heels in love with it (Stockhausen n.d.).
Paradise Regained is eective, especially in live performance, because the
sound worlds are so palpably those of Bali and the West. Yet Dalys complaints
are testimony to musics power to transcend place, and this perhaps applies
particularly to instrumental music of the Western classical tradition. Nowhere
is this more evident than in Seoul, where classical music permeates everyday
life: on one subway line announcements are preceded by a snatch from
Mozarts Eine kleine Nachtmusik, on another by Vivaldis Concerto Grosso
Op. 3 No. 6. And at the Changdeokgung Palace, the sonic backdrop for an
exhibition entitled The Lifestyle of the Korean People is Handels Water
Music. There is no anomaly here, for in the everyday life of Seoul, Handels
Water Music is no more perceived as English than the Japanese soldiers

15 Tracey adds that after the performance, when the audience was already standing up to leave and the
musicians were packing up their instruments, Venancio thought, To hell with it and he started playing for
real. The audience and the orchestra all crowded round, This is what it really should be!
16 Timothy Taylor has discussed the concept of collaboration at length, with particular reference to Bill
Laswell, in Beyond Exoticism: Western Music and the World (2007, chap. 4).



who went o to war with the sound of Beethovens Ninth Symphony in

their ears perceived that as German.17 There is a parallel with Brasilia, the
modernist architecture of which does not represent an act of homage to
Europe, but rather a claim to global modernity; like architectural modernism, and irrespective of how far this might be considered an ideological
deception, classical instrumental music signies autonomy, the availability
of values not tied to time and place. Whereas, in Seoul, traditional Korean
music signies a specically national heritage, and commercial world music
retains the vestiges of place through its words if not its purposeful exoticisms, Western classical music carries no such connotations. It is a form
of musical utopia and can therefore act as world music in a way that
world music cannot.
Together, collaboration and utopia constitute a powerful force. On the
Vision web page of his Silk Road Project, which coordinates a wide
range of intercultural workshops, concerts, and festivals, Yo-Yo Ma writes that:
we live in a world of increasing awareness and interdependence, and I believe
that music can act as a magnet to draw people together. Music is an expressive
art that can reach to the very core of ones identity . . . As we interact with
unfamiliar musical traditions we encounter voices that are not exclusive to one
community. We discover transnational voices that belong to one world.18

Such idealism, reminiscent of Cowells universalism, may sound vacuous. But

another project in which Ma played a critical role, the West-Eastern Divan
Orchestra created by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said, suggests a way in
which such sentiments might be given practical application. In physical terms,
the orchestra brings together young Israeli and Palestinian musicians on the
neutral ground of Andalusia, where the BarenboimSaid Foundation is
located, but in imaginative terms the neutral ground is that of the classical
orchestral tradition. Physically it is a parallel place without checkpoints,
soldiers, identication cards, but imaginatively it is in Saids words a
practical utopia whose presence and practice in our riven world is sorely
needed and, in all sorts of ways, intensely instructive (Ramzi Aburewan,
quoted in Patner 2006; Said 2003).
Many commentators have observed the paradoxes of the West-Eastern
Divan Orchestra. It is built frankly on belief in the autonomy of absolute
instrumental music of the Western classical tradition, on the idea that there

17 In 1944 the Ninth Symphony was performed at a concert in honor of Tokyo University students joining
the war, the aim according to one of the organizers being that they should carry to the battleeld
memories of something close to us, something that symbolized our homeland (Kurisaka 1982, 480).

Western music as world music


can be such a thing as music that transcends society and consequently creates
a neutral zone that facilitates transformation, even the overcoming of intractable national histories. In that sense, it represents an imposition upon its
Middle Eastern participants of a distinctively Western conceptual framework,
one that is clearly ideological in that it is taken as self-evident, naturalized;
though it seems strange to say this of Saids initiative, its invocation in the
context of ArabIsraeli reconciliation seems oddly asymmetrical, if not in its
own way a form of orientalism. As Rachel Beckles Willson points out, history
and geography both press in upon the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra:
Its democracy, she writes, is rather obviously an enacting of western
Enlightenment musical culture as it evolved in nineteenth century Europe,
and this history is also expressed in its formidably strong hierarchical structure, and an omnipotent leader whose position is maintained by a mystied
religiosity (Beckles Willson 2009, 17). That last point, of course, has become
the more salient since Saids death. It is in this way hard to nd a middle way
between a dewy-eyed admiration for the orchestras work on the one hand,
and on the other, an awareness of its limitations that borders on cynicism:
many of the players do not come from the Middle East at all, while others see it
as a way of securing a life in the West. It is also criticized for parachuting in and
attracting both attention and funding from lower-prole, local organizations
that seek to promote reconciliation at a more local and sustainable level
(Beckles Willson 2009).
Yet behind the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra there is a compelling rationale. In the joint words of Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim, An orchestra
requires musicians to listen to each other; none should attempt to play louder
than the next, they must respect and know each other. It is a song in praise of
respect, of the eort to understand one another, something that is crucial to
resolve a conict that has no military solution (Barenboim and Said 2002).
When the participants make music together, then, it becomes the essential
agent in creating a space within which reconciliation is not only symbolized
but, to however modest a degree, enacted a reconciliation choreographed by
the nuanced, shared temporality of live music. Like the South African recording studios that Meintjes has studied (Meintjes 2003), the orchestra is, in
other words, not just a metaphor but a metonym of the world beyond the
music, a little bit of reality within which reconciliation is enacted. The question, of course, is how long the reconciliation lasts after the music stops, how
far what is done in musical time survives the transition to the world beyond
music. Music has the ability, in Ian Crosss (2012) phrase, to manage social
uncertainty, to enable concerted action by multiple participants even though
their individual perceptions, including the meanings they ascribe to the music



they are making together, may be radically dierent: seen this way, music may
be more a way of temporarily patching up dierences, or of sweeping them
under the carpet, than of confronting and solving them. One might also ask
whether the nature of this musically mediated community is really so dierent
from that created by participant sports, in which case (as suggested by UEFA
president Michel Platini) might an ArabIsraeli football team not be at least as
eective a means of promoting reconciliation (Associated Press 2009)? And, in
practice, have orchestras historically been the prejudice-free zones that the
SaidBarenboim ideology would imply? Mahlers experiences with the Vienna
Philharmonic, to cite just one example, would suggest not.
Perhaps the truth is that the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is after all more
signicant as a symbol than as an enactment of reconciliation. But even if that is
so, the most touching, because realistic, assessment of its achievement comes
from Barenboim, who writes of the orchestras historic concert of 2004 in
Ramallah, the orchestras rst in an Arab country, that This concert, as you
surely know from the coverage in the newspapers, did not end the conict. Yet,
at least for a couple of hours, it managed to reduce the level of hatred to zero
(Barenboim n.d.). A couple of hours: music may not be able to achieve more
than that. Yet it is already quite a lot.

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Powers, H. (1980) Classical music, cultural roots, and colonial rule: An Indic musicologist looks at the Muslim world, Asian Music, 12: 539
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in B. Nettl with M. Russell (eds.), In the Course of Performance: Studies in the World of
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Richards, J. (2001) Imperialism and Music: Britain 18761953, Manchester University Press
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Western music as world music


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. 4 .

Foundations of musical knowledge

in the Muslim world

The term musical knowledge, in its broadest sense, refers both to knowledge
of musical disciplines transmitted through speech and writing and to knowledge that is learned and remembered with recourse to rhythm, melody, and
movement. Strictly speaking, the latter category would encompass both the
practical knowledge of singers, instrumentalists, and dancers, and the values
and insights meant to be transmitted or attained through sung poetry, instrumental music, and dance. This chapter does not attempt such a broad view, but
concentrates on some of the leading ideas about music articulated in Arabic and
Persian writings between the second and eighth centuries of Islam; in other
words, between the eighth and fourteenth centuries of the Common Era.1
Much of the writing considered here was produced by gures of major
importance in the Islamicate culture that was shared among Muslims and
non-Muslims in societies dominated by Muslims.
Some writings deal primarily with what musicians ought to know, and some
treat the art of singing (Arabic, ghin) and the scientic discipline of music
(msq or msq in Arabic, adapted from Greek mousik ) more generally, as
domains of human activity and accomplishment. A central focus of both the science
of music and the art of singing is coordination, in composition and performance, of
tone-relationships (Greek, harmona), structured movement (Greek, rhythmos), and
language. Muslim writers on music and song recognized that Greek discussions of
this topic were relevant to their cultural situation. Moreover, the engagement of
Muslim philosophers with their readings of Plato and Aristotle provided a strong
impetus for further reection on the nature of music and poetry.

Literary genres and speech genres

Lines of inquiry and types of knowledge
In the rst centuries of Islam, Arabic writings on music followed three principal lines of inquiry: music as a branch of mathematics, music making as a topic
1 For consistency with the rest of the book, only the Common Era dates are given in this chapter.




of belles-lettres (adab), and the forms of listening that are legitimate from
various religious perspectives.2 Assimilation of existing knowledge in several
elds of learning with an initial emphasis on astrology, astronomy, mathematics, and medicine required the eorts of several generations of scholars
and translators, working with texts in Middle Persian (Pahlavi), Greek, Syriac,
and other languages. The new Abbsid capital of Baghdad was the center
of this activity, from the second half of the eighth century through much of
the tenth. For music as a branch of mathematics, as for philosophy, the Greek
texts that were made available in Arabic (often by way of Syriac versions)
provided the indispensable framework for further work, including reection
on dierences as well as similarities between the Greek discipline of msq
and the indigenous theory and practice of the Arabs and neighboring peoples.
The technical terminology developed in translations of such works as the
Sectio canonis (Division of the Monochord) attributed to Euclid diered from
the vocabulary of practicing musicians; the Kitb al-msq al-kabir (Great Book
on Music) of the philosopher al-Frb (d. 950) owes its distinction, in large
part, to Frbs deep familiarity with musical practice as well as with the
pertinent philosophical and scientic literature.
Each direction of inquiry was pursued in dierent genres of writing.
Encyclopedic surveys of the sciences in which music is treated as a branch of
mathematics extend from the Mafth al-ulm (Keys to the Sciences) (c. 985) of
al-Khwrizm to the Irshd al-qs id (Guidance of the Searcher) of Ibn al-Akfn
(d. 1348) in Arabic, and from the Dnesh-nme (Book of Knowledge) of
Avicenna (9801037) to the Jme al-olum (Compilation of Sciences) of Fakhr
al-Din Rzi (d. 1209) and Dorrat al-tj (Pearl of the Crown) of Qotb al-Din
Shirzi (d. 1311) in Persian, the latter limited to the mathematical and philosophical sciences. The theoretical (nazar ) and practical (amal ) branches
of the subject receive varying degrees of weight in the treatises (often called
risla, epistle) that are wholly devoted to music.
Writings categorized as adab string together anecdotes and bits of information deemed useful to boon companions of rulers and other courtiers, as in
the Iqd al-fard (The Unique Necklace) of Ibn Abd Rabbih, who was active at
the court of Crdoba in the tenth century. The richest source of anecdotes
about celebrated musicians is also a remarkably ambitious compilation of
Arabic poems that had been set to music, with indications of the appropriate
modes: the Kitb al-aghn (Book of Songs) of Abl-Faraj al-Isbahn
(897967), a vast work that could only have been undertaken by an author
whose memory was exceptionally well stocked with information amassed over
2 For an illuminating overview of all three categories, see the preface to Shiloah 1979.

Foundations of musical knowledge in the Muslim world


several decades of extensive interviewing and reading. Al-Is bahns principal

successor in compiling biographies of musicians is Ibn Fad: lallh al-Umar
(130148), whose Maslik al-absar (Routes toward Insight) reproduces information on fty-nine musicians from the Kitb al-aghn and adds biographies
of over twice as many later gures. The centrality of music in the cultural life
of courts is made clear in attempts at universal history, such as the Murj
al-dhahab (Meadows of Gold) of al-Masd (d. 956) and the Kitb al-ibar
(Book of Examples) of Ibn Khaldn (d. 1406) with its famous Muqaddima
(Introduction), a searching investigation of reasons for the cohesion or disintegration of human societies.
Tracts that defend the legitimacy of sam (listening with spiritual intent)
include eloquent accounts of the aims pursued through ceremonial music
and movement by members of various Su orders. This literature emphasizes
the importance of appropriate preparation, if music making is to enhance a
listeners spiritual growth. Lawful and unlawful uses of singing and listening
are carefully distinguished in the Ihy alulm (Revival of the Religious
Sciences) of Ab H mid al-Ghazl (10581111) and its Persian abridgement,
Kimiy-ye sadat (Alchemy of Happiness). A concern with rules and norms
governing the behavior of listeners and performers is evident in the literature
of adab as well as in that on sam. The underlying assumption is that musical
meaning emerges in the course of performance from the motivations and
actions of participants.
Conceptions of the nature and potential value of musical knowledge are
inevitably formed in relation to ideas about the nature and relative value of
other areas of learning and other spiritual or artistic disciplines. Major topics in
discussions of this set of issues include the social roles of those who may
appropriately acquire and exercise the various types of knowledge; the media
and genres of communication deemed suitable for transmitting musical knowledge; and the divisions or branches of musical knowledge. Each genre of speech
or writing presupposes certain kinds of knowledge shared by speaker and
listener, writer, and reader. A compilation of song lyrics may name the rhythmic mode (t arqa) and possibly the melodic mode of each composition, on the
assumption that readers who have not learned the songs by ear might know the
pertinent modes and be capable of applying them to the lyrics.
Throughout the Muslim world, orally transmitted lore has continually
found its way into treatises with scientic pretensions, thereby gaining an
aura of authority that makes it all the more useful in oral pedagogy. Writing
on music readily incorporates such familiar speech genres as aphorisms,
anecdotes, concise lists, and classications developed from polarities. In
their conversations with living musicians, ethnomusicologists can recognize



metaphors, topoi, and narrative-types with a long history of circulation in

writing as well as in speech.

Aphorisms and capsule narratives

Aphorisms and anecdotes that were recorded in writing are occasionally
framed as utterances presented on a particular occasion, a notable example
being the wedding feast at which guests supposedly delivered the sayings in
two compilations that were translated, respectively, by the Nestorian Christian
scholar Hunayn ibn Is hq (d. 873) and by his son, Is hq ibn Hunayn (d. 910):
the Kitb nawdir al-falsifa (Book of the Aphorisms of the Philosophers),3
and the Uns ur al-msq (Element of Music) attributed to one Blos.
A genre well suited to both oral and written communication is the capsule
narrative that credits a single protagonist with a signicant discovery or
innovation. In an adaptation of the legend in which Pythagoras nds that a
blacksmiths hammers of the appropriate weights will produce harmonious
intervals, al-Khall of Bas ra (d. c. 791) was said to have begun his analysis and
typology of sixteen poetic meters after hearing the multiple rhythms hammered out by coppersmiths in the bazaar. The adoption of selected features
of Byzantine, Syrian, and Persian music in the idioms cultivated at the courts
of the Umayyad caliphs (r. 661750) was eciently depicted in accounts of the
travels of two singers who died c. 715, Ibn Misjh and Ibn Muh r iz. Narratives
attributing major innovations to celebrated gures of the distant or more
recent past have continued to be created and transmitted up to the present.

Another format suited to both oral and written communication (with a bias
toward the latter) is a concise roster of items or skills, such as a cycle of seven
songs, a system of seven or eight modes, or the set of competencies expected of
a certain type of performer or, indeed, of any competent musician. The song
cycle on seven fortresses composed by the celebrated singer Mabad (d. 743)
established a pattern that was adopted by other court musicians, such as the
successors of Ibn Suraij (d. c. 726) who arranged seven of the masters songs
into a cycle.4
The belief that musical resources are best organized as systems of seven or
eight modes was widely held in West Asia during the eighth and ninth

3 Hunayns work is best known in the Hebrew translation of al-Harz (11701235), which was rst
published in 1562; see Adler 1975, 14755.
4 Neubauer 1997, 31718 also mentions cycles of ve, seven, and ten songs in the Persian-Turkish repertory
of c. 1500.

Foundations of musical knowledge in the Muslim world


centuries. The philosopher al-Kind (d. c. 866) regarded the eight rhythmic
modes of Arab music as an achievement comparable to both the pre-Islamic
modal system of Persia (called by other writers the seven royal modes,
al-t urq al-mulkya, of the minstrel Brbad) and the Byzantine oktchos,
eight modes (ustukhs iya and al-alh n al-thamniya in Kinds Arabic),
which he regarded as a comprehensive system encompassing all conceivable
melodies, even the braying of donkeys and neighing of horses.5 This claim
resulted from Kinds equation of the Greek term chos voice with Arabic
lah n (pl. alh n), which denoted intonations or outright errors that marred the
Arabic of certain speakers before it was appropriated as a general term for
melody. According to the Qurn (47.30), hypocrites can be recognized by
the lah n of their speech, and from this usage the term was extended to the
melodic aspect of any speech act.
Lists of four, seven, eight, or twelve items are easily correlated with other
lists having the same number of entries. Kind and the Ikhwn al-af
(Brethren of Purity) (second half of the tenth century) associate the four strings
of the lute with several other tetrads: seasons, elliptical arcs, quarters of the
twenty-four-hour day, elements, humors, faculties of the soul, poetic genres,
and so on. Some anities are articulated as metaphors (e.g., sounds on the
highest-pitched string of the lute are like re), and some as metonyms (e.g.,
sounds on the highest string enhance the humor of yellow bile and alleviate
that of phlegm). Correlations like those delineated by the Ikhwn al-af
have been continually reproduced in writing and in the speech of musicians,
up to the present. The congurations that writers and music teachers have
chosen to correlate with systems of seven modes include the seven planets
and a line of seven prophets beginning with Adam; systems of twelve modes are
often correlated with the zodiac. Such associations can nourish a powerful
awareness of a musical systems primordial roots and a sense of gratitude
toward the donors and discoverers of musical knowledge.

Classication through manipulation of polarities and dichotomies is fundamental to much theorizing about music, both in speech and in writing.
Individual sounds and combinations are characterized in many languages
as either light or heavy, bright or dark, penetrating or absorbing,
compact or diuse. Among the contrasting attributes of sounds listed
in Frbs Kitb al-msq al-kabr are s af clarity and kudra muddiness;
5 Neubauer reviews references to ten systems with varying numbers of modes, in Al-all ibn Ah m
ad und
die Frhgeschichte der arabischen Lehre von den Tnen und den musikalischen Metren (Neubauer
199596, 2758). On the early history of oktchos systems see Jeery 2001, 3703.



malsa smoothness and khushna coarseness; naama softness and shidda

forcefulness or s alba hardness. Frb also mentions qualities created by
dierent types of vocal production: rut ba wetness, yubs dryness, ghunna
nasality, and zamm fastening the lips so that air passes entirely through the
nose. He argues that an adequate description of vocal music must go beyond
dierences in acuity (h idda, cf. Greek oksyts) and gravity (thiql, cf. Greek
baryts) of pitch, just as optics cannot be limited to the concepts of geometry.
Al-Hasan al-Ktib (eleventh century) quotes and expands on Frbs inventory
of vocal timbres in his Kitb kaml adab al-ghn (The Perfection of Musical
Knowledge), one chapter of which identies twenty-one types of voice.
A binary opposition becomes a trichotomy when a neutral point, zero, is
posited between values of plus or minus. Higher and lower pitches
can be perceived in relation to a central tone, and durations can be dened as
longer or shorter with reference to a central value. This is the fundamental
structure of the doctrine of thos, which may well antedate the Greek writings
that were the main sources for its subsequent development in the Muslim
world and the Latin West. Kind describes three species (anw, sing. nau)
of composition (talf) with Arabic equivalents for the tripartite classication
of thos given by Cleonides and Aristides Quintilianus and presumably reproduced in the Byzantine and Arabic writings that were available to Kind:
al-bast the expansive for diastaltikon stimulant; al-qabd: the contracting
for systaltikon depressant; and al-mutadil the temperate for hsychastikon
calming (Table 4.1a).6 To arouse the appropriate movement of the soul
(h arakat al-nafs), verses adorned with a melodic framework (lahn ) of one species
should be set to the corresponding metric cycle or meter (q, pl. qt):
quick (khaffa) to inspire delight, slow (thaqla) for melancholy, moderate for a
sense of the sublime, the municent or the beautiful. Kind takes note of
subdivisions (aqsm or again anw) within these tripartite classications, and
he describes the tones that ascend or descend from a central tone as the acute
side (al-jnib al-ahadd) and the grave side (al-jnib al-athqal), respectively.
Kinds terms for expansive and contracting melodic frameworks connect
musical experience with rhythms on which human life depends the dilation
(inbist ) and contraction (inqibd: ) of heart and lungs and with processes that
are fundamental to the entire created order: God brings about contraction
and dilation (wAllh yaqbid: u wa yabsut , Qurn 2:245). The distinction is
closely related to oppositions of tense or hard versus slack or soft, a
relation that is as central to Arabic as to Greek writings on music. To lessen the

6 See the translation of Cleonidess text in Treitler 1998, 46; the translation of Aristides Quintilianus in
Barker 1989, 4323, 445; and al-Kinds Risla f khubr s inat al-talf, in Shawq 1969, 11112.

Foundations of musical knowledge in the Muslim world


Table 4.1 Comparison of ve typologies

Negative Direction


Positive Direction

a. Species of melodic and rhythmic composition (Cleonides, Kind)

Greek: systaltikon
Arabic: al-qabd: the
contracting (al-muh z in

hsychastikon calming

al-mutadil the temperate (al-madh al-bast the
praise al-jalla the sublime alexpansive
karma the municent al-jamla
(al-mut rib
the beautiful)

b. Frbs classication of melodic frameworks (alh n)

al-mulaiyina soft

al-muaddala moderate
al-istiqrriya calming

al-muqauwiya strong

c. Avicennas commentary on Aristotles Poetics


Qualities of Melody (Lah n )

tawussut a moderateness
jazlata eloquence
Imaginative Representation (Takhyl)
dhamm satire mut baqa correspondence madh encomium
[to reality]
layina softness


d. af al-Dn al-Urmaws classication of Shudd

h u zn sadness
futr, lassitude

bast ladhdh, latf

rened pleasure


Is fahn

quwwa strength
shajat courage
bast delight

tension on a string is to lower the pitch it will yield, and once the pitches
obtained by raising or lessening the tension on a string are themselves perceived as relatively tense or slack the distinction can be transferred to
intervals and to dierent species of tetrachord. Aristoxenus (b. mid-fourth
century BCE) explained that the variable tones within tetrachords are
compressed, brought closer together, as one moves rst from the hard or



tense to the soft diatonic genus, then from the tense to the hemiolic and to
the soft chromatic, and nally to the softest or most compressed of all, the
enharmonic. Claudius Ptolemy (second century CE) retained this classication
in his Harmonics and also contrasted tone and semitone as, respectively, hard
(sntonos) and soft (malaks). He further described the character (thos) of
melodies in a relatively hard genus as diastatikteron more inclined to
expand, and the character of those in a relatively soft genus as
synaktikteron more inclined to draw together.
Kind adopted this set of concepts and extended the opposition of hard
versus soft to the major and minor thirds: heard in relation to the rst degree
of a general scale, the major third is strong (qaww), rough (khashin), and
masculine (mudhakkar), creating an impression of courage (shajjaa); the
minor third is weak (nqis) and soft (laiyin), disposing the listener to
sadness (ah z ana). For Kind and many of his successors, a classication of the
units available for the composition (talf) of modes, metric cycles, and pieces is
also a description of their eects (af l, sing. l ) on performers and listeners.
The engagement of theorists writing in Arabic with Greek theory, along the
lines laid out by Aristoxenus and his followers, entailed a concern with several
types of composite entity; the Greek term synthesis became talf in Arabic
(and compositio in Latin). Cleonides, in his summary of Aristoxenuss theory,
had listed seven-octave species, which he called eid (sing. eidos) and which
Ptolemy, oering the same list, called tnoi (a term that Aristoxenus and
Cleonides had used in a dierent sense).7 The Arabic equivalents of Greek
tnos (lit., tightening) were tann (pl. tannt), shadd tightening, and lah n
melody. One plural form of lah n , alh n, served many writers as a one-word
denition of msq, often with the sense of melodic models; a second plural
form, luh n, commonly designates melodic idioms.
Composite entities such as intervals, tetrachords, octave species, poetic feet,
and metric cycles can be evaluated as regular or irregular, consonant or
dissonant. Both polarities may retain their musical associations in other areas
of inquiry, notably in the classication of types of pulse developed by the Greek
physician Herophilus (c. 330260 BCE) and further elaborated by Galen (second
century CE). Reecting on the musical nature of the human pulse in his
Qnn fl-t ibb (Canon of Medicine), used by generations of physicians,
Avicenna compares the consonance or dissonance of pitch intervals and of
the ratios between dierent timespans in metric cycles with the rhythmic
proportion (nisba qiyya) between the timespans marked o by successive
7 For Aristoxenus and Cleonides, tnos was one of thirteen (later fteen) positions (topoi) of the voice, in
other words ranges, each beginning a semitone higher than the last. Arabic tann is an adaptation of tnos as
used in Ptolemys Harmonics; see Mathiesen 2002, 1257.

Foundations of musical knowledge in the Muslim world


pulses, which may be regular or irregular. The musical nature of the pulse
became a topos shared by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian authors.

Uses of the Aristotelian heritage

Classication of the sciences
As the rst Muslim philosopher whose encyclopedic interests embraced most
elds of learning, Kind accepted the pedagogical ordering of disciplines
developed by the Aristotelians of Alexandria and assimilated by Syrian
Christians. Aristotles works on logic, arranged according to the Alexandrian
ordering that included the Rhetoric and Poetics, were understood as essential
preparation for the study of physics, mathematics, and metaphysics: equipped
with the tools of logic, students would advance from the material to the
spiritual. By following this scheme in its pure form, the four parts of
Avicennas Kitb al-shif (Book of Healing) deal in turn with universals of
three fundamental types: logical, material, and intelligible.
In Frbs more comprehensive classication, the sciences of language are
added before logic; mathematics comes before rather than after physics; and
metaphysics is followed by politics, jurisprudence, and theology. An alternative
classication identies the disciplines added to the Alexandrian scheme by
Frb as Arab sciences in contrast to the foreign sciences acquired
through assimilation and critique of the Aristotelian heritage. Khwrizm
adopted this scheme in his Maftih al-ulm, in which music is the last of the
four branches of mathematics. The opposition of Arab versus foreign
became new (i.e., Muslim) versus ancient in the Persian Nafes al-fonn
(Treasures of the Sciences) of al-Amol (d. 1352) and traditional versus
intellectual in Ibn Khaldns Muqaddima, with music retaining its place
among the ancient and intellectual sciences.
In the Muslim world, as in the Latin West, Aristotelian logic enabled music
theorists to distinguish between essential and incidental attributes of
musical resources, most notably in identifying embellishments and modications of fundamental structures. At the beginning of the section on music in his
Kitb al-shif, Avicenna rejects correlations of the sort posited by Kind and the
Ikhwn al-af on the grounds that they are not essential. Questions of what
belongs to what, and what should be deemed incidental, are continually raised
and treated with great lucidity, in the texts of Frb and Avicenna. Several of
Frbs memorable formulations are quoted time and again by subsequent



Terms and concepts

Aristotle classied harmonics with the applied rather than with the pure
branches of mathematics, thus emphasizing its connections to physics.
Those connections are of fundamental importance in Frbs Kitb almsq al-kabr, as Max Haas has pointed out,8 particularly in Frbs
sustained attention to progressions (nuqla, intiql ) from tone to tone. In
his treatment of rhythm in the Kitb al-msq and in two subsequent treatises
wholly devoted to rhythm, Frb is concerned with both the articulatory
and the auditory aspects of music making, and with the variation techniques
that performers necessarily apply to basic structures. The attack or stroke
(qr) that initiates a sound and the stroke that initiates a subsequent sound
delimit a timespan (zamn, pl. azmina); each attack, lacking a measurable
duration, is but an instant (n) falling between a past and a future. Frb
also speaks of the progression (nuqla) from a musicians motion (h a raka) to
produce a sound, through the ensuing rest (sukn) as the sound continues
or decays, to the next motion, and so on. Avicenna interprets our experience
of the timespan delimited by two attacks as a process in which pleasure at the
inception of the rst sound yields to disappointment as it fades but is
renewed by the arrival of the second attack.
Frbs rhythmic theory is a rigorous development of concepts outlined
in the rhythmics of Aristotles pupil, Aristoxenus. The shortest perceptible
timespan (comparable to the prtos chronos of Aristoxenus) is produced
by the quickest possible motion making two strokes. The distinction of
light (khaff ) and heavy (thaql ) refers to the quick or slow rate at
which attacks succeed one another. The basic, unornamented form of
each light metric cycle (q) is composed of timespans with the minimal
duration. Doubling that value yields the basic unit of moderate
(mutawassit ) or light-heavy cycles, and doubling the moderate value yields
the basic unit of the heavy cycles. (Frb and his successors use the
syllables ta, tan, and tanan to represent these three durational values.)
Successive occurrences of an q may or may not be separated by a pause
equal to twice the duration of its basic unit; when they are so separated an
q consists of two cycles (adwr, sing. daur), just as each line (bayt ) of a poem
in classical Arabic has two symmetrical halves.
In the rst sentence of the Kitb al-msq al-kabr, Frb denes melody
(lah n ) as an ordered succession of tones (naghmt ) that is or is not combined
with voweled and unvoweled consonants. He describes six types of melodic
8 The foundational passage for this conception is Aristotles Physics, 194a. Haas further notes that, in the
Latin West, Boethius treated music as a branch of pure mathematics; see Haas 1984, 6436.

Foundations of musical knowledge in the Muslim world


movement (intiql), expanding on the typologies given by Cleonides, Aristides

Quintilianus, and Kind. Frb devotes the last two surviving sections of
the book to the composition, rst of melodies conceived independently of
poetry, then of the more perfect melodies that are designed in relation to verse.
He classies the frameworks of the more perfect melodies as strong
(muqauwiya), temperate (muaddala), or soft (mulaiyina), extending the
polarity that also serves to classify tetrachord species as relatively strong
(i.e., diatonic) or relatively soft (with less distance between their smallest
intervals) (Table 4.1b). Frb names four emotional states evoked by strong
frameworks enmity, cruelty, anger, and boldness and four evoked by soft
frameworks fear, compassion, anxiety, and cowardice without arranging
the emotions along a continuum from strongest to weakest.
Avicennas account of tetrachord species is heavily biased toward the
strength of the diatonic. He maintains that if a tone is not followed by a
second tone at a strong interval, conditioning born of customary use (dt)
leaves us disappointed, according to the degree of loosening (arkh) and
the consequent compactness. Hence, the soft genera should be combined
with strong genera through modulation. Hasan al-Ktib agrees that modulation is essential but argues that listeners nd it painful to hear several strong
melodies in succession if musicians do not alleviate the accumulated tension
with soft melodies.

Human communication
Discussion of human communication through music, by Frb and others,
is informed by commentaries on Aristotles De anima, Poetics, and Nicomachean
Ethics. Frbs conception of music as an art (s ina) that can engage our
faculties of sense perception (h a sssya), imagination (takhayyul) and intellect
(aql) is one application of Aristotles view that the exercise of the intellect
presupposes imagination, which in turn presupposes sense-perception
(De anima, III, 3). Some musicians, Frb acknowledges, can merely replicate
melodies they associate with concrete material realities; others can imagine
new melodies without the support of familiar circumstances; and the
most complete musicians can reason about all the products of their
imagination. Frb and Avicenna emphasize the imaginations power to take
apart and recombine the images retained from sense-perception, as well as
the intellects power to identify reasons for preferring, tolerating, or rejecting
any given combination of elements. According to Frb, experienced listeners
imagine the likely course of a melodic progression, which then proves itself
either faithful (wafy) or deceptive (khtil) with respect to the listeners



Speculating on the origins of music and poetry as they summarize and

comment on the Poetics, Frb, Avicenna, and Averros (112698) follow
Aristotle in reecting on what is natural for humans as we create and respond
to poetic utterance, considered as an imaginative representation (takhyl) or
imitation (muh kh) that, in Avicennas words, generates wonder (tajb) and
pleasure (ladhdha) in the listener. It does this by virtue of an enhancement of
speech, namely melody (lah n ) of a type that complements the poetic theme
(gharaz) in its eloquence (jazlata) or softness (layina), or possibly in
its intermediacy (tawussut a) between these poles (Table 4.1c.i). Avicenna
attributes the importance of sung poetry in human life to the pleasure
of imitating and to our natural love of harmonious combinations and melodies, noting that poetic meters are analogous to melodies. Commenting
on Aristotles remark (Poetics VI, 4) that the language (lgos) of tragedy is
enhanced by rhythm, tone-relationships (harmona), and melody (mlos),
Avicenna distinguishes between the rhythm (q) of the verse and the additional rhythm that enhances it in performance. Hasan al-Ktib spells out one
criterion for such enhancement: The metric cycle (q) of a composition
should contrast with the meter (wazn) of the verses.
Hasan al-Ktib may have derived the classication of melodies oered in his
Kitb kaml adab al-ghn from Aristotles discussion of the possible combinations of rhythm, language, and tone-relationships (Poetics, I, 1): the most
perfect (h a zm bundled) are composed of all three constituents, with
rhythm (q) understood as metric cycle; those lacking either metric
cycle or language are bast expansive; and those lacking both metric cycle
and language are khat t linear. Avicennas commentary on the Poetics also
reviews possible combinations of the three components that constitute poetic
utterance: meter (wazn), language (kalm), and melody or tone (lah n ).
Avicenna follows Aristotle in observing that dance may be limited to meter
alone, though more powerful eects are obtained when appropriate tunes are
joined to the meters of dance.
Imaginative representations are said to occasion responses of attraction or
repulsion, depending on the performance genre and mode of address.
Aristotles remarks on the origins of tragedy and comedy are interpreted in
terms of an opposition that is more meaningful in Arabic and Persian poetry:
encomium versus invective, or eulogy versus satire (Table 4.1c. ii). Other
genres can be explained as specialized developments of these. Frb,
Avicenna, and Averros all agree that eulogy requires the use of long poetic
meters. Frb credits the Greeks with being rst to assign a specic poetic
meter to each poetic genre, though in listing twelve Greek genres he does not
identify their meters. His list is reproduced by Avicenna and, ve centuries

Foundations of musical knowledge in the Muslim world


later, by the author of the so-called Mubrak Shh Commentary on the Kitb
al-adwr of a al-Dn, written for Shh Shoj (r. 135884).

Tone-systems, modes, and modulation

What must a musician know? is a topic commonly addressed by writers on
music, whose answers often take the form of a list, as in Platos Philebus (17ce),
where Socrates observes that competent musicians know the number and
quality of the intervals, their combinations, and the corresponding movements, meters, and rhythms. The more formalized list of disciplines given
by Aristoxenus embraces harmonics (with seven subdivisions), rhythmics,
metrics, and organics (knowledge of instruments); Kinds Arabic equivalents for the seven subdivisions of harmonics according to the Aristoxenians
are shown in Table 4.2. According to Ibn al-ah h n, an author of the mideleventh century, the great singer Ish q al-Mausil (d. 850) likewise named four
disciplines or domains (h u dd, sing. h a dd) as indispensable to the musicians
art: tones (nagham), the harmonious arrangement (talif) of tones, the apportionment (qisma) of tones to song lyrics, and metric cycles (q, pl. qt). Ishq
is said to have written a treatise on tones and metric cycles, the Kitb al-nagham
wal-q. It has not survived, nor have an earlier book on tones by the musician
Ynus al-Ktib (d. c. 765) and one or two books on tones and metric cycles by
the prosodist al-Khall of Bas ra. Ish qs doctrines must be reconstructed from a
Kitb al-nagham by a pupil of one of his pupils, Ibn al-Munajjim (d. 913), and
from accounts of his metric cycles in writings of Frb and others.
Ibn al-Munajjim contrasts old philosophers knowledgeable in msq with
Ish q and other representatives of Arabic song (ghin), who combined knowledge (ilm), compositional art (s ina), and expertise in performance (amal ).

Table 4.2 The seven divisions of harmonics (Aristoxenus and al-Kind)

Cleonides, reordered from:



as wt, anm notes

abad intervals
ajns genres
jum, anw systems
t annt, Arabization of tnoi
intiql, istihlt as-s autya modulation
talf al-alh n melodic composition



The doctrines of the two groups dier, rst of all, in enumeration of the
available tones: eighteen from the perspective of msq but only ten in
Ishqs pedagogy, based on a system of eight diatonic modes that can be
demonstrated on the third and fourth strings of the d. The system uses
three species of tetrachord composed of two Pythagorean whole-tones of
204 cents and one limma of ninety cents: T L T, T T L, and L T T.9
Description of tone-systems and modes, generally with reference to tuning
and fretting of the d, became the primary concern of theorists writing in
Arabic and Persian from the tenth century onward, several of whom followed
more or less closely the arrangement of the divisions of harmonics established
by Aristoxenus: tones (nagham), intervals (abad), tetrachord species (ajns),
and their combination in systems (jum), modulation (intiql), and composition (talf). Western theorists and scholars interested in music of the Islamic
world have also concentrated their attention on these topics.
Frb was the rst theorist to describe the third associated with the
lutenist Zalzal, produced with the middle nger on a fret between those for
the major and minor thirds. Zalzalian thirds are incorporated in some of
the octave species described by Frb, Khwrizm, and Avicenna, notably
in the scale that Avicenna called Mustaqm Upright, regular rather than
Rst, the equivalent term in Persian by which this scale came to be
known. Avicennas chapter on music and the Persian poems of his contemporary, Manchehri Dmghni (d. c. 1040), are among the earliest sources in
which octave species or modes are identied with proper names, such as the
four mentioned by Avicenna: Mustaqm, Naw, Is fahn, and Salmak.
Proper names of this sort have presumably served as handles to help
musicians remember constraints on the sequencing of modes and metric cycles
in performance. At the courts of the early Abbsid rulers in the late ninth
and early tenth centuries, the ordering of rhythmic and melodic modes in a
performance resulted from the choices of the participating musicians, who
were seated in a circle (dawr) and performed in turn (nawbat). The terms dawr
and nawba eventually came to designate suites with prescribed sequences of
movements. Advice on the behavior expected of musicians in a Persian mirror
for princes, the Qbus-nme of Ons or al-Mali Keykvus (eleventh century),
indicates that a performance should open with something in the mode (parde)
of Rst and continue in some, or possibly all, of the nine additional modes
named by the author. In the Qbus-nme and other texts, the underlying
rationale for such constraints is the certainty that a musicians listeners will
dier in age, gender, ethnicity, physique, temperament, vocation, and
9 The octave species described by Kind and by Ibn al-Munajjim are compared in Neubauer 1994, 397402.

Foundations of musical knowledge in the Muslim world


familiarity with music. Hence, lore drawn from the pseudo-science of

physiognomy (ilm al-rsa) may nd a place in a musicians education, as in
Kaykvuss recommendation that musicians play mainly on the lowest-pitched
string for listeners who are pale-skinned, corpulent, and sweaty. The simplest sequencing rule calls for songs in heavy metric cycles, addressed to the
older and more serious male listeners, to be followed by songs in light cycles,
which would appeal to younger men.
By the twelfth century, a melodic modes proper name was apt to connote its
emotional eect. A masterpiece of Persian literature, Nezmis narrative poem
Khosrow va Shirin (completed 1181), includes a scene in which two musicians
alternately perform verses in a coherent sequence of eight modes (including
Rst, Naw, and Is fahn) in order to express the changing emotions signaled to
them by Khosrow and Shirin. The sequence concludes with two soft modes
associated with passion, Rhav and Zrafkand.
The tone-system and modal theory outlined in the Kitb al-adwr of
af al-Dn al-Urmw (d. 1294) quickly gained wide acceptance as the indispensable basis for further theoretical work. With reference to the monochord
rather than to the d, the treatise describes a general scale with eighteen
degrees in an octave, separated by either a limma of ninety cents or a comma
of twenty-four or twenty-two cents. Intervals of the general scale that are
available for constructing trichords, tetrachords, and pentachords are classied
in three categories, represented by the letters B (either a limma or a comma),
J (either limma plus comma, or minor whole-tone of 180 cents) and T
(whole-tone of 204 cents). Exact sizes of intervals may have been less signicant than these three categories, which are used in spelling out the acceptable
species of tetrachord and pentachord. Those species, in turn, are used to
construct modal entities of three types: twelve shudd (sing. shadd) with proper
names, six wzt (sing. wz) also with proper names, and several unnamed
combinations (murakkabt, sing. murakkab).
The twelve shudd are classied in three groups according to their eect
(tathr) on the soul, interpreted through the conventional terms of strong
or assertive versus soft or acquiescent, which had long been applied to
tetrachords and melodic frameworks (Table 4.1d). The three shudd in the rst
group, composed of two conjunct diatonic tetrachords of the same species, are
said to evoke strength (quwwa), courage (shajat), and pleasure (bast ); hence
they are suited to the temperament of Turks, Abyssinians, black people,
and mountain dwellers. By implication, the four shudd in the second group
appeal to more rened tastes, evoking a pleasure (again, bast ) that is now
qualied as delightful (ladhidh). They are likewise composed of conjunct
tetrachords of the same species and owe their eect, in part, to the Zalzalian



thirds between the rst and third, and the fourth and sixth scale degrees of
each shadd in the group. Two shudd in this group have eight pitch classes
rather than seven. The ve shudd in the nal group are associated with
sadness (h uzn) and lassitude ( futr). Only one of them is composed of
conjunct tetrachords of the same species, two have conjunct tetrachords of
dierent species, and two (also with eight pitch classes) are composed of a
pentachord with an upper tetrachord or a tetrachord with an upper
The increasing use of proper names for species of tetrachords, pentachords,
and octaves as well as for modal entities of various types opened new possibilities for theoretical accounts of melodic progression and modulation
(both covered by the term intiql). From the thirteenth century to the present,
many theorists have organized modal repertories on the model of a lineage or a
tree, with such categories as primary modes, branches, further derivatives, and the like.
An inuential alternative to af al-Dns scheme of twelve shudd
plus six wzt split the twelve into four primary modes (us l) plus eight
branches (fur) plus six awzt, each of the latter connected to one pair of the
twelve us l and fur (often referred to as twelve bardwt). This scheme
appears in the poem Jawhir al-nizm (The Well-Ordered Jewels) of al-Khatb
al-Irbil (composed 1329), in the Durr al-nam (The Well-Arranged Pearl)
of Ibn al-Akfn (d. 1348), and in the Muqaddima f qawnn al-anghm of
al-Mrdn (d. 1406).
From the fourteenth century onward, discussion of cycles of distinct movements became increasingly prominent in theoretical writings, notably those
of the Persian composer-theorist Abdolqder Marghi (d. 1435), who is
credited with adding a fth movement to the conventional four when he
composed a new suite (nawbah) for each night of the month of Raman in
1379. The prescribed sequence of movements in the nawbah called for settings
of poetry in both Arabic and Persian. Cyclic forms have been cultivated, in
conjunction with hierarchical arrangements of modal entities, down to the
present in the musical practices of Iraq, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Central Asia.
With the expansion of Islam in Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, the
Arabic word ilm knowledge was applied to highly diverse disciplines, some
of which involve skills in vocal or instrumental performance (e.g., Indonesian
ilmu karawitan knowledge of instrumental and vocal music). The diversity
makes it impossible to generalize about the types of knowledge that have been

10 Some manuscripts of the Kitb al-adwr include Hijz. The structure of the shudd in each of the three
groups is carefully analyzed in Wright 1978, 816.

Foundations of musical knowledge in the Muslim world


cultivated, though most Muslim social formations have required specialist performers capable of praising those who exercise religious or temporal authority.

I Inventories of writings in Arabic and Persian
Massoudieh, M. T. (1996) Manuscrits persans concernant la musique, RISM, B XII, Munich:
Neubauer, E. (2002) Arabic writings on music: Eighth to nineteenth centuries, in
V. Danielson, S. Marcus, and D. Reynolds (eds.), The Garland Encyclopedia of World
Music, vol. 6, The Middle East, New York: Routledge, pp. 37482: Editions of Arabic
Shiloah, A. (1979/2003) The Theory of Music in Arabic Writings c. 9001900. RISM, B X
and B XA, 2 vols., Munich: Henle

II Arabic texts, translations and commentaries (in approximate

chronological order)
[Euclid], Kitb al-Qann, ed. and Ger. trans. with Greek original and commentary
E. Neubauer as Die Euklid zugeschriebene Teilung des Kanon in arabischer
bersetzung, Zeitschrift fr Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, 16
(20045): 30985
Hunayn ibn Is hq, Kitb db al-falsifa, Heb. trans. Judah b. Solomon al-Harz,
musical passages in I. Adler (ed.), Hebrew Writings on Music, RISM B IX/2,
Munich: Henle (1975), pp. 14755; Heb. text and Eng. trans. E. Werner and
I. Sonne, The philosophy and theory of music in Judeo-Arabic literature, Hebrew
Union College Annual, 17 (194243): 51432
Blos/Paulos, Kitb Uns ur al-msq, facs. and Ger. trans. with commentary E. Kazemi,
Die bewegte Seele: Das sptantike Buch ber das Wesen der Musik, Publications of the
Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, The Science of Music in Islam,
Frankfurt am Main: Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, 5 (1999);
commentary F. Rosenthal, Two Graeco-Arabic works on music, Proceedings of the
American Philosophical Society, 110, 4 (1966): 2618
al-Kind, Kitb al-mus awwitt al-watariyya, in Z. Ysuf (ed.), Muallaft al-Kind
al-msqiyya, Baghdad: Mat baat

Shafq (1962), pp. 6792; Eng. trans. of sections

on rhythm with commentary in Sawa, Rhythmic Theories, pp. 8093
Risla f khubr s inat al-talf, ed. and Eng. trans. Y. Shawq, Cairo: Dr al-Kutub
(1969); facs. with Eng. trans. C. Cowl, The Consort, 23 (1966): 12966
Risla fl-luh n wal-nagham, ed. Z. Ysuf, Baghdad: Mat baat Shafq (1965); Fr. trans.
A. Shiloah, Un ancien trait sur le d dAb Ysuf al-Kind, Israel Oriental Studies,
4 (1974): 179205
Risla f ajz khabariyya fl-msq, facs. and ed. M. A. al-Hifn, Cairo: Mat baat

al-Amn (n.d.); Eng. trans. H. G. Farmer, Transactions of the Glasgow University

Oriental Society, 16 (1957), 2938; repr. in H. G. Farmer, Studies in Oriental Music
(see below), pp. 44352



Ibn al-Munajjim, Kitb al-nagham, facs. in E. Neubauer, Arabische Musiktheorie,

pp. 11326, with Ger. trans. and commentary, pp. 88111 (repr. from Zeitschrift
fr die Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, 10 [199596], 30023);
commentary O. Wright, Ibn al-Munajjim and the early Arabian modes, Galpin
Society Journal, 19 (1966): 2748
Ibn Abd Rabbih, Kitb al-iqd al-fard, ed. A. Amn et al. Cairo: Lajnat al-Talf walTarjama wal-Nashr, ch. on music VI (1949), pp. 381; Eng. trans. H. G. Farmer,
Music: The Priceless Jewel, Bearsden: The author (1942); repr. in Farmer, Studies in
Oriental Music (see below), pp. 533
al-Frb, Kitb al-msq al-kabr, ed. Gh. Abd al-Malik Khashaba and M. A. al-Hifn,
Cairo: Dar al-Ktib al-Arab (1967); facs. of ms. 953, Kprl Library, Istanbul,
Publications of the Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, The Science
of Music in Islam, Series C, 61, Frankfurt am Main: Institute for the History of
Arabic-Islamic Science (1998); Fr. trans. R. dErlanger, La musique arabe, i and ii,
Paris: P. Geuthner (1930 and 1935); Eng. trans. of chs. on rhythm with commentary
in Sawa, Rhythmic Theories, pp. 120235
Kitb al-q, facs. in E. Neubauer, Arabische Musiktheorie (see below), pp. 16584, with
Ger. trans. and commentary, pp. 12864 (repr. from Oriens, 212 [196869],
196232); Eng. trans. with commentary in Sawa, Rhythmic Theories, pp. 236315
Kitb ih s al-q, facs. in E. Neubauer, Arabische Musiktheorie, pp. 257310, with Ger.
trans. and commentary, pp. 185255 (repr. from Oriens, 34 [1994], 10373); Eng.
trans. with commentary in Sawa, Rhythmic Theories, pp. 316420
Risla f qawnn s inaat al-shir, ed. and Eng. trans. A. J. Arberry, Rivista degli studi
orientali, 17 (1935): 26678; Eng. trans. V. Cantarino, Arabic Poetics in the Golden Age,
Studies in Arabic Literature, 4, Leiden: Brill, 1975, pp. 11016
al-Is bahni, Kitb al-aghn, Cairo: Tabah Khssah Tusdiruh Dr al-Shab, 196982, 31
vols.; Ger. trans. of excerpts G. Rotter, Und der Kalif beschenkte ihn reichlich: Auszge
aus dem Buch der Lieder, Tbingen: H. Erdmann (1977)
Ikhwn as-f, Rasil, ed. Kh. ad-Dn Zirikl, Cairo: al-Mat baat

al-Arabya (1928), I,
13280; Eng. trans. A. Shiloah as The Epistle on Music of the Ikhwn al-Sf, Tel Aviv:
Tel Aviv University (1978)
al-Khwrizm, Mafth al-ulm, ed. G. van Vloten, Leiden: Brill (1895), chap. on music,
pp. 23546; Eng. trans. H. G. Farmer, The science of music in the Mafth alulm, Transactions of the Glasgow University Oriental Society, 17 (195758), 19; repr.
in Farmer, Studies in Oriental Music (see below), pp. 45361
al-Hasan ibn Ah m
ad ibn Ali al-Ktib, Kitb kaml adab al-ghin, ed. M. A. al-Hifn and
Gh. Abd al-Malik Khashabah, Cairo: al-Hayat al-Misriyat al-mma li l-Kitb
(1975); Fr. trans. with commentary A. Shiloah as La perfection des connaissances
musicales, Paris: P. Geuthner (1972)
Avicenna [Ibn Sn], Kitb al-Shif, I, al-Mantiq, 9, al-Shir, ed. A. Badaw, Cairo: al-Dr
al-Misriyyah li al-Talf wa t-Tarjamah (1966); Eng. trans. I. M. Dahiyat, Avicennas
Commentary on the Poetics of Aristotle, Leiden: Brill (1974)
Kitb al-Shif, III, ar-Riyaziyt, 3, Jawmi ilm al-msiq, ed. Z. Ysuf with
A. F. Al-Ahwani and M. A. Al-Hifni, Cairo: Imprimerie Nationale (1956);
Fr. trans. R. dErlanger, La musique arabe, II, Paris: P. Geuthner, (1935), pp. 103245
Kitb al-Najt, ch. on music ed. and Ger. trans. with commentary, M. El Hefny, Ibn
Sinas Musiklehre, Berlin: Otto Hellwig (1931)

Foundations of musical knowledge in the Muslim world


Ibn al-ah h n, Hw al-Funn wa salwat al-mah zn., facs. of funn 539, Dar al-Kitb,
Cairo, Publications of the Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, The
Science of Music in Islam, Series C, 52, Frankfurt am Main: Institute for the History
of Arabic-Islamic Science (1990)
al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid, Ihy ulm al-dn, Cairo: Muassasat al-Halab (196768), vol. II
(1967), pp. 34290; Eng. trans. of chs. on sam D. B. MacDonald, Emotional
religion in Islam, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1901), 195252, 70548; (1902),
al-Tifshi, Mutat al-asm f ilm as-sam, chs. 1011, ed. M. ibn Twt al-Tanj, Majallat
al-Abhth 21 (1968): 93116; Eng. trans. B. M. Liu and J. T. Monroe, Ten HispanoArabic Strophic Songs in the Modern Oral Tradition, Berkeley: University of California
Press (1989), pp. 3544
af al-Dn al-Urmaw, Kitb al-adwr, facs. of ms.3653, Nuruosmania Library, Istanbul,
Publications of the Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, The Science
of Music in Islam, Series C, 6, Frankfurt am Main: Institute for the History of
Arabic-Islamic Science, (1984); ed. Gh. Abd al-Malik Khashabah and M. A. al-Hifn,
Cairo: al-Haya al-Mis riyya al-mma li-l-Kitb (1986); Fr. trans. within an
extended commentary R. dErlanger, La musique arabe, vol. 3, Paris: P. Geuthner,
(1938), pp. 183566
Ar-Risla al-Sharayya, facs. of ms. A 3460, Topkap Saray Library, Istanbul,
Publications of the Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, The
Science of Music in Islam, Series C, 6, Frankfurt am Main: Institute for the
History of Arabic-Islamic Science, (1984); Fr. trans. R. dErlanger, La musique
arabe, vol. 3, Paris: P. Geuthner, (1938), pp. 1182
Ibn al-Khat b
al-Irbil, Jawhir al-nizm f marifat al-anghm, ed. Abbs al-Azzw in
Al-Msq al-irqiyya f ahd al-mughl, Baghdad: Shirkat al-Tijra wa l-iba
al-Mah dda, pp. 10613
Ibn al-Akfn, Irshd al-qs id, section on music, ed. and Fr. trans. A. Shiloah, Deux textes
arabes indits sur la musique, Yuval, 1 (1969): 23648
Al-Durr al-nam f ah w
l al-ulm wal-talm, section on music, ed. and Fr.
trans. A. Shiloah, Deux textes arabes indits sur la musique, Yuval, 1 (1969):
Ibn Fad: lallh al-Umar, Maslik al-abs r f mamlik al-ams r, Frankfurt: Publications of
the Institute for Arabic-Islamic Science, Series C, 46 (1988), vol. 10
Ibn Khaldn, Muqaddimah, ed. Y. A. Dghir, Tarikh al-allma Ibn Khaldn, vol. 1, 2nd edn,
Beirut: Dr al-Kitb al-Lubnan (1961), pp. 75867 (singing), 1097110 (poetry);
Eng. trans. F. Rosenthal, 2nd edn, 3 vols., Princeton University Press (1967), vol. 2,
395405 (singing); vol. 3, 37391 (poetry)
al-Shirwn, Majallah fl-msq, facs. of ms.3449, Ahmet III Collection, Topkap
Saray Library, Istanbul, Publications of the Institute for the History of ArabicIslamic Science, The Science of Music in Islam, Series C, 29, Frankfurt am Main:
Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, (1986); Fr. trans. of a
longer version R. dErlanger, La musique arabe, vol. 4, Paris: P. Geuthner
(1939), pp. 1255
al-Ldhiq, Risla al-fathyah, Kuwait: al-Majlis al-Watan, 1986; Fr. trans. R. dErlanger,
La musique arabe, vol. 4, Paris: P. Geuthner (1939), pp. 257498



III Persian texts, translations and commentaries

(in approximate chronological order)
Ebn Sin, Dnesh-nme ali, chap. on music, in T. Binesh (ed.), Seh risle frsi dar musiqi,
Tehran: Iran University Press (1992), pp. 329; Fr. trans. M. Achena and H. Mass
in Le livre de science, Paris, (19558), vol. 2, pp. 21739
al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid, Kimiy-ye sadat, ed. M. Abbsi, Tehran: olu va Zarrin;
Eng. trans. of chap. on music by Muh a mmad Nur Abdus Salam, Al-Ghazzali on
Listening to Music, Chicago: Kazi (2002)
Ons or al-Mali Keykvus ebn Eskandar ebn Qbus ebn Voshmgir, Qbus-nme, ed.
Gh. H. Yuso, Tehran: Enteshrt-e Elmi va Farhangi (1994), pp. 1937 (chap.
on music); Eng. trans. by R. Levy, A Mirror for Princes, New York: E. P. Dutton
(1951), pp. 18690
Neyshburi, Moh a mmad, Risle msq, ed. with commentary A. H. Pourjavdy, Maref
12, 12 (1995): 3270
Rzi, Fakhr al-Din, Jme al-olum, chap. on music ed. with commentary,
A. H. Pourjavdy, Maref 10, 23 (1994): 88110
[Hasan Kshni, attr.] Kanz al-Tuh af, ed. T. Binesh in Seh risle frsi dar musiqi, Tehran:
Iran University Press, 1992, pp. 55128
Qotb al-Din Shirzi, Dorrat al-tj: music section in vol. 2, ed. S. H. Mashkn Tabasi and
N. Taqv, Tehran: Chapkhneh Majles, 1945, part 4 (paginated separately)
ibn Gheyb al-Margh, Abd al-Qder, Jme al-alhn, ed. T. Bbak Khazri, Tehran:
Iranian Academy of Arts, 2009
Maqsed al-alhn, ed. T. Binesh, 2nd ed., Persian Texts Series, 26, Tehran: Bongh-e
Tarjome va Nashr Ketb (1977)
Shahr-e Adwr, ed. T. Binesh, Tehran: Iran University Press (1991)
Abdorrah m
n Jmi, Risle musiqi, in Bahristn va rasel-e Jmi, Tehran: Mirs-e
Maktub, pp. 193220
Ali ebn Moh a mmad al-Memr al-Ban, Risle dar musiqi, facs. of ms. dated 1484,
Tehran: Iran University Press, 1988

IV Secondary literature
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Barker, A. (ed. and trans.) (1989) Greek Musical Writings, II, Harmonic and Acoustic Theory,
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Braune, G. (1990) Puls und Musik: Die Wirkung der griechische Antike in arabische
medizinische und musikalische Traktaten, Jahrbuch fr musikalische Volks- und
Vlkerkunde, 14: 5267
Endress, G. (1990) Der arabische Aristoteles und die Einheit der Wissenschaften im
Islam, in H. Balmer and B. Glaus (eds.), Die Bltezeit der arabischen Wissenschaft,
Zurich: Verlag der Fachvereine, pp. 339
Farmer, H. G. (1929) A History of Arabian Music to the XIIIth Century, London: Luzac
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Foundations of musical knowledge in the Muslim world


al-Faruqi, L. I. (1981) An Annotated Glossary of Arabic Musical Terms, Westport, CT:

Greenwood Press
Gutas, D. (1998) Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in
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Haas, M. (1989) Antikenrezeption in der arabischen Musiklehre: Al-Frb ber
musikalische Fantasie, in W. Erzgrber (ed.), Kontinuitt und Transformation der
Antike ins Mittelalter: Verentlichungen der Kongressakten zum Freiburger Symposium
des Medivistenverbandes, Sigmaringen: J. Thorbecke, pp. 2619
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Zeugnissen, in T. Ertelt, H. von Loesch, and F. Zaminer (ed.), Geschichte der
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C. Troelsgrd (eds.), Paleobyzantine Notations: A Reconsideration of the Source Material,
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Arabern, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlndischen Gesellschaft, 128: 25298
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Kemal, S. (1991) The Poetics of Alfarabi and Avicenna, Islamic Philosophy, Theology and
Science: Texts and Studies, 9, Leiden: E. J. Brill
Kirkpatrick, H. (2003) Making the Great Book of Songs, London: Routledge Curzon
Manik, L. (1969) Das arabische Tonsystem im Mittelalter, Leiden: E. J. Brill
Mathiesen, T. J. (2002) Greek music theory, in T. Christensen (ed.), The Cambridge
History of Western Music Theory, Cambridge University Press, pp. 1257
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(199596) Al-all ibn Ahmad und die Frhgeschichte der arabischen Lehre von den
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Reinert, B. (1990) Die arabische Musiktheorie zwischen autochthoner Tradition und
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Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, 9
Werner, E., and I. Sonne (1941) The philosophy and theory of music in Judeo-Arabic
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Leiden: E. J. Brill, pp. 55579

. 5 .

Indian music history in the context of global


The history of music in the Indian subcontinent is extremely long, and the
territory of India so vast, that any representation of it must be understood as
the result of draconian choices. Were it not for certain Indic practices, however,
hardly any representation would be possible, for Indian music has always been,
for the most part, a sounding tradition unrecorded in musical notation. The
importance of the Indic intellectual tradition of systematizing knowledge and
recording it in a translocal, universalist language (Sanskrit), across a considerable
timespan, cannot be overstated. Another Indic intellectual practice is the
preservation of theoretical thinking by repetition from one author to another
a tradition of memory through re-narration. That is complemented by an equally
important custom of commentary from the perspective of contemporary
practice and thought. So remarkable are the treatises resulting from these
practices that tracing Indian musical history usually falls into the pattern of
accounting for it through the Brahmanic Sanskrit treatises.
There is other complementary documentation. Sculpture is a signicant source
for the history of several centuries, presenting as it does mostly stable iconographies of religious symbolism, including instruments, musical activity, and
dance. Paintings are an excellent source although pictorial content is less stable
than sculptural and therefore more dicult to use with precision. Numerous
other sources, such as poetry, prose, plays, ocial chronicles and similar types of
records, diaries, journals, and other personal accounts, are useful for considering
specic time periods.
My choice for presenting something of Indian music history here is to take
the perspective of positioning India in its spheres of contact. Global encounters
are nothing new in South Asian music history. The subcontinents almost
central locus in Eurasia guaranteed its position as a vast bazaar in the exchange
of material and ideational commodities (see Fig. 1).


Fig. 5.1 South Asia in Asian perspective. Joseph Schwartzberg, A Historical Atlas of South Asia

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


The Harappan era

Documented Indic cultural history begins in the Indus River valley with its
rst major urban civilization called Harappan, after one of its two major sites
Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in present-day Pakistan. From c. 25001500 BCE
these two cities, which are 350 miles apart, and more than sixty smaller towns
and villages, across an expanse of more than one thousand miles, ourished
on the banks of the Indus and its tributaries and along the coast of the Arabian
Sea as far south as the Narbada River. The Harappan peoples used copper
and bronze and were literate, although no linguistically analyzable tool, such as
a Rosetta stone, nor a library has been found to permit translation of the script;
thus, very little is known of the civilizations nonmaterial culture, original
settlers, and historical development. We do know that these Indus communities traded across great distances from at least 2500 BCE and possibly several
centuries earlier. One of its major trading partners was Mesopotamia, and
seaborne trade with Sumer likely brought an exchange of ideas as well as
goods, although there is scant documentation for it.
The layout of the cities suggests a highly centralized administration,
which could order large amounts of tribute in grains, and a suciently large
labor force to build expansively and allow for leisure and for the various
specializations that characterize civilizations. The inhabitants lived in
well-planned urban spaces with sophisticated attributes like community
sanitation. They built large structures of burned brick and also carved statues
and seals in a distinctive style; remnants of these include musicians and
instruments on engraved stone seals and one small statuette of a dancing girl.
From a pictograph on one of the seals, there is a possibility of a surviving
instrument an hourglass-shaped drum with a sacred meaning related to
the Harappan civilization (Roche 1996).

Indian encounters from the north and west:

the Vedic era
The demise of Harappan civilization has been the subject of much scholarly
debate, though there is consensus that it resulted from several factors,
including destructive oods and possibly resultant deforestation, lessened
agricultural production, incursions by hill tribes from the north and west,
and concomitant social disorder. But the nal blow came when successive
waves of charioteers and bowmen moved southward from eastern Iran across
the Indus valley between c. 1500 and 1200 BCE. Their military might subdued,
and then destroyed, the nonmilitary Harappan societies. These warriors
spoke an Indo-European language considered ancestral to Sanskrit and called



themselves Aryan.1 Theirs is the rst known, but by no means the last,
movement of peoples into the area from the plains of Central Asia, through
the mountain passes of modern-day Afghanistan. Like later invaders from the
north and west, they came to stay.
The language that the Aryans brought with them, which has been exhaustively
studied through the great texts, was the basis for classical Sanskrit, the polished
tongue that ourished for more than a thousand years and still serves as the lingua
franca of Indian scholarship (Rowell 1992, 19). The rst millennium of the
Aryan presence witnessed the creation of the great oral texts that formed the basis
of what is called Vedic civilization. Between 1300 and 1000 BCE, the hymns of the
Rgveda were composed; between 1000 and 500 BCE, the three later Vedas (Atharva,
Yajur, and the Samaveda, the chanting of which is generally thought to have been
the origin of Indian classical music mainly because it uses seven pitches) appeared
alongside complementary texts: a body of Vedic commentary, the Brahmanas, and
treatises called the Upanishads. The thinking and feeling expressed in the
Upanishads became popularized by two important religious leaders who lived in
the latter part of the sixth century BCE: Mahavira, founder of Jainism, and
Gautama Buddha (c. 563486/483 BCE). The two major religious philosophies
of Jainism and Buddhism challenged the Vedic religious system and philosophy,
and it was during this 500300 BCE time frame that a distinctive Indian civilization emerged and some of the earliest layers in a corpus of musicological literature is thought to have been created. I shall return to this below.
Little is known about Aryan penetration into eastern and southern India
until c. 800 BCE, with evidence of large-scale agriculture and centralized kingly
states that began to dominate in the Ganges valley to the east. By c. 600 BCE,
whether by battle or settlement, Indo-Aryans controlled the area from the
Arabian Sea on the west to the Bay of Bengal on the east, as far south as the
Vindhya mountain range, and by the sixth century BCE they absorbed or
established control over the small states of northern India. The center of
Indias polity and society had eectively shifted from the Indus eastward to
the Gangetic plain, making it henceforth South Asias major center of cultural
activity and home to its most powerful kingdoms, such as Kosala and Magadha
in the seventh and sixth centuries BCE. Feeling Aryan pressure, earlier ethnically
diverse inhabitants of the subcontinent, such as the Baluchi in the northwest,
eventually became assimilated. Others, for example the Dravidians, migrated
more deeply toward the south; since little documentation is available, speculative consensus is that the north was being gradually Aryanized.

1 The ethnogeographical term Iran is derived from Aryan.

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


Global encounters among the major ancient civilizations in South Asia, West
Asia, and North Africa ebbed and owed during the Vedic period. Between 1500
and 500 BCE, West Asia was home to a chain of great civilizations Akkadian,
Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Babylonian and in North Africa, Egypt, Nubia, and
Axum anchored the southwesterly quadrant of a great trading zone, in which
South Asia was a major player. International commerce was reinvigorated when
overseas trade resumed with Babylon shortly after 800 BCE. Ships plied the Indus
and Ganges and likely the Indian Ocean to East Africa and Southeast Asia. After
the sixth century BCE, trade expanded, possibly due to the introduction of
coinage for commerce a result of the Persian conquest of the Punjab. The
quest for empire was a major factor in this next interaction between India and
Iran from c. 550 BCE, when Cyrus the Great emerged from the southwestern part
of the Iranian Plateau, pacifying most of West Asia. In 525 BCE his son Cambyses
conquered Egypt and the Persian Empire extended from the Nile to the Oxus.
Cambysess premature death brought to the throne a disputed claimant, the
Achaemenid Darius I (aka Darius the Great; 522486 BCE), who conquered the
Gandhara region in Indias northwest, and promoted maritime contact and
trade between West Asia and his distant, richest satrapy. Darius dispatched a
Greek sea captain to explore the Indus River and sea routes that could be linked
with his other territories and even speculated on building a canal between the
Nile and the Red Sea to facilitate shipping between the Mediterranean and the
southern seas. We have little evidence about any enduring results of the Persia
India interchange at this time, but the speculation is tantalizing. Doors to
India were certainly kept open.
Over the next few centuries, the Gangetic plains remained the most powerful
region in India, while the Indus valley, part of which was still under Persian
control, further declined. The Gangetic kingdom of Magadha had already subdued
most of northwestern India by 327 BCE, when Alexander the (Great) Macedonian
invaded the subcontinent; within one year he claimed lands down to the mouth of
the Indus River at the Arabian Sea. Alexander sought out Brahmin Indian philosophers and left an impression on the Indian imagination up to the Mughal period,
more than a millennium later. Soon falling ill, Alexander turned homeward
(d. 323 BCE) but left behind several thousand Greek soldiers, who built Greek
cities in the region of present-day Afghanistan and in the Indus valley.
Historians and other writers on India have ruminated about the possible
nexus between Indian music and the music of other ancient civilizations.
The nexus is narrated by most as an inuence from East to West, seemingly a
relatively recent idea, spurred by the writing of British Indologists and travelers who resided in the subcontinent and took considerable interest in music.
Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the West set out to



possess India intellectually as well as economically. India became, with Greece,

Rome, and Egypt, an ancient civilization to be studied, discussed, and dissected in detail, an Asian adjunct to the classicism that formed a basic tenet of
European philosophical and artistic thought. Sanskrit quickly became part of
the scholarly fabric of the West.
A key gure in this enterprise was Sir William Jones (174694), who founded
the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784 and whose studies in philology led to
his discovery of the link between Sanskrit and European languages (the IndoEuropean family of languages). Jones also authored the rst major Englishlanguage treatise on the music of India, On the Musical Modes of the
Hindus (1792). Ignoring the centuries-long assimilation of cultures from the
north and west, Jones participated fully in the orientalist veneration of Indias
Hindu past. He was the rst to draw attention to the wealth of Sanskrit treatises
on music that are discussed below (Bor 1988, 55). As an aspect of interpreting
the greatness of that past, Jones chauvinistically compared it musically to
other ancient civilizations: Amongst Hindus of early ages music appears to
have attained a theoretical precision at a period when even Greece was little
removed from barbarism (as cited uncritically by Pingle 1962, 26).
A century after Jones, Captain C. R. Day, another Englishman resident in
India, continued the practice of commenting on the nexus of Indias ancient
culture with that of Greece, but with a more balanced tone: The historian
Strabo shows us that Greek inuence extended to India, and also that Greek
musicians of a certain school attributed the great part of the science of music to
India, a statement which is deserving of attention. And even now most of the
old Greek modes are represented in the Indian system (Day 1894, 48).
That Indian inuence on Greek music achieved authoritative status is suggested by the fact that it was taken up in the mid-twentieth century by notable
Indian writers (Pingle 1962, 27; Gosvami 1957, 250), some embellished by
statements on the means of transmission. Although this is not a documentable
reality for specics in the history of Indian music, it is a theme that seems to have
enriched the sense of pride in a venerable history for some Indian musicologists:
Indian music has inuenced foreign music from very early times. Strabo in Bk
X iii says that the Greeks attributed to India nearly all their science of music.
Alexander the Great took with him to Greece a South Indian musician. The
term sa graama gave rise to the word gamut.
(Sambamoorthy 1963, 268)
In the beginning of the classical period (600500 BCE), Indian music traveled to
other ancient countries such as Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, Assyria, and
Chaldia. In particular, the music of Greece was indebted to Indian music,
which was introduced to Greece by Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans. It is
said that Pythagoras visited India (two centuries after Alexander) and returned

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


to Greece, carrying with him the cultural, religious and philosophical ideas
of India.
(Prajnanananda 1963, 110)

The practice of Indian scholarly reference to early English and European

writers on Indian music continues. One more recent author took the narrative
of Indian inuence one further step toward the West, tracing references to
another nineteenth-century mode of European writing: early comparative
music history. His immediate source for the contemporary author is
Sourindro Mohun Tagore (Tagore 1963, 93), who drew on the work of
Franois-Joseph Ftis (17841871):
Fetis holds the view that music of ancient Persia bore a close resemblance
to that of India. This will appear less surprising in view of the fact that the
Indians and Persians come from common Aryan stock and there were many
common links between the two people in the elds of language, religion and
culture . . . There were close trade relations between the two countries long
before the birth of Islam in the seventh century A.D. Since India had commercial
ties with Greece and Rome also, it is said that Indian music reached Persia
through Greece.
(Bhatnagar 1997, 49)

Others narrate the nexus of musics in antiquity as an inuence from West to

East, specically with regard to instruments. K. Krishna Murthy writes: The
harp spread from ancient Egypt to China and [was] evidently the prominent
stringed instrument in India (Murthy 1985, 12). Without clearly asserting the
point of origin of the harp, S. Krishnaswami adds this more precise perspective:
Archaeologists have discovered musical instruments similar to the yazh of the
ancient Tamil country in Egypt and Babylon. Representations of priests playing these harps in the tomb of Ramesus III show instruments . . . [whose]
construction and beauty are reminiscent of descriptions of the yazh in ancient
Tamil works (Krishnaswami 1965, 35). Murthy notes:
The lyre . . . remained a rare specimen in India (with sole specimen in Gandhra
sculptures) . . . Around 2000 B.C. some country in or near Asia Minor produced
the lute, consisting of a resonance body with a neck on which the various notes
of the melody were stopped by pressing the ngers on the proper places of
one string or two. This family, from which derive the lutes all over the central
belt, from Japan to Spain, became particularly important because it led to the
discovery of an exact mathematical xation of musical intervals.
(Murthy 1985, 12)

Murthys reference to the mathematical xation of musical intervals brings us

to the very matter that continues to invite comparison among the music of
ancient civilizations: theory, most particularly melodic theory. The primary
factor that permits even speculation about it is that



[A] corpus of [Indian] musical thought spanning roughly a thousand years

between 250 and 1250 CE has preserved in fossilized form large quantities of
material that may reasonably be attributed to authors as early as the fth
century BCE and which may, like many other important documents of ancient
Indian civilization, have rst been formulated in an oral tradition and have
been transmitted from teacher to student in the same way before nally
becoming xed in the form of a written text.
(Rowell 1992, 22)

Among those documents are formal treatises and a wide range of literature,
including plays, poems, many genres of technical literature, and two great
epics: although the war on which it was based was fought c. 1000 BCE, the
Mahabharata was composed somewhere between 400 BCE and 400 CE and the
Ramayana between 200 BCE and 200 CE.
Shortly after Alexanders departure, Chandragupta Maurya (ruled c. 322
298 BCE) united the Ganges and Indus valleys into Indias rst great empire,
based on the remains of the Magadha kingdom, and established his capital
near modern-day Patna, in Bihar. Under his grandson Ashoka (ruled c. 273
232 BCE), the empire reached its apex, controlling all of the subcontinent except
for a small part of the far north. Known for his tolerance and support of
Buddhism, Ashoka also perceived himself a universal ruler (an idea that could
have come from Achaemenid Persia), and was, like his father and grandfather,
a philhellene, adhering to the Greek idea of the supremacy of the state over
all aspects of human activity.

The rst millennium CE: Indian (musical) encounters

east and south
By c. 185 BCE, the last Maurya was driven from the throne by a usurper, along
with the almost simultaneous arrival of more invaders into the subcontinent,
again from the northwest. The rst new arrivals were Greek rulers of Bactria
but the previous trend of movement of peoples across oases and steppes from
west to east began to reverse. Tribes of Sakas, moving west from the steppes of
Central Asia, settled in western India. Another nomadic people, the Yuezhi,
ethnically Turkish but speaking an Iranian language, were forced out of the
Central Asian steppes and established the Kushana kingdom (c. rst
century BCEthird century CE), which at its height controlled parts of
Afghanistan, Iran, and, in the subcontinent, land stretching from modern
Peshawar, Pakistan in the northwest to Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) in the east
and Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh) in the north. The Kushanas were patrons of
Gandharan art (a signicant synthesis between Greek and Indian styles) and
Sanskrit literature.

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


By the rst century CE, the consolidation of a Kushana empire, forging a link
between Iran and China, completed a chain of empires that extended all across
Eurasia from the Pacic to the Atlantic. Heretofore, sea lanes oered an easy
highway between South Asia and the West, as well as a more limited link to the
East. Regular land contact across Asia began in the rst century BCE with the
opening of the legendary Silk Road across Central Asia by powerful military
empires in China and Persia, rmly connecting South Asia to the East by trade.
The trans-Eurasian trade routes that ourished during the rst millennium
of the Common Era were crowded with missionaries as well as merchants
(often one and the same). Buddhism, having risen to prominence under
Ashoka, ourished on the subcontinent and spread through Central Asia to
China in the early centuries CE; it was perhaps the most enduring legacy of the
Silk Road. Indian Buddhists were among the rst people to venture forth as
diasporic trading colonies in Central Asia and in China traveling out much
the same way that earlier invaders had traveled in. Oasis-based city-states,
dependent on trade and thus anxious to provide congenial surroundings
for their foreign guests, were not only generally tolerant of foreign faiths
but also showed no reluctance to adopt new faiths or to incorporate elements
of them into local syncretisms. From China, Buddhism spread in the late fourth
century CE to Korea and Japan. Around the seventh century, Buddhistinuenced cultures extended from Java to Nepal and from Afghanistan to
Japan. Pali, the language of canonical Buddhist texts, was and remains today
the canonical and ritual language of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Sanskrit
texts spread throughout East and Central Asia and were translated into
Chinese. Canonic texts translated into Tibetan still stand as the Buddhist
language of the Himalayan areas of Mongolia and Siberia. Unfortunately,
Buddhist ideas and practices are not documented in the writings of musical
theorists who belonged to Hindu religious and cultural traditions. According
to Ter Ellingson, however, attempts at reconstructing early Buddhist vocal and
melodic theories have led scholars to conclude that they were relatively similar
to those found in the later treatises of Indian music theory (Ellingson 1979,
cited in Tarocco n.d., 550).
Wherever Buddhism traveled, teachings were preserved and transmitted by
collective musical vocalization (generally called chants). In the chant, the
melodic phrases begin and end together with the text phrases, and rhythm
and melody seem to depend on the syllabic patterns of the Pali canon texts.
Choral chanting is embedded in monastic liturgical practice, although the style
of chant became somewhat changed in dierent places.
One signicant example of global encounter that resulted from the dissemination of Buddhism resides in a musical instrument: the ovoid-shaped lute



that we know as the oud/pipa/biwa, which originated at the far western end
of the Silk Road. Surviving sculptures from the second century BCE to the
seventh century CE show that this instrument type ourished in ancient India
that is to say, a plucked lute with an ovoid-shaped resonating chamber and a
short neck appears to have been present. There, by undocumented steps, it
became disassociated from its West Asian cultural origins and became linked
with Indian religion. Iconographically it was associated with Buddhism and
particularly with gandharvas, the lowest-ranking of devas in Buddhist theology.
Gandharvas are known for their skill as musicians and have the power of ight;
consequently, in iconography the lute is held in the hands of heavenly musicians, who manage to hold the instruments in playing positions while in ight.
Linked with Buddhism, however, the instrument-type seems to have left
India; that is, it did not remain in India as part of the sustained instrumentarium from ancient times. Along with the persistent Indian association of
music and religious thought from Vedic times, and with the imagery of
heavenly musicians, the ovoid-shaped, short-necked lute was carried even
by real travelers north and east from India along the Silk Road to China.

The rst millennium CE: within the subcontinent

Around 150 CE, the Dravidian South emerged as a potent force. The Tamil
lands have been traditionally divided into three kingdoms since the early rst
millennium CE: the Chola (Coromandel Coast), Kerala aka Cera (Malabar), and
Pandya (the southern tip of the peninsula). The ancient Tamil were important
seafarers, reaching Sri Lanka earlier than the second century BCE and shortly
thereafter Southeast Asia. In the rst century CE, they were in close contact
with Egypt and the Roman Empire and maintained a ourishing trade with
the West. In the south-central regions, new kingdoms appeared, and in the
northwestern Deccan, the Andhras centered in modern-day Paithan rose
from the ruins of the Mauryan Empire and survived for more than 300 years
until the third century CE, its power extending eventually coast to coast.
In the north, by mid-third century CE the Kusana Empire had been reduced
to a small kingdom, a satrapy of Persias rising Sassanian Empire (c. 224651 CE).
In 320 CE the next great Indian empire arose the Gupta eventually extending
from Assam in the east to Punjab in the west. The reign of Chandra Gupta
II (376/380415 CE) is perhaps the high water mark of ancient Indic culture.
At its height, the Gupta era was probably the most prosperous and peaceful in
the world. The Roman Empire was nearing its end, and China was passing
through troubled times between the Han and Tang empires. The Indian
numeral system (sometimes erroneously attributed to the Arabs, who took it

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


from India to Europe where it replaced the Roman system) and decimal system
are Indian inventions of this period. Buddhism still ourished and, replacing
the old sacricial Brahmanism, Hinduism appeared in a form not greatly
dierent from recent centuries.
In the last years of the reign of Chandra Gupta IIs son, Kumara Gupta
(415454 CE), new enemies appeared from Central Asia, the Hunas (White
Huns), possibly a branch of the Turkic-Mongol peoples then threatening
Europe, or of Iranian ethnicity. Struggles between Hunas and Guptas ensued
until c. 550 CE, when a new Gupta line, Gupta feudatories, Gupta inheritors,
and Gupta hereditary enemies divided up areas of northern India. In 606 CE,
King Harsa succeeded in partially restoring Gupta glory; the only area he was
unable to control was the recalcitrant south. Despite his increasing adherence
to Buddhism, the religion continued to decline while certain elements of
Hinduism were strongly in evidence and tantric cults were growing. When
Harsa died without heirs, his empire disintegrated. Beginning in the eighth
and ninth centuries, the hegemony of northern India was divided between
the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty of Kanauj and the Pala dynasty of Bihar and
Bengal, noted for their patronage of Buddhism, which ourished under their
three centuries of rule and from there was introduced into Tibet another
encounter to the north of enduring importance.
We can place musical instruments and music theory against this political
backdrop. From the seventh to the thirteenth century CE, an instrument type
other than the ovoid-shaped, short-necked lute appears in Hindu religious
sculpture. Sarasvati, Hindu goddess of music and learning, is portrayed iconographically with a stringed instrument of another type a zither, consisting of
a stick with one or more strings and often with bowl-shaped resonators or
supports which replaced the ovoid-shaped lute in sculpture. In music theory,
approximate dates ranging from 200 CE to fth or sixth century CE are assigned
to two works beginning the venerable body of Sanskrit language music theory
that excited Sir William Jones and other Indologists. The Ntyasstra,
attributed to the sage Bharata, is a treatise on classical theater, with six (or in
some editions, seven) chapters on the ancient musical system, with elaborate
descriptions of the music as it relates to dramaturgy. It is not known who
Bharata was, as the identications given in various Indian musicological
sources vary widely. The following example demonstrates the nature of this
conjecture, not to mention an indirect articulation of the deeply felt signicance of the very having of a long history.
Prajnanananda takes the identication back to 600500 BCE and to
schools of thought rather than an author, identifying four main schools
of music, dance, and drama: 1) Brahm or Brahmabharata and Siva or



Sadasivabharata; 2) Gandharva Narada (Narada being the foremost person

conversant with dance and music among the semi-divine Gandharvas who
were, it is said, the inhabitants of Gndhra modern Kandahara in the
northwest frontier of India (and the area most heavily inuenced by early
Greek culture)); 3) Muni Bharata, author of the Ntyasstra; and 4)
Nandikeshvara. In fact, three or four schools of the classical period seem
to be genuine. It is said that Narada composed a book on dance, drama, and
music . . . but this book is not available now . . . The two later schools of
Bharata and Nandikeshvara were indebted to that of Brahm
(Prajnanananda 1963, 11213). The attribution of treatises to an author
seems to have become important, although the author was likely to have
been a compiler or a receiver of oral tradition: Specially Bharata has
admitted the debt of Druhina Brahm in his Ntyasstra, and he called it
a collection or samgraha-grantha . . . It is said that he, for the rst time,
composed the Ntyasstra which was known as the Brahmabharatam on
scientic basis, and it contained the laws and formulas of dance, drama,
hand-poses and music (ibid., 11214).
The Ntyasstra includes a discussion of microtones (twenty-two sruti, from
which pitches were derived), scales (grma, of which there were two main ones),
modal patterns ( jti ), and modal functions. Detailed instruction on how to
adjust the tuning on two stringed instruments to achieve the scales has intrigued
music theorists ever since. One chapter classies instrument types and functions.
The schema dividing instruments, according to the primary sound-producing
medium, into strings (mentioning the bow harp and ovoid-shaped lute, both of
which are thought to have come to India from the West), wind, idiophones, and
drums, was taken up in the nineteenth century to become the basis of the most
widely used international classication system to the present (Hornbostel and
Sachs 1961). Dattilam (c. 200 CE), a concise manual of ritual music composed by
the otherwise unknown author Dattila, oered independent conrmation of the
doctrines in Bharatas Ntyasstra (Rowell 1992, 20). Dating of treatises from the
rst half millennium CE continues to be rened.
It has been primarily on the basis of scales and modes and the fact that
monophony prevailed that scholars have compared the musical systems of the
ancient world and ruminated on the possibility of inuences among them.
Lewis Rowell dismisses the acculturation theory:
There are no indications that similarities among these musical systems are the
result of the spread of culture from one region to another; there were cultural
contacts . . . but the scales and modes described in early Sanskrit treatises were
conceived in such a radically dierent way that the dierences far outweigh the
(Rowell 2000, 140)

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


At approximately the same time as the creation of the Ntyasstra and Dattilam,
another great epic poem, the Cilappatikaram (The Anklet), composed in
Tamil (a Dravidian language), was edited from oral tradition and set down in
the form in which it is presently received. Like the Ntyasstra but unrelated to
dramaturgy, the Cilappatikaram refers to tuning, musical scale and modal
system, instruments, genres, forms, and rhythm (see Rowell 2000). Drawing
on Parthasarathy (1993, 318), Rowell contextualizes it as having been written
at a time when the Aryans were penetrating farther into southern areas of the
Indian subcontinent:
[I]ts material almost certainly reects the cultural friction between indigenous
Dravidian musical concepts and the Sanskrit system brought by the new
settlers . . . We do not know the age of the musical system whose details it
records. The most that can be said is that the Tamil system apparently arose as
an independent tradition, but subsequently came under the inuence of the
central Sanskritic musical tradition, with which it shared or came to share many
common features.
(Rowell 2000, 139)

Music theory, as developed by Indo-Aryans within a Brahmanic intellectual

tradition, then, became the theory of ancient India so widespread that it is
assumed that musicians and theorists throughout the subcontinent shared one
system. Considering the incursions of peoples other than Aryans into the
subcontinent, as well as periodic political turmoil, it is fascinating to think of
local conditions that would have permitted a slow but steady diusion and
That the musical system was changing in the rst millennium CE became
obvious in another treatise, the Brhaddes, whose composition or compilation is
attributed to the sage Matanga of the seventh or eighth century CE. The rst
published edition of this work was based on two incomplete manuscripts from
Kerala, on the southwestern coast of the subcontinent. Its surviving portions
reproduce, augment, and supplement material in the Ntyasstra, which was
clearly available and regarded as a treasure of tradition:
The Brhaddes, on the other hand, registers a point of departure from
tradition. It is revolutionizing; it does not reconcile with the past, but allows
the present to stand out with its own set of values. Matanga develops two quite
new ideas: one, as regards the philosophical concept of the theory of the
musical sound, Nda; and the other, about the scientic denition of
melody, Rga.
(Sarmadee 2003, xii)

Sarmadees reference to nda refers to theories of sound based on the growing

inuence of the metaphysical and psychological theories of tantra (as noted
above in the period of Harsa Gupta) and yoga. Emphasizing inner sound,



interest was in sound as it is conceived and produced in the individual, and, to a

lesser extent, sound as it is perceived by the hearer. Further, Matanga introduces
the term rga, with the specic observation that it had not been discussed by
Bharata and others. The relationship between rga of the Brhaddes and jti of
the Ntyasstra has never become clear, but to most theorists it seems more likely
that two distinct modal traditions are represented.
Another important aspect of the Brhaddes is the identication of rga with
des. Sarmadee provides a translation of Matangas statement about des: Be it a
child, a young maiden, a cowherd or a reigning monarch that which is naturally
hummed or sung by everybody, in accordance with his or her own wish and
with aection, in ones own country or region, is known as des (Sarmadee
2003, xii). Whereas earlier theory had given a sense of melody as it worked
within a genre (i.e., musical practice in theater), in the Brhaddes the names of
ragas, such as Gurjar, Saurstr, Saka, and Saka-Tilaka, give us a sense of
the local of place and perhaps of dierent communities of people, notably
in regions of India that were related by politics in and prior to the Gupta era.
The Brhaddes was also revolutionary in the use of notation for musical
pitches. A rock inscription carved c. 650 CE into the wall of a cave temple in
South Indias Tamil Nadu state is considered among the important world
monuments of early musical notation (Widdess 1980 and 1995). Matangas
Brhaddes, however, is the earliest of the extant treatises to include musical
notations in scale degree letters. In terms of recording musical thought that
was probably close to contemporary practice, Matangas Brhaddes was the
theoretical highlight of the second half of the rst millennium CE.

Bridging the rst and second millennia CE

After the seventh century CE, the Indian Ocean became a large-scale economic
zone, featuring well-articulated trade networks. Enter Islam, which began as
the faith of a small community of believers (Muslims) in seventh-century Arabia
and spread rapidly. Its initiatives were both trade and conquest.
Islam rst came to South Asia with Arabs who conquered Sind in 712 CE.
Its rst infusion was short-lived, since eighth-century Arab rule weakened and
died but not for long. By the ninth century, Arab merchants established a
xed residence in port cities along Malabar on Indias southwestern coast, an
area rich in spices pepper, cardamom, and ginger and strategically located at
the midpoint of Indian Ocean trade routes.
Early in the second millennium CE yet another people, the Turki, pushed
into northwest India. From this period, the invaders are more likely to be
referred to in narratives as Muslim than by their ethnicity. Soon the

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


Northwest Frontier, the Punjab, and Sind, where Arab culture remained, were
in the hands of those Turki peoples, who ruled from Afghanistan while the rest
of northern India retained its independence, with indigenous families ruling
various areas. Strikingly, it was farther north in Kashmir which had withstood Islamic intruders in the eighth and tenth centuries where the Shaivite
philosopher Abhinavagupta produced a massive and brilliant commentary
(Rowell 1992, 20) on Bharatas Ntyasstra, the Abhinavabhrat, c. 1000 CE. As
Rowell notes: Although scholars are still attempting to solve the numerous
textual problems and determine more precisely what Abhinavagupta had in
mind, his interpretations of the ancient treatises are regarded as authoritative
and represent the commentarial tradition at its highest level of virtuosity
(ibid., 20).
With the eighth-century Brhaddes, probably produced in Kerala (southwestern India); the tenth-century Abhinavabhrat in Kashmir; another Sanskrit
treatise, the Bharatabhsya, from Mithila at the India-Nepal border a century
later; and the Mnasollsa, 1131 CE, from Chalukya, the waning Deccan
kingdom (ibid., 201), it is clear that the Brahmanic tradition of theorizing
in the eld of music was widespread in South Asia.

Continuing encounters in the second millennium CE

By the thirteenth century, three major trade systems existed, one of which was
the Asian system via the Indian Ocean. It was subdivided into three routes, one of
which overlapped with the southern West Asia route that connected the Red Sea
and Persian Gulf with the western coast of India. The ports of Gujarat
(near Mumbai) in the north and on the Malabar (pepper) coast in the southern
part of the subcontinent held merchant colonies of Muslims from West
Asia who, like Buddhist merchant/missionaries a millennium earlier, were intermediaries who spread their religion and business practices wherever they went.
Indias global encounters continued to be signicant by sea as well as overland.
The second subroute in the Indian Ocean trade was based on the
Coromandel Coast in eastern India and was far less inuenced by Muslim
Arab and Persian traders. Indigenous Indian merchants were intermediaries
for most of the sea trade eastward through the Straits of Malacca to Chinese
ports in the third subcircuit. All ships traveling between India and China had
to pass through the narrow sea that separated Sumatra and Java from the
Malay Peninsula. Monsoon winds reversed at the Straits, so long layovers
were required for boats traveling in both directions. Permanent colonies of
merchants drawn from points throughout the Asian circuit coexisted in
Malacca, thus giving it a cosmopolitan quality.



At the same time, during the rst three centuries of the second millennium CE,
power in the southern part of the subcontinent was centered in Chola country on
the southeastern Coromandel coast and the Deccan (widely referred to as in both
the north and the mid-subcontinent). The Chola Rajaraja I (101244) conquered
Sri Lanka, spread his land power to the mouth of the Ganges, and dispatched a
eet to occupy parts of Burma, Malaysia, and Sumatra. When the Cholas fell in
the thirteenth century, their territory was divided between two other competing
southern dynasties. In the Deccan the Western Chalukyas were the dominant
power, competing with the Cholas, and they had numerous feudatories, among
them the Yadava dynasty. Situated approximately in the middle of the subcontinent on the Indian Ocean side, with its capital at Devagiri, the Yadavas declared
their independence in the mid-twelfth century. At their peak they ruled presentday Maharashtra, northern Karnataka, and parts of Madhya Pradesh. They
attracted learned scholars, and the Marathi language and literature were developed in their court.
It was at the Yadava king Singhanas court in the thirteenth century that a
theoretical treatise composed in Sanskrit gave evidence of profound changes in
the musical system of the subcontinent even to the point that music in
South Asia was no longer unitary. The Sangt Ratnkara is attributed to the
scholarly royal accountant and ayurvedic physician Sarngadeva (Rowell 1992,
21). As tradition dictated, it accounts for both historical theory and current
practice. For instance, the rst of seven chapters discusses sound its
generation, microtones and intervals, scales, and scale degree patterns, as
well as the ancient modal patterns (jti). The second chapter discusses rga
(melody type) in both doctrinal and current terms. The third chapter
is miscellaneous, dealing largely with performance practice, including
ornaments, improvisation, and ensembles. The fourth chapter is on vocal
composition and comprises discussion of meters, form, and songs in vernacular
languages. The fth chapter deals with tla (time cycle), both doctrinal and
current. Tla had made tremendous strides. Bharata mentions only ve
tlas . . . of eight and six mtrs [counts] respectively, whereas the Sangta
Ratnkar mentions 108 tlas (Gautam, 1980, 9). The sixth chapter discusses
instruments and gives rgas and drum syllable patterns for particular melodic
instruments and drums. The seventh chapter is on dance.
Signicantly, a dierent instrumental technique on the then-prevalent
one-string stick zither (eka-tantr vn) is described, which
should be correlated in some way with an equally radical change in the underlying concept of pitch relationships. On open-string instruments (such as
the bow harp) the basic pitch collection has to be tuned in advance. Any
pitch is potentially as important as any other, and in dierent musical contexts

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


dierent pitches will assume the central role . . . A stopped-string instrument

diers in that all the stopped pitches can easily be conceived as a function of the
pitch of the open string, and ultimately as subordinate to it. That a conceptual
change moving towards the notion of a single system tonic had occurred is
explicitly conrmed early in the medieval period, but it may have been well
under way during the last centuries of the ancient period.
(Powers n. d.)

A millennium earlier, the ovoid-lute known in India was a stopped-string

instrument, but the bow harp had prevailed at the time. As mentioned above,
the stick zither type of instrument replaced the ovoid-shaped lute in Hindu
sculptural iconography. The melodic systems recorded in the Sanskrit treatises
suggest that melodic theory derived from melodic practice on the harp prevailed until the use of the stick zither became suciently widespread to change
melodic practice and thereby melodic theory or, as Powers put it, during the
last centuries of the ancient period (ibid.).

The last major encounter before the modern era

While these events were unfolding on the subcontinent, a new ruling house
one that would be decisive for the culture of North India emerged in
Afghanistan. In 1192 the Ghorid dynasty, Persianized ethnic Turks who had
only recently converted to Islam in Central Asia, arrived in Delhi and in 1206
Qutb-ud-din Aibak, a freed slave, established the Afghan, or Slave, dynasty
(120690), the rst in a succession of strong Turki-Afghan Muslim dynasties
known as the Delhi Sultanate (thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries). Its greatest leaders, Iltutmish and Balban, successfully resisted an incursion by the
Mongols under Chinggis Khan, solidifying their regime, while regions with
sharply dened natural boundaries, such as Kashmir, Nepal, Assam, and Orissa,
retained their autonomy.
A thirteenth-century chronicle, the Tabakt-i-Nasir, relates the use in India of
the heralding ensemble (naubat, or naqqara khana), an extremely important West
Asian symbol of power for rulers. In 1231, Sultan Shams-ud-Din Iltutmish
acquired the stronghold of Gwalior after an eleven-month siege and after withdrawing from before the fortress, placed the camp at about the distance of a
league from the foot of the walls in the direction of Dihl, the capital; and, at that
halting ground, the imperial naubat ve times daily was assumed (Tabakt-iNasir 1970, 61921). The heralding ensemble was in India to stay.
A century later, the important Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagara was founded
(1336) in the south and soon established hegemony over the entire peninsula
from the Krsna River southwards. Notably, the fteenth-century commentary
on the Sangt Ratnkara, the Kalnidhi, was written (c. 1450) in peninsular



India by a scholar named Kallinatha, who had apparently observed musical

practice in Vijayanagara. In several places he identied fteenth-century equivalents of rga names still in use and implied that the system tonic had already
been prevalent in the early thirteenth century (Powers n. d.).
Shortly before the establishment of the Vijayanagara kingdom, the Deccan
began to feel the force of Turkic Islamic conquest. Alauddin Khalji
(12961315) of the second Sultanate dynasty, the Turkic Khaljis (1296
1320), subdued the Deccan kingdoms and took Islam deep into southern
parts of the subcontinent. It was in his court that the great Indo-Persian
poet, historian, and musician Amir Khusrau Dihlavi (12511326) was engaged.
From his writings, we know that some aspects of Indian and Persianate
culture were becoming greatly synthesized.
[O]f his knowledge of and devotion to Indian music there can be no doubt.
Whether or not he invented the devotional qavvl singing of the Muslim Su
orders and introduced the singing of ghazal [a Persian-language vocal genre], he
certainly established and legitimized them as South Asian musical items. He was
also a friend and disciple of the great Chisti saint Nizam-ud-din Auliya, who
successfully argued the priority of using music for Su devotions, taking the case
against the Muslim divines to the sultan in the early 1320s.
(Powers n. d.)

In the next Sultanate dynasty, the Turkic Tughluq period (132098), the rst
known Persian-language book on Indian music was written: the Ghunytul
Munya (The Pleasure of Desire). Sarmadee contextualizes the anonymously
authored book by providing insight into both the role of music in the patrons
life and the extent to which Indian and Persian elite culture intermingled at
the time:
In AH 776/A.D. 137475, Malik Shamsud-dn Ab Raj was appointed to the
governorship of Gujart and he undertook the administration of that
territory . . . When he felt the strain of hard work, he found relaxation in
listening to Persian Sami Prs [Persian songs] and Hindav Sard [Indian
music] . . . On other occasions, he would elaborate with great ability on the
intricacies of music. [Now citing Mrs. Khursheed N. Hasan, who presented a
paper on the book to the Indian History Congress, Delhi, 1961.] Seeing the
ignorance of his companions about music, Malik Shamsud-dn asked the
author to undertake a work in elaboration of the intricacies of music . . . His
patron had brought together at his Court, from far and near, numerous experts
of the Hindav language, groups of singers and musicians, players of dierent
instruments and exponents of various forms of music. Apparently the author
consulted them for his work. The following standard books composed by
Indians were also made available to the author: Sangt Ratnkara, Sangita
Ratnval, Sangta Vinoda, Sangta Mudra, and Rgrnava. (Sarmadee 2003, xv)

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


The Ghunytul Munya provides considerable insight into musical practice at the
time: current rgas and their historical connections, the origin of the pakhvaj
drum, details of dance style, and other topics. The author oers evidence of
contemporary cultural life of the Tughluq court in Delhi, with its lively concerts of various musics, both Persianate and Indian, and relates the expectation
that the qawwls (Muslim singers) be fully conversant with and able to exercise
adequate control over surs [pitches, svaras] and rgas and the development and
sustenance of songs and their dierent types including, of course, their
devotional Su songs (ibid., xxxiv).
Other fourteenth-century literature suggests a similar multicultural expectation for a person knowledgeable about music. In the Tt Nma (Tales of a
Parrot), a compendium of fty-two oft-told tales collected and retold by a
Persian-language writer in the court of the Delhi Sultanate, the storyteller
Nakhshabi wrote:
O Nakhshabi, playing the tar [a Persian plucked lute] with skill is a rare art . . .
To play the tar and sing, one must originate new themes. A person should
know . . . out of how many Indian melodies one Persian melody can be formulated, or how many Indian melodies are contained in one Persian melody.
He must know which of these [Indian] melodies is masculine and which is
feminine . . . He should know who the originators and the masters of this
science were.
(Nakhshabi 1978, 98)

Such Persian-language works have much to contribute to the Muslim-Hindu

culture meta-narrative in the telling of Indian music history. Fortunately, more
attention is gradually being paid to them.
In addition to Hindu and Muslim documenters of Indian music history, the
Jains, a minority group whose religion is not based on the Vedas but whose
cultural practices have much in common with those of Hindus, have a long and
deep intellectual tradition. Slightly after the Sangt Ratnkara was written, but
likely representing a tradition of theory independent of it, the Jain Sanskrit
treatise Sangtopanisat-sroddhra was completed in 1350 by Sudhakalasa, also
in Gujarat.
Its great importance is as a link between ancient and modern phenomena.
Firstly in its chapter on tla, both the arrangement (by length of time cycle) and
the association of a particular congurative drum pattern with each particular
tla point towards modern Hindustani usage. Secondly, the rga chapter
provides the oldest known set of verse iconographies for melody types six
rgas, each with ve sub types.
(Powers n. d.)

The verse iconographies presage the emergence of the poetic and artistic
rgamla classication system; very early extant rgamla paintings are found



in the Jain tradition, in illustrations in a palm-leaf manuscript from Western

India (1475). As for the congurative drum patterns now called theka they
are evidence of musical synthesis and are recognized to have come to North
India from West Asian musical practice.
Even as Indian and Persian cultural synthesis deepened, battles raged on the
subcontinent. The Tughluq period ended with a destructive raid on northern
India and the sack of Delhi in 1398 by Timur, ruler of a Persianate Central
Asian kingdom with its capital at Samarkand. In the fteenth century, Herat, a
city in western Afghanistan, became the capital of the Timurid Empire and the
cultural center of the cosmopolitan Persian-speaking world. Also during the
fteenth century, essentially independent rulers of Bengal, Jaunpur, Gujarat,
and Gwalior both Muslim and Hindu were the chief patrons of music in the
north on the subcontinent. Sultan Husain Sharq of Jaunpur is often credited
with the invention, or revival, both of a number of rgas and of the musical
form of khyl.
The last of the Sultanate dynasties, the Afghani Lodi clan, centralized
power in Delhi from 1450 to 1526, but they were threatened from within by
the powerful Rajput confederacy under Rana Sanga of Mewar, southwest of
Sultanate territory, and from without by Babur, the Central Asian leader then
in control of Kabul. Baburs heritage was formidable, descending on his
paternal side from Timur, and on his mothers side from the Chaghatai
Mongol Chinggis Khan. In 1526 Babur vanquished Ibrahim Lodi, establishing
a new regime in Delhi, and the following year defeated the Rajputs. The Delhi
Sultanates ended, the Mughal Empire began.
Documentation of Indian history from the time of the Mughals is rich,
including a variety of sources ranging from Baburs memoirs to ocial
court histories, to commissioned new books during the period, to poetry and
paintings. The Mughal (derives from Mongol) Empire lasted three and a half
centuries (15261858) and during its rst two centuries was ruled by six
great rulers: Babur and ve worthy descendants. At Baburs death (1530),
his son Humayun, who in his early years had been driven from India, returned
to win control of the realm. The empire was expanded and stabilized under
Humayans son Akbar (ruled 15561605). Called the Great, he regularized
tax collections, won a working relationship with the indigenous Hindu landowning and warrior classes (Rajput), and was an enormously important patron
of the arts.
The Mughals were almost exclusively land-based and made little attempt to
control the seas, thus allowing Europeans to establish fortied bases along the
Indian coast to safeguard their goods and persons. Little by little Europeans
increased their inuence, their enclaves becoming more and more important as

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


increasing numbers of Indians produced cotton cloth and other goods for sale
to Europeans. The southern Vijayanagara Empire made contact in the early
fteenth century with Europeans, Portuguese traders arriving rst; a century
later, Vijayanagar would deal regularly with the Portuguese settlement at Goa.
Travelers such as Domingo Paes and Ferno Nuniz reported about Vijayanagar
and its elite, who were generous patrons of architecture, literature in the three
primary Dravidian languages (Kannada, Tamil, Telugu) and Sanskrit, and
music. Sixteenth-century Vijayanagar was the home of Purandara Dasa, a
composer of devotional songs in the Kannada language that are still sung
today; he is considered the father of the Karnatak system of music due to
his having formulated a systematic pedagogy. The Vijayanagara kingdom lasted
until 1565, when Rama Raja, the de facto ruler, was defeated by a coalition of
Deccan sultans.
In the seventeenth century, Akbars son Jahangir, grandson Shah Jahan, and
great-grandson Aurangzeb maintained an eective central government at
Delhi and extended the empire southward so that, on Aurangzebs death
(1707), it included almost the entirety of the Indian subcontinent. During
this time, Portuguese traders were gradually replaced by French and British
trading companies, which began to recruit small garrisons of Indian soldiers
(sepoys) to guard their fortied shore stations; trained by Europeans, they
became far more eective than the Mughal military.
In southern India, during the post-Vijayanagara period, the small state of
Thanjavur (Tanjore) was vital for patronage of music. The familiar equation of
Hindustani-Karnatak with Muslim-Hindu, thence hybrid-pure, and ultimately
foreign-native, is a result of the fact that the radial centers of the latest phases
of the two styles were Muslim Delhi and Hindu Thanjavur (Powers n. d.). Its
rulers emigrated from Telugu- and Marathi-speaking areas of India, and,
although they ruled in Tamil-speaking territory, they chiey patronized
Telugu culture and Sanskrit-language work. Powers superbly tracks theoretical
treatises, including the Caturdand praksik by Venkatamakhin, which established the seventy-two melakarta rga system of scale-types, nineteen of which
were recognized as necessary for the rgas of his time (ibid.); thus continued the
ancient highly systematic Indic intellectual tradition, part of the intellectual
fabric of South Indian music today. Other surviving sources also show that
the present rgas, improvisatory techniques of Karnatak music, and the extant
tradition of devotional Krishna bhajan (song) are traceable to seventeenthcentury Thanjavur (ibid.).
Before returning to Hindustani (North Indian) music during the tremendously vital Mughal period, I would like to oer some context by examining
factors that have dominated perceptions of the history of Indian music under



the Muslims perceptions to which Powers refers. One is that, whether by

lack of knowledge or inattention, Persian-language sources on music during
the Mughal period have been largely ignored. The model for this appears to
have been the other side of the coin of William Joness appreciation for
ancient Indian music:
Although Jones was clearly aware of contemporary practice in Indian music, he
denies the massive contribution of Persian culture to the development of
North Indian classical music in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He
cites texts the most recent of which was 160 years old, making no distinction
between the northern [Hindustani] and southern [Karnatak] systems of music
that had developed at the time. The texts which Jones referred to display what
Widdess has called an archaizing didactic intent, which had little relevance to
contemporary practice.
(Farrell 1997, 11, citing Widdess 1980, 136)

Furthermore, Jones made it known that since the Mohammedan conquest it

has declined (cited in Farrell 1997, 13). French traveler and botanist Pierre
Sonnerat reached a similar conclusion (Bor 1988, 58).
While Farrell focused on this as a view that would inform Western musicological thinking well into the nineteenth century, it also lingered as a
historical discourse in Indian writing in the twentieth century. I suggest
that the glorication of the Brahmanic tradition resulted in an oft-repeated,
uncritical historical summary, evident, for example, in how Sharma begins
his section on the history of the medieval period (early thirteenth to the
eighteenth century):
By this time, the Afghan invasions were steadily marring the northern culture . . .
Waves of invading people of foreign cultures swept across Northern India, and
eventually mohammadan rulers took over control of that section of the country.
Many scholars and musicians, disheartened by the situation, left the North and
got settled in other parts of India. Many of them ed to the South . . . In the
post-Ratnakar period, sometime after the mingling of the Hindus and Persian
cultures in the North, there developed two schools of the North and the South
Hindustani and Karnatic. South preserved the purity of the old music and
the North combined the Muslim and Indian music.
(Sharma 1997, 89)

In the introduction to his translation of the Ghunytul Munya, Sarmadee felt

compelled to respond to that discourse:
This has given an impetus to misgivings which have in their turn transgressed
all limits; so much so, that stray extremist opinions have found it possible
to hold that the dark age of a century or more (after) about the eleventh
and twelfth century irretrievably broke the continuity of tradition, and with it
the whole structure of the science of music.
(Sarmadee 2003, xxxv, citing Sastri 1954, 18)

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


Regarding the purity of the old music, musicologist Brahaspati argues

convincingly, in his article on Venkatamakhis scale-type system, that the
southern (Karnatak) system thoroughly adopted the Persian and Turkish
modal (makam) system, as did the northern (Hindustani) system (Brahaspati
1979, 79102). Countering this, Prajnanananda notes,
Captain Day is of the opinion that the most ourishing age of Indian music was
the period of the native princes, a little before the Mohammadan conquest.
With the advent of the Mohammadans its decline commenced. Indeed it is
wonderful that it survived at all. Such is also the decision of Capt. Willard,
when he says that with the progress of the theory of music arrested, its decline
was speedy, although the practice, which contributed to the entertainment of
the princes and nobles, continued until the time of Muhammad Shh of Delhi,
after whose reign, history of music is pregnant with facts replete with dismal
scenes. But all these opinions should be reviewed with care and justice.
(Prajnanananda 1963, 1112)

Other writers countered elements of that discourse, as well:

The centuries from roughly 1400 to 1800 are remarkable for what appears to
be a new eorescence, a vital energy that animates a variety of cultural and
socio-political forms in South India . . . In order to comprehend the works of
this new phase and the institutional complex within which it is embedded, it is
essential to conceive of a South Indian landscape that embraces Sanskrit, Tamil
and Telugu, as much as Kannada, Marathi and Persian, where contacts and
conicts with the powers of the Deccan (be they the Sultanates of the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries of the Mughals and Marathas thereafter) open up a
new frontier of ideas and forms.
(Rao et al. 2003, 249)

In the Mughal period, what is referred to as Persian culture is in reality the

values, practices, and artifacts of multiple cultures, many of them local. There
was a strong connection, for example, with the city of Herat, the cosmopolitan
capital of the Safavid Persian court with a continuing strong heritage of
Timurid culture. Akbars chronicler, Abul Fazl, identied musicians who
came from many places (primarily from the north and west of India), as
resident in Akbars court.
Paintings commissioned by the sovereign and other elites during the Mughal
era oer substantial details about that very cosmopolitan court culture
(Wade 1998). Throughout the reigns of Akbar through Aurangzeb, but particularly for Akbar, illustrated manuscripts constituted a signicant means
for communicating with the hugely diverse ethnic population that surrounded
him. Artists fullled a role rather like ocial photographers and book
illustrators do at present. The scenes in which music making occurs are formal
court scenes, numerous battles, celebratory festivities of military victories,



coronations, princely births, processions of royal retinues, greetings of distinguished visitors outside or inside a royal residency, male leisure activities and
sporting events, ceremonies, unusual dramatic events, Su gatherings, and
miscellaneous scenes occasioned by the content of the particular manuscript
they illustrate. Two musicians are honored with portraits: Naubat Khan, a
rudra vn player holding his instrument, and the great singer Tansen, leaning
regally on a sta.
In miniature paintings produced under Akbars patronage, most of the
instruments shown are those of Persianate and Afghani culture plucked
lutes of several varieties, including an Afghani rabb (precursor, it is thought,
to the modern sarod), the bowed spiked-lute (ghichak), the box zither (qanun),
the vertical ute (nai), two kinds of double-reed shawms (surn, one of
which might be indigenous), the frame drum (daf/daira), the bowl-shaped,
stick-played drum (naqqara), and the heralding trumpet (karn). The Indian
instruments that recur are the C-shaped horn (sng) in the heralding ensemble,
the stick-zither (rudra vn) and double-headed barrel-shaped, hand-played
pakhvaj the former shown in court scenes, the latter in scenes of dance by
Indian women hand cymbals (tala), and double-headed cylindrical drums
(dhol). We get a sense of ensembles, seeing the frame drum with whatever
non-Indian melody instrument is being pictured, and with the exception of
the Indian huruky couple gender-specic ensembles in gender-specic
settings unless for purposes of depicting locations outside the subcontinent.
Jahangir favored small vignettes and portraits as well as scenes depicting
meditation and consultation with holy men in a quiet place. A Persian plucked
lute (tmbr) is shown to be adopted as a drone-keeping instrument with
singing.2 Shah Jahani paintings show magnicent royal gatherings as well as
dierences in the instruments of the naubat heralding ensemble smaller
drums that seem to be played with more complicated technique, perhaps
from dance drumming, and trumpets with larger bells. They also show fewer
Afghani rababs and spiked lutes, but rather a large plucked lute called dhrupad
rabb and, signicantly, more instruments that are probably indigenous, such
as a srang-like bowed lute, more sophisticated rudra vns, and groups of
women singing together. Musical synthesis was slow to appear in artistic
depictions of court life, but there was denitely a gradual transformation
in the direction of Indianization. Deepening Mughal involvement in the
mid-subcontinent Deccan was no doubt a factor in that process. Musical
intellectual activity continued all the while.

2 No Akbari scene found by the author shows an instrument explicitly devoted to keeping a drone,
although the performance practice appears to have existed in South Asian music beyond the Mughal court.

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


After Aurangzebs death (1707), the Mughal Empire endured for another
150 years, with few exceptions, under inept rulers. Early in the eighteenth
century, power struggles within the Mughal family coincided with the rising
authority of nonfamily leaders who backed factions at court. One of the
few later Mughal sovereigns of substance was Muhammad Shah (ruled 1720
48). A generous patron of poets, painters, and musicians, he is credited with
fostering more popular forms of music and dance most specically, khyl, a
developing vocal genre, and patronage of the best-known singer and composer
of the era, Namat Khan. Qawwl singers were hugely popular at court and in
urban Delhi. Thanks to an important contemporary commentary, Muraqqa-e
Dehli (1739) by Dargah Quli, it is established that the plucked long-necked lute
sitr was known in its fully developed form in Delhi. Its origin is perhaps in the
Kashmiri setar, an instrument directly traceable to the Persian setar, which
found its way into courts and also regional use in North India, according to
Miner (1997) and Pacholczyk (1978).
Despite the relatively brief imperial revival under Muhammad Shah, he and
the empire were stripped of military might, major land and material resources,
and political inuence, with the destructive attack on Delhi by the Persian
Nadir Shah in 1739. Muhammad Shah continued to support the arts for the
remainder of his reign but thereafter the history of music in North India
becomes one of dispersion from the Mughal court itself to urban centers
such as Delhi and elsewhere in the empire. Muhammad Shahs successors
were faced with another Afghan incursion into the northwest, including
Kashmir, as well as with increasingly powerful leaders, including the
Marathas an eighteenth-century power in the western Deccan in various
sections of the subcontinent and increasingly aggressive European, especially
British, interests.
After the death of Alamgir II in 1759, what began as a gradual exodus of
musicians from Delhi became a veritable ood. The Afghan leader Ali
Muhammad of the Rohilkhand region east of Delhi, for instance, oered
patronage to some of Delhis musicians. In Rohilkhand there was a ourishing
cultivation, albeit nonprofessional, of performance on Afghani-style rabab, and
those musicians experienced Hindustani mainstream court music with the
great sitarist Firoz Khan, who moved there sometime before 1760.3 The
nearby new city of Rampur also became a cultural center. In Varanasi to the
east and Rajasthan to the west of Delhi, high levels of patronage continued
under Hindu rjas. It was probably in the last quarter of the eighteenth century
that the sitr was taken to Jaipur in Rajasthan (Miner 1997, 36).
3 The emergence of the modern sarod, however, occurred after the Mughal Empire.



A painting (c. 1745) from the Punjabi hill court of Jasrota by the Mughal
artist Nainsukh, who had lately arrived from the court of Delhi (Stewart 1974,
7), depicts a paired hand-played drum. That drum, the tabl, would very
gradually edge out the pakhvaj as the accompanying instrument of choice in
Hindustani music. Signicantly, the conceptual dierences behind the playing
of the two drums, pakhvaj and tabl, reveal the deep and lasting inuence of
West Asian music that began so long ago in South Asia. Here, we observe
musical synthesis at the deepest, that is, conceptual, level in this case, in the
organization of time. From the analysis of drumming patterns, Stewart arrives
at the following conclusion:
Two distinct metric traditions exist in North India today, the second of which
has almost completely replaced the rst. The rst is primarily conned to the
pakhavaj. It applies totals which a) are linked with the quantitative, versederived structures still popular in South India such as 2 + 2, 2 + 1 + 1, 2 + 1 +
2 and their extensions; b) display internal structures which are not delineated
through an hierarchy of accents and c) are not conceived in terms of nuclear or
skeletal drum patterns the express function of which is to outline their structure. The second is primarily conned to the dholak, naqqara and tabla. It
applies to tals which a) are linked with qualitatively expressed poetic, dance and
instrumental structures (found also in the neighbouring Muslim countries)
such as 3 + 3, 3 + 4, and 4 + 4; b) display internal structures which are delineated
through a hierarchy of primarily pitch and stress accentuation and c) are
conceived in terms of skeletal drum patterns the express function of which is
to outline the structure of the tal.
(Stewart 1974, 1001)

The region of Awadh, with its capital rst at Faizabad then in Lucknow, also
became a cultural magnet. Here the Persian (from Central Asian Khurasan)
nawab-vazirs, who were a focal point for Shiism on the subcontinent, welcomed intellectuals and artists. Indias global encounters continued: Fyzabad
had risen to a height of unparalleled prosperity . . . and almost rivaled Delhi in
magnicence; it was full of merchants from Persia, China and Europe, and
money owed like water (Neville 1928, 223). There was a revival of dhrupad,
the genre of Mughal courts since the sixteenth century, but instrumentalists on
dhrupad rebb and a new instrument, the sursingar, were notable (Wade 2003,
drawing on Miner 1997), and religious chanting was strongly patronized
(Qureshi 1981, 46).
Masit Khan, a sitarist who chose to remain in Delhi during the reign of one
of the few other capable Mughal rulers, Shah Alam II (ruled 17591806),
contributed signicantly to maintaining Delhis high culture. The introduction
of the gat-toda genre of sitr music is attributed to him; Masitkhani gats were
imitative of dhrupad in some respects, such as speed, but they were clearly

Indian music history in the context of global encounters


meant for solo music. Shah Alam II himself is said to have had good knowledge
of music. In 1797 he had a collection of Persian, Hindi, and Punjabi songs made
under the title of Nadirat-e-Shahi. From the texts of the large number of taranas
(settings of Urdu couplets along with Persian verses, and emphasizing rhythmic syllabic play), it appears that various Muslim and Hindu festivals were
celebrated with equal enthusiasm in Delhi (Ahmad 1984, 748, 1289).
In the twilight of the Mughal period, the last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah II
(ruled 1837 until forced into exile in Burma by the British in 1858), patronized
Ghalib, the brilliant poet of Urdu. Simultaneously, during the reign of Wajid
Ali Shah (ruled 1847 until he was exiled to Calcutta by the British in 1856), the
court of Awadh in Lucknow experienced a period of extravagant renement in
all the arts clothing, etiquette, architecture, music, Kathak dance, and poetry
(Urdu). There, and in nearby Rampur, a style of sitr performance emerged
that is known as Purab baj.
With the waning of the Mughal Empire and centralized cultural hegemony,
in North India the number of smaller courts that emulated Mughal patterns of
artistic patronage increased. This had two quite dierent eects. On one hand,
localized developments were generously fostered. On the other hand, with so
many courts being too small for rulers to retain a large number of musicians,
the custom of a concert circuit developed. This eectively put into place a
mechanism for both local specialization and a pan-Hindustani style that was
not imposed by politico-cultural hegemony.
In South India, music continued to ourish under the patronage of the
Maratha kings in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Thanjavur, the principal seat of Karnatak music before Madras gained that reputation. The three
most important composers of the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries,
known to posterity as the Trinity Syama Sastri (17621827), Tyagaraja
(17671847), and Muttusvami Dikshitar (17761835) thrived in the district
of Thanjavur (Tanjore) but not in the court. Eschewing royal patronage, thereby
embodying the South Indian ideal of a musician who sings for divinity instead of
royalty, the Brahmin musicians composed many songs in the kriti genre. Some of
these, especially those of Tyagaraja, remain in singers repertories to the present.
The eighteenth century saw other global encounters in the sphere of
music. The violin arrived with the British. Weidman recounts four
versions of the initial history of South Indian musicians interest in the
violin. For a brief period in late century, interest in the Hindostannie air
ourished on the part of English society in India. The Hindostannie Air
was a genre of short solo keyboard pieces derived from transcribed Indian
songs. At the height of this trend, pieces were performed regularly mostly
by women at the fashionable soirees of Calcutta society (Woodeld 1994).



Three of the stories place it in the Thanjavur area, and one in Mysore
(Weidman 2006, 2931). European tunes were attractive as well:
[T]he violin was not only a physical sign of the colonial presence but also
the vehicle for a kind of translation of Western music into Karnatic music
(ibid., 32).
By the mid-nineteenth century, the dispersion of power and cultural
hegemony from the Mughal center and the consolidation of British rule
had eectively put in place transformative conditions of possibility for the
history of music in the subcontinent. Many authors have written about
changes in the system of patronage that is, in the gradual concentration
of artistic activity in the urban centers of modernity. That most powerful of
all forces resulted from and constituted responses to South Asias ongoing
global encounters.

Ahmad, N. P. (1984) Hindustani Music: A Study of Its Development in Seventeenth and
Eighteenth Centuries, New Delhi: Manohar Publications
Ayyangar, R. R. (1972) History of South Indian (Carnatic) Music From Vedic Times to the
Present. Published privately in Madras
Bearce, G. D. (1965) Intellectual and cultural characteristics of India in a changing era,
17401800, The Journal of Asian Studies, 25, 1: 317
Bhattacharya, S. (1968) Ethnomusicology and India, Calcutta: Indian Publications
Bor, J. (1986/19877) The voice of the sarangi: An illustrated history of bowing in India,
Quarterly Journal, Bombay National Centre for the Performing Arts, 15, 16: 1183
(1988) The rise of ethnomusicology: Sources on Indian music c. 1780c. 1890,
Yearbook for Traditional Music, 20: 5173
Brahaspati, K. C. D. (1979) Muslim inuences on Venkatamakhi, in G. Kuppuswamy
and M. Hariharan (eds.), Readings on Music and Dance, Trivandrum: B.R. Publishing
Corporation, pp. 79102
Davies, C. C. (1959) An Historical Atlas of the Indian Peninsula, 2nd edn, London: Oxford
University Press
Day, Capt. C. R. (1894) Notes on Indian music, Proceedings of the Musical
Association, 20th Session (18934): 4566
Ellingson, T. J. (1979) The mandala of sound: Concepts and sound structures in Tibetan
ritual music, PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Farrell, G. (1997) Indian Music and the West, Oxford: Clarendon Press
Gautam, M. R. (1980) The Musical Heritage of India, New Delhi: Abhinav Publications
Gosvami, O. (1957) The Story of Indian Music: Its Growth and Synthesis, Bombay: Asia
Publishing House
Hornbostel, E. M. von, and C. Sachs (1961) Classication of musical instruments,
A. Baines and K. P. Wachsmann (trans.), Galpin Society Journal, 14: 329; orig.
publ. as Systematik der Musikinstrumente, Zeitschrift fr Ethnologie, 46 (1914),

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Jones, W. (1792) On the musical modes of the Hindus, in S. M. Tagore (ed.), Hindu
Music from Various Authors, Calcutta, 1875/R, pp. 12360; orig. publ. in Asiatick
Researches, 3: 5587
Krishnaswami, S. (1965) Musical Instruments of India, Delhi: Government of India
Miner, A. J. (1997) Sitar and Sarod in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Delhi: Motilal
Murthy, K. K. (1985) Archaeology of Indian Musical Instruments, Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan
Nakhshabi, Z. (1978) The Cleveland Museum of Arts Tuti-nama: Tales of a Parrot, trans. by
M. A. Simsar, The Cleveland Museum of Arts
Neville, H. R. (1928) Fyzabad, A Gazeteer, Allahabad: Government Press
Pacholczyk, J. (1978) Sufyana kalam, the classical music of Kashmir, Asian Music, 10, 1: 116
Parthasarathy, R. (1993) (trans. and ed.) The Cilappatikaram of Ilanko Atikal, New York:
Columbia University Press
Pingle, B. A. (1962) History of Indian Music with Particular Reference to Theory and Practice,
Calcutta: Susil Gupta Private Ltd.
Powers, H. (n. d.) History of classical music, in R. Qureshi, et al., India, Grove Music
Online, Oxford Music Online, Oxford University Press,
subscriber/article/grove/music/43272pg2#S43272.2 (accessed 12 November 2012)
Prajnanananda, S. (1963) A History of Indian Music, vol. 1: Ancient Period, Calcutta:
Ramakrishna Vedanta Math
Qureshi, R. B. (1981) Islamic music in an Indian environment: The Shia Majlis,
Ethnomusicology, 25, 1: 4171
Rao, V. N., D. Shulman, and S. Subrahmanyam (2003) Textures of Time: Writing History in
South India 16001800, New York: Other Press
Roche, D. (1996) Devi Ambas drum: Mina miracle chant and the ritual ostinato of
spirit-possession performance in southern Rajasthan, PhD dissertation, University
of California, Berkeley
Rowell, L. E. (1992) Music and Musical Thought in Early India, University of Chicago Press
(2000) Scale and mode in the music of the early Tamils of South India, Music Theory
Spectrum, 22, 2: 13556
Sambamoorthy, P. (1963) South Indian Music, vol. 4, Madras: The Indian Music
Publishing House
Sarmadee, S. (2003) Ghunyatul Munya: The Earliest Persian Work on Indian Classical Music,
New Delhi: Indian Council of Historical Research
Sastri, K. V. (1954) The Science of Music, Tanjore: Research Publications
Sharma, S. (1997) A Comparative Evolution of Music in India and the West, Delhi: Pratibha
Stewart, R. M. (1974) The tabla in perspective, PhD dissertation, University of
California, Los Angeles
Tabakt-i-Nasr. A General History of the Muhammadan Dynasties of Asia, Including
Hindustan; from A.H. 194 (810 C.E.) to A.H. 658 (1260 C.E.) (1970) trans. by
Maj. H. G. Raverty, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal
Tagore, S. M. (1963, orig. publ. 1896) Universal History of Music, Varanasi, India:
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04254 (accessed 12 November 2012)



Viswanathan, T., and M. H. Allen (2004) Music in South India: The Karntak Concert
Tradition, and Beyond, New York: Oxford University Press
Wade, Bonnie C. (1998) Imaging Sound: An Ethnomusicological Study of Music, Art, and
Culture in Mughal India, University of Chicago Press
(2003) Music and dance, in Z. Ziad (ed.), The Magnicent Mughals, Karachi: Oxford
University Press, pp. 22968
Weidman, A. J. (2006) Singing the Classical, Voicing the Modern: The Postcolonial Politics of
Music in South India, Durham, NC: Duke University Press
Widdess, D. R. (1980) The Kudumiymalai inscription: A source of early Indian music
in notation, Musica Asiatica, 2: 11550
(1995) The Ragas of Early Indian Music: Modes, Melodies and Musical Notations from the
Gupta Period to c. 1250, Oxford: Clarendon Press
Willard, N. A. (1962) A treatise on the music of Hindoostan: Comprising a detail of the
ancient theory and modern practice, in W. Jones, and N. A. Willard, Music of India,
Calcutta: Susil Gupta Private Ltd., pp. 187; orig. publ. as monograph, Calcutta:
Baptist Mission Press, 1834
Woodeld, I. (1994) The Hindostannie Air: English attempts to understand Indian
music in the late eighteenth century, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 119, 2:

. 6 .

Native American ways of (music) history


Conceptualizing a history of Native American song

and dance traditions
As many scholars have discussed in recent decades, the way people think about
the past is framed and experienced in a variety of ways (see, e.g., de Certeau
1988; Misztal 2003). Many conceptual issues that complicate historical work on
the song and dance traditions of the indigenous people of North America, for
instance, can be usefully considered within larger frameworks of how specic
Native American groups or even individuals conceptualize memory and
history more generally. A complication in studying Native American historical frameworks is the Euroamerican stereotype that indigenous people are not
merely very old, but somehow timeless and ahistorical.1 As Trigger (1985)
wrote several decades ago, this stereotype led to the disciplinary bounding of
history as European focused and anthropology as Other focused. It also
led to the description of precontact culture as prehistory as if real history
does not begin until Europeans arrive (Doxtator 2001, 39). Aboriginal historians, such as Deborah Doxtator, have subsequently demonstrated persuasively
how parallel systems of historical record existed and interacted.
Recognition of parallel histories is integral to indigenous-centered theory
and methodology, an area that has ourished in the early twenty-rst
century.2 A growing number of scholars of indigenous descent have recovered indigenous contributions that were previously ignored in the historical
record (e.g., Dickason 1992; Doxtator 2001) or addressed processes of

1 Much writing about Native American cultures that could have documented when music traditions
emerged in specic locales, for instance, often did not prioritize such chronological precision, nor identify
the individuals or events that enabled the emergence of cultural tradition. Certain types of ethnographic
work, including a great deal of late twentieth-century ethnomusicology, furthermore, was explicitly
2 Indigenous theory emerged strongly in literary studies in the 1990s (see, e.g., Warrior 1995) but
has become become more interdisciplinary and international as anthologies such as Battiste (2000),
Bruchac (2010) and Denzin et al. (2008) demonstrate. Special issues of journals (e.g., American Indian
Quarterly 2004) have focused on traditional knowledge. Indigenous-centered education has been a priority
for others (Chrtien 2012; Cajete 1994).




decolonization (Tuhiwai Smith 1999). Many have used frameworks that

come from indigenous experience or local tradition (e.g., Alfred 2009;
Borrows 2010; Wilson 2008). Many have emphasized relationality as an
inuential model for shifting perspectives. Philip Delorias (2004) theorization of expectation and anomaly as a framework for recasting the
colonial relations between indigenous people and colonizers in the
Americas, for instance, has been widely cited by ethnomusicologists.3
Other studies, however, have recognized the incommensurability of ways
of history. Ethnomusicologist Chad S. Hamill, for instance, recognizes that
[i]n approaching song as the embodiment of prophecy and catalyst for
spiritual power, I dispense with ineective intellectual methodologies
and accept the reality of visionary experience by resituating indigenous
ontologies within the framework of academic scholarship (2012, 13).
Frameworks for understanding past, present, and future, then, may be relational, complementary, and/or irreconcilable.
Anthropologist Peter Nabokov has done extensive work on Native
American concepts of time.4 He begins his important comparison of cultural
ways of history with a Navajo story that initially suggests a rather stark
division: Navajo and Euro-American modes of communicating what is
signicant about distant origins appear to be genres passing in the night
(Nabokov 1996, 2). As his lengthier comparison5 of dierent modalities of
accounting for and interpreting unfolds, however, with attention to a variety
of narrative genres, including creation stories, folk tales, descriptions of
contemporary events, prophecy, oratory, and ritual, Nabokov nuances the
interaction of dierent modes of historicity in a complex manner. He emphasizes the plasticity of Native American historical narratives and considers
how place and material objects, among other things, may be vehicles of history.
He notes ways in which these vehicles of history mediate encounter. He asks
important questions about the purposeful nature of history: [W]hen is
it necessary, permissible, or culturally appropriate for Indian historicity to
come to life? (2002, 34). Like Doxtator, he considers how multiple histories
can coexist and asks what serves to validate historical accounts in dierent
cultural contexts.

3 This model contrasts markedly with the concept of acculturation that was widely used in some earlier
ethnomusicological studies.
4 Ethnohistorical models have also been explored by other historians, in almost every instance with an
emphasis on the variety and local diversity of such models (Ortiz 1977; Fogelson 1974; Fowler 1987).
Folklorists beginning with Dorson (1961) have similarly looked at the historicity of narratives and myths.
5 His book, A Forest of Time: American Indian Ways of History (2002), expanded on the issues raised in his
1996 article.

Native American ways of (music) history


While only a few ethnomusicologists and other scholars of Native American

and Aboriginal Canadian music have, as yet, explicitly worked with the modes
of historicity that Nabokov articulates, there are traces of these concepts
evident in much of our work. The present chapter explores how First
Nations, Inuit, and Mtis music history is beginning to be reconceptualized,
by recognizing localized ways of history within indigenous communities.
As scholars of Native American song and dance cultures rethink historical
paradigms, there is growing acceptance that dierent cultural views of history
should be regarded as complementary.

Whose history? And the question of agency

Like mainstream history (if there is such a thing at this juncture), written
histories of Native America have privileged political events, war, and, consequently, the narratives of leaders and warriors. Some such leaders (e.g.,
Membertou, Wovoka) had a huge impact on song culture, but many tradition
bearers have been storied outside of these privileged historical foci. A number
of (auto)biographies of both male and female traditional song carriers (especially Frisbies work with Frank and Rose Mitchell [Mitchell 1978; Mitchell
and Frisbie 2001]), or Levines work on Arzelie Langtry (1991) complement
the picture. Vanders (1988) work with ve Shoshone song carriers is an
important instance of tracing a century of history by focusing on the agency
and explanations of individuals of dierent generations. Other studies of both
traditional and contemporary musicians (e.g., Nettl 1968; Young Bear and
Theisz 1994; Bissett Perea 2012) demonstrate how individual life stories
carry the traces of complex intercultural historical interactions.
Scholars have made contributions to the growing body of work demonstrating how women experienced colonialism very dierently from men, particularly along the Atlantic seaboard (see, among others, Green 1975; Mihesuah
1993; Perdue 2001). Of particular importance for music scholars is the fact that
many women served as cultural mediators as both visual artists in the context
of trade and tourism since the mid-nineteenth century6 and performers.7 In the
past couple of decades, oral historical work (including many published interviews with culture bearers)8 has proliferated, providing a very dierent picture
of human agency within the period of living memory.

6 See Phillips (1998) for a particularly wide-ranging exploration of trading identities.

7 McBrides biographies of Molly Spotted Elk (1995, 1999) and Lucy Nicolar (2001) are cases in point.
8 One instance is the 2012 anthology Aboriginal Music in Contemporary Canada: Echoes and Exchanges,
co-edited by A. Hoefnagels and B. Diamond. Interviews and conversations appear alongside academic
articles, in an explicit eort to explore processes of knowledge production.



Nonindigenous scholars often nd the modes of telling life histories challenging for various reasons. The diculty of understanding how life stories interweave with narrative and song was addressed by anthropologist Julie Cruikshank
in Life Lived Like a Story (1990), and by her former teacher Robin Ridington in
Trail to Heaven (1988). A second challenge may be that, as Nabokov and others
have observed, the historical reference points in many Native American contexts
are often individual experiences. Our consultants and teachers are often careful
to indicate that a story is their version, or perhaps that they learned that from a
specic person. A good illustration in recent ethnomusicology might be found in
an interview that Franziska von Rosen (2009) conducted with Passamaquoddy
singer Margaret Paul, who often started her descriptions of the past with
reference to a specic version of that past: The way Mike described it
(ibid., 59), this friend of mine, she said (ibid., 61), Thats what that spirit
told me when I went into that sweat lodge in Alberta (ibid., 62). Because of the
authority that individual experience is aorded, multiple versions of the past
more easily coexist in Native America than in Euroamerican ways of history.9
Any study of agency must explore the complexity of power dynamics. Recent
music scholarship helps to demonstrate that the power relationships between
colonizers and Native Americans were uid and complex. Interactions between
Native Americans and missionaries have been a particularly fruitful sphere for
examining the power dynamics of colonizers and indigenous hosts and for
exploring the role of singing in cross-cultural negotiations of control. It must
not be denied that Christian churches were complicit in running boarding and
residential schools that were genocidal in intent and often physically, psychologically, and sexually abusive. Recent research, nonetheless, rmly debunks
earlier assumptions that missionaries were necessarily in control of these encounters.10 Anne Morrison Spinney (2005) looks closely at the relationship between
missionaries, shamans, and political contexts in Penobscot history, arguing
persuasively that Aboriginal medicine people made alliances or, alternatively,
maintained antagonistic relations with Christian priests, in order to achieve
political ends. Christian hymnody played a role in this process. Luke Lassiters
work on Kiowa hymnody similarly reveals that what often emerges in the
stories of missions in Indian country is a complicated narrative dominated by
negotiations and accommodations on all sides (Lassiter, Ellis, and Kotay 2002,
116). He notes that [w]hen one listens to Kiowa people talk about Indian

9 It is all the more regrettable that many early records and modern interpretations of them are often
unable or unconcerned with identifying the specic Aboriginal participants especially in everyday
post-contact encounters.
10 This work carries much further earlier work on hymnody that explored localizations of the texts and
functions of hymns by Aboriginal performers (Diamond 1992; Keillor 1987; Whidden 1985).

Native American ways of (music) history


hymns . . . models like assimilation do more to obscure encounter and experience

than to elaborate on it (ibid., 117). Similarly, Chad Hamill asserts that missionaries to the Salish underestimated the ingenuity and resilience of the cultures
they encountered where old medicine ways and new hymns both contributed
to a sense of collective indigeneity (2012, 4). Ethnomusicologists have studied
instances of dual religious belief (Powers 1987), indigenization of Christian
practices (Diamond 1992), and syncretic religious rites such as the Native
American church (McAllester 1949).
Related to agency is the incompleteness of human-centered historical
accounts. Creation stories are important texts of Native American history, as
are many other types of narrative and mythology. These texts, with their numerous nonhuman characters, early time periods (or timeless ones), chronological
discontinuities, and unquestionable truth value, pose one of the greatest
challenges to Eurocentric constructs of history.11 One aspect of that challenge
is, of course, the very scope that is thinkable within certain ways of history.
The tendency is for those who work with print to equate history with the written
records of colonizers and to describe earlier events as prehistory. Mythic time is
not so constrained. Giants and spirits, birds and animals, are historical agents in
this context. A larger-than-human agency demands, however, that we assess the
purposes and priorities of history. Nabokov asks whether history should prioritize facts and chronologies or themes and attitudes (Nabokov 2002, 67). Many
of the examples cited in the present chapter emphasize that themes of regaining
balance or renewing beliefs, for instance, are more central to Native American
(music) history than exact chronology.
Humans are often not the agents, in the sense of instigators or creators, but the
mediators for teachings, which may include song. This is particularly true of
communities where songs are received (not consciously created) in dreams or
during fasts. The Innu of Labrador and Northern Quebec, for instance, along with
many other Algonquian-speaking First Nations, regard all traditional nikumana as
emanating from dreams (Armitage 1992; Diamond 2008). In some communities,
dreams also validate an individuals right to undertake certain work: hunting in a
certain territory or even making a drum (see Audet 2012). The temporality of
dreams is, of course, not congruent with chronological frameworks.
Environment as agent is a particularly noteworthy trope in the history
of Native American traditional narrative. There are now many scholars who
are looking to indigenous narratives that relate to dramatic environmental events
in human history. Anthropologist Julie Cruikshank, in her groundbreaking book
11 Nabokov (2002, 67) reminds us of the mid-twentieth-century debate between anthropologists Robert
Lowie (who felt that Indian narratives were historically useless), John Swanton, and Roland Dixon who
were more interested in what such narratives might convey about pre-contact times.



Do Glaciers Listen?: Local Knowledge, Colonial Encounters, and Social Imagination

(2005), not only expands the purview of history to environments, but also
looks at divergent historical narratives about environmental change in the
Yukon. She reminds us that both indigenous people and environmental historians advise us to examine nature as a continuing force in history, not in a
determining role but as one actor in relation to others (ibid., 9). While those
who study expressive culture might initially think her work is remote from the
work they do, the role of expressive culture in mediating the relationship
between human societies and nature is a signicant one. In one instance, she
describes how First Nations travelers on dangerous glaciers,12 which might have
surged or receded unexpectedly, marked their journeys with song, as well as with
respectful practices such as remaining quiet in certain contexts or not consuming
grease in the vicinity of the glacier:
Songs, such as the Marching and Resting and Dancing songs that Copper River
people composed during their migration toward the coast, play an important
role in clan histories. Kadasteen spoke to Swanton in 1909 about the mourning songs his ancestors sang to commemorate companions lost in fog on this
journey. Forty years later, in 1949, Sarah Williams sang the same songs for
Frederica de Laguna, and she contrasted these dirges with the joyful songs clan
members composed when they actually discovered Icy Bay: They danced
down from that mountain. They were happy when they were coming on this
side. Lots of things happen[ed] there and there are songs [about those events].
(Cruikshank 2005, 345)

Cruikshank sees such songs as historical sources, but she also recognizes
how they not only mark events but also reect emotional relationships,
themes, and attitudes. In forging a relationship to the dramatic and changeable
landscape that humans traverse, these songs are performative like, but not
quite like, creation stories and mythologies that speak of primordial times.
They constitute a dierent historical layer.13 They mark events or places, as in
Cruikshanks example (after Swanton and de Laguna). Or they may recreate
those events and places using mimesis.14

The shape of history: pathways? circles? layers?

With memory components that simultaneously function as prophecy Native
American historical narratives often blur lines between past, present, and
12 The quote refers to the Malaspina Glacier.
13 In some Native American cultures, the distinction between classic myths (atnuhana in the Innu aimun
language, for instance) and stories (tipatishimun in Innu aimun) may be something like this distinction.
14 Song and movement traditions may imitate the sounds and energies of local environments as Mikmaq
elder and museum curator Stephen Augustine emphasized in a recent conversation (Diamond 2008, 27).

Native American ways of (music) history


future. In part, this is a matter of language, as Benjamin Lee Whorf struggled

to understand in the 1930s when he wrote, the Hopi language is seen to
contain no words, grammatical forms, constructions or expressions that refer
directly to what we call time, or to past, present, or future (1956, 57).
The recursiveness of Native American history its nonlinearity, its simultaneous use as prophecy and reection has challenged Euroamerican scholars
to think about the very shape of historical accounts. As Nabokov observes:
Comprehending the meanings of the past through Indian eyes and narratives
requires one to pay close attention to the diversity of ways in which among
dierent Indian peoples temporal phasings and historical commentaries
can extend backwards into primordial eras and forward to embrace remembered individuals and recent events.
(Nabokov 1996, 9)

Some scholars, such as Mircea Eliade (1959) and Ake Hultkrantz (1987),
attempt to deal with recursivity by contrasting cyclical with linear histories.
Cyclical shapes are also emphasized in Native American discourses of the
medicine wheel and other circular pathways. Ultimately, however, the binary
is an over-simplication. Ethnomusicologists are among those who have
challenged its reductionism by drawing attention to the embedded relationships of cyclical thinking and linear chronology, with an emphasis on recontextualization and revitalization. Victoria Lindsay Levine articulates this
interconnection clearly when she writes:
Native American attitudes toward history and change are embedded in the
sacred narratives and oral traditions of each tribe, which reveal that many
Indians perceive time as operating through cyclical recurrence rather than
linear chronology; thus change involves adoption, adaptation, and syncretism
rather than displacement, radical innovation, or succession. These concepts
have important implications for the methods Indians have developed to construct music history and to shape musical change. Native American processes of
musical change include the adoption or adaptation of music performed by
other peoples, the blending of indigenous and external idioms, and the revitalization and recontextualization of repertories that have become moribund or
have been temporarily discontinued.
(Levine 1998, 19)

Adaptation and renewal are, at the same time, both cyclical and linear.
The focus of Native American historical work on renewal and revitalization seems to resonate with Aboriginal performance traditions as ways
of remembering. Revitalizations have often served as responses to particular
historical events or community needs: the establishment of the Longhouse
religion among the Haudenosaunee in the wake of the visions of Handsome
Lake at the turn of the nineteenth century, the Ghost Dance of the late



nineteenth century (see Vander 1997), or indeed the many revitalization

initiatives across North America that have occurred since the 1960s.15
The revitalization theme, however, also helps to account for histories of
renewal that take place over longer periods of time. Nations have been
inclusive in their adoption of new musical traditions, particularly in the
east, where more attenuated colonial contact, aggressive missionization,
and deterritorialization disrupted earlier ways of life so severely that the
contemporary distinctiveness of the nations includes a mixture of
borrowed and reinvented elements. The Mikmaq of Atlantic Canada, for
instance, make intertribal traditions such as the powwow their own, through
the symbolism of their regalia and the incorporation of local social dances
such as kojua. They learn from neighboring communities both far and near,
indigenous and nonindigenous (Tulk 2008). Levines statement wisely
advises us to value such recontextualization and borrowing within our
historical accounts.
Tulks aforementioned study corroborates a growing emphasis on intertribal
cultural movements, such as the powwow tradition, as important sites of
renewal and revitalization. Powwow scholar Clyde Ellis (2003) sees the southern powwow as a strategy of adaptation, both to outside forces and to internal
ones. He quotes L. G. Moses, who wrote that Wild West shows were among the
forerunners of contemporary powwows, not as simple depictions of pioneer
virtue triumphing over savagery (Ellis 2003, 17) but that Wild West Indians
were spokespersons for the right of Indians to be themselves (ibid.). With
regard to the powwow as a vehicle for cultural renewal, Ellis states:
On the Southern Plains, few things seem more suited to mediating cultural and
community identity than the powwow. Although it is true that powwows
reect complicated and contested interpretations of social memory and action,
it is also true that such debates notwithstanding, powwows remain extraordinary for their power to mold and express identity.
(Ibid., 26)

In other regions, highly esteemed individuals traditionally had social roles

that facilitated connection between past, present, and future. In some cultures,
such as that of the Dane-zaa of British Columbia, with whom anthropologist
Robin Ridington has worked throughout his career, individuals known as
Dreamers were ne orators, and they were the keepers of wisdom and knowledge (Ridington and Ridington 2006, 26). Ridington describes how, in their
dreams, they followed the yagutunne or trail to heaven, the pathway of
their departed loved ones associated with the Milky Way:
15 Between the late 1940s and 1960s, both the United States and Canada struck down a series of
discriminatory laws, enacted since the 1880s, laws that made Native American ceremony and dance illegal.

Native American ways of (music) history


When they returned they awoke with a song, a story, a prophecy. The
Dreamers also predicted many changes for the Dane-zaa people. They warned
about the loss of land, the destruction of animal habitat, the earthquakes, the
giant snakes (pipelines), and the burning matchsticks (are stacks). The storied
land is now being industrialized; the prophecies are becoming a reality. (Ibid.)

The Ridington family, however, worked with the community to create a

website for archival material that respects protocols while making the
knowledge of previous generations of Dreamers and others in the community accessible in the future.16 Again, the technological recontextualization of this material is a means of keeping present generations connected
to those of the past. The web, itself, then, becomes yet another tool of
Ethnomusicologists have struggled to nd the right concepts to describe how
song can simultaneously reference present, past, and, in some instances, future.
The image of layers has become a shape that many nd resonant with
Aboriginal discursive traditions. Scholars have observed concepts in Native
American languages that point to this. Nabokov notes that the Navajo word for
the tribes past is atkidaa, the literal meaning of which is on top of each other
(Nabokov 2002, 42); David Samuelss 2004 book Putting a Song on Top of It
conveys the related Apache concept not only in its title but also in many experiences he shared with the San Carlos Apache. In one instance, Samuels describes a
musician who explained the phrase bee nagoditah during a band rehearsal:
[H]e told me he liked it when I turned the fuzz box on in the middle of the
guitar solo. He said it added something to it. He called it bee nagoditah,
nagoditah, inagoditah. I asked him what that meant, and he said it means
something being put on top of something else.
(Samuels 2004, 184)

Samuels realizes that this timbral transformation18 is conceptualized as a

layering of present and past, whether the past was the last time he played the
guitar solo or an earlier point of time. Singing a popular song of the past evokes
a pleasure in remembering earlier singers and earlier events. Specic repertory
can recover the past and bring the feeling of past and present together.
The reference points bring vagueness, ambiguity and indeterminacy into
play and this enriches understanding. Samuels is critical of studies that
search primarily for coherence, arguing, [t]he establishment of coherence as
16 See
17 Evidence of how important this has become is the fact that, at the time of writing, Aboriginal
self-representations constitute a large proportion of the forty-nine websites devoted to Aboriginal Art,
Culture and Traditions in the Virtual Museum of Canada.
18 Others who have studied how recording technologies have changed traditional Native American
performance practices include Scales (2012), Perea (2012), and Diamond (2005).



the thing to be discovered by anthropology dictates certain agendas and

approaches and designates some communities and some issues more worthy
of study than others (2004, 14).
Ann Morrison Spinney also nds the metaphor of layering apt for
describing Passamaquoddy song traditions. Her work demonstrates that
several types of repertories were used to enact encounters with outsiders.
Some genres, such as welcoming songs and dances, were nevertheless
multivalent. She notes that the ceremonial actions of the welcoming
ceremonies encode layers of meaning: histories of warfare and alliance,
social structure, spiritual beliefs, and cultural pride (Spinney 2010, 95).
The concept of layers and adding on is useful when considering how
dierent types of performance and narrative may cumulatively reinforce
but also rene the meaning of the past. It is also useful in that it allows
variant histories (and performances) to coexist, mutually enriching one
another. While each variant may be right for an individual, family, or
whole nation, the fact that there are other variants elsewhere is not a
discrediting of the accuracy of local narratives. This issue is expanded in
the section on performance as history below. The metaphor of layers, then,
facilitates a better understanding of the plasticity of history. While
variants of narratives about song or dance histories, ceremonial creation
stories, or opinions about social change may coexist in local contexts, they
are rarely positioned as right and wrong.

Vehicles of history, repositories of memory

The previous section has already demonstrated how memory may be evoked
in the retellings of narratives, ceremonies, and songs. The present section
deepens the consideration of Native American vehicles of history and repositories of memory. Retellings, as well as embodied forms of history (images,
stories, places, objects), should be contextualized in two dierent ways, both of
which are elucidated by Doxtator (2001). First, she observes that while
Europeans relied mostly on words, and especially writing, as a means of
recording history, Native Americans had a wider array of documentary
forms. Words have the disadvantage of being language specic and thus
exclude those who speak or write another language. Images, places, and
objects, however, facilitated a shared history (ibid., 43). Second, she points to
individual experience as the means by which knowledge is authenticated.
Participation in performance, where not only singing, dancing, and ritual but
also the witnessing of these actions is valued, is a way of renewing knowledge
and connecting past with present and future.

Native American ways of (music) history


Ceremonies and public performance as history

Given that renewal and revitalization are central to so many Aboriginal
ways of relating past, present, and future, it is not surprising that ceremony
is often oriented specically to these purposes. Renewal can take place on
various levels. In many instances, individuals remember and renew their lives
periodically. Innu women in Quebec, for example, add a ring of beads to the
traditional multisectional hats they wear to represent their First Nation
identity. The hats wedges are sometimes seen as marking the four directions
in turn, a sort of passage. A new ring of beadwork has been described to me as
a symbol of a new year in the life of a family (Diamond 1994, 154). An Inuit
hunter in Nunavut might recall encounters with animals on the land by
composing a pisiq, or drum song, or he might add verses to an existing song
(Cavanagh 1982).
Many First Nations mark the unfolding of the agricultural year with
ceremony celebrating rebirth, return, and thanksgiving for the gifts of the
earth. In the agricultural heartlands of Ontario, Quebec, and New York State,
the members of the Haudenosaunee Longhouse religion maintain an annual
cycle that gives thanks for each new gift of the earth. While each community
may embellish the cycle, the ceremonies generally mark seasonal changes, such
as midwinter (the most powerful time of renewal), maple syrup, thunder, seed
planting, strawberries, green corn, or harvest. They also include powerful rites
of remembering, such as a Feast for the Dead and the Code of Handsome Lake.
But at events that are regarded as social rather than ceremonial and hence
shared with outsiders, similar references to the return of certain birds or
animals or to historic gifts of song and dance from other Aboriginal people
abound. Renewing, thanking, and celebrating are all intertwined processes.
In many Native American communities, ceremony may involve the
reenactment of a creation story or other classic narrative. As Doxtator
notes, Ones personalized experience of the mythic or spiritual is shaped
by the collectively determined practices surrounding rituals and specialized
interpretations of dreams (2001, 45). Numerous ethnomusicological studies of ceremonial practices illustrate this, but only a few examples will be
mentioned here. Orin Hatton, for instance, oers a cultural analysis of the
Gros Ventre war dance complex in relation to the creation story of that
nation. He relates structural elements to the actions of Earthmaker, demonstrating that, because Earthmakers instrumental acts that resulted in
transformations were preceded by an announcement of his intention,
creative works similarly precede acts of transformation with formal
statements of the thought informing such behaviour (Hatton 1990, 54).



Similarly, he describes how song may mimic the utterance Youh, hou,
hou, with which Earthmaker completed the creation of the earth (ibid.).
Still more far-reaching is his paradigmatic analysis of dierent kinds of
speech activity thought, breath, speech, crying, and singing each a
dierent means of communication between Gros Ventre and the Supreme
Being. He notes temporal connotations of each mode: The power of
thought is innite and precedes all other instrumental behaviour. Breath
shares this innity, and Earthmaker combined thought and breath when he
revived the creatures in the pipe-bundle at the time of creation (ibid., 47).
Speech, however, is constrained by dierent contexts of respect and
familiarity, solemnity and intensity (ibid.). Crying mediates between
speech and singing, relating to prayer as a means of gaining access to the
Supreme Being. Finally, singing is related to the recreation of the Gros
Ventre universe at the beginning of the present stage of the world: As the
most solemn form of utterance, singing reiterates the original act of creation and intensies the instrumental nature of crying. Singing too is
mediation, but in the sense of communicating specic human concerns to
the Supreme Being (ibid., 52).
Similarly, song may bring the pantheon of Navajo deities into the human
realm. In her study of Kinaald, one of the Blessing Way ceremonies, Charlotte
Frisbie explains how each Navaho Girls puberty ceremony is a recreation of
the kinaald of the mythic Changing Woman. She notes that themes such as
the ceremonial dressing, molding, racing, singing, use of a specic number of
songs, notifying the Gods for the original ceremony, and the relation between
Kinaald and Blessing Way are mentioned in more than half of the myths
(Frisbie 1967, 16). She observes that this recreation of the basic elements of the
narrative does not preclude variation from one telling of the story to another
and from one ceremonial performance to another. This space for creative
adaptation and recreation, then, is not at odds with the concept of harmony
obtained through orderly human eort the concept which has been and still is
the foundation of Navaho religion (ibid., 392).
The cultures of the northwest coast of North America have developed some
of the most elaborate forms of reenactment in conjunction with potlatch
ceremonies. A mimetic performance of moiety and clan structures, the potlatch
enables participants to witness important points of social change, such as the
passing of a chief and the installation of a new leader. At the level of mythology,
it incorporated dances that replicated myths and brought spirit beings into the
world of humans. The feasting, dancing, and giving of gifts from one family
and moiety to another is itself evocative of historical struggles in the colonial
period. All such expressive activities were legally banned in both Canada and

Native American ways of (music) history


the United States in 1885 and not made legal again until after 1947. Hence,
its contemporary performance is shaded by the marks of the colonial past
and enlivened by the testament it oers to cultural resilience and revitalization.
Smaller-scale instances of public performance as history abound. In social
contexts and contemporary musical praxis, specic songs performed in new
contexts may evoke memories of the past. While ethnomusicologists have
demonstrated that this is true in many cultural contexts throughout the
world, the distinctiveness of some Native American practices may be the
discursive emphasis on resignifying history through song. Anthropologists
Robin and Jillian Ridington convey this in the title of their 2006 book, When
You Sing It Now, Just Like New. The phrase they cite is from one of the Dreamers
of the Dane-zaa, Tommy Attachie, who traveled on the trail to heaven
(the pathway of the departed) to bring back songs that help sustain communities in the present and future. As Robin Ridington explains, each new oral
performance authorizes the song or story anew (Ridington and Ridington
2006, 22). Ridington and his collaborators have worked with the Dane-zaa for
decades, and so the remarkable longevity of their study of the Dreamers oral
traditions allows for a detailed exploration of this process, one that folklorist
Amber Ridington calls oral curation (A. Ridington 2012). The narratives
about specic dreamers songs that are shared among the singers are localized
and reinvented with each performance, thus preserving the song but adding to
or shifting its meaning in the present context. In the case of a Prairie Chicken
Song (recorded a number of times by the Ridingtons between 1966 and
2008), which is now accessible on their website,19 Amber explains how the
oldest singers commentary names and comments on the deceased person who
was helped on the trail to heaven by this song, as well as those who helped
her by singing this song. Decades later the same song was sampled in a pop
arrangement, now narrated without the specic historical context or the sacred
connotations. Far from interpreting this as a loss, however, she recognizes the
emergent nature of the tradition and the importance of new performances in
keeping alive the teachings of the past.
A compelling example of layered meanings in the study of a narrative and song
is anthropologist Julie Cruikshanks (1998) study of Pete Sydneys song, part of
a larger story of a Tlingit man named Kaaxachgok, as told by his mother, the
Tagish/Tlingit elder Angela Sydney, on a number of dierent occasions. Angelas
awareness of dierent audiences, times, and places enabled her to change the
range of meanings of the stories relative to the context of each retelling. On one
occasion, she emphasized the relationship to the epic past and clan history; on
19 See



another, it was the journey of her son overseas as a soldier during World War II
and her gift of the song from this story on the occasion of his return. The same
story, then, might reference very dierent historical events. Cruikshank explains
how Angelas retelling might comment on concepts of clan ownership or serve as
a form of commemoration. She concludes:
Her [Angelas] point is that oral tradition may tell us about the past, but its
meanings are not exhausted with reference to the past. Good stories from the
past continue to provide legitimate insights about contemporary events. What
appears to be the same story, even in the repertoire of one individual, has
multiple meanings depending on location, circumstance, audience, and stage of
life of narrator and listener.
(Cruikshank 1998, 434)

While Amber Ridington and Julie Cruikshank both explore the recontextualization of traditional materials, ethnomusicologists who study new musical
genres, especially popular-music genres or contemporary uses of older material created by indigenous musicians, writers, and other artists, often imply
that these new styles and genres function in a similar way. They oer new
means to reect on past experiences. John-Carlos Perea (2012) has looked at
the song that originated in the Native American church and was transmitted
through the family of Creek jazz musician Jim Pepper, eventually becoming
the theme of his hit recording Wichitai Tao. The songs trajectory
embodies changing notions about traditional protocols for access to traditional material, changing audiences, and identity constructs charged with
changing aesthetics. David Samuels provides many examples of the way
specic songs accumulate evocative and indexical meanings by being linked
to personal biography and history as well as to local place (Samuels 2004,
130). Johnny Hortons Whispering Pines, for instance, recalled the San
Carlos Apache days at a residential mission school. Big Bells rendition of
Cookie and the Cupcakes Mathilda (a minor hit in its own day) was
meaningful because it was performed by someone who had social relationships within the community. The memory of who learned it from whom and
of performances through several decades is evoked and sometimes described.
As Samuels states, [t]he song, like so many, acts as a memory box, not only
for people, but for places as well (ibid., 136). He has been asked if this is not
the way everyone responds to oldies. He argues that genre is less important
for the Apache. Rather, non-Apache songs evoke in listeners these feelings
for the Apache past (ibid.). They add a new layer to that past.
Other scholars of Native American popular music have similarly viewed
new creative forms as layers that may comment on the past, in lyrics at times,
or in samples of archival material in some cases. They may also perpetuate

Native American ways of (music) history


community values and styles of social interaction within new spaces, such as
recording studios (Scales 2002; Diamond 2005), or trace the migrations of
dierent First Nations within North America through such elements as vocal
timbre (Diamond 2002). Like earlier traditions, popular music may be a site
where dierent histories of alliance are embodied (Diamond 2007).
Popular-music studies, furthermore, demonstrate how performance changes
can speak to issues of social change. Studies of contemporary powwows have
beneted from explorations of emergent social contexts: university-based
powwows, LGBT powwows, New Age powwows, or powwows outside of
the Americas (see Browner 2002, 2009; Ellis et al. 2005) or Native American
womens diverse responses to traditional proscriptions on their participation
around the drum (Hoefnagels 2007) all illustrate this.

Objects as histories
Perhaps the rst thing that comes to mind with the subheading Objects as
histories is archeology, where the shards of the past provide tangible evidence
of ways of life. My concern here, however, is about objects as embodiments of
historic relationships or changing sociopolitical or religious aliations. There
are classic examples, such as wampum, where patterns symbolized political
alliances and social relationships or marked signicant historical events for
many nations in the northeast. Other well-known instances are a variety of
built structures. As Nabokov has observed:
The buildings of Native Americans encoded not only their social order but
often their tribal view of the cosmos. Many Indian narratives tell of a Distant
Time or a Myth Age when a First House was bestowed upon a tribe as
a container for their emerging culture. Some tribes likened the creation of
the world itself to the creation of a house, strengthening the metaphoric
correspondence between dwelling and cosmos. Thereafter Indian peoples
held the ritual power to renew their cosmos through rebuilding, remodeling,
or reconsecrating their architecture.
(Nabokov 1989, 38)

Like ceremonial performance, then, objects could reference history through

mimesis and could embody change in a process of revitalization and renewal.
Some objects are visual shorthand of a similar nature: Iroquois condolence
canes, Anishnabe song scrolls, and medicine bundles of Plains people, to
name a few. Levine (2002) includes some examples in her compilation of
song transcription, most of it in Euroamerican form, but with a section devoted
to Native Notations and Transcriptions, most of which served mnemonic
purposes. An exhaustive study of objects that are relevant to song traditions
as records of historical denition and social relationship is anthropologist/
ethnomusicologist Charlotte Frisbies (1987) landmark study of jish, the



medicine bundles of the Navajo. An important observation to note about

her detailed documentation is her selection of what to include for discussion.
While she explains how songs are used to renew and purify the bundle and
describes certain aspects of the ceremonies that accompany the creation or
transfer of a bundle, she does not disclose the texts of the songs, the exact
contents or meanings associated with objects in the bundle. Certain elements of
these historical records might come to light appropriately in performance but
not in the covers of a print publication. Instead, she writes about the lives of
medicine bundles (ibid., 393), focusing on their acquisition, transmission, and
disposition in the past and present, as the books subtitle indicates. Frisbie is
sensitive to Nabokovs question previously cited about when is it necessary,
permissible, or culturally appropriate for Indian historicity to come to life
(Nabokov 2002, 34).
On a more personal level, clothing, including dance outts, and objects, such
as musical instruments, may embody memory and history. One of the most
extensive studies of a musical instrument, Thomas Vennum Jrs The Ojibwa
Dance Drum (1982), explores how the drums lifetime its origin story, its
ourishing and eventual decline record Anishnabe history. In the course of
the SPINC20 project of the 1980s, a research team learned how museum objects
embody historical signicance. Even their imprisonment in museums was a
subject of comment by Aboriginal consultants who often criticized aspects of
caretaking in these alien environments. The materials, construction, and
images told other stories. Sometimes these were explicit stories of individual
pathways, as was the case of a horn rattle (Diamond et al. 1994, 160), with
images that related to traditional spiritual practice carved on one side and
images relating to Christianity carved on another. In some instances, images
were added to musical instruments to mark an event. One hand drum even had
the names of a hockey team inscribed on it. In other cases, changes in construction provided evidence of changes in intercultural relationships; the
means of securing the cone-shaped bark of a moose call, for example, indicated
whether or not the instrument had been commissioned for the growing craft
market in the early or mid-twentieth century. We noted that elders discourses
about musical instruments (like the discourses of medicine bundles such as
the Navajo jish that Frisbie studied) often emphasized the life cycles of the
object itself (the life of the instrument) or the meetings of the lives of birds,
animals, fabric, trees, or stones that contributed to its structure and meaning.
20 Sound Producing Instruments in Native Communities. The project team consisted of Sam Cronk,
Franziska von Rosen, and myself. We documented collections of musical instruments in twenty-four
museums and shared that documentation with Native American communities and individuals, who helped
us to understand many things about how objects embody meaning. See Diamond et al. 1994.

Native American ways of (music) history


The concept of layering was evident on instruments that had been repainted
with dierent colors or adorned with new materials at dierent points in time.
Here, while the exact meanings were often undiscoverable, there were things
added, processes of renewal, as with retellings of narratives.
Documents (print publications, audio recordings, etc.) are, of course,
objects, as well. Archivists Judith Gray (1999) and Laurel Sercombe (1999)
have not only produced comprehensive catalogues of such materials but have
explored their complex histories, shedding light on the way that the discipline
of ethnomusicology emerged from colonial encounter, and on the challenges
of repatriation.
The nature of documents is a tricky business. The role of print documents
created by Euroamericans often xes things. Consider, by comparison, such
records as Osage or Omaha song counting sticks, Haudenosaunee
Condolence canes, Passamaquoddy Wampum Records, Navajo jish, or
Anishnabe song scrolls.21 They record historical practices in order not to
establish a record for posterity but to perpetuate practice by stimulating
memory. They do not describe details but include images that, in an abbreviated form, symbolize processes of receiving knowledge (through dreams, for
instance), relationships, or ritual forms, the substance of which is kept only in
living tradition. While an Osage counting stick may have a notch for each song
and may indicate song groups by the arrangement of notches (Levine 2002,
1578), an Anishnabe (Ojibwe) song scroll may depict a gure that recalls some
aspect of the song text (e.g., Walter James Homans documentation, reproduced in Levine 2002, 16571). They serve as mnemonic aids in performance
situations, thus not xing but enabling the renewal and re-performance of
historical reference points.

Geography as history
Scholars of Native American culture have long asserted that place marks and
stimulates memory of the past. Anthropologist Keith Basso, particularly in his
inuential book Wisdom Sits in Places (1996), is among the many non-Native
scholars who have written about the importance of topography as a repository
for stories about the past. Apache constructions of place, he writes, reach
deeply into other cultural spheres, including conceptions of wisdom, notions
of morality, politeness and tact in forms of spoken discourse, and certain
conventional ways of imagining and interpreting the Apache tribal past
(ibid., xv). Bassos collaborators uttered a place name as shorthand for entire

21 Photographs and detailed documentation of several of these are published in Levine 2002, 15776.



stories of events that took place at that location, events that also revealed
principles of moral behavior and respect.
Migration narratives, such as those of the Anishnabe, are other instances of
place narrated as part of a tribal history. As Thomas Vennum (1978) has
documented, songs were an integral part of that classic narration, which is at
the core of Midewiwin ceremony, past and present. Song, including Christian
hymns, also sustained those who endured enforced migration, particularly the
historic removals of nations in the southeast to Indian Country (the name for
Oklahoma from 1835 to 1906). The Trail of Tears of the Cherokee was marked
by specic hymns like One Drop of Blood. In their new locale in what is now
Oklahoma, new stomp-dance grounds were established, marking the space as
theirs in both sonic and tactile ways.
In other cases, travel or pathways are recorded in song as a sort of mnemonic
trail of experiences. Inuit drum dance songs are a case in point (Cavanagh
[Diamond] 1982; Nattiez 1999). They often begin with a series of place names
that outline the hunting route of the male dancer. No explanations are given,
but each name evokes senses and stories, serving as a topographic mnemonic.
Unlike repertory received in dreams or visions or from earlier generations, this
repertory is situated chronologically with considerable precision. Composers
of drum-dance songs are recognized and named, and the origin of specic
songs is frequently traced to personal events of signicance. Some singers add
to their song as their experiences unfold, hence treating a pisiq as an unfolding
expressive record not a xed piece. Others identify rather precisely the age
and origins of a pisiq with references to a specic event or the age of a family

Shared histories and other paradigms

The strengths of the ways of history discussed thus far is enormous, in my
view, but there are dangers lurking if the nuanced exploration of Nabokov is
cited supercially (as I have arguably done in this chapter). It is very easy to fall
into the trap of essentialism, dichotomizing historical approaches to avoid
looking at them relationally. Relative to ways of history that are related to
traditional indigenous knowledge, I am struck by the fact that a number of
music or dance scholars of Aboriginal descent choose more mainstream types
of history and more critical stances about new forms and encounters. Choctaw
ethnomusicologist Tara Browner, who has explored the late nineteenth- and
early twentieth-century Indianist movement in classical composition
(Browner 1997), does not regard the appropriation of Alice Fletchers Omaha
transcriptions as another layer that creates contact between past and present.
Rather, she reads loss:

Native American ways of (music) history


Though Baudrillard describes the phenomenon of mass production in industrial societies, his theories resonate when they are applied to the methodology
of collecting Native songs and reproducing them for a mass audience outside
traditional tribal contexts. At each stage of the collection process a song
degrades: rst by being recorded (more so in the days of the Edison cylinder);
then by being transcribed into a system of musical notation whose traditions of
interpretive nuance are not those of Indian music; and, nally, by being altered
to t into the Western diatonic system in order to make the music accessible
to the greater society. What is diabolical about reproduction in this instance is
the music lost at each stage of removing Native musics from their original
models, a practice necessitated by the need for accessibility a requirement for
mass consumption.
(Browner 1997, 280)

Of course, this comment reects on the mediation of print, not the process that
Amber Ridingtons term oral curation describes. The crucial element is not
orality or print but the power relations of participants. In relation to recent
collaborations between First Nations, Inuit, and nonindigenous classical
ensembles, Dylan Robinson (2012) has similarly studied power relationships,
noting instances where arts organizations may be more concerned about
demonstrating a commitment to diversity than actually doing the hard work
of developing equitable collaborative practices. The concept of oral curation,
which seems to work well within communities, and cross-culturally if undertaken by skilled communicators such as Angela Sidney, may be double-edged;
its application beyond the boundaries of communities or beyond the lifetimes
of culture bearers may have less positive results. At any rate, Browners and
Robinsons work emphasizes the importance of assessing power relations in
any historical or contemporary study.
Historians such as L. G. Moses have argued in a similar manner about the
change in valence that Native American music and dance was given in the course
of the twentieth century. He notes that many powwows were instituted during
the very period when nation-specic performances were suppressed and that,
again in the late twentieth century, professional singing emerged at a point when
the audio recording industry was interested in Indian music and where liner
notes created a system of classication where none had existed previously
(except perhaps in the language of the ethnomusicologist) (Moses 2002, 198).
He goes on, singers and dancers are now symbolic of the continuation of
American Indian cultures that do not threaten, but rather enrich, the dominant
culture. Whereas once Indian ceremonials were dismissed as heathenish or suppressed as being dangerous, the relatively benign acceptance of Indian pageantry
allowed adaptive Indian cultures again to ourish (ibid., 199). This particular
transformation suggests that we look at performance not only for its window



into cultural change and persistence, but also for the ways it reveals the workings
of power, domination, and resistance in Indian-American relations (ibid.).
Other problems of pastness may be illuminated by historical methodologies
more conventionally associated with Western music theory. Thomas Vennum has
traced the history of a song form, in this case one that underpins contemporary
powwow music. Browner (2009) has emphasized the importance of close listening in her analysis of an acoustic geography of intertribal powwow songs,
providing a more detailed history of regional styles in order to challenge the
reductionist categories of northern and southern styles that are used at most
contemporary powwows. In similar fashion, Tulk (2008) has explored Mikmaq
phrase structure to determine how intertribal musics have been localized. Scales
(2002, 2012) has unpacked the levels of meaning embedded in details of powwow
recording practices that constitute a new historical era in Native music history.

History for what?

In Native American communities, the marking of memory as history may
commemorate, legitimate, or bear witness. It might bring warmth and meaning to those who live in the present or enable individuals to feel part of a larger
pattern, a lineage perhaps, a network or circle, an added layer. When embedded
in performance, in objects or places, it may recreate the narratives of the past
while also revealing negotiations of power and restoring social balance and
harmony. Performance may equally reveal power relations that shift or simply
assume new guises.
If history is both a reection on the past and an indicator of appropriate
responses to social or environmental change, however, it seems clear that the
next challenge is not to dierentiate ways of history but to gure out how to
use them in a complementary and relational fashion, a project that Cruikshank
in particular has pioneered. While oral history and written documents, as well
as culturally diverse individuals and communities, will never be fully reconcilable, there are points of coincidence and multiple narratives that bear comparison. Rather than ask who or what we believe about the past, I suggest that we
explore how and why particular shapes, vehicles, and performances of history
are the way they are. Those questions seem to me more useful as a means of
building the momentum for change.

Alfred, T. (2009) Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto, 2nd edn, Toronto:
Oxford University Press

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. 7 .

Encounter music in Oceania: cross-cultural

musical exchange in eighteenth- and early
nineteenth-century voyage accounts

Fringed by extensive mainland coasts and comprising tens of thousands of

islands, the Pacic Ocean may be thought of in the terms proposed by one of
its well-known writers: a sea of islands (Hauofa 1993, 8). This singular
geography accounts for the regions predominantly maritime character and
its great cultural diversity. Yet Oceania is also marked by patterns of cultural
inuence and exchange and increasingly by the forging of collective identities,
often through the medium of music.
Historically, Oceania referred to Polynesia (many islands), Melanesia
(black islands), and Micronesia (little islands), but the term was also applied
to coastal Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, Indonesian Papua and West Papua,
and maritime Southeast Asia. The terms Polynesia, Melanesia, and
Micronesia themselves made up a tripartite division dating to late eighteenthand early nineteenth-century European contact, when European observers
grouped Oceanian peoples according to phenotypical and cultural characteristics.
Implicit in this categorization was always a hierarchical ordering: Polynesians
were assigned the pole position among Oceanian peoples, while Melanesians and
Micronesians were typically construed as subordinate and inferior.
In the twenty-rst century, Pacic music is still routinely thought of in
tripartite terms. This tripartition is problematic both because of its prejudicial
connotations and because the categories do not always correspond to cultural
anities between the respective island groups. Fiji, for example, is generally
considered part of Melanesia, but it overlaps culturally with western Polynesia
and thus violates forms of categorization that were originally conceived along
racial and administrative lines (Smith 2009). The case of Fiji illustrates some
of the problems inherent in historical denitions of Oceania. For scholars such
as Douglas and Ballard, however, there is still value in the historical conception
of Oceania, and they advocate the terms continued use. Douglas and Ballard
(2008) argue that a historically informed approach to the study of Oceania
facilitates our understanding of how Oceanian and European cultures were



both respectively and mutually shaped by centuries of cross-cultural contact

and exchange.
Until the advent of radio, television, and the internet most cultural inuences arrived via the sea. Such inuences were introduced by other islanders in
ocean-going canoes (vaka), by European sailors and ocers, and by whalers,
traders, beachcombers, missionaries, colonial ocials, and settlers. Because
of the predominantly littoral character of Oceania, eighteenth- and nineteenthcentury Oceanian cultural and political history has been variously construed as
a story of fatal contact (Moorehead 1966), beach crossings (Dening 1980),
acculturation (A. Thomas 1981), rst contact (Salmond 1991), dissemination
(Moulin 1996), and cross-cultural exchange (N. Thomas 1997). Scholars of
colonialism, in particular, have tended to foreground encounters between
indigenous peoples and Europeans, focusing their analyses on relations
between metropolitan centers and colonial peripheries. More recent scholarship recognizes that encounters between indigenous peoples and Europeans
were anticipated by centuries of inter-island contact and cultural exchange.
This contact antedated the scientic exploration, missionization, and colonization of the Pacic that dominated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Before Bougainville (17669), Cook (176871; 17725; 177680), La
Prouse (17868), and Vancouver (17915) came the visits of South Asian,
Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch voyagers, and, prior to that, the exploration
of the Pacic by indigenous peoples themselves (Meleisea and Schoeel 1997,
120). Thus, rather than emphasizing rst-contact, rupture, and discontinuity,
future histories of Oceania seem increasingly likely to adopt a network model,
showing how cultures were aected by complex, often globalized, webs of
cultural and intellectual production that served various kinds of transnational,
national, local, and individual ends (Liebersohn 2006, 89). Indigenous
exchange, Pan-Pacic commonalities, and cultural identity and regionalism
will thus emerge as constitutive factors in the evolution of Oceanian music
(cf. Kaeppler et al. 1998).

Encounter music
Recent scholarship on Oceanias networks of knowledge and culture obviates
the need to reconstruct forgotten forms of musical practice or trace strands of
musical dissemination and appropriation. Instead, late eighteenth- and early
nineteenth-century voyage writing may be examined in terms of what it says
about the use of music and dance within moments of cross-cultural exchange.
Adopting such an approach allows music to be conceived as a form of encounter practice a medium that, in Tia DeNoras terms, did things in the world

Encounter music in Oceania


(DeNora 2000, 96). Within the cross-cultural context, music was not necessarily the obedient servant of its producers, nor were its eects automatically
allied with the social and political interests of its respective producers. Musics
eects were often unexpected. Exchanging music fostered hospitality and
trade and served strategic purposes, but on occasion it also acted disinterestedly, promoting a kind of sociability: sailors and islanders sang and danced
spontaneously for one another, naturalists swopped songs with local people,
and Polynesian visitors to Europe attended concerts and the opera and
sang for their hosts (cf. J. R. Forster 1996, 241; G. Forster 2000, II, 5345;
Anon. 1789, 1434).
Conceiving of music as a form of encounter practice means that we are
not constrained by historiographic and ethnomusicological approaches that
explore the ways in which discrete musical vernaculars were tensioned by their
exposure to foreign inuences: European music did not confront Oceanian
music on a Pacic beach, with potentially fatal consequences for the latter and
enriching ones for the former. Instead, encounter music may be thought of as
a form of relational practice, one that was always local, often spontaneous
and provisional, and at times uncontrollable. Examining the mechanisms of
encounter music enriches our cross-cultural understanding; it is also likely to
tell us something about music itself. It is, after all, in these sorts of encounters
that we may discover which musical eects were dependent on interpretation
and context, and which remain the product of collective ways of hearing,
feeling, and being.
Music and dance constituted an important aspect of Oceanian voyaging:
sea songs, ddle tunes, and hornpipes provided exercise and recreation for
European sailors and ocers during long passages at sea. The British Admiralty
did not ocially condone shantying, but singing and playing are known to
have facilitated work in the wooden world (Hawkins 1875, II, 22; Roger
2004, 5035; Woodeld 1995). Sailors everywhere recognized that music and
dance could be useful for managing interactions between people unfamiliar
with one anothers ways and limited in their capacity for linguistic
communication. Among the rst Europeans to put this into practice in
Oceania was Abel Tasman. In Tasmania (Van Diemens Land), his sailors
heard sounds near the ship and assumed they were produced by some sort of
trumpet (Brosses 17668, II, 360); in New Zealand, Mori were often observed
playing on a shell trumpet and were quickly answered with instruments that
the sailors carried on board (ibid., 361).
By the late eighteenth century, the British Admiralty determined that
marines should be specially trained in the ddle and pipe and dispatched
on voyages bound for discoveries; ocers were duly advised on the kinds of



music that might appeal to new sets of listeners (Agnew 2001). There were
other eorts made to export European music. When Cook returned the
London-visitor Mai to Polynesia, Mai was presented with a dollhouse, a suit
of armor, weapons, livestock, farm implements, and seeds; he was also given
a barrel organ that may have played exemplary tunes like The King of
Prussias March and the Adagio from Corellis G minor Concerto, Op. 6
(Burney 1991, 268). It was hoped that Mai might ultimately use his things
to model European ways and provide an improving example to his countrymen (Guest 2001). While Mai was being reinstated and Cook re-provisioned
at the island, a series of feasts, concerts, plays, and rework displays were
staged with the aim of promoting harmony: The drums, trumpets, bagpipes,
hautboys, utes, violins, and in short, the whole band of music attended,
took it by turns to play while dinner was getting ready; and when the
company were seated, the whole band joined in full concert, to the admiration of crowds of the inhabitants, who were assembled round the house on
this occasion (Ledyard 1781, 163). In order to recommend the low-born
Mai to the chiefs in a place where it was known that rank could not be
purchased (ibid., 162), Cook made entertainments for the young princesses and their brothers, with music and dancing according to the English
fashion; and to please the public in general, Capt. Cook caused re-works to
be played o almost every other night, for their diversion (ibid., 165).
According to one of Cooks men, John Ledyard, the music making took
place against a backdrop of violence, including grisly punishments meted
out for thievery (ibid., 161). It seems unlikely that the barrel organ and
the band achieved their intended ends although the possibility has been
raised that Mais barrel organ introduced Western harmony to the Tahitians
(McLean 1999, 40).
Jacques Labillardire, who accompanied a voyage in the early 1790s in search
of the missing Frenchman La Prouse, was among the few late eighteenthcentury commentators to publish transcriptions of Oceanic music (Labillardire
1800); he also reported a wide range of responses to European music making.
When his ship arrived at the Bismarck Archipelago to the north of New Guinea,
seamen tested the eects of a ships bell on a group of Admiralty Islanders. The
men ed but could be persuaded to return when the ships ddler played some
tunes. In Buka Island, music was exchanged within the context of trade. Oers
of handkerchiefs, bottles, and pieces of red cloth encouraged a group of people
to approach the ship. Being acquainted with the method of barter, the islanders
quickly established the value of their goods and bartered a bow and arrows
for some handkerchiefs. Labillardire noted that, because of the sweetness of
their language, these islanders were good mimics and easily imitated words

Encounter music in Oceania


spoken to them by the sailors. They also responded enthusiastically to the sailors
One of the gunners went for his ddle, and played them some tunes; and we
had the pleasure to see that they were not insensible to music. They oered us a
number of things in exchange for the instrument, making signs for it, by
imitation the motions of the ddler upon a paddle. But they soon found that
their solicitations were fruitless. It was the only ddle by which the ships
company danced; and we had too long a voyage before us, to think of parting
with the instrument, which procured us an exercise so salutary to seamen.
(ibid., I, 2701)

The visitors noted that the Bukanese were especially fond of loud, lively tunes,
listening with very great attention. Labillardire thought that their pleasure
in the music was irrepressible they kept time by constantly moving their arms
and bodies and to him this signied unequivocal proofs of their sensibility
(ibid., I, 272). In Tasmania the following year, the voyagers expected ddle music
to meet with equal approbation. The violinist took his instrument ashore,
imagining that he should excite as much enthusiasm among them by some
noisy tunes, as we had observed in the islanders at Bouka; but his self-love was
truly mortied, writes Labillardire, at the indierence shown to his performance here. Savages, in general, he concluded, are not very sensible to the tones
of stringed instruments (ibid., II, 45).
Labillardires remarks were in keeping with widespread perceptions about
the standing of Tasmanian Aborigines relative to other Oceanic peoples. Yet
his remarks also show how indigenous responses to European music (as well as
indigenous music itself) became a yardstick in the appraisal of non-European
peoples. James Magra, an ordinary seaman on Cooks rst voyage, assumed
that there were direct links between the islanders physical disposition and
their cultural practice. The Tahitians stature, erect posture, and gracefulness,
he thought, exceeded that of the most delicate European woman and was
owed to the fact that Tahitians were habituated from early childhood to the
very extravagant distortions and gesticulations characteristic of their dances
(Anon. 1771, 423). Commentators of Marc Joseph Marion du Fresnes 1771
circumnavigation drew more prejudicial connections between physical appearance, moral character, and indigenous music and dance. Dispatched to return
the Tahitian Aotourou after his visit to Paris, the Frenchmen arrived in New
Zealand, where the captain was killed in a bloody skirmish. Here, dance was
construed as a compensation for Mori bellicosity and taken as evidence of the
islanders unrestrained libido and lumbering physicality (the men danced so
heavily on the ship that the sailors were afraid the decking would break). The
captains deputy Julien Crozet concluded that if Mori singing and dancing



were alternately warlike and lascivious, this was only to be expected from a
people who fought frequently, then ate their victims (Rochon 1891, 65).
Because non-Europeans were often assumed to respond instinctually to
music, positive responses to European music were sometimes taken as a sign
of primitiveness. Disliking European music, however, seemed to evince a lack
of discernment and this, too, was seen as a marker of primitiveness. Theorists
further assumed there was a one-to-one correspondence between a peoples
physical appearance, moral character, sociopolitical organization, and cultural
forms criteria were expected to move in consort up or down the ladder of
civilization. Thus, commercial behavior and a high level of sociopolitical
organization were supposedly accompanied by cultural sophistication and
physical attractiveness, whereas unattractive people were meant to have rudimentary social structures, little grasp of commerce, and simple, ugly music.
Even if encounter music was never easily reconciled to this kind of reductive
thinking, commentary on the performance and reception of music does have to
be factored into the racialization of indigenous peoples during the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries.

Historical sources
In reconstructing eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century cross-cultural musical encounters, we rely on voyage and travel accounts, missionary and colonial
documents, instrument collections, transcriptions, and, to a lesser extent, book
illustrations and other visual records. This body of material was produced and
compiled predominantly by Europeans and North Americans; the material was
also informed, and hence intellectually constrained, by the colonial, commercial,
and missionary contexts within which it was produced. Works by indigenous
people have also survived. A 1769 painting by a Polynesian priest, for instance,
shows members of the traveling religious sect, the arioi, sitting in a group,
playing nose utes and drums. The painting was long attributed to the Artist
of the Chief Mourner and sometimes to James Cooks naturalist Joseph Banks.
It is now known that the artist was an arii from Raiatea in the Society Islands, a
man named Tupaia who sailed with Cook and acted as his rst-voyage informant
in Polynesia (K. V. Smith 2005, 5) (Fig. 7.1). Tupaias painting provides a rare,
self-reective perspective on indigenous music making, but the painting is also
signicant because European artists themselves left comparatively few visual
records of non-European musical performances.
Why European artists generally favored subjects like dance and warfare
over equally unfamiliar, but no less spectacular, music making is a matter for
speculation. Perhaps artists were hampered by the inconvenience of working

Encounter music in Oceania


Fig. 7.1 Tupaia, [Musicians of Tahiti, June 1769] Four Tahitians: two dressed
in the mare playing the nose ute; two dressed in the tiputa beating drums. In
my mornings walk today I met a company of travelling musicians; they told me
where they should be at night so after supper we all repaired to the place. There
was a large concourse of people round this band, which consisted of 2 utes
and three drums. Banks, Journal I, p. 290, June 12, 1769
in the eld and by the diculties of rendering unfamiliar sounds in visual
terms. Music also had a comparatively low aesthetic status in eighteenthcentury Europe, and the allegorical conventions governing its representation
may not have been readily transposable to a cross-cultural context. Finally,
European artists seem to have been limited by their own biases: the perceived
superiority of stringed instruments over wind and percussion seems to
have made it dicult to acknowledge the existence, let alone signicance or
sophistication, of Oceanias ubiquitous membranophones and idiophones.
James Cooks three circumnavigations beneted from the presence of trained
artists and, in the ocial accounts, we nd isolated depictions of Polynesian
musicians and musical instruments, including illustrations of islanders playing
the nose ute and drums (see Fig. 7.2). Elsewhere, panpipes, drums, and nose
utes are represented alongside shing hooks, spears, baskets, and other items
of indigenous manufacture (see Fig. 7.3). This decontextualized representation



Fig. 7.2 Engraving by F. Bartolozzi after Giovanni Battista Cipriani, A View of

the Inside of a House in the Island of Ulietea [Raiatea], with the representation of a
dance to the music of the country

of musical instruments reminds us that indigenous music was, by and large, not
yet a discrete category of intellectual inquiry among European observers in
Oceania. Music historians like Charles Burney and John Hawkins would refer
to non-European instruments in their universal histories but only in passing,
always in contrastive terms, and within the context of their conjectural histories.
Thus, the shell trumpet heard by European travelers to New Zealand was made
to serve as a model for the kind of trumpet that Burney, in his General History,
supposed the Greeks might have developed subsequent to the Trojan War:
the shell trumpet was, he said, a rough and noisy signal of battle (Burney
1789, 370). The morphological similarities between Tongan panpipes and
ancient Greek ones were likewise taken as evidence of both the natural character
of these instruments and proof of the rudimentary level of development of the
Tongans. Burney ruled out the possibility that there ever could have been the
least intercourse or communication between Europeans and Oceanian peoples:
the incidence of similar instruments in dierent parts of the world must instead
indicate a kind of cultural polygenesis (ibid., 271). In arriving at this conclusion,

Encounter music in Oceania


Fig. 7.3 Engraving by John Record after John Frederick Miller [Tools and
instruments from the Society Islands]

Burney would mark a break with the kind of diusionist thinking that came
to dominate some later anthropological and ethnomusicological research on
Oceania (cf. Graebner 1903).
Not until the mid- to late nineteenth century, with the systematization and
institutionalization of ethnomusicological inquiry, would Oceanian music
and musical instruments be singled out for focused, comparative study,
transcription, and visual representation. The paucity of information about
eighteenth-century music makes it dicult, if not impossible, to reconstruct
accurately and comprehensively indigenous musical instruments, scales, repertories, and performance practices. Eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century
depictions of Oceanian musical instruments, nonetheless, do provide insights
into European categories of perception. They show, for instance, that indigenous musical instruments were evaluated according to a European visual
aesthetic that stressed form over function (cf. A. Thomas 1981): commentators
attached greater signicance to the intricate craftsmanship and elaborate
decoration on some of the instruments than they did to the instruments



sound-producing capabilities. Musical instruments were also depicted in conjunction with weapons, allowing us to speculate about the ambiguous status
of non-European music during the early contact period. On the one hand,
indigenous music was seen as compensatory a sign of the islanders potential
for improvement. On the other hand, indigenous music was seen as a corollary
of the very violence that was thought to mark non-Europeans as uncivilized
and inferior in the rst place. Such contradictions are also voiced in the textual
accounts accompanying the illustrations. In New Zealand, Tonga, and parts of
Melanesia, commentators had particular diculty reconciling their theories
about progress with what they actually saw and heard. Specically, the interest
and appeal of Mori, Tongan, and Vanuatan music could not be properly
reconciled with the islanders apparently low level of social and cultural development (Agnew 2008a, 182). Such contradictions went unresolved in late
Enlightenment accounts of Oceanian music.
Later accounts, in contrast, tended to smooth over the conceptual anomalies. The specicity or complexity of indigenous music, along with its aecting
character, was often minimized in keeping with prevailing racial and anthropological theories. In his 1854 contribution to music aesthetics, Eduard
Hanslick, for instance, rendered Polynesian music the very antithesis of musical sophistication and beauty: When the South Sea Islanders clap rhythmically
with metal pieces and wooden sticks while emitting an unintelligible howl,
he writes, then that is natural music for the very reason that it is no music
(Hanslick 1986, 867). Max Weber would likewise set up non-European
music as a logical straw man in his sociological account of the rational underpinnings of Western music. The originality of prohibiting consecutive fths
in Western counterpoint was contrasted with the use of parallelism in other
musical cultures, including Indonesia, where parallel fourths and fths were
said to be common, and the Admiralty Islands, which used parallel seconds
(Weber 1958, 81; cf. Hornbostel 1909).
Such later reporting stands, then, in marked contrast to some of the records
dating from the late eighteenth century. These include works by the ocial
artist on Cooks third voyage, John Webber. Webbers A Night Dance by Women
in Hapaee and A Night Dance by Men in Hapaee (Webber 1784) depict performances staged by the Tongan chief for Cook in 1777: sailors and ocers
are shown attentively observing the performances, which involved elaborate
displays of skill and artistic ingenuity. The illustrations are noteworthy for
a number of reasons: rst, they draw on eighteenth-century theatrical and
artistic conventions to show scenes in which the dancers and musicians are
illuminated, while the observers, shown from behind, remain in darkness
(Joppien and Smith 19858, III, 356) (see Fig. 7.4). Second, these are among

Encounter music in Oceania


Fig. 7.4 William Sharp, A Night Dance by Men in Hapaee

the only illustrations of the period to represent both musicians and audience
members, thereby providing a full context for the way encounter music
was performed and received. Finally, Webbers illustrations suggest some of
the ways that encounter music served strategic purposes. The apparently
peaceful and diverting entertainment gave form to a vicious power struggle,
and concealed behind the performances was a plot to murder the visitors
(cf. N. Thomas 2003, 31718; Agnew 2008b, 99103).
Few transcriptions of Oceanian music date from the late eighteenth and
early nineteenth centuries. James Burney, son of the music historian, was
the rst to transcribe samples of Polynesian music and his record contributed to eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century debates about the origins
of harmony and the progress of music. Naturalists and sailors returned with
instruments like the Tahitian nose ute (vivo), but this tended to attract
curiosity and ridicule rather than serious interest among contemporary
commentators. Other instruments like the panpipes (mimiha) were found
in various parts of Oceania, including the Solomon Islands, the Bismarck
Archipelago, Tonga, and Samoa, and a few such instruments were taken
back to Europe. The fact that the panpipe was common to both Europe and
Oceania prompted musicological discussion, including the publication in
1775 of two articles by Joshua Steele about possible tunings of the instrument. William Shields and John OKeefes pantomime Omai; Or, A Trip



Round the World (1785) brought the South Seas to yet a wider public. The
musical accompaniment incorporated a large wooden slit drum (nafa), blasts
of the conch-shell (p), and the oblong paddles typically used to accompany
the Tongan meetu upaki (standing dance with paddles) (cf. Martin 1817,
31719). Covent Garden theatergoers were treated not only to these unfamiliar percussion instruments but also to Irish tunes, minstrelsy, and the
rst transcription of a sea shanty (Troost n.d.). Metropolitan listeners did,
then, have some exposure to Polynesian music; in contradistinction to
Chinese and Ottoman musical elements, however, which early found their
way into the Western musical repertory, Oceanian music did not lend itself
to comparable exoticization. Oceanian music seems to have been too unfamiliar and too varied to be readily quoted to a metropolitan public at least
until the emergence of an identiably Hawaiian, acculturated idiom in the
nineteenth century.
Like all scholars of the past, we might wish for a fuller, more multivocal
record of the music of long ago, a record that would allow us to rehear
forgotten music and understand what it meant to its practitioners. We would
wish to know more about the music performed on Pacic beaches and at
ceremonies upcountry; more about indigenous modes of musical transmission
than what was reported, for example, by a missionary like James Montgomery
when he told of Aborigines handing o songs across tribal boundaries
(Montgomery 1831, 1778). There remain too few songs of sailors, whalers,
and traders, improvised responses to their arrival, himene that adapted Tahitian
words to European melodies, travelers incantations, and chants that accompanied the launching of canoes (Henry 1985, 17882, 276).
Voyage and travel accounts are thus sometimes considered a limited and
problematic corpus for this kind of reconstructive enterprise (Kaden 1994,
253). It is, however, important to recognize the signicance of voyage
accounts to contemporaneous readers. Eighteenth- and early nineteenthcentury accounts were typically prefaced by an insistence on the veracity of
the work, as well as by claims about the signicance of voyage and travel
literature generally. For instance, William Smith, one of the rst missionaries to Tahiti, pointed out that there was no genre more popular or consumed with greater interest than navigators authentic narratives. The
value of the genre lay, he said, in its capacity to combine pleasure and utility:
readers could empathize with the travelers adventures and be entertained
and morally improved in the process (Smith 1813, iii). This sort of moral
dimension is particularly evident in the work of George Vason, a member of
the London Missionary Society 1796 expedition to Tonga. Framing his
memoir as a tale of double apostasy, Vason rst renounced missionary

Encounter music in Oceania


work to live among the Tongans then renounced Tongan ways for a return
to Christian England. The account contrasts an indolent life enlivened by
beautiful dancing and melodious singing, with descriptions of cannibalism
and bloody interstitial clashes. Readers could, in other words, be entertained
by accounts of Tongan life even while following an example of Christian
imitatio. Other missionary accounts, like William Elliss Polynesian Researches
(Ellis 1829), were more distinctly ethnographic in character. Ellis provided
lengthy, illustrated descriptions of Polynesian musical instruments, ceremonies, and song texts, together with contextual information. His account of
Tahitians using song to adjudicate a dispute tells both of Captain Blighs
interactions with Tahitians in the 1780s and about the ways in which
indigenous knowledge was preserved and recalled in song (ibid., 2867).
The synthetic and comparative perspective in works such as this would
form a model for later ethnographic and ethnomusicological writing.
By the early to mid-nineteenth century, voyage commentators had begun
to remark on changes to indigenous music making. On the one hand, the
introduction of European musical idioms seemed to conrm indigenous
improvability and missionary successes. On the other hand, commentators
expressed a sense of nostalgia for the passing of the old ways and what they
perceived to be an accompanying loss of innocence. This sort of ambivalence is
evident in an account of Hawaii written in the mid-1820s. British naval ocer
George Anson Byron reported that the Hawaiians were not entirely destitute
of music and possessed the rst rude indications of the imitative arts. Their
songs preserved their history, including a record of the settlement of the Pacic
and of indigenous encounters with Europeans like Cook (Byron 1826, 19).
Under these kinds of pressures some Hawaiian musical instruments fell into
disuse and have since been forgotten. Yet even while regretting this loss of
tradition, Byron was quick to praise the eorts of the American missionaries.
Describing the burial of Kamehameha II (c. 17971824) and his wife after their
fateful visit to London, Byron described how a native choir sang a hymn
written by the missionaries and set to a tune by Pleyel. This aecting ceremony, observed Byron, evidenced the marvelous and rapid change brought
about by the church: Everything native-born and ancient in the Isles was
passing away. The dead chiefs lay arrayed before them; naked savages were
now clad in decent clothing and the savage yells of brutal orgies were now
silenced. For the rst time, [S]olemn sounds . . . [united] the instruments
of Europe and the composition of a learned musician, to the simple voice of
the savage. Hearing this, he concluded, [I]t was impossible not to feel a
sensation approaching to awe (ibid., 12830). This combination of nostalgia,
civilization critique, and commitment to progress would be taken up in later



nineteenth- and early twentieth-century commentary on Oceanic music. Pioneers

of ethnomusicology like Erich von Hornbostel and Carl Stumpf, charged with a
salvage mission, felt a sense of urgency about preserving old traditions before
missionaries, settlers, and colonial ocials eradicated them altogether.
For present-day readers, voyage accounts provide an often-vivid record of
the ways in which music worked relationally. From voyagers and travelers we
learn about musics capacity to frighten, amuse, bore, atter, distract, regulate,
convert, socialize, and elevate listeners. Perhaps the abiding value of European
voyage accounts lies, then, not in their contribution to discrete ethnographies
of Oceanian or Western musics; rather, their value lies in what they can tell
us about how strangers encountered one another through organized music
making. They remind us that music can be dened in more ways than one:
Western assumptions about the social and public character of music are confounded by notions of ownership, restricted audience, and secrecy prevalent
in parts of Oceania. Western categories of musical knowledge making are
also unsettled by the kinds of dierence these accounts invoke the intimate
connection between music and religious beliefs in eastern Polynesia; the absence
of collective terms for music and musical instruments in Polynesian languages (B. B. Smith n.d.); by the interconnection between music and dance;
and by the blurring of categories in, for instance, Papua New Guineas Eastern
Sepik region, where instrumental music was also traditionally sometimes considered song (Yamada 1997, 236). Western music historiography may have
been predicated on cleaving music from dance and dichotomizing serious and
popular, instrumental and vocal, and sacred and secular musics; however,
encounter music shows up the limitations of this conceptual apparatus and
highlights the need for additional modes of analysis. As Amy K. Stillman argues,
historicizing Oceanian music means examining the music along with its social
context (Stillman 1995, 2) a charge that also could be extended to the Western
musicological tradition. Encounter music serves, then, as an ongoing challenge
to the way we think about ethnomusicology not only as a presentist enterprise
but also as a historical one (Bohlman 1991; Tomlinson 2007, 4) and it serves
as a challenge to a discipline that emerged within the context of colonial
encounters (Erlmann 1999, 8; Agnew 2005).
Encounter music marked a new aural occurrence in the soundscapes of
eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century voyagers and islanders, and it
impacted the social relations and power dynamics of the transacting parties.
Rather than attempting to reconstruct discrete and static musical cultures from
limited sets of sources, we might think in terms of cultures stretched, tested,
and changed by the arrival of new listeners and by the provocation provided by
strange sounds. As Kirsty Gillespie (2007) suggests, the history of encounters

Encounter music in Oceania


between indigenous peoples, and between indigenous peoples and other

strangers, including Europeans, is preserved in music. Music is, in some
sense, a reenactment of those earlier encounters, and of the peoples struggles
and accommodations. The task of encounter music is to retain and explicate
that history of entangled sounds.

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. 8 .

Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia


Walking into a record store in South Asia, one is confronted with a vast array of
labels, in English, Hindi, and regional languages, marking dierent genres and
subgenres of music, none of which incorporates the word sacred. Yet sacred
music is far from absent; it is found in and among the labels, bleeding over into
other territories, engaging freely in stylistic hybridity. Regional music, indicated by place or language, may also comprise music that is used in local rituals.
Folk music may consist of performances of Hindu epics. Devotional music may
comprise slickly produced remixes of regional sacred forms. Compilations by
both Bollywood playback stars and Hindustani classical pandits feature bhajans
(Hindu hymns) or qawwl (Indo-Su ritual music). The current state of record
store shelves might be attributed, optimistically, to the diversity of sacred
musical practices throughout the subcontinent. A more pessimistic viewpoint
would see this as evidence of the commercialization and standardization of
devotional musics that only appear diverse on the surface. Both perspectives
are true, at least in part. What this unmistakably reveals is the powerful tie
between music and the sacred in South Asia.
There is no such thing as sacred music in South Asia, but one might argue that
all South Asian music is potentially sacred. The omnipresence of sacred musical
expression complicates any attempt to isolate, let alone historicize, its multiple,
diverse, and overlapping streams. Little musical devotional practices are pulled
into mainstream often nationalizing projects in strategic ways, their own
histories often obfuscated in the process. Dierent religious and sonic ideologies
that have inuenced and mutually informed one another historically are recongured in the writing of national histories. The performance of sacred music is
simultaneously repetitive and creative, cyclic and linear, heightened and mundane.
Sacred musical traditions in South Asia rely upon a productive tension between
notions of history and timelessness, a tension that plays into both historical
narratives about sacred music and sacred musical performances themselves.
In this chapter, I investigate the complex interplay between music, history,
and the sacred, rst by examining broad historical constructions of religion and
music in South Asia. In the most recent past, nationalism and communalism


Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia


have been the agents that justify particular histories of religious music; these
are the same histories that tend to stabilize Hindu practices into Hinduism and
that oversimplify or ignore much of the creative ideological borrowing that has
taken place between Hinduism, its relatives (Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism), and
South Asian Islamic and Christian practices. Arguably this tendency toward
mainstreaming has contributed to increased coherence between mainstream
musical practices (including Hindustani and Karnatak art-music traditions, but
also popular music) and regional, folk, or devotional practices. This process
also places local devotional musics into a particular (chronological) relation
with the mainstream, xing them in the past. Yet these histories that are
invented and anxiously repeated reveal a number of cracks and ssures that
situate religious musics in South Asia not only as uid and transforming but
also as contested. This is particularly important to recognize in a context where
these traditions are understood as unchanging and timeless.
In addition to repertories and genres being drawn into histories, the
performance of sacred music also addresses ideas about history (and its
other, timelessness); as such, this is my second area of investigation. While
the tension between timelessness and history in sacred music is not unique to
South Asia, it is a frequent and critical factor in conceptualizations, codications, and performances of religious music in the subcontinent. In part, this
tension is rooted in the nature of music, in particular musics structural
reliance upon time and its potential to create altered experiences of temporality. It is used for precisely this potential, usually to do several, often
contradictory, things at once. The music of ritual, for example, is used to
invoke divine presence, to activate listeners engagement with god, and to
signal a way into and out of an elevated consciousness, among other purposes.
These functions suggest that ritual music allows human beings to engage
with the ever-present, the innite, the absolute. Yet at the same time, the
musicians, genres, texts, and contexts of sacred musical performance in South
Asia actively situate specic histories, consistently tying the concrete to the
ineable. Devotional repertories refer not only to the divine but also to real
places and individuals, marking not an absolute but often an intensely local
and particular way of understanding and of being in the world. This tension
might be better described as an intersection between timelessness and history, and musical performance provides a way in which personal experience is
not only accounted for and expressed but also felt, in relation to an unchanging same. By examining sacred music in South Asian history, and history in
South Asian sacred music, I hope to reveal both how this relationship has
been mobilized by large-scale narratives and how musical performance provides opportunities to revise those narratives.



Sacred music in South Asian history

The history of South Asian sacred music is complicated by the diversity of
belief systems with which South Asians substantially engage. Major religions
(Hinduism, Islam, Buddism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Christianity) compete with
multiple religious practices. One solution to this problem has been to deal with
sacred music primarily in the conceptual domain; for example, in research that
explores ideologies of sound in South Asian religions (Rowell 1992; Beck 1993;
Coward and Goa 2004). Ethnomusicologists who treat religious music as
performance often recognize the complex dynamics that have rendered these
traditions syncretic and highly variable on local levels. It has become standard,
for example, to refer not to Hinduism but to the religious complexes that
make up Hinduism (Kelting 2012), and one might just as easily refer to the
existence of the religious complexes that have made up Muslim, Buddhist,
and Christian practice in South Asia. Another solution common to ethnomusicological scholarship on South Asia has been to focus on the local and
the particular in sacred music, to isolate a performance, a genre, a sect, or an
individual highlighting histories rather than history (Alter 2008; Capwell
1986; Qureshi 1995; Schultz 2002 and 2008). Successful studies of this nature
frequently engage with larger trajectories and forces, using specic instantiations to highlight dialogic relationships between the multiple and the singular,
and sometimes the little and the great.
In this section, I use an opposite strategy, focusing instead on the treatment of sacred music in South Asian history a history largely written during
and after British rule. The large-scale historical narratives created and sustained in South Asia from the late eighteenth century do the work of maintaining the timelessness of nations in the face of nation-states modernity
(Anderson 2006). Religion and sacred music, mapped onto newly bordered
territories, signify perpetuity and become xed as ideas even when they
remain uid in practice. The conation of religion and the state, enacted (in
part) to unify diverse communities, has resulted in religious mainstreams
built upon a concept of the majority. This has inevitably resulted in the
emergence of religious minorities as a problem to be managed, in cultural,
legal, and political dimensions. The oppositions that emerge in the light of
these processes are not new, but they do take on new meanings in the context
of the modern nation-state. Sacred music, in turn, cannot be separated from
its symbolic role.
The mainstreaming of religious identity and practice that characterizes
national espousal (whether explicit or implicit) of majority religions has
resulted in histories that subsume, and sometimes vilify, minority voices. In

Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia


order to examine this more thoroughly, I turn now to the modern history of
the South Asian nation that dominates the regions imaginary.
India, through its cultural and aesthetic inventions, is an idea built upon,
yet uncomfortable with, the conventions of what is problematically understood as modernity. This perspective is based primarily on the work that has
come out of postcolonial and subaltern studies, framed in particular on
Partha Chatterjees critique of Benedict Andersons well-known imagined
community (Anderson 2006). In The Nation and Its Fragments (1993),
Chatterjee suggests that Andersons communities cannot fully account for
postcolonial nationalisms because they are predicated upon a teleology that is
inescapably Western. In other words, the histories that become newly imagined as futures in Andersons formulation are stable and predetermined.
What this fails to explain are the conditions of colonialism and their eects
on the imagination of the colonized. Taking Indias history as his example,
Chatterjee illustrates how nationalism in India was not always coeval with
political action; rather, it surfaced in interior understandings of an essential
Indian culture that could remain true to itself (Chatterjee 1993, 6). Dipesh
Chakrabarty nuances this concept in Provincializing Europe (2000) by illustrating the decisionist strategies used by Indian nationalists as disparate as
Gandhi and Ambedkar, in order to interpret and manipulate a shared pastness
(Chakrabarty 2000, 247). This implies an understanding of history (or simply
the past) as something separate from the present, a body of knowledge that
is usable in the forging of the future, which is again categorically separated
from the present. For both Chatterjee and Chakrabarty, the constructs of
Indias modernity are negotiations between the trappings of a Westernoriented infrastructure and the quasi-spiritual interiority of a continuous
and unchanging Indian culture.
This results in a dilemma to which sacrality is intimately connected. India as
a modern nation-state describes itself as the largest secular democracy in the
world. Yet the style and substance of Indian cultural nationalism relies largely
upon structures and ideologies derived from Hinduism. Complicating this
apparent opposition is the fact that Indias secularity is not predicated upon a
separation between state and religion, but upon a structural tolerance of all
religions. In other words, these trappings of a Western-oriented infrastructure are undermined in their Indian manifestation, and the Hinduism upon
which Indian cultural nationalists have based their style is a mediated, popular
Hinduism that was largely invented.
The history of the Indian nation became a history of Hinduism largely
through the work of a group of Orientalist scholars who positioned both
music and religion in specic ways. While the foremost of these, Sir William



Jones (174694), had some appreciation for the complex cohabitation of

Hinduism and Islam on the subcontinent (Bakhle 2005, 51), Joness work
was also central to the formulation of India as a great civilization and a
Hindu one at that. The revival of Sanskrit as a scholarly language, and its
subsequent spread to the West, is largely the result of his keen interest in
ancient texts that evidenced the cultural and philosophical achievements of
Indias past. The discovery of Indian civilization by the West resulted in a
privileging of both Hinduism and Sanskrit sources as pure and the renunciation of foreign texts and inuences. Characterizations of Muslim musicians as
ignorant, and of the decline of Hindustani music under their inuence, became
commonplace in the work of Orientalist scholars, including Jones as well as
Captain N. Augustus Willard (Bor 2010). These perspectives, at least to some
extent, were sustained by Indian Hindu nationalists during the independence
movement and would have a lasting impact on the positioning of Indian music
in (Hindu) Indian history.
The Bengali intellectual Sourindro Mohun Tagore (18401914) maintained
an ambiguous position with regard to Indian independence. Though remaining loyal to the British crown, he also quite consciously and conspicuously
promoted Hindu ideals and Indian cultural traditions (Bor 1988). For Tagore
music became a key means of projecting proof of the greatness of Indian
civilization to the West. His 1887 presentation to Empress Victoria, Six
Ragas and Thirty-Six Raginis of the Hindus, was a collection of rgaml lithographs, short tunes in praise of the empress, and Sanskrit verses with translations describing each raga. It was designed in large part with the aim of
displaying a rich, systematic, and complex classical tradition. The title deliberately obfuscates the presence of Muslim musicians and Islamic musical inuence (Capwell 2002, 219), presenting a puried vision of Hindustani music to
the outside world, regardless of the real circumstances of music and music
making in nineteenth-century Calcutta. Of course, Tagore also sought to
transform musical practice at home, which he did by propagandizing Hindu
music in a number of essays and treatises published in Bengali and by establishing music schools that would lend pedagogical integrity and coherence to the
tradition as well as elevate the social status of musicians (Capwell 2010, 288; see
also Nettl and Bohlmans Introduction in this volume).
Tagores intervention into the history of Indian music is one that covertly
erases the inuence of a vilied Muslim minority from a great Hindu
tradition. In this sense it is an extension of the British Orientalist perspective,
appropriated as a tool of self-agency (Capwell 2010, 285). This example
demonstrates two important trajectories for sacred music in Indian history:
music becomes symbolically important to the cause of (Hindu) nationalism,

Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia


and Islamic inuence on North Indian classical music is hidden or purged.1

These trajectories extend through the independence movement, as Janaki
Bhakles nuanced examination of the opposing agendas of V. N. Bhatkande
and V. D. Paluskar reveals (Bakhle 2005). Musicological and historical research
has begun to redress the erasure of Muslim agents and inuence from the
history of Hindustani music (Bor 2010; Powers 1979; Qureshi 1993; Sarmadee
2003; Schoeld 2010; Wade 1998; Widdess 2010), yet the Hinduization of
Hindustani music continues to shape popular discourse about it.
Hindustani music is not the only dominant or national musical tradition to
subsume the music of subcontinental religious others, nor are South Asian
Muslims the only unheard minority in the telling of Indian history. The multiple and heterodox devotional musical practices of Hindus are also subsumed
into nationalist, classical, and popular musics. These borrowings coalesce in
the rst few decades of the twentieth century, falling in line with the consolidation of a reformed, predominantly Vaishnava, and ultimately nationalized
Hinduism, based upon the sentiment of devotion emphasized in the bhakt
sects. Bhakt is an umbrella term for the local devotional sects that began to
emerge in South India in the second half of the rst millennium, later spreading throughout the subcontinent, ourishing through the Medieval era, and
still existing today. Bhakt practices are centered on the idea of the path of
devotion advocated by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, maintaining that any
person can attain liberation from the cycle of life through the activity of
devoting oneself to god. This perspective emphasizes individual experience
and interaction with the divine, and can also be characterized as a reaction
against orthodox Brahminical Hinduism(s) and its hierarchical structure, insofar as it allows for both the agency and the authority of the lower castes. While
bhakt traditions throughout South Asia do share a set of generalized principles, the number and variety of its local manifestations reveal the tendency of
devotees to incorporate ideals and practices from a number of other sources,
Indo-Susm prominently among them. Bhakt music, which consists of vernacular songs written by singer-saints, is as a result highly variable from region
to region, in terms of formal structure, instrumentation, and poetic style.
For both Hindu revivalists and Indian nationalists interested in unifying a
population against their colonizers, the sentiment of devotion (which could be
transferred to the nation) and the felt agency of the individual were appealing

1 It is not the only foreign element to be erased from Hindustani music evidenced by All India Radios
attempt to purge the harmonium from common use in North India by banning its use on air from 1940 to
1971. While the explicit reasoning behind this had to do with the fact that its equal temperament and build
was too limited in terms of imitating the slides and nuanced intonation of the voice, its symbolic
associations with Christian missionaries and colonialism were not missed.



elements of bhakt practices. These emotional features, however, needed to be

channeled into a relatively uniform, mainstream Hinduism with a recognizable
style. As a result, bhakts heterodox practices, the local and diverse ways of
achieving devotion (so often manifested in vernacular, regional bhakt song
genres), were relegated to the outskirts of a new and increasingly far-reaching
orthodoxy. Meanwhile, popular Vaishnava Hinduism was increasingly characterized as the prakrit mat (natural religion), and the concept of Hindus
emerged as a unied, all-inclusive, and highly valuable culturalpolitical category (Dalmia 2006, 1418). Those who bought into this new Pan-Indian
Hinduism were, like their nation, marching forward in history, while devotees
who retained the beliefs and practices of local bhakt sects were increasingly
understood as anachronistic. In this sense, Indias little traditions were
The new Hinduism was disseminated, rather than enforced, through the
rhetoric of religious leaders circulated in pamphlets, the creative use of Hindu
symbols and concepts on the part of the charismatic leaders of the independence movement, the nationalization of regional and newly invented Hindu
festivals, and, of course, through music. Music was no longer mere proof of
Indian civilization; rather, it became a vehicle to reinforce a national Hindu
identity. Indian music, encompassing not only Hindustani and Karnatak art
musics but also anthems and popular songs, was sacralized in a series of
negotiations made by key agents in the rst few decades of the twentieth
century. In some cases, such as the rabindrasangit of Rabindranath Tagore
(18611941), which borrowed heavily from the metaphoric language and
musical style of the Bauls of Bengal, sacrality was more philosophical than
sectarian. The devotional content of Tagores songs was more abstract, universal, and therefore less politicized, combining a privileged conceptualization
of the sacred within a modernist framework. The adoption of his Jana Gana
Mana, a hymn that deies India, as the national anthem in 1950 is therefore
not surprising, as its nonsectarian sacralization of India reected both the
ocial secularity of the nation-state and the eternal sacrality of the nation.
Tagores songs, despite ocial endorsement, were more the exception than
the rule, and the sacralization of classical and popular music in India was largely
carried out in terms of the Hindu revivalist agenda to purge foreign inuences and syncretic forms. One of the key negotiators of this process was
V. D. Paluskar (18721931), the Maharashtrian musician, Hindu nationalist,
and pedagogue who spread his ideas on the style, status, and above all devotional
nature of music through his music school: the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, rst
established in Lahore in 1901. One of his primary goals was to distance
Hindustani music from its association with entertainment and to invest it

Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia


with devotional function above all other things. Music, in his view, was a live
agent and had to be reformed in order to serve its real purpose: to activate
public belief in Hinduism, the true and only faith of India (Bakhle 2005, 138).
This agenda was underscored by his own devotional nationalism and
his explicitly chauvinist anti-Muslim stance; he, like the British Orientalists,
blamed Muslim musicians for the misdirection of music from its sacred function.
Paluskars work in Lahore and later in Bombay, carried out through his
schools but also through his increasingly public engagement with the independence movement, aided in the sacralization of Indian music in two signicant ways. First, his emphasis on the devotional function of Hindustani music
had a lasting impact on the conceptualization and performance of North
Indian classical music. Devotional song genres began to feature prominently
in the repertories of Hindustani artists. Musical performance, regardless of
genre, began to be understood as a form of religious practice. Teachers of music
became spiritual gurus, worshipped by their students with the devotional
intensity characteristic of bhakt. These principles still gure prominently in
the discourse of Hindustani classical music, especially in Maharashtra.
The second way that Paluskar helped eect the sacralization of Indian music
was through his positioning of the bhajan at the center of the nationalist cause.
In his Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, the bhajan was promoted as the most important form of musical performance (Bakhle 2005, 7). Paluskars own performances and settings of bhajans came to widespread public attention when he
began to become more actively involved with the independence movement. At
the 1921 annual session of the Indian National Congress in Ahmedabad, he
gave a celebrated performance of the rst few couplets of Raghupati Raghav
Raja Ram, a bhajan associated with the bhakt saint Ramdas. His rendition
apparently parted the crowds that had prevented Gandhi from entering the hall
(ibid., 165); Gandhi himself was later to use Paluskars version of the bhajan in
his own performances of civil disobedience. Through pedagogic enforcement
in the schools and ecacious performance on the national stage, Paluskar
strategically positioned the Hindu bhajan as Indian music, creating an aective
link between religious devotion and the nation.
Despite dierences in ideological and political motivations, the eorts of
Indian nationalists like Sourindro Mohun Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore, and
V. D. Paluskar had the collective eect of conating religious (especially Hindu)
music with Indian music, relying upon notions of timelessness represented
through musical performance to convey also the timelessness of the
nation. The paradox, of course, is that the conceptualization of the nation
mobilized by these gures in the context of the independence movement is a
modern one, extending the imaginary suggested by Western Orientalist



scholars. In addition to relying upon musics capacity to stimulate felt connection to the nation (and bearing much in common with nineteenth-century
European nationalisms), revivalist reformers like these crucially move the ideals
and genres of sacred music into the history of the Indian nation-state. In so
doing, they provide a space for an India that, rather than merely aping Western
forms, has the possibility of remaining true to itself. This truth was and is a
powerful assertion of South Asian values and ideals, but it is also innitely
problematic because it sacrices so many voices and creates so many others in
its wake.
When the bhajan enters history, as both a national music of India and a music
that stabilizes pan-Indian Hindu practice, the result is a codication of style
that draws upon features of Hindustani music and North Indian devotional
songs. This stylistic unication helped to enable a consolidation of meaning.
Indo-Su religious music, which had considerable inuence on some of the
bhakt texts that comprised the ideological underpinnings of pan-Indian
Hindu practice, was erased from the bhajans history. A multitude of other
Hinduisms and their songs and traditions were marginalized, as were Sikh,
Jain, Buddhist, and Christian musics. Perhaps most surprising is the fact that
Karnatak, or South Indian classical music, which had retained its ties to ritual
devotional purpose, was also marginalized in the invention of a pan-Indian
Hindu sound. The stabilization of a genre through historical revision and
renewal often indicates the sudden emergence of that genre as symbolic, and
therefore politicized.
Dierent histories reveal dierent kinds of revision. A striking example of
this is qawwls transformation as a Pakistani national music during the
growth of a fundamentalist Islam beginning in the 1970s. This Islamization
movement was fostered by the cassette boom of the 1980s, when suddenly
recordings of Quranic recitation were widely available; this category of aural
expression was privileged as orthodox and challenged the status of qawwl,
which, though highly popular, bore such strong ties to Hindustani classical
music and was an undeniably musical idiom. In response, musicians began to
adapt Arabized musical elements; this is particularly noticeable in recordings
from the late 1970s and 1980s. Qawwl began to be performed in Arabic
maqmat (melodic modes), imitations of the Islamic call-to-prayer made their
way into the music, and inserted verses that used Arabic instead of Urdu
(Qureshi 19923, 119; Qureshi 1999, 93; Manuel 1993, 95; see also Qureshi
in this volume). This link to the larger Islamic community of the Middle East
was pursued quite intentionally by the producers (patrons, record companies,
government, and musicians) of a genre that had to cater to a cumulatively more
orthodox Pakistani public.

Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia


The examination of sacred music in modern history reveals the processes

by which genres are shaped and manipulated in order to do the work of
creating modern, nationalized sentiment. I have placed a rather pessimistic
emphasis on large-scale historical narratives and the revisions that seem
designed to exclude or to ignore other minority devotional cultures. These
other religious practices and sacred musical traditions have far from disappeared from South Asia; indeed, they are in dialogue with classical, popular,
and national musical mainstreams. I turn now to some of these practices in
order to articulate the ways in which history itself is conceptualized and
created through performance.

History in South Asian sacred music

South Asian conceptualizations of time are represented and performed in the
musical structures of sacred music. While the religious traditions of the subcontinent rely upon dierently nuanced ideas regarding the nature of time,
most xate on a productive tension between what might be called historical
time and divine timelessness. Historical time is characterized by structures of
measurement, linear trajectories, memory, and personality. Divine timelessness is characterized by the immeasurable, by cyclical unfolding, manifestation,
and the loss of personality. Timelessness is represented through the use of
mimetic sonic features, but it is also stimulated, or realized, through repetitive
action. Historical time is remembered through the musical entextualization of
lineage and personality, and it is also mediated by processes of becoming. These
ontologically separate categories of temporality are often reconciled through
performance, through hearing and being heard, in what amounts to a musical
negotiation of sacralized history. Before turning to a series of concepts and
genres that illustrate how these negotiations take place, I want briey to
consider constructions of time in South Asian religious ideologies.
In Hindu thought, which in turn inuences Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist ideologies, the dual nature of time appears in some of the earliest sources, including
the Vedas. Lewis Rowell, citing Humes translation of the Maitri Upanishad,
isolates a description of Brahma (the god of creation, and also of speech and
sound) that conveys the distinction between temporalities:
There are, assuredly, two forms of Brahma: Time and the Timeless. That which
is prior to the sun is the Timeless (a-kla), without parts (a-kala). But that which
begins with the sun is Time, which has parts.
(Rowell 1992, 180)

The timeless is indivisible in this formulation and, as a result, is impervious to

change or movement. Rowell also characterizes this as internal time, which



he contrasts with the external time of daily experience, manifested in the

seasonal recurrences of daily routines, and also in the sharp discontinuities of
life (ibid., 187). Music is often the agent that brings these two streams
together, through some of the representational and performative modes
that I explore below. Made of measurable discrete entities (pitch, rhythmic
units, utterances), music is nonetheless perceived as a continuous ow,
ultimately inseparable. Moreover, it evidences the simultaneity of both
temporal streams. While Buddhist and Jain philosophies reject the idea
that time is indivisible, the conceptualization prevalent in both systems
suggests instead that time is a succession of discrete instants, and that
the goal of ritual practice is to reject the apparent continuity and perceive
what exists between those instants (ibid., 187). This construction, derivative yet diering from Hindu thought, also places emphasis on conuence
in this case the conuence of what seems to be (linear movement) and what
actually is (absence).
At the most basic level, Islamic philosophy, as in Christianity and Judaism,
understands time as nite, beginning with Creation and continuing until the
Day of Judgment, which is the End of Time. In this formulation time is created
by God, but God exists outside of it. Regula Qureshi has emphasized how time,
as an element of a purely human domain, is characterized in terms of aective
context, reected in the Urdu language used by South Asian Muslims. She
suggests that temporal concepts are dened not durationally but connotationally, as either favorable or damaging, as the source of experience, not just
the temporal basis for it (Qureshi 1994, 501). This rejects the idea of time as
measurement, privileging instead human emotion and activity. Ritual, particularly in Indo-Su contexts, provides a space during which individual, aective, linear experience is brought into proximity to the realm of God, which
exists outside of time. Qureshi characterizes Su ritual as striving in time,
being with God (ibid., 504), indicating the ultimate aim of transcendence, of
being-there while being-away, which is experienced emotionally and physically
as hl (ecstasy).
Hindu and Hindu-derived religious philosophies are often understood as
profoundly ahistorical, promoting a kind of anti-teleological worldview that
emphasizes cyclicity, repetition, and stasis. Conversely, Islamic and other
Abrahamic religions appear to promote teleological narratives, both of personal experience and of history. What brings together these two seemingly
opposing viewpoints, in the sacred music of Hindu, Su, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist,
and other traditions, is the sounding together of time and timelessness, of
history and eternity, of the human and the divine.

Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia


Timelessness in South Asian sacred music

In nearly all world religious traditions, music is used in ritual because of its
capacity to suggest the ineable, the unworldly, and indeed the timeless. These
qualities are simultaneously represented in musical structures and actively
stimulated and perceived through practice. Two distinctive ways of doing
this are especially relevant to South Asian religious traditions: the manifestation of primordial sound (nda) and the use of repetition as ritual.
Nda, translated variously as primordial sound, eternal sound, causal sound,
or simply musical sound, is an important concept that derives from Vedic
Hinduism. Nda is primordial in the sense that the universe begins with
sound, eternal in the sense that it has no beginning or end, and causal in the
sense that it is the creative vital force by which the entire universe is animated (Rowell 1992, 36). There is no god who created sound (and hence the
universe); rather, by sound the gods exist. As Rowell translates from
Srngadevas Sangtaratnkara, We worship that divine sound, the life of
consciousness in all beings and the supreme bliss, manifested in the form of
the universe. By the adoration of sound, the gods Brahm, Visnu, and Siva are
truly worshipped, for they are the embodiment of sound (ibid., 389). The
idea that sound is manifested rather than caused has important implications for
musical representations of the sacred, particularly in Hindu and other Dharmic
religious practices. While later thinkers in some branches of Hinduism, and
certainly in Buddhism, rejected the notion that nda was eternal and unbreachable, the use of sound structures that reect the idea of manifestation and/or
constant ow is common to many South Asian devotional musics.
This idea is perhaps most developed metaphorically, in some of the sonic
structures of Hindustani and Karnatak classical musics. One of the most
complex renderings of this idea, however, is evidenced in the seemingly simple
musical performance of OM. Rowell characterizes OM as the eternal syllable
(aksara, the Sanskrit word for syllable, also means imperishable), that
contains in itself the entire phenomenal universe (ibid., 36). The correct
performance of OM, which is still a dominant practice in Hindu, Jain, and
Buddhist ritual, unies both historical and divine time in a four-part
conceptualization. Its three phonemes, A+U+M, performed with forward
breath, downward breath, and diused breath respectively, represent threefold, or historical, time, which encompasses the past, present, and future. The
fourth unit of OM is silence, which transcends time (ibid., 367). Although its
symbolic representation of two temporal streams is evident, OM in practice is
also a tool that unites the human chanter with the divine universe through the



This principle holds in Indian music even when it is removed from the realm
of ritual. It is largely through the integration of musical metaphors for nda
that Hindustani and Karnatak music are invested with sacrality. The use of
drone instruments, the prevalence of cyclic structures that intensify but (arguably) do not progress, and the formal convention of an unmetered, meditative
introduction, which makes the rga manifest, are all reliant upon this idea. It is
likely that most of these musical features developed much later than the Vedic
era, in which the idea of nda was conceived and expanded. Martin Clayton has
suggested that some of these features in fact reveal the inuence of Indo-Su
musical practice, which utilized music as representation rather than regulation,
and which also strongly emphasized cyclic structures (Clayton 2000, 17).2 Still,
the understanding of these features as metaphorically timeless (and therefore
sacred) dominates both North and South Indian classical traditions.
While many religious activities rely on repetition, many South Asian sacred
rituals are constituted solely by acts of repetitive utterance. The words that are
uttered, be they Vedic verses, the OM syllable, or the name(s) of god, are
symbols of divinity; many Dharmic religions take this further by investing
the sounds themselves with divine status. By naming, that is to say, by sounding sacred words and texts, the individual grows closer to the essence articulated by its name. The sonic, and most often musical, reiteration of holy
words also underscores the continuous presence of the divine; moreover, this
continuity constructed in both Islamic and Hindu temporal frameworks
as outside of time is given a momentary temporality so that it can be
The collective performance of zikr (remembrance of God) by Indo-Su
Muslims is demonstrative of the centrality of repetition in South Asian religious ritual. Remembrance takes place through verbal invocation, often using
the phrase La Ilaha Ilallah, or There is no God but God. The principle of
repetition used in zikr is not a static but a dynamic one, relying on circular
motion in time (Qureshi 1994, 505). In the Sikh faith, great importance is
placed on the practice of nm jap (literally, name repetition), an oftenvocalized meditation on the name(s) of God. Guru Nanak, the founder of
Sikhism, described nm as itself a manifestation of God (Coward and Goa
2004, 64). The repetition of his name(s) constitutes simultaneously a path
toward liberation and a union with the divine. The practice of japa (repeated
utterance) is found in Hindu traditions as well. An eleventh-century Shaivite
text reveals that by repeating Shivas name, the devotee experiences the
2 It should be noted that the drone is noticeably absent from his discussion, as it is noticeably absent from
Indo-Su musical genres, like qawwl, that otherwise bear so much in common with Hindustani art music.
Drone instruments are frequently incorporated into Hindu ritual music.

Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia


revelation that s/he is Shiva (Coward and Goa 2004, 55). In many traditions
that situate repeated incantation at the center of ritual practice, the act of
repetition itself is powerful, sometimes more powerful than the degree of
intentionality with which each utterance is made. In each of these cases, the
balance between repetition as a representation of the eternal and repetition as a
means toward personal transformation is maintained.

Histories in South Asian sacred music

Histories are both recorded and acted upon through sacred musical performance in South Asia. Musics capacity for triggering memory has made it integral
to the preservation of stories and lineages that bear witness to the multiple
narratives that constitute religious traditions. It is also an agent by which
people become divine, allowing gods and saints to enter history. The concepts
of sung memorialization and the embodiment of divinity both gure prominently in South Asian religious practice.
It is not only god(s) that people remember through the ritual act of naming.
The concept of lineage, in historical and human terms, is frequently articulated
in Hindu, Jain, Su, Sikh, and Indo-Christian practice. The emphasis on the
names of human saints stems largely from the widespread inuence of Su and
bhakt traditions, which featured songs composed in vernacular languages that
were designed to teach and personalize religious practice. These songs, existing
across South Asia though featuring dierent metrical and melodic organization,
do bear the common feature of the incorporation of the composers name in the
nal couplet, for example, in a song by the fteenth-century saint Kabir:
Within this earthen vessel are bowers and groves, and within it is the Creator:
Within this vessel are the seven oceans and the unnumbered stars.
The touchstone and the jewel-appraiser are within;
And within this vessel the Eternal soundeth, and the spring wells up.
Kabir says: Listen to me, my Friend! My beloved Lord is within.
(Kabir 1915, 53)

The entextualization of human authorship in the devotional songs of South

Asian bhakt simultaneously personalizes and historicizes the text. These are
songs resolutely composed by individuals, sung from one person to another.
They are also songs that constitute vernacular histories, insofar as they provide
records of times and events.
The concept of lineage is also articulated through the emphasis placed on
chains of transmission, which incorporate both spiritual and familial genealogies. This is referred to as silsil in Indo-Su traditions, a term which refers not



only to the major Su orders in South Asia but also to the individuated lineages
by which a person traces their connection to founding saints and ultimately to
the Prophet Muhammad. The Sikh faith was founded through the teachings of
the ten gurus, which constitute a spiritual chain of succession. Hinduism
incorporates notions of both spiritual and familial lineage. The shrddha ritual,
usually practiced during pitru paksha (a time of remembrance) incorporates the
chanting of the names of both previous and future family generations. In
Hindu contexts, spiritual lineage is denoted by the term parampara, which is
also translated as tradition. Especially signicant to bhakt practice is the
ritual activation of the saintly genealogy through the chanted rendering of the
saints names.
It is often through this kind of musical activation that the saints and the gods
are not only remembered as history, but also enter into history, through a
process of becoming. The physical embodiment of holiness, often through the
literal personication of deities and saints, is the aim of a number of religious
practices in South Asia. Pilgrimage, when devotees travel individually or
en masse to sacred sites, often constitutes an experience in which time is
perceived as timelessness, during which people move closer to the divine. In
Maharashtra, one of the largest mass pilgrimages in the world takes place every
year, during June or July, when devotees of the Vrkar sect (a bhakt tradition)
travel to Pandharpur, the home of Vitthala, their primary deity. They sing the
songs of the saints that comprise their spiritual lineage as they walk, every day,
for nearly one month. These songs incorporate the names of the saints and
often refer specically to the journey itself, locating the pilgrims on the same
road as their religious ancestors. The musical repetition of the saints words,
the conception of the road as a space shared with the men and women who, in
the golden age of the tradition (thirteenth through sixteenth centuries), experienced god directly, and the physical work of the journey all contribute to the
transformation of ordinary people into the saints themselves.
This notion of divine embodiment is both overtly and covertly sustained in
practice. At one end of the spectrum are Indo-Su Muslims, who experience
the heightened state of ecstasy while listening to qawwl, which they express
by dancing. An individual who has entered the trance of hl is revered by those
around him, and the musical structure of qawwl has the suspension of this
state as one of its primary aims (Qureshi 1995). This is not understood as
possession, but it is treated as holy. At the other end of the spectrum lay
traditions that incorporate music and dance rituals that explicitly seek possession by the gods. The practice of teyyam in Kerala is likely the result of the
syncretic blending of pre-Aryan and Hindu ideologies, reecting especially the
inuence of Shaivite, Shakti, and more recently Vaishnavite branches of

Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia


Hinduism (see Mason in this volume). Teyyam is danced by Dalits, who are
accompanied by drummers and a singer who recounts the stories of the gods
that will possess the dancers. In the words of one such dancer, In the trance it
is God who speaks, and all the acts are the acts of the god feeling, thinking,
speaking. The dancer is an ordinary man, but this being is divine (Dalrymple
2011, 31). During teyyam rituals, the rigid caste hierarchy, which still imposes
untouchability upon Dalits by upper-caste Hindus, is inverted. By becoming
gods, the Dalits are worshiped (and touched) by Brahmins. This constitutes a
temporary intervention into the histories of individuals through the musical
embodiment of divinity.

Hearing and being heard

In South Asian sacred musical practice, the timeless and the historical meet in
the paired concepts of hearing and being heard. Music is the medium through
which divine voices speak (or rather, sing); it also is a powerful tool through
which individuals sustain, mediate, or transform history. These two concepts
depend upon one another, and they are substantiated in a number of ways and
in multiple religious contexts and ideologies.
The liturgical texts of Dharmic and Indo-Muslim religious practice are
invested with a power that is made manifest in sound. The authority of these
texts derives from their origin in sound. The Vedas (Hindu scripture) are
characterized as ruti,
or that which has been heard. They derive not from
gods, but from the all-pervading sacred universe, overheard and repeated
rather than written. The Quran constitutes words that were spoken by God,
through the angel Gabriel, which were heard and recorded by the Prophet
Muhammad. The Guru Granth Sahib, the core text of Sikh ritual worship
comprising the works of Hindu, Sikh, and Su saints, is gurbani, or Gods
word as spoken by a guru (Coward and Goa 2004, 29). When any of these
texts are re-sounded in ritual, a devotee experiences that sonic authority.
Sacred sounds permeate the landscape of South Asia, and it is not only the
sounds themselves but also how they are engaged that denes them as sacred.
While these sounds dier in quality, nature, and meaning depending on the
religious context, there is a common valuation of attentive listening that
dominates diverse traditions that would otherwise seem to oppose one
another. Coward and Goa note the auditive energies involved in IndoMuslim reception of Quranic recitation (Coward and Goa 2004, 44), and
Qureshi, commenting on the mahl-e-sam (gathering for listening), which
constitutes the most important collective ritual for Indo-Sus, states that the
focus of the event is on the listener (who does not sing) and on his spiritual



capacity for receiving what he hears, including all the implications of an ecstatic
response (Qureshi 1995, 82). Attentiveness is also valued in Hindu and
Dharmic religious practice, particularly in an individuals capacity to see the
divine in worldly images and hear the divine in worldly sounds. The idea that
there might be multiple meanings of a sonic event is one that is found in the
earliest writings of the Vedic period. In his discussion of form in early Indian
music, Lewis Rowell speaks of listening as circumaudition, which he characterizes as a process of gradual discovery (Rowell 1992, 228). It is up to the
performer to communicate the aective and devotional content of music, and
up to the listener to perceive its truth. Such perceptions are possible even in the
case of recorded music (Qureshi 19923, 119; Greene 1999).
Coward and Goa liken sacred musical experience in South Asia to the
principle of darsan, which means both seeing and being seen by the deity.
Equally important for them is the idea of hearing and being heard (Coward and
Goa 2004, 6). Singing is a powerful means of tuning oneself in to the divine
nda that, when done right, is also a tool for transformation. Crucially, sound is
powerful when it is accurately performed; the emphasis on right sound is
evidenced in the penalties for wrong sound listed in early phonetic manuals
for Vedic recitation (Rowell 1992, 57), in evaluations of good and bad Quranic
recitation, and in the principle of a mantras ecacy when performed intently
and correctly.
Not all sacred sound in South Asian religious practice relies upon such
orthodox ideologies, and this is where the idea of not only hearing/performing
the sacred, but also being heard, comes into play. The texts of Indo-Su,
Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Indo-Christian devotional repertories illuminate personal narratives that constantly bring the linear experience of external time
into contact with an absolute timelessness. The aective content of these songs
tends to focus on the idea of longing, the pain of separation in the face of an
idealized union. Moreover, longing is expressed not in ideological but in
personal terms. In Rumis Masnavi, sung by Indo-Su musicians, devotees are
distraught supplicants of love who come to [Gods] threshold, to perceive
Gods substance (Qureshi 1995, 28). In the sixteenth-century songs of
Mirabai, one of the most important female bhakt saints, she describes
herself as pale with longing for my beloved and longing to reach the
ultimate (Tharu and Lalita 1993, 923). In the twenty-rst century, Father
S. J. Berchmans, a Tamil Christian, sings A slave I am for you, oh God, you
take control of me.3 The language of devotion is personal, and it narrates

3 The lyrics of this contemporary hymn composer can be found on his website:

Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia


above all the intensity of the desire to fulll a forward trajectory of human
longing with an eternal experience of the divine.
Taken as a whole, South Asian devotional songs constitute a collection of
microhistories that are sung to god(s) so that they might be heard. Of course,
they are not only heard by god, but also resonate with communities and
individuals who recognize within these narratives a familiar and shared

Conclusion: sacred music as sustenance

and intervention in South Asian history
The processes that I have (somewhat articially) isolated above do not play out
in isolation. They overlap with and interfere with each other, in both disruptive
and productive ways. When individuals chant OM, they voice a symbol of an
eternal and divine sound, but they also come to meet that divinity through the
breath. In rga performance, timeless structures are referenced and sounded,
but so is musical progression, achieved through improvisatory virtuosity.
When a devotee sings of personal longing, and the deity becomes a lover, she
humanizes god, longs for ultimate union or dissolution, and asserts her own
history into the multiple voices of the sacred. Large-scale historical narratives
tend to simplify these complex temporal negotiations, just as they obfuscate
the little histories that create and sustain the performance of sacred music.
The mainstreaming of devotional musical practice is perhaps most strongly
evidenced in the invention of the bhajan as a commercial, popular music in
India, one that underwent a codication of style and a consolidation of meaning in the twentieth century. The style and meaning of bhajans were negotiated
by key gures who were invested in the ways that Hindu devotional music
could assert a national identity. Today, bhajans inundate the popular culture of
India, playing on screen in the cinema, blaring through the loudspeakers of
temples and shops, and interspersed among the bins of record stores. These
mass-mediated devotional songs sometimes replace live performance in ritual
contexts (Greene 1999), they have unied the musical style of historically
diverse religious musics (Slawek 1988), and they signal the widespread acceptance of a mainstream Hinduism. As they do so, they underscore a history
predicated on the modern conceptualization of the timelessness of the
(Hindu) Indian nation, subsuming a host of other histories in their wake.
Yet those other histories continue, and there is no evidence of an unthinking
acceptance of History writ large. During my eld research in Pune, between
2004 and 2006, I worked with drummers who belonged to the Vrkar tradition,
a popular bhakt sect of Maharashtra. Their traditional repertory, which they



sang and accompanied on the pakhawj (double-headed barrel drum), consists of

the abhangas, or songs, of a lineage of saints. When they gather to sing together,
they incorporate elements of both classical and popular bhajani styles, in creative
and sometimes impossibly virtuosic performances all aimed at intensifying and
manifesting the presence of the sacred. Singing the words of the saints, which
constitute local and personal histories, Vrkar practice does not bend to the style
of a national music; rather, it is used as yet another musical path.
In late September 2006, I witnessed the assertive projection of Vrkar
history as a sonic intervention into the pan-Indian Hindu history of the
nation. About forty devotees were gathered to sing the songs of the saints,
marking the death-anniversary of a locally revered member of their community. The ritual was being celebrated during Navratri, a nine-night festival,
which only recently has become celebrated across India as a pan-Hindu holiday. For nine nights, there were dances and celebrations in the streets and
immersions of egies of Durga and Rama. Huge oats bearing these gures
were driven through the streets to the rivers, blaring popular recordings of
bhajans in Hindi, accompanied by throngs of people dancing in celebration. As
Navratri oats drew near the Vrkar ritual, blasting popular recordings at
deafening volume, it became more and more dicult to hear the sung words of
the saints, despite eorts on their part to increase the volume of the pakhawj
and the manjira (hand cymbals). After some time, and in the middle of an
abhanga, which could not be heard attentively, the pakhawj players ceased
their intricate, virtuosic accompaniment. They quickly switched to the louder,
traditional, and more recognizable style used to accompany the Vrkars during pilgrimage.
All of the singers and drummers began to chant Jnanoba Mauli Tukaram
(the names of the rst and last saints, with gods name in the middle), as loudly
as possible. All of the frustration that had been evident for the past hour, as the
devotees struggled to hear themselves over the roar of the festival outside,
evaporated, as they joyfully, and a little mischievously, sang out their lineage
and their dierence. The emphasis switched from an experience centered upon
hearing to an experience absolutely focused on being heard, not, in this case, by
god, but by the amassed public just outside the door. A recognizably Vrkar
musical style and the power of the names of individual saints and gods were
mobilized to raise a dissenting voice over and above the rest.
Throughout South Asia, sacred music is used to negotiate, assert, and contest histories, both great and little. This is often accomplished through performances that highlight the productive tension between timelessness and
history that characterizes sacred musical ideologies and ontologies. The musical structures and processes that permeate diverse religious traditions are what

Music, history, and the sacred in South Asia


make these musical performances powerful, by allowing and even demanding a

balance between sustenance (of the eternal, of the self, of the nation) and
intervention (into personal and historical narratives). The remarkably public
and popular role that sacred music continues to hold in South Asia testies to
its ability to say something important about the self, the community, and the
nation, in the past and the present.

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. 9 .

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


The pursuit of great fortune has been a strong motivator of human action
across the ages.1 Where there has been economic prosperity, typically cultural
production and artistic endeavors have been fostered. Music and the arts stand
as tangible signs of the achievements made possible by the access to wealth. But
aesthetic expression also articulates the experiences of the victims of fortune
and of those excluded from its benets, whether incorporated into the masterpieces of the powerful, as Edward Said (1978) has shown in relation to Western
appropriations of Eastern representations, or, as James Scott (1990) has noted,
in the hidden interstices inhabited by the powerless. For the musicologist,
then, contexts propelled by the pursuit of wealth provide unique settings in
which to investigate the ways in which music is created and engaged to the
fantasies and imaginations as well as to the concrete fortunes of those caught
up in such pursuits. For Europeans no single material good has been more
iconic of wealth than gold.
Since medieval times access to gold, along with spices, was a prime
motivator in the establishment of trading routes across Europe and beyond.
They provided the very impetus for the maritime explorations that would
ultimately lead to the so-called discovery of the New World. In order to
gain control of the North African gold reserves, Portuguese navigators made
their rst incursions down the African coast in the early fteenth century,
establishing an alternative sea route to the overland routes controlled by
Muslim traders (Klein 1999, 910). Gold and other precious metals propelled
the Spanish colonial enterprises in the Americas, particularly in Mexico and
Peru. The rst British colonies in North America were established in the
hope of replicating the Spanish experience, just as the Portuguese spent two
centuries searching for the precious metal in their American territories.
1 The research for this chapter was partially funded by grants from the British Academy, the Economic and
Social Sciences Research Council, and Queens University Belfast. I also wish to thank the Tinker
Foundation and the University of Chicago, where a preliminary version of this paper was delivered.




It was the discovery of gold in the late sixteenth century in Brazil that
nally generated enthusiasm among metropolitans toward the region. Such
a displacement of people and resources as occurred in the rst decades of the
eighteenth century in Brazil would only be seen again in the Americas during
the California gold rush well over a century later. In eect, from the fteenth
century onwards, gold and the promise of great riches created a context
for continuous and multiple ows across the Atlantic, generating a dynamic
environment of cultural encounter, exchange, and contest.
Paul Gilroy spoke of the Black Atlantic (1993) to highlight the continuous
circulation of Africans, goods, and ideas across the Atlantic as a consequence of
the slave trade. One could, however, also envisage a Golden Atlantic, a space
of multiple transcontinental routes of cultural production and resources that
derived from struggles over gold. The Golden Atlantic encompasses the Black
Atlantic, intersecting it with the White Atlantic through a diversity of
interconnected routes that extend across several centuries. Like the Black
Atlantic, the Golden Atlantic is a context of encounters; here, however, the
encounters have been marked by fantasy, fortune, and hopeful expectation, but
also by deprivation, loss, and hopelessness. Alongside intense solidarity, cooperation, and mutual dependency, experience of the Golden Atlantic has
entailed exploitation, greed, competition, complicity, violence. The sounds
of the Golden Atlantic reverberate as much with fantasies and successes as they
do with shattered hopes, cries of pain, and deant shouts. Saints and ancestors,
visions and realities, wealth and deprivation, endurance and terror, the glorious return to the mother country and the redemptive repatriation: these are
the themes in the voices and instruments that create the dissonant sounds of
the Golden Atlantic, dissonances that blur the boundaries between black and
white people, winners and losers, successes and failures.
This chapter focuses on one central period within the ows across the
Atlantic in the pursuit of wealth: the eighteenth-century Brazilian gold rush
in the region that came to be known as Minas Gerais, or general mines.
Within just a few years of the discovery of substantial alluvial deposits of gold
in the Espinhao Mountains in the late seventeenth century, tens of thousands
of people from diverse backgrounds started to converge upon this wilderness,
which, until then, had been inhabited only sparsely, primarily by native peoples. The race for gold attracted large numbers of prospectors from Portugal as
well as other parts of Europe; the coastal towns of the Brazilian colony, which
had always struggled to sustain a population, were depopulated even further
(Zemella 1990, 47); and vast numbers of slaves from various parts of Africa as
well as from other parts of Brazil were transported for thousands of miles
across dicult terrain to provide the labor for the mines. Drawn by the lure of

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


gold, new routes for the movement of people and resources were forged,
aecting a wide range of geographical locations across the Atlantic and beyond.
The encounter of people of such diverse backgrounds instigated the formation of a unique mineiro musical culture, but the wealth generated by gold also
had a critical impact upon musical production in the metropolis, while the
ever-increasing demand for slaves in the mines constituted a major factor in
the restructuring of the African slave trade, with signicant consequences for
the social and cultural environments of the various African regions involved in
human tracking. The complex hybrid cultural expressions forged within and
through these transcontinental ows provide a unique insight into the complexities of the Golden Atlantic and the ways in which music has been deployed
to engage with multiple encounters in contexts of intricate power relations.

Musical encounters
Music was part of everyday life in the mines, and it articulated many of the
encounters in the region. Perhaps no single event oers a clearer insight into
the complexities of these encounters than the detailed account provided by
Simo Ferreira Machado of the Triunfo Eucharistico,2 in which the Holy
Sacrament was transferred from the black Church of Our Lady of the
Rosary to the main (white) Church of Our Lady of the Pillar, an event that
took place in 1733 in Vila Rica (now Ouro Preto), the heart of the mining
region, following restoration work to the main temple. Alongside the endless
oats representing the four winds, the planets, and a range of mythic gures,
various dancers, gures dressed in special outts, and the members of the lay
brotherhoods (irmandades) and their array of litters, there were various musical
contributions, including the musicians of soft voices and various instruments that accompanied the thirty-two soldiers representing the battle
between Christians and Moors; a German on horseback playing a bugle,
whose calls alternated with those of eight slaves playing shawms; a snaredrummer accompanying a fer and a trumpeter; two more buglers; a bagpiper;
and nally a slave drummer accompanying four more slaves on horseback
playing long trumpets decked with banners. The procession was preceded
and followed by a sung mass with music for two choirs, as were the masses
on the following two days. Three theatrical pieces, furthermore, were presented and serenades of good music were heard every night over the three
days of the festivities, and there was entertainment for a further nine days,
including cavalcades (cavalhadas), bull ghts (touros), and comedies (comdias).
2 A facsimile of this document was published by Aonso vila (1967).



In this single monumental public event, a wide range of musical genres

and social groupings paraded through the streets of Ouro Preto. While each
group was clearly distinguished from the others, they were all integrated into
a single setting, their places carefully dened. According to Maria Alice
Volpe (1997), the main procession of the Triunfo Eucharistico, like many of
the grand politico-religious events in colonial Brazil, was structured around
the narrative of conversion. It opened with a representation of the encounter
between Christians and Moors, a powerful theme of subjugation, conversion,
and domestication in Brazilian popular culture; the dialogue between the
(Christian) German rider and the (pagan) shawm players reiterated this narrative. The cortge as a whole contained two segments: The rst displayed a
range of secular and mythological elements, while the second featured the
irmandades and their litters, each bearing a dierent Catholic saint. At the
juncture of these two segments was a gure on a white horse carrying a banner
portraying the newly reformed church. By appropriating and recontextualizing pagan imagery in this way, the procession displayed the civilizing power
of colonial rule.
As the Triunfo Eucharistico suggests, music, pageantry, and the Church
constituted central forces in the mediation of colonial encounters, both within
and across the various social groups that found themselves together in the
mining centers. While such grand events were clearly able to encompass a wide
range of social sectors in a seemingly persuasive discourse that outlined a divine
order for society, the various social groups in colonial society were actively
engaged in the negotiation of this order, with music and musical performance
constituting a central tool in these dialogues. To understand this dynamic
one must rst get a sense of the social make-up of the mining populations
and of the institutional structures of the Church and the State in this part of
Portuguese America.

The Brazilian gold rush

Unlike the situation in the Spanish territories, gold was not immediately
available in the Brazils, but for two centuries persistent explorers, the socalled bandeirantes (banner bearers), ventured into the hinterlands in the
hope of nding the precious metal, generally departing from So Vicente and
So Paulo. It was these paulistas who ultimately located gold in Minas Gerais
sometime in the early 1690s (Boxer 2000, 61).3 Further expeditions located

3 Controversy still remains regarding exactly where the rst mines were discovered and by whom, given
the secrecy surrounding the discoveries, particularly in the early years of the gold rush.

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


gold in a number of sites across Minas Gerais, but also further inland in the
territories of Gois and Mato Grosso; diamond reserves were also located
sometime in the 1720s in the region around what is now known as Diamantina.
The discovery of gold prompted a rush that attracted thousands of prospectors, and new communities grew up overnight, particularly around the major
mining sites of Minas Gerais, but also along the routes used for transporting
the gold to the coast ports. According to Pr. Antonil (1997, 167),4 author of
one of the most perceptive contemporary accounts of early eighteenth-century
colonial society in Brazil, by 1709 there were already 30,000 people occupied
in mining activities in Minas, but the population was to grow extremely rapidly
in the following decades. This mass relocation of people meant that within
just a few years of their establishment, some of the settlements around the
nds had achieved the ocial status of towns (vilas): Vila Leal de Nossa Senhora
do Carmo (now Mariana) and Vila Rica do Ouro Preto (now known simply as
Ouro Preto) were declared vilas in 1711; Vila do Principe, later to become
Arraial do Tejuco (now Diamantina), became a vila in 1714; and Vila Real de
Nossa Senhora da Conceio de Sabar was declared a vila in 1715. The Crown
was eager to bestow this status on mining communities as these political units
required a senate chamber (senado da cmara), a local government body, that
could oversee the extraction of gold and the payment of taxes, and control
the entry and exit of people and goods to the mines. Further government
measures that would have important musical consequences included the prohibition against establishing convents and monasteries in the mining regions as
a means of reducing clerical inuence as well as contraband, and a ban against
the importation of published materials and books in the colony as a whole
(other than primers and catechisms), because literature could incite revolt.
According to the Portuguese historian Vitorino Godinho (1971), during
the rst sixty years of the gold rush around 600,000 metropolitans relocated
to the mines at an average of around eight to ten thousand a year. This
constituted a signicant population drain on such a small country as
Portugal, particularly given that the number of men to head o to the mines
far outnumbered the women. The Crown was ultimately compelled to establish measures to contain the ow to Brazil, particularly from the Minho region
of the country (Boxer 2000, 72).
The workforce was made up of black slaves, many entering from the
northeastern sugar plantations that were suering from the rise of the sugar
economy in the Caribbean. Demand for slaves was so high, nonetheless,

4 The Jesuit father who wrote under the name Andr Joo Antonil was the Italian Giovanni Antonio



that the internal production was insucient, and slaves had to be brought
directly from Africa to meet the need. According to Mauricio Goulart (1975,
151), the arrival of slaves in Minas shifted from around 2,600 per year in the
early period to over 7,000 per year by 1740, only tapering o to around 4,000
per year after 1760, when gold production was in a state of marked decline.
Indeed, by 1735 the slave population had exceeded 100,000 people, a gure
that could only be sustained through a continuous stream of new imports,
because the harsh conditions of the alluvial mining techniques used in Minas
substantially reduced slave life expectancy. It is also worth remembering that
before they even arrived in Brazil, many Africans had already undergone the
terrifying experience of capture, in which they had been torn away from their
communities and from an environment that was familiar and meaningful to
them, to face long treks to the slave ports, lengthy waits at the seafront,
and cramped conditions in the belly of a ship. The period between capture
and arrival at a mining site could last two to three years, and it was often
undertaken with people who spoke dierent languages and followed dierent
The Africans who entered Minas were brought from two main regions of the
African continent: West Africa, encompassing primarily the region of the Bight
of Benin, and Central Africa, mainly from the Portuguese ports of Luanda and
Benguela. In the rst half of the eighteenth century, slaves from West Africa
predominated, while in the second, Central Africans arrived in greater numbers. In Brazil Africans were identied according to nations (naes) based
upon the African port from which they had set sail, such that a slave nao
actually encompassed a range of ethnicities and linguistic groups. The most
common national aliations for West Africans were Mina and Nago,
while Central Africans were most frequently identied as Angolas,
Benguelas, Congos, and Cabindas; though trade in East African slaves
was relatively insignicant and primarily limited to the early nineteenth
century (Klein 1999, 70), the few slaves from this region who were brought
to the mines were referred to as Moambiques.
Given the shortage of white women, many Portuguese took black mistresses, and soon a mulatto population began to emerge. While it has been
estimated that the white and mulatto populations had equalized around 1740
(Lange 1966, 11), the rst census to include mulattos was taken in 1776, which
indicated that at the time there were 70,769 white people, 82,000 pardos
(lit., greys), and 167,000 black people (L. Mello e Souza 2004 [1982], 203).
Neither black nor white, mulattos constituted a hugely heterogeneous category in which distinctions based on skin color, links to slavery, and economic
potential all came into play in the demarcation of social status (Leoni 2007).

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


The encounter of so many people in a region, which, initially, had no

infrastructure to speak of, created a social environment marked by intense
tensions. Disputes arose over claims to mining sites (datas), instigating conict
between the paulistas, who originally found the gold, and the emboabas, or
outsiders; with the assistance of royal forces, the emboabas eventually defeated
the paulistas in a number of skirmishes toward the end of the rst decade of
the eighteenth century, after which a more stable environment was achieved.
Another problem was the high cost involved in the transportation of vital
necessities into the mining regions and of production again back out
(Zemella 1990). With the focus directed almost exclusively on mining, little
eort was put into local food production, leading to near famine conditions
particularly in the rst decades (Boxer 2000, 71). The requirements of the
mining regions also led to shortages throughout the country, as production
everywhere was diverted to supply the highly lucrative needs of the mines
(Zemella 1990). There was intense dissatisfaction with the taxes levied on gold,
which were initially set at 20 percent of all nds and later determined by the
number of slaves involved in the mining. It has, in fact, been argued that
the very taxation system employed by the Portuguese Crown greatly inhibited
the formation of vast fortunes, leaving even the most prosperous prospectors
in perpetual debt. Maintaining the workforce was also a problem. The appalling conditions in which slaves were kept contributed to the high levels of
slave deaths and disease as well as to the numbers of runaways. Throughout
the eighteenth century quilombos (runaway slave communities) appeared across
Minas, some of which were able to survive for long periods before being raided
and eliminated (L. Mello e Souza 2006). In eect, as Laura de Mello e Souza
(1982) has argued, Brazilian gold was, for most, a false Faustus.

Colonial religiosity
In spectacular form, the Triunfo Eucharistico highlights the Baroque sensibilities that prevailed in the religious universe of the mining regions of colonial
Brazil. Indeed, the onset of the Brazilian gold era dovetailed with the height of
the Portuguese Baroque period. Few artistic movements have generated as
much controversy and been as dicult to dene as the Baroque. The word
itself refers to the Portuguese term for a malformed pearl, and it was used
pejoratively in reference to artistic excess, particularly in Protestant northern
Europe. Art historians typically claim that the Baroque aesthetic emerged as
the artistic response of the Counter-Reformation, serving as a means of
expressing the Catholic (i.e., universal) truths that were being challenged
by Protestantism. In the mid-sixteenth century, the Council of Trent had



concluded that humans had no direct access to God other than through their
imaginations. Art, however, could bridge the divide by creating imaginative
representations of the divine, allowing devotees to experience its grandeur.
Ultimately, the Baroque experience aimed to promote religious persuasion
through an appeal to the senses, rather than through rational argument. As
Marilyn Stockstad has noted, Counter-Reformation art was intended to be
both doctrinally correct and visually and emotionally appealing so that it could
inuence the largest possible audience (Stockstad 2002, 758). Even though
the Baroque favored the grand and the dramatic, it was also able to draw the
audience inward and elicit powerful emotional responses by promoting identication and empathy with the suering of the saints, especially of the martyrs
(Skrine 1978). In eect, Baroque art called attention to the transience and
precariousness of the human condition in relation to the innity of an almighty
God (Dottori 1992, 52).
Although the Baroque aesthetic may have been instigated by the CounterReformation, it soon transcended the boundaries of Catholicism and, throughout the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries it became a dominant style
all across Europe in both religious and secular spheres. It was especially favored
by the nobility for its ability to index wealth and power, and grand artistic
projects were undertaken to call attention to the station of their sponsors, the
palace of Versailles being one of the most iconic of such endeavors. Even in
Protestant states religious conviction was insucient to curtail aspirations for
self-glorication and self-indulgence, and the Baroque aesthetic was able to
ourish in a wide range of artistic elds (Skrine 1978, 1067).
In Latin America, where the divide between the Church and the absolutist
State was extremely nebulous, a Baroque sensibility mediated the two spheres
in complex processes of mutual armation. Baroque ideals were greatly
encouraged by the Church, particularly through the activities of the Jesuits
(Barbosa 1978, 10), for they were seen to be eective in curtailing the expansion of Protestantism in the Iberian colonial strongholds. The State, for its
part, drew its legitimacy from its links to divine power. With the discovery of
gold in Minas, there was considerable wealth, which signicantly enhanced the
Baroque orientation toward ostentation. Much of this wealth was invested in
the construction and decoration of churches as well as in the production of
grand religious festivals with magnicent processions and ceremonious sung
masses, the Triunfo Eucharistico constituting a particularly powerful example
of such endeavors (see Fig. 9.1).
There were two main sponsors of communal festivals. The rst were the
cmaras, which represented the power of the state. The cmaras were responsible for the Crowns ocial festivities, which included Corpus Christi, Saint

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


Fig. 9.1 Church of Our Lady of the Pillar, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais
Sebastian, Angel Custodian of the Realm, and Saint Isabel, and a number of
events associated with the Portuguese royal family, particularly marriages and
deaths. The other included all the various lay confraternities, brotherhoods,
and third orders, which in academic literature are commonly referred to
collectively as the irmandades (Salles 2007; Boschi 1986). These associations
promoted the annual festival in honor of their patron saint. By sponsoring the
communal festivals, which constituted the focus of colonial social life, the
cmaras and irmandades became the main patrons of the arts, encompassing
architecture, sculpture, painting, theatrical productions, and, of course, music.
Because lay people were more directly involved in the production of the
festivals linked to the irmandades, they evinced particularly high levels of
enthusiasm within the mining population.
The irmandades were brought from the Iberian peninsula to Portuguese
America, where they were instituted quite early in the colonial process, the rst
having been founded in the colony by the mid-sixteenth century (RussellWood 1968). Given the limited presence of the institutionalized Church in
the mining regions, the irmandades became especially important in the organization of religious and social life. Indeed, they have been the focus of considerable attention among Brazilian historians precisely because, for all practical



purposes, the social sphere in Minas was organized through them. Practically
everyone belonged to at least one irmandade, regardless of social standing,
because these associations were among the only institutions beyond the family
to provide some form of social security, while serving also as the basis for
sociality and collective action. Their primary role was that of caring for the
welfare of their members in both life and death, ensuring that they received a
proper funeral, burial in holy ground, and masses with intention for their souls
to hasten their passage through purgatory. Through the promotion of festivals,
the irmandades competed openly with one another, as this was one of the
few arenas in which the wealth of the irmandade and its members could be
publicly and ostentatiously exhibited.
Throughout Minas, the irmandades were divided according to racial
categories, with associations for white people, pardos, and black people.
Typically, the rst two irmandades to be founded in a parish were the
Irmandade of the [Holy] Sacrament (Santssimo Sacramento), whose membership tended to be made up of the wealthiest white men of society, often
involving only reinis (metropolitans) and an Irmandade of [Our Lady of] the
Rosary (Nossa Senhora do Rosrio), which was linked to black people, including slaves and freed slaves (forros), both men and women. While the Irmandade
of the Sacramento sponsored Holy Week, which came to be seen as the most
important festival in the colonial annual calendar, the Irmandade of the Rosary
promoted the festival in honor of their patron, commonly considered the
most joyful of the colonial festivals. As the mulatto population grew, irmandades were founded to cater to this social group, such as the Irmandade of Our
Lady of Mercies, the Irmandade of Saint Joseph, among many others. The
annual cycle in the mining towns, therefore, was punctuated by the lively
festivals and processions promoted by the cmaras and irmandades, all of
which were marked by continuous musical performance.

The colonial repertory

Although secular music was widely performed in a number of social settings,
including parlor gatherings (saraus) and street serenades (serestas), as well as at
the opera and musical theaters, very little of this repertory has survived. Yet,
many settings of the mass, litanies, motets, and other liturgical materials
produced for events sponsored by the irmandades and the cmaras have been
preserved, indicating that this music was not seen in as transient a mode as
material meant primarily for secular entertainment. For the most part, however, what eighteenth-century liturgical music has survived exists in the form
of nineteenth-century handwritten copies, and most of this material pertains to

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


Fig. 9.2 A page from the manuscript of Maria Mater Gratiae by Marcos
Coelho Netto, showing his signature and date
the later quarter of the eighteenth century (Lange 1951). Since it was very
rare for a piece to be copied as a score, most of the papers are found as
independent parts. Only occasionally have manuscripts been identied that
were actually written out, signed, and dated by the composer himself (they
were all men), such as the hymn, Maria Mater Gratiae, by Marcos Coelho
Netto,5 which dates from 1787 and is one of the earliest remaining manuscripts
from the region of Minas Gerais (see Fig. 9.2). The fragmentary survival of early
manuscripts has posed diculties for the study of Brazilian colonial music:
more often than not parts are missing; frequently copyists altered pieces in
accordance with changes in musical trends; and they adapted them to the
specicities of the performance contexts in which they operated, by changing
the instrumentation or by simplifying parts to suit the competence levels of
available musicians.

5 There were two musicians named Marcos Coelho Netto, father (17461806) and son (17631823),
operating in Ouro Preto during the colonial period. It has not yet been possible to establish denitely
which of the two composed Maria Mater Gratiae, one of the best-known pieces in the mineiro repertory.
Curt Lange attributed it to the father, but Carlos Alberto Baltazar and Rogrio Duprat (1997) argue that it
was more likely to have been composed by the son.



The manuscripts, nonetheless, do allow us to gain a sense of the musical

tastes of the late eighteenth century, while also providing insight into the
mineiro musical universe of the nineteenth century. It is, however, more
dicult to assess what liturgical music might have sounded like in Minas during
the rst half of the eighteenth century, for once these styles had fallen out of
favor, musicians stopped recopying them. Among the few surviving music
manuscripts in Brazil to predate the last quarter of the century are forty pages
believed to have been produced between 1730 and 1735. These manuscripts,
discovered by Rgis Duprat in Mogi das Cruzes, So Paulo, contain fragments of
at least six distinct pieces. Most of them are set for a four-part choral ensemble,
but Duprat (1985) claims that the presence of a violin part in the only secular
piece in the collection suggests that Brazilian composers at the time were already
working beyond the a cappella style of religious music. Although the primary
sources are limited, he believes this collection attests to the links Brazilian
composers maintained not only to the major urban centers of the colony, but
also to wider European centers of musical production. Duprat sees this dialogue
as being especially evident in the use of harmonic vocabulary, the simple
techniques of four-part polyphony and the expansion of polyphonic phrases,
and the modulatory incursions used (ibid., 16). It would appear, therefore, that
the rapid changes taking place in the musical spheres of Portugal in the early
eighteenth century due to the massive penetration of Italian models were also
making their way to Portuguese America (Nery 2004, 385).
The links between European musical trends and the music circles in the mining
regions is especially marked in the existing manuscripts pertaining to the composers of the later part of the eighteenth century. Much of this music is set for
one, and in some cases two, four-part choral groups to the accompaniment of a
small orchestra, which could include strings, utes, French horns, and bass.
According to Jos Maria Neves (1997, 1718), the colonial repertory in Minas
employed Baroque, pre-Classical, and Classical elements. The continuo was still
used in many pieces, but the clear orientation toward functional harmony is more
reminiscent of Classical procedures than of the Baroque. Solos often point to
Baroque tendencies toward virtuosity, but the typical homophonic procedures of
the choral repertory suggest accompaniment roles for the parts that are common
to pre-Classical works. These features are especially noticeable in the Antiphona de
Nossa Senhora by Jos Joaquim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita (Serro, 17461805),
generally considered the greatest of the mineiro colonial composers. According
to Gerard Bhague (1979, 81), the piece provides an excellent example of the
composers homophonic concertante style. Silvio Augusto Crespo Filho (1989,
15265), who analyzed it in detail, points out how the rst movement begins in a
vertical mode with a strong Classical avor. The solos repeat the theme, adding

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


elements associated with the galant style. The homophonic performance of the
choir is broken from time to time by staggered entrances with hints of Baroque
procedures (see Fig. 9.3).
Although the importation of published material was banned and carefully
controlled, handwritten manuscripts could and did circulate freely.
And some published European music did enter the region, especially when
sanctioned by church authorities. When the Diocese of Mariana was established in 1745, for instance, the rst bishop, Dom Manuel da Cruz
Nogueira, brought several books of Gregorian chant with him from
Maranho as well as a sizeable collection of music manuscripts, which are
now housed in the Music Museum of the Archdiocese, along with other
collections that reached the Diocese throughout the eighteenth century.
Clerical correspondence indicates that in 1741 a collection of works by
European masters, particularly Italian composers, including Frescobaldi,
Monteverdi, Palestrina, Pergolesi, and Scarlatti, was sent to Brazil, and in
1750, a further collection of liturgical music ordered by the bishop arrived
in Mariana; in 1788 a collection of a very dierent avor, including works
by Byrd, Handel, Purcell, Haydn, and Mozart, arrived at the seat of the
Diocese (Neves 1997, 17). Amidst the vast collection of music manuscripts
amassed by Francisco Curt Lange during his treks across Minas, the work
of several other major eighteenth-century European composers can be
found, but it also contains the work of a number of Portuguese composers,
including Joo Jos Baldi (17701816), Antonio Leal Moreira (d. 1819),
Marcos Antonio Fonseca Portugal (17621830), and Jos Joaquim Santos
(c. 1747c. 1801), as well as the Italian David Perez (171199), who, like
Domenico Scarlatti (16851757), spent much of his professional life in
Portugal (Duprat 1994).
Jos Maria Neves contended that the Crowns ban against bringing
published work into the colony may have contributed to the level of technical
progressiveness in the work of the mineiro composers (Neves 1997, 11), for the
arrival of new material generated considerable excitement in music circles.
Unhindered by the rules and trends of their European counterparts, the mineiro composers could, as Francisco Curt Lange states, write with absolute
freedom (ibid., 45), grafting the new trends onto familiar practices. Indeed,
Lange was at pains to point out that the composers in Minas did not simply
copy their European counterparts (ibid., 47): rather, they developed a unique
style that suited the religious contexts they serviced. As Maurcio Dottori
(1992) has argued, the mineiro colonial music cannot be understood purely
in relation to its musical features, for even though it had transcended the
stylistic procedures of European Baroque music, its use within religious



Fig. 9.3 Jos Joaquim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita, Antiphona de Nossa Senhora,
measures 2231. Francisco Curt Lange, ed. 1951

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


ritual was Baroque, in that it contributed toward the dramatic impact of the
We might look, for instance, at the Motets of the Stations [of the Cross] for
two choirs, two utes, two French horns, and bass, by Manoel Dias de Oliveira
(So Jos del Rei, c. 17351813): while each choir is structured homophonically, the two choirs are in a polyphonic relation to one another;
the instrumental parts provide harmonic accompaniment for the voices,
while bolstering the bass line. These characteristics are especially marked in
Motet no. 2, Bajulans (see Fig. 9.4). The full set of seven motets
was composed to be sung during the visitation of the stations (passos), in
which the faithful processed under the full moon from one station to the
next, each station contained within one of the tiny chapel-like constructions
scattered around most colonial towns (see Fig. 9.5). As devotees stood in the
dark contemplating the episode represented at the station, the choirs sang:
Bajulans sibi crucem Jesus exivit in eum, qui dicitur Calvariae locum (And bearing his
own cross, he went forth to the place which is called Calvary).

Musicians and musicianship

From the previous discussion it will be clear that the liturgical repertory in
colonial Minas was quite demanding, and could only have been performed by
the presence of a fair number of competent singers and instrumentalists.
Furthermore, the competitive orientation of the irmandades called for
an ever-greater number of performers and ever-higher standards of
musicianship. This demand attracted more and more trained musicians to
the mining centers, and eventually a class of professionals was established,
many of whom had music as their primary economic activity. Lange
(1966, 12) has estimated that there were at least 1,000 professional musicians
active around the mines during the eighteenth century. With respect to
Ouro Preto, Aldo Luiz Leoni (2007) has identied 205 active musicians
between 1712 and 1817 for whom music was a major source of income.
One of the earliest documents indicating payment for musical services was
found in Ouro Preto, where a certain Joo Rodrigues dos Santos received
twelve eights of gold from the cmara in 1715 for playing the viola (a stringed
instrument similar to the guitar) (Neves 1997, 12); this would have allowed
him to buy three or four chickens.
While liturgical musical activities have been the most visible to scholars,
music could, in fact, generate an income in a range of dierent spheres.
Many of the same musicians who played for the cmaras and irmandades
also performed for operas and musical theaters; many musicians took on pupils



Fig. 9.4 Manoel Dias de Oliveira, Bajulans, measures 18. Adapted from
Mauricio Dottori, ed., n.d., unpublished manuscript
and apprentices; and in many cases they were also employed by the military
with music-related duties, such as drumming or bugling. There was income
to be made as a copyist or instrument maker, and in instrument repairs.
There were also many slave musicians who, besides providing musical services

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


Fig. 9.5 A passo in Campanha, Minas Gerais

for their owners, could be hired out to the confraternities to play drums,
bugles, and shawms (charamelas) during processions or to collect funds for
festivities. Antonil (1997, 171) claimed that a good trumpeter slave could
cost as much as 500 eights of gold, the same price as a strong young adult
male, for trumpet signals were fundamental in administering the activities of
the slaves at the mining sites.
As the most lucrative musical activities were those sponsored by the
cmaras and irmandades, the main strategies musicians employed were
directed at securing these opportunities. While positions for the irmandades were established by annual contracts, which were automatically
renewed if there was general satisfaction among all concerned, the positions at the cmaras were put out for tender each year, and only licensed
musicians could participate in the tendering process. Licensing was
administered by chapel masters, who often also charged high fees to
These circumstances favored the formation of relatively small, stable groups
of musicians, which came to be known as partidos de msica in some places
and companhias de msica in others. The make-up of the partidos shifted over



the century from primarily vocal groups to vocal and instrumental ensembles,
but they were kept as small as possible in order to maximize the members
incomes. They generally centered around a master musician (mestre de msica),
who undertook the responsibility to generate new music for major festivals,
recruit and train the musicians to perform it, and conduct the musicians
throughout the event.
A document located by Francisco Curt Lange (1990, 1301) is particularly
revealing of the formation of the partidos in the mining centers in the latter
part of the eighteenth century. A certain Domingos Jos Freitas tendered for
the annual festivities of the cmara of Ouro Preto, presenting the musicians
who would be involved as performers. These included:
Alto: Francisco Gomes da Rocha
Tenor: Gabriel de Castro
Bass (baxa): Florncio Jos Ferreira
Soprano (tiple): Joo Inocncio Coira
Violins (rabecas): Francisco Gonalvez, Domingos Jos Freitas, Antonio Alexo,
Carlos Teixeira, Manoel Parreira
Bass (rabeco): Caetano Rodrigues
Oboes (bos): Antonio Gonalvez, Lizardo Jos
French horns (trompas): Marcos Coelho (father), Marcos Coelho (son)
Leonis (2007) research indicates that, of these fourteen musicians, eleven
were denitely pardos, whereas information is inconclusive regarding the
complexion of the others. One of the three, Joo Inocncio Coira, was
undoubtedly a child, as tiple refers to a boy-soprano; he was probably apprenticing with one of the master musicians in the partido, of which there were at
least three: Francisco Gomes da Rocha (17451808) and Marcos Coelho Netto,
both father (17461806) and son (17631823). Because it would have been
unlikely for a white boy to have been apprenticed into a mulatto family, Joo
must have been a pardo. The widespread presence of mulattos amongst musicians in Minas is highlighted in a letter sent to the Portuguese monarch in 1780
by the colonial representative Jos Joo Teixeira Coelho. His observations do
not hide what were surely widespread views about mulattos at the time:
Those mulattos who do not make themselves idle, work as musicians, of which
there are so many in the Captaincy of Minas that they certainly are more in
number there than in the rest of the kingdom.
(quoted in Lange 1966:12)

The mulatismo, or hybridity, of Brazilian music has been a central theme in

Brazilian music scholarship since the late nineteenth century, and it has been
generally located within nationalist discourses. The strong presence of

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


mulattos in the music world has been seen as proof of the natural process of
Brazilianization that European cultural forms supposedly took in the country
since colonial times. Although Francisco Curt Lange (esp. 1990, 1966, 1979)
repeatedly noted that in Minas the vast majority of musicians were mulattos,
he took a stance that challenged nationalist musicological perspectives by
arguing that by becoming musicians, as well as masters in other arts and
crafts, the mulattos in Minas had carved out a niche for themselves within a
highly stratied slave social system, which allowed them to gain social
recognition. Far from being a natural process accompanying the growth of
the mulatto population, Lange viewed the mulattos as agents, who had turned
to European art music to demonstrate their ability to engage as equals in the
cultural sphere of white society. Ultimately, he contended, they were able to
create a space within the stratied system in which merit, rather than race, was
the primary criterion for professional success.
While Lange may have shifted the perspective upon the musical universe
in Minas, his representation of professional musicianship has started to be
challenged. Leoni, for instance, has undertaken a lengthy investigation of
the strategies eighteenth-century mulatto musicians in Minas employed to
overcome their social stigma, and many of his ndings entail important
correctives to Langes original research. For instance, although Lange contended that the clergy played a very limited role in the musical training of
the mineiro musicians, Leonis data indicate that this was not the case; still,
once a relatively large contingent of lay musicians had been formed, clerical
participation in the musical arena was radically diminished. Furthermore,
while mulattos undoubtedly made up the majority of the performers
throughout the eighteenth century, it was not until around 1750 that they
gained licenses to engage directly in tendering for the cmara and started to
be given contracts in the richest white irmandades, such as the Irmandade of
the Holy Sacrament and the Irmandade of Our Lady of Carmel. One of the
rst musicians to gain prominence in Ouro Preto was surely Antonio de
Souza Lobo (d. 1782), who won the tenders of the cmara from 1724 to 1750;
but he was not, as Lange has speculated, a mulatto, nor were any of the
bidders before his tenure.
Just as mulattos were being allowed to apply for licenses, the Crown issued
an edict stating that any liturgical music would have to be approved by an
authorized (white) reviewer to ensure it conformed to the norm of the Council
of Trent. This was in direct response to a letter from Dom Antonio de
Guadalupe, bishop of Rio de Janeiro from 1725 to 1739, who claimed that
the music in the churches in Minas was marked by profanity and indecency,
both in its words, and its music, because all the musicians [were] pardos,



a naturally depraved [race] (quoted in Lange 1990, 115). Even after the
mulattos had come to dominate the musical universe of Minas, their work
continued to be scrutinized in ways their white predecessors had never been
subjected to (Leoni 2007).
What did, however, give the mulatto musicians an edge over other
mulattos was the fact that reading and writing was an integral part of
their musical training (ibid., 11920). Thus, within the irmandades for
pardos, a disproportionate number of musicians held leadership positions.
In Ouro Preto, moreover, they congregated in the Irmandade of Saint
Joseph, one of the earliest irmandades for pardos, founded in 1730. Even
though the irmandade was not ocially a guild, it provided musicians with
a base from which to discuss their common experiences and defend their
common interests. However, when the Irmandade of Saint Cecilia, to
honor the patron saint of musicians, was founded in 1815, its statutes
required prospective members to pass a music examination prior to enrolment, which excluded many practicing musicians, particularly those still in
or only recently freed from slavery, because of their low literacy levels
which hindered their performance on the examination (ibid., 124). As
professionals, however, musicians were among the most organized of
the nonwhite sectors in the mining centers in the latter half of the eighteenth century.

The Irmandade of Our Lady of the Rosary

Just as irmandades provided institutional support for mulattos, they also
served as focal points for the black populations of Minas. Within these associations black people could engage in the complex process of re-identication
and cultural reelaboration. While the members of the irmandades of Saint
Benedict and of Saint Iphigenia were predominantly black, the main black
irmandades were dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary,6 and by 1720 an
irmandade of the rosary had been established in practically all the major mining
centers. The organization of slaves into irmandades was encouraged by the
colonial ocials, for they were seen as contexts for instilling Christian values
upon the pagans, and they could contain them within an institutional frame
familiar to the masters. Jos Ramos Tinhoro (1975, 44) has argued that, by
accepting the irmandade structure oered to them, black people were able to
participate albeit from a marginal position in the wider colonial society.
6 Boschi (1986, 187) identied a total of sixty-two irmandades dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary in
colonial Minas; the second most widespread irmandades were dedicated to the Holy Sacrament, of which
forty-three have been identied.

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


Indeed, it was in the black Church of the Rosary that the Holy Sacrament was
housed during the restoration work on the Church of the Pillar in the 1730s,
just as the Irmandade of the Rosary was one of the sponsors of the Triunfo
Eucharistico. A wide range of documents makes it clear that the wealth of the
mines allowed even the black irmandades to participate in the Baroque displays
that marked colonial life. They too built their own churches, and their religious
festivals were staged with as much pomp and ostentation as they could muster.
A unique feature of the Irmandades of the Rosary was that their statutes
typically stipulated that, among the ocers of the association, there was to be a
king and a queen of the association, both of whom were to be black, and a judge
for each of the saints the organization was engaged in venerating, and here
too it was generally stipulated that they should be black. A few leadership
positions, nonetheless, were allocated to white people, particularly those of
secretary and treasurer, for their occupants needed to be literate. For this
reason, considerable academic debate has focused on the degree of autonomy
black people would have had within their irmandades. Julita Scarano (1976) has
contended that the black courts had a fundamentally compensatory role,
providing slaves with an illusion of autonomy. However, as Marina de Mello
e Souza (2002, 182) has noted, the kings were often men who were respected
by their fellow slaves for mediating conicts within their own group, and in
some cases these leaders were thought to have special magical powers, eliciting
fear, particularly among white people. The very presence of an acknowledged
leader allowed black people to gain a sense of self-determination within their
own communities.
Given the conguration of the slave population in Minas, the membership of
the irmandades of the rosary in the rst half of the eighteenth century was
predominantly East African, but Africans of Central African provenance
were dominant in the second half. By the second half of the century, furthermore, Brazilian-born black people became noticeably more numerous in the
irmandades membership lists. However, from the very establishment of
the organizations, they housed black people of diverse backgrounds. While
in Bahia and Rio de Janeiro some black irmandades split along national lines,
this was not common in Minas, where all the naes of a locality were represented in the membership of the black irmandades. Even so, national kinship
ties (parentes de nao) (Reis 1991, 55) were forged, because they provided a
substitute for lineage ties in the new social environment, binding the nations to
a wider community. In eect, the process of re-identication within the
irmandade articulated a shift from ethnic dierences to racial unity
(Nishida 1998). The king provided a powerful focus for the formation of this
new sense of identity.



Because of the centrality of the king, the annual coronation ceremony

became the main festive occasion associated with the irmandade of the rosary.
Although coronations took place in Minas in the rst half of the eighteenth
century, descriptions of the festivities associated with them are only available
from the second half onwards. As elsewhere in Portuguese America, they
involved joyful processions in which the newly crowned king and his entourage were paraded through the streets to the sound of singing and musical
instruments. By the late eighteenth century, organized dance associations were
commonplace in these processions, though it was not until 1818 that the term
congada appeared to refer to them.7 By this time it was also common to refer
to the kings being crowned within the irmandades as King of the Congo
(Rei do Congo). In the twenty-rst century, references to congadas as well as
congos, congados, moambiques, caiaps, caboclinhos, marujos, and countless other
terms are current throughout Minas as well as in several neighboring states.
Each term refers to a specic type of dance association linked to the festival of
Our Lady of the Rosary and other popular Catholic celebrations, which still
take place in many small towns, especially in the historic colonial towns.
It would appear that such black dance associations were already participating
in street festivities in Minas as early as 1748, since they were noted by a certain
Francisco Ribeiro da Silva, who left an account of his impressions of the
festivities surrounding the arrival of the rst bishop of the Diocese of Minas
Gerais in Mariana. Alongside a series of events of Baroque grandeur comparable to the Triunfo Eucharistico of 1733, there were black dance troupes
who entered the City in two lines, with banners, drums and instruments,
and songs in their own style (Lange 1990, 114). For the same event, another
performance group called the carijs sang and danced in the streets dressed
like native Amerindians, to the accompaniment of tambourines and utes
(ibid., 114), much like the caiaps and caboclinhos of the present.
Although there are numerous references to organized music and dance associations linked to religious festivities, especially in relation to activities promoted
by the black irmandades, there are no records of what they sang and played on
their instruments. Although a few collectors, instigated by nationalist sentiments, began documenting the repertory of congados since the early twentieth
century, most notably Mrio de Andrade (1982), Artur Ramos (1954), Alceu
Maynard de Arajo (1964) among others, the memory of these performances
has been retained by and in the bodies of the descendants of the rst African
dancers. Without doubt, as an aural and embodied tradition, the repertories of

7 According to Elizabeth Kiddy (2005, 1313), the rst use of the term congada was in a description of a
coronation festival by Karl van Martius in Diamantina.

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


the congadas underwent continuous processes of change. The changes themselves, however, provide valuable clues about the ways in which the activities
have been understood and negotiated among black people and their descendants
in carving out a space for themselves within the colonial slave society.
Signicantly, one of the most widely diused narratives within congado
communities in Minas today presents the following story line. An image of
Our Lady of the Rosary is located in a remote place. A prestigious musical
ensemble is summoned to escort her to a new church, but she either refuses to
follow them or returns during the night to her initial location. Another rather
less prestigious ensemble attempts to persuade her to stay in the new church, but
again she refuses. Finally, the congadas are allowed to see if they can get her to
follow them, and they are successful. By agreeing to follow the black dancers,
Our Lady legitimizes and blesses their performances.
Elizabeth Kiddy (2005, 59) collected a common variant of this narrative in
Jatob, Greater Belo Horizonte, where there is a strong rosary tradition. In this
version, Our Lady was found in the sea, and after the white people had tried
unsuccessfully to coax her out of the water, the blacks are allowed to see if they
are able to entice her to shore. Several African nations took a turn, but it was
only when the three sacred drums of the candombe, said to be the mythical
ancestor of the congado, were played for her that she began to react. But she
only came out of the water when all the African nations joined together to play
and sing for her.
In many parts of Minas, a number of dierent dance associations turn out
for the festival of the rosary, and each represents a distinct community, which
is enacted through the performance of a distinct and identiable musical genre.
In Jatob, for instance, there are congos, moambiques, and candombes, this
being the case also among their neighbors, the Arturos (Lucas 2002). Congos,
which open the way for the street cortge, have the most varied repertory
and the greatest opportunities for improvisation of the ensembles in this
region. The rhythmic variations of the moambiques are somewhat restricted,
as the repertory must be regal to fulll the ensembles role of accompanying the
king and queen during the procession. The candombe, the most sacred of the
ensembles, is only performed in an enclosed space; it is restricted to a single
rhythmic sequence, played on a set of three cylindrical drums called Santana,
Santaninha, and Jeremias (or Chama). Unlike the European-style drums used in
the other two outdoor ensembles, the candombes are clearly African in structure (see Fig. 9.6), and their beats invoke the ancestors, bringing them closer to
the living.
As Glaura Lucas (2002) has demonstrated in her meticulous analysis of
the congado performances in Jatob and the Arturos, the subtle variations in



Fig. 9.6 The candombe drums

the drumming patterns embody a complex set of codes known only to the
congadeiros (members of congado communities). She contends that this drum
language is a legacy of the period of slavery, when a number of covert
systems of communication were developed among black people in order
to protect cherished aspects of their African heritage (Lucas 2005). Music
provided a particularly useful vehicle for such secret codes, as it could be
presented publicly as a harmless form of entertainment. Indeed, during their
street processions, the members of the irmandades accompanied their newly
elected kings with dances, songs, and drums, creating a carnivalesque atmosphere that presented them as an inoensive group of people out to have a bit of
fun, and not a band of black people to be feared (Reily 2007). But it also served
as a legitimate space in which black people could publicly display their organizational potential and numerical strength (Priori 1994, 83).
Vissungos, a genre of work songs performed in banguela among the slaves in
the diamond mines around Diamantina, provide a further demonstration of
how music was used by slaves in the colonial era as a vehicle for coded
messages. During a vacation trip in 1928, Aires da Mata Machado Filho
(1985) chanced upon this song tradition and collected a total of sixty-ve
vissungos, though he was unable to obtain translations for many of them.
Some, for which translations are provided, demonstrate the enigmatic character of the texts, as in example 29, translated as follows: a black man who

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


Fig. 9.7 Vissungo no. 29, collected by Aires da Mata Machado Filho
was running away encountered ants carrying sticks on the road (ibid., 84)
(see Fig. 9.7). Along with a means of safeguarding the memories of the experiences of the ancestors in the mines, this repertory has also allowed the
descendants of slaves to preserve the language of their forefathers.

Beyond Minas
By the late eighteenth century, the gold had all but disappeared in Minas,
and the population had begun to disperse, many heading to the coee regions
along the Mantiqueira Mountains in the hope of, yet again, making fortunes in
the new economic boom. Although the gold did not last, it transformed the
prole of Portuguese America as a whole, as well as metropolitan conceptions
of the territorys potential. This was undoubtedly crucial in the decision to
relocate the full Portuguese court from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro in the early
nineteenth century to escape the Napoleonic threat, a move that conclusively
shifted Brazils cultural and economic center to the new capital. Soon the
musical legacy of Minas was all but forgotten, overshadowed by such popular
styles as the modinha, the choro, and samba, which claimed Rio as their
In the mining regions themselves, the decline in resources reduced the
funds available to the irmandades, but even so many communities managed
to sustain a festival cycle by recycling the works of the local masters. By the
mid-twentieth century, however, the annual festivities in many former mining
towns had been reduced to Holy Week and the Festival of Our Lady of the
Rosary. During Holy Week in such places as Ouro Preto, Mariana, So Joo del
Rei, Tiradentes, Prados, Campanha, among others, one can still hear the music
of Manuel Dias de Oliveira, Jos Joaquim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita, Marcos
Coelho Netto, Joo de Deus de Castro Lobo (17941832), Incio Parreira
Neves (173091), and many other eighteenth-century mineiro masters, but
they are now performed by community choirs and orchestras (Gonalves Dias
1999; Melo 2001; Neves 1987; Reily 2006). Festivals of the rosary are very



widespread, having been instituted wherever a sucient number of black

people could come together to organize a congada. In Montes Claros, for
instance, the Festival of the Rosary developed among the workers who built
the railway, led by a family from the former diamond mines of Serro. In Montes
Claros the procession is composed of catops, marujos, and caboclinhos, each
representing one of the races of Brazil. While the catops are drum-based
(African) ensembles, the (Portuguese) marujos accompany their songs with
guitars and tambourines, and the caboclinhos play bows and arrows, an
ingenious instrument in which an arrow snaps on a bow when pulled, producing a wood-on-wood sound (Mendes 2006). It could be said, therefore, that the
ensembles in Montes Claros are engaged in articulating racial dierences to
Brazilian national unity.
Just as the discovery of gold has had far-reaching consequences for the
whole of Brazil, it also aected musical cultures in a number of other places,
though little research has been done as yet to assess its wider musical ramications. Some work has been conducted on the musical ows from northeastern Brazil to Benin (Lacerda 1998), but these studies have not indicated any
direct links in the region deriving from the Brazilian gold mines; this is perhaps
because slaves from this region entered the mines in their earliest phases of
the gold rush. The Central African connections, however, have also been
neglected. Yet, the high demand for slaves in Minas greatly intensied raiding
in the Congo/Angola region, where this activity came to be known as the
Kwata! Kwata! Wars. What repertories might these terrifying episodes have
produced? Memory has surely survived of the exploits of the astute Queen
Njinga (d. 1661), who succeeded, at least temporarily, in protecting her people,
the Mbundu, from bondage by establishing an alliance with the Portuguese.
But how has this translated into musical domains?
The Portuguese, who had been in Central Africa since the late fteenth
century,8 fortied their claims there during the gold rush, and a prosperous
community of metropolitans and Brazilians dominated the human tracking
in the region. Along with trade, the Portuguese brought Catholicism. One of
the landmarks of Luanda is the cathedral, completed in 1628, and a sizable
portion of the population of Angola is Catholic.9 As in Brazil, the encounters
between Europeans and Africans created a large mulatto population, and
Angolan culture, particularly in the urban settings, is typically described as
hybrid. Because of the devastating civil war that ravaged the country since its
8 It is noteworthy that the Portuguese emissary of King Sebastio of Portugal, who arrived in Luanda in
1575, with a eet of seven ships, was attracted to the region in the hope of controlling the legendary silver
mines of Cambambe (Birmingham 1965).
9 Current gures are unreliable, but the Christian population probably exceeds 40 percent.

Music, Minas, and the Golden Atlantic


independence from Portugal in 1975 until 2002, however, very little research
of any kind has been undertaken in the country.
In Portugal, Brazilian gold had a tremendous impact, as it literally drew the
Crown from near bankruptcy to immense wealth. In his classic history of
Portuguese music, Joo de Freitas Branco (1995, 194) claims that Brazilian
gold even allowed Dom Joo V to compete with Louis XIV in the promotion of
courtly artistic splendor. Indeed, the Portuguese Royal Chapel ourished in
the eighteenth century. The very best musicians trained at the Vatican were
recruited to Lisbon, and these included at least twelve string players and
around thirty singers (Nery 2004, 387), a few castrati among them, of course.
Unquestionably, the most prestigious recruit was Domenico Scarlatti, who
arrived in Lisbon in 1719, where he remained until 1729, when he accompanied his most eminent pupil, the Portuguese Infanta Maria Barbara of
Braganza, to her new home in Madrid, where she married the future king of
Spain. Besides the musical education of the kings children, Scarlatti was
responsible for the music of the Royal Chapel. Another Italian musician who
relocated to Lisbon was David Perez, whose work is seen by some as having
been particularly inuential in Minas (Gonalves Dias 1999, 28). The
Italianization of Portuguese music in the eighteenth century, therefore, had
much to do with Brazil. Ironically, the very source of the ow of wealth
that allowed the Baroque to ourish in Portugal would then model its own
ostentation on the metropolis. Still, it has also been argued that much of
Brazils gold arrived at Portuguese ports, only to be shipped o again to
England to pay o Portuguese debts. Indeed, Charles Boxer (2000) has contended that it was Brazilian gold that nanced the great British industrial
Without doubt the eighteenth-century gold mines of Brazil instigated a
surge in the movement of people, goods, and resources across a wide range
of intersecting routes. In the pursuit of fortune, people of diverse backgrounds
and aspirations found themselves side by side, driving them to translate
their experiences into a diversity of hybrid musical forms that could articulate
their achievements, hope, and pain. While the echoes of the Golden Atlantic
reverberated far beyond the mines of Minas Gerais, we have only begun
to assess the full musical ramications of this intense and extraordinary episode
in the music history of transatlantic ows.

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sculo XVIII, So Paulo: Hucitec-EDUSP





. 10 .

Johann Gottfried Herder and the global

moment of world-music history

Folk song entered the history of world music in the 1770s, and by the beginning of the nineteenth century it was the primary material sonic, literary,
narrative, and political for understanding the history of music worldwide.
The remarkable rise of folk song as the paradigmatic form of world music
during the late Enlightenment was due in large measure to the intellectual
impact of Johann Gottfried Herder (17441803) not only on his own generation but also on the subsequent generations of the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries, which increasingly situated music, history, and politics within the
borders of nations spreading across the world. Herders coining of the word
Volkslied (folk song) in the 1770s described an act of ownership whereby a
collective of people, the Volk (glossed variously as the folk, the people, or the
nation), asserted authority for song and musical practices from the past and
claimed it for the present. The materiality of folk song itself was, from the
moment of its invention in the Enlightenment, historical. The transmission
of folk song from individual to community, from oral to written tradition,
unfolded according to the principles of history and history writing. With folk
song as a body of fundamental texts it was inevitable that those principles
would acquire global signicance.
Complex discourses of world music converged at the dening moment
of folk songs entry into history, and it is the goal of this chapter, rst, to
distinguish a number of historical strands from each other, and then, second,
to examine the ways in which they converge to shape the historiographic
whole of music in the modern world that is the larger subject of this volume.
The chapter begins with an examination of the convergence of historical and
anthropological practices that connected vernacular music practices to time
and place. It proceeds by examining eponymous discourse about the role of
the individual Herder as a hero of the Enlightenment, epic as the literary and
musical tale of the nation, the individuals whose life stories lled ballads in
giving voice to the people, shaping, as Herder would claim in the title of
the rst anthology of folk songs, Stimmen der Vlker in Liedern (the voices of
the people in songs; Herder 17789; see also Herder 1990). The chapter then



establishes the ways in which the very collections of folk song yielded the
possibility for history and history writing that proliferated to form the narratives of nineteenth-century Romanticism, particularly its political forms as
nationalism. The chapter closes by following Herders inuence as a translator
of epic, direct and indirect, deserved and undeserved, on the synthesis and
fragmentation of world-music histories that accompanied the expansion of
nationalism into colonialism and the subsequent human crises of modern
history in the twentieth century and beyond (see Borsche 2006). Its intersecting processes of synthesis and fragmentation notwithstanding, the expansive
history of world music growing from the discovery of folk song begins with
Johann Gottfried Herder.

Transforming song to history: four processes

The Enlightenment transformation of folk song to history, the narrative
dimensions of which shaped the global moment of world-music history,
resulted from a dramatic paradigm shift during the 1770s, but it did so only
rst by drawing together four identiable processes of change. The four
processes coalesced during the decade in which Herder turned from the
aesthetic and theological writings of his years as a pastor in Riga (17649) to
the more musical and historical writings of his rst decade in the German
lands. Several biographical events mark the transition from one decade to the
next, but for Herders encounter with a much more expansive sense of the
world and the convergence of world histories in the present, none was more
signicant than the sea journey that took Herder from the Baltic lands of his
youth to the German lands of his early career, a journey that he detailed in
an ethnographic journal, which appeared only posthumously (Herder 1769).
During the precise critical moment that he turned to a new philosophy of
history for the education of humankind (Herder 1774), Herder would recognize in folk song an object of culture that gave voice to the subjectivities
forming the foundations of world history. A decade later, he would gather
his historiographic ideas again, publishing them this time in two parts as a
history of world cultures (Herder 17845).
The global moment accompanied the transformation of music as object to
subject, hence to the formation of history, through the four processes that
appear in Herders own writings on music in the late eighteenth century and
then came powerfully to inuence the writing of music history until the present.
The four processes encompass the several shifts in the ontology of music: from
oral to written tradition; from individual practice to communal tradition; from
single to plural (i.e., from music to musics, origin to origins, culture to cultures;

Herder and the global moment of world-music history


see Nettl in this volume); from local to global. The processes, nonetheless, unfold
through distinct stages, and they are the results of individual action and agency:
in Herders Enlightenment, music entered history as the human measure of a
response to change. The four processes might be briey identied as such:

Transforming the oral to the written

The formation of genre
The formalization of theory
Inventing folk song globally.

In the years between 1769 and the publication of the volumes on and of folk
songs in 17789, Herder was prolic while at the same time traveling and
garnering increasingly more diverse cultural experiences, and publishing some
of his most inuential early writings, not least among them his study of the
origins of language (Herder 1772). His activities as a folk-song collector were
also proceeding systematically, and by 1773 he had already gathered enough
folk songs, from oral traditions and from printed sources, that the manuscript
for Stimmen der Vlker in Liedern and Volkslieder (17789) already had a
coherent shape. That manuscript provided the comparative basis in 1773 for
his rst major essay devoted to folk song, his Extract from Correspondence
about Ossian and Ancient Songs, which appeared in Von deutscher Art und
Kunst (Herder 1773). The manuscript anthology had already lent itself to the
formulation of a theoretical framework for giving folk song temporal, historical dimensions and spatial, geographical dimensions. In the course of the next
ve years, Herder would both add and remove songs from the manuscript,
rening and refocusing these dimensions before publishing the folk songs
together, as an anthology whose dimensions had become distinctively global.
These experiences and the writing they generated navigated the discursive
space between an ethnographic moment and a global moment. The discursive
space is narrated and inscribed by the transformation of the empirical evidence
gathered in the eld through a series of linked representational practices: from
folk song or custom in oral tradition to eldnote; from eldnote to personal and
reexive narrative; from narrative to anthology of musical works; from anthology to new ontology of world music. These linked representational practices,
moreover, do not derive only or entirely from a top-down perspective, but rather
it is the ethnographic experience, however inchoate, that generates them.

Herders journey, historys path

Despite the boldness of his journey in 1769, it is not the case that Herder
reinvented himself as an anthropologist from one day to the next. John



Zammito has reexamined the birth of anthropology at the transition from

German Enlightenment to German Idealist philosophy in light of the intellectual exchange and competition between Herder and his Knigsberg teacher,
Immanuel Kant (17241804). This transition amounts to what Zammito calls
a critical turn toward anthropology, whereby he means also to assign an
enormous importance to the emergence of a sweeping new intellectual epistemology, one in which the popular was to claim a radically dierent place
by the end of the eighteenth century. For Kant, the critical turn took place
during a period from 1762 to 1769, during which he turned away from large
systematic projects and toward what is generally called popular philosophy
(in German, both Popularphilosophie and Schulphilosophie). For Herder, according to Zammito, the critical turn began in 1769, and soon thereafter became
the basis for the global moment of world music. Zammito explains the turn/
moment thus:
I propose what Kant turned away from around 17691770 was in fact the path
of a popular philosopher. In the preceding seven years, deeply troubled about
the direction of traditional German school metaphysics, as well as about the
role of the Gelehrtenstand in the project of Enlightenment, it is not unreasonable to suspect that Kant considered an alternative identity, that of the popular
philosopher a project that in fact Herder would take up in his stead (and even,
I am suggesting, in his image).
(Zammito 2002, 6; emphasis and parenthesis in the original)

A shift in literary and discursive style was crucial in this critical turn of the
1760s, a shift that aimed to broaden the audience for philosophical and ethical
speculation, but also to broaden to reimagine and reinvent the presence of
subjects and subjectivity in Enlightenment epistemology. Driving the ethnographic moment was, therefore, the discourse of popular philosophy itself.
The German philosophers of the mid-eighteenth century, especially Gotthold
Lessing and Moses Mendelssohn, as well as Joseph Sulzer and Thomas Abbt,
were much more broadly concerned with the more international domains of
Enlightenment philosophy, notably with English analytical philosophy and the
concern of French philosophy with nature. At the moment of his critical turn,
Kant openly embraced the German philosophers of the Enlightenment, above
all their active integration of Rousseaus writings into a new agenda program
of public expression, or entlichkeit (ibid., 10). As Zammito points out, it was
precisely at the moment of Kants most intense engagement with Rousseau
that Herder was Kants student. The teaching of that moment would not only
be Kants greatest legacy to Herder but also plant the fundamental seeds of
disagreement that would increasingly lead to the parting of their ways
(ibid.). When those ways parted, it was Herder who stayed the course toward

Herder and the global moment of world-music history


anthropology after Kant had put it behind him after the early 1770s. Herder
would emerge, as Hans-Jrgen Schings has claimed, as the most important
anthropologist of the late eighteenth century, who as no other embodies the
style of thought and the competence of an anthropologist (Schings 1994, 5;
see also Zammito 2002, 8).
During the 1770s, the anthropological and the historical intersect in Herders
writings, linking the aesthetic writings in the Kritische Wlder (Herder 1769)
with the more specically musical writings in the Volkslieder volumes. The key to
that link lies in a work he published in 1774, Yet Another Philosophy of History
for the Education of Humanity (Herder 1774), with which Herder launched an
open assault on the absolutism that had characterized the Enlightenment
notion of universal history. Crucial to his program for a new historiography
was an insistence that the histories of past cultures were encountered only
within those cultures themselves, in their own time and terms, without imposing the values purportedly immanent in a universal history. Herder openly
rejected the increasingly common assertions that there was something akin
to a universal human nature, and, instead, he made the case that the encounter
between a culture and its environment determined the shape of its practices
and the course of its history. If this sounds like an open call for cultural
relativism, it both was and was not. On the one hand, Herder insisted that
understanding a culture at historical and geographical distance from eighteenthcentury Europe required understanding its own conditions. On the other,
he stopped short of stripping history of teleology, specically of the process
of development toward increasing progress, even Rousseaus concept of
perfectibilit (see Gaiger in Herder 2002, 21).
In the years that followed Yet Another Philosophy of History, Herder revisited
the aesthetic materials that he had gathered in and around 1769, coupling
them with the new concept of experience and sensation that was central to his
anthropological program, and publishing them in his two most substantial
works specically devoted to the arts, the study of Plastik, or Sculpture, in 1776
(for an English translation, see Herder 2002), and the volumes on folk song
in 17789. In both these works we encounter a new anthropology, which
argues boldly for the embodiment of the artistic experience, particularly in
the visual and musical arts. It is through embodiment, moreover, that the
arts acquire their potential to express something profoundly human, which
is to say, potentially bound to the development of humanity as a whole. The
shift to the human body, thus, is also to a humanity that was globally, indeed,
phylogenetically, conceived. On a much grander scale, Herder is making
the shift from an Enlightenment universalism to a globalization palpable in
the aesthetic and musical experience. The most complete map of that



globalization was to become Stimmen der Vlker in Liedern and Volkslieder

(Herder 17789).
When we begin to read Herder as an ethnographer at a later moment in
world-music history, his writings on music begin to tell entirely dierent tales
from the eld. First of all, his inscriptions of song no longer fulll only the
characteristics of a history predicated on text, the dissemination of which
depends on literary technologies (e.g., printing and translation). Second,
Herders collections of and essays on music cease to represent the nationalist
rhetoric that prevailed in the nineteenth century, especially in Germany.
German songs, indeed, appear in relatively small numbers (a total of thirtyeight, with only fteen folk songs, in a total of 162 in Herder 17789). Third,
we recognize that his writings on music have polysemic dimensions; in other
words, they are meant to embrace dierent ontologies and epistemologies
of music, especially folk music. Fourth, Herder is remarkable for the ways in
which he recognizes how the local realizes the global and vice versa, all the
more because he recognizes the power of discourse networks, say, in a Latin
Marian song that becomes a Sicilian sailors song on its way to entering the
canon of German Christmas songs as Oh, du frhliche (see Fig. 10.1).
Herders music aesthetic also possesses many of the attributes of early
Romantic notions of musics relation to experience. Citing Friedrich Schlegel,

Fig. 10.1 O sanctissima! Sicilian sailors song (from Herders Nachla)

Herder and the global moment of world-music history


Berthold Hoeckner observes that Herder was perhaps the rst writer to attempt
to bring an epistemological whole into view through the parts, both individually
and collectively. Schlegel noted that it was Herder, who rst knew to grasp
a whole with an emphatic imagination and to express this feeling in words
(Schlegel 1958, III, 296; quoted in Hoeckner 2002, 5). Herders seminal epistemological focus on the relation between parts and wholes was born of
his ethnomusicological epiphany, itself ineluctably connected to the global
moment. We witness the epistemological refocusing in the representational
forms that Herder began to employ in his aesthetic writings, beginning after
1769 and throughout the 1770s. Such forms appear in his earliest writings
devoted to music and they sustain his approach to folk music, not least the use
of fragments in the Ossian essay (in Herder 1773) and in the folk-song volumes.
Herder also sutures aesthetic and ethnographic modes of rhetoric, notably
through the ethnographic tradition of juxtaposing diachronic and synchronic
representation. Indeed, the relation of the two larger parts of the folk-song
publication, Stimmen der Vlker in Liedern and Volkslieder, was one of systematically presenting synchronic evidence in the rst part in order to undergird
the diachronic historiography in the second part. Stimmen der Vlker begins
with a section devoted to what he calls Zeugnisse ber Volkslieder (witnesses,
or evidence, about folk songs) and then unfolds as an anthology with very
sparse commentary on the songs themselves, intentionally allowing them to
speak for themselves as the peoples voices. Part two, in contrast, intersperses extensive historical commentaries with the songs, and using this rhetorical ploy Herder uses folk song as a means of representing cultural and
national history, that is of narrating the diachronic.
The addition of fragments to whole literary works (e.g., the addition of
songs and commentaries on songs to the 1773 folk-song manuscripts and
after 1779 to subsequent publications of Volkslieder) allowed him quite unsystematically to evoke a systematic view of a globalized and globalizing music
culture. The expansion of Volkslieder in 1807 from Herders literary estate
(Nachla) adds commentary with particularly far-reaching global dimensions,
and it draws attention to processes we today understand as globalization:
encounter, colonialism, hybridity, change, and exchange (see Bohlman 2007).
By the end of the 1770s, through folk song, Herder had arrived at the global
moment of world-music history.

Herder, epic hero

Folk song entered world-music history eponymously, that is, as narratives
about people, the Volk. The Volk enters history in plural form, Vlker, that is,



as individuals and collectivities alike, as the everyperson and the hero of the
nation. They not only sang Volkslieder das Volk dichtet, the people created
their own poetry, in Jacob Grimms formulation but they also increasingly
became the subjects of their own songs. In the nineteenth century, folk song
would generate new forms of ownership. The global moment of folk song
was that in which individuals acquired agency, thereby translating and transforming the narratives of song to those of epochs and nations. The global
narrative of world music, taking shape as the Enlightenment gave way to the
age of nationalism in the nineteenth century, became a narrative about heroes
and histories. After Herder, world-music history unfolds as a polyphonic
narrative, part epic and folk song, part opera and sacred cantata, part sacred
and secular. Its spectacle is that of history itself, the history, above all, of
modernity. In most ways, Herder was himself an unlikely hero, a Lutheran
pastor by training and vocation. Still, it is this rather unspectacular of heroes
who, in the course of a history he set in motion with his writings, transforms
modernity into spectacle.
The hero of the global moment of world-music history was Johann Gottfried
Herder, whose work unfolded for the Enlightenment as an epic in and of
itself. Numerous chapters in the present volume, whether historical overviews
or geographical case studies, attest to Herders multiple identities, as well as
the impact and evaluation of his writings about folk song, which assumed
many forms in the media in which he chose to represent his own thinking
and that of the age of intellectual transition in which he lived. Herder was a
polymath in his own life, even in the quotidian activities that he punctuated
with more radical shifts in his own life decisions. Herder reception embraced
the polymath Herder, thereby allowing him to assume even grander heroic
forms. These proliferated from the Enlightenment through the nineteenth
century and well into the twentieth century, when the multiplication of
Herderian identities was strained to a point of breaking during the rise of
fascism and the Holocaust (see Bohlman 2010b).
In the twentieth century, Herder survived the reparsing of Europe between
East and West, largely through appropriation by the East. Herder Prizes in
East Germany, for example, went to the students who most eectively learned
the Russian language. When West German and Western European scholars
turned away from folk music and folk culture as anachronistic, East Germans
and East European scientists revived Herder as the Nestor of the folk song of
democratic character (Steinitz 1979; see Bohlman 2010a).
Herder the polymath came to embody so many identities for those who
drew upon him that, to some degree, he lost historiographic identity altogether. Particularly in the late twentieth century, he was subject to the paradox

Herder and the global moment of world-music history


of invisibility growing from historical overexposure. The paradox of invisibility is further dependent on the assumption that it is possible to make attributions of all sorts to Herder without having read his writings. Scholars of
folk music know of the two volumes of Stimmen der Vlker in Liedern and
Volkslieder (17789), rather than knowing what Herder wrote or anthologized
in them. Hardly a tract on nationalism fails to claim Herder as some sort of
founding gure, clearly without any knowledge of what Herder really wrote.
The phenomenon of knowing-about-but-not-knowing is no less the case in
writings on music and nationalism. Herder is himself not without a certain
culpability for his own paradox of invisibility, what Hans Adler (2006) refers
to as Herders Rezeptionsbarriere (reception barrier). Defending, or at least
explaining, Herder against those accusing him of soft science, Adler writes:
In a word, Herders ways of thinking and writing are similarly confused in
the sense that they ignore the boundaries between modes of discourse and
generate, instead, a hybrid discourse that is neither sh that is, philosophy
nor fowl that is, poesy or rhetoric. Herder plies the territories of a no-mans
land, making him a professional nobody.
(Ibid., 18)

The history of world music, however, suggests that the reception barrier
does not so much prevent understanding of Herders historiographic role as
generate dierent processes of circumnavigating the barrier. In this chapter,
therefore, we consider just how dierent Hans Adlers observations about
Herders invisibility are from the intellectual historians, ethnomusicologists
unquestionably among them, who regard Herder not so much as a professional
nobody but as a professional everybody; for example, as Michael Forster does
in the introduction to his translation of Herders Philosophical Writings:
Hegels philosophy turns out to be an elaborate systematic extension of
Herderian ideas (especially concerning God, the mind, and history); so too
does Schleiermachers (concerning God, the mind, interpretation, translation,
and art); Nietzsche is strongly inuenced by Herder (concerning the mind,
history, and morals); so too is Dilthey (in his theory of human sciences);
J. S. Mill has important debts to Herder (in political philosophy); Goethe not
only received his philosophical outlook from Herder but was also transformed
from being merely a clever but conventional poet into a great artist mainly
through the early impact on him of Herders ideas.
(Forster 2002, vii)

Johann Gottfried Herder the polymath does indeed have multiple identities,
which form a constellation that might look like Fig. 10.2.
These identities circulate on a number of dierent planes, which themselves
intersect with other planes and other identities, which form the additional
constellation in Fig. 10.3.



Herder, the
Herder, the

Herder, the

Herder, the

Herder, the
Herder, the

Fig. 10.2 Herderian polymath identities

Herder, the
Herder, the Epic

Herder, the Folk


the Poet

Herder, the
Herder, the

Fig. 10.3 Additional Herderian polymath identities

In this chapter, I turn initially to one of the ways in which these identities
cluster to form Herders modern persona as a polymath shaping the history of
world music. I turn to Herder, the Hero of epic. As a musical and literary
genre, epic depends on the belief that the multiple identities of myth accrue to
the human as hero. Herders Der Cid, the great modern version of a medieval
narrative, has in many ways become the mirror in which we come to gaze upon
Herders eponymous role in the global moment of world-music history.

Herders Cid and the ownership of history

El Cid is the great epic of Iberia, not only of Spain as a nation, but also of
Portugal and other regions, for which the epic represents the return of southwestern Europe to Christianity, to Europe itself. The history of Cid translations
is long, but it is with Herders translation a project he pursued throughout

Herder and the global moment of world-music history


his life and never fully completed that the great Iberian epic entered European
modernity. Several issues about Herders Cid become especially compelling
for the historiography of world music. First of all, in a nine-century history of
transmitting the Cid epic, Herders translation marked a sea change. Its appearance was crucial to the establishment of a canonical version, which in turn, that
is, reexively, came to signify the canon of epic for modern nationalism. When
nineteenth- and twentieth-century nationalists in Europe set out in search of
national epics, Herders Cid was their inspiration and their model. Second, the
reception history of Herders Cid shifts the ownership of the epic from medieval
Iberia to modern Central Europe, because published editions seemingly claim
El Cid for and by Herder. In full and abridged versions, in editions for home,
school, and mass consumption, Herder was assigned authorship of a work
published either as Herders Cid (Herders Cid) or Der Cid von Herder (The Cid
by Herder). Third, just as Herders publications of and on folk song established
a modern genre of world music, so too did his work on epic as a narrative of
folk song. Herder located epic in history, as well as in modernity. In so doing, he
rendered epic modern.
In the history of Cid transmission, the heroic unier of Spain becomes an
extraordinary epic gure through a process of consolidating numerous
chronicles about the Cid, and these both agree and disagree in their details.
Unlike many other epic heroes, we know Rodrigo Daz was born in the village
of Vivar near Burgos in c. 1043 CE and that he died in Valencia in 1099 CE. He
was born in obscurity, and he died as a powerful military leader who had
entered the genealogy of the Spanish aristocracy. His life is a rags-to-riches
story, aording many the possibility of identifying with it. Exactly how
Rodrigo Daz entered epic song in an emerging vernacular, Latin and Arabic
chronicles (e.g., by the great Andalusian chronicler, Ab lHasan Al ibn
Bassm a-antarn [108411478]), and the narrative and lyrical traditions
of troubadours, juglares, and jongleurs is far more dicult to pin down. For
purposes of summary, I might paint the Cids life with the following broad
strokes. Upon being drawn into the court of Ferdinand I and into a closer
family alliance with one of Ferdinands sons, Sancho, to whom the Kingdom of
Castile had fallen, Rodrigo Daz ascended to the leadership of the Castilian
armies against the other dominions in Iberia. He managed to anger several of
the more powerful members of the Spanish aristocracy, whom he had defeated
in battle, and hence was forced into exile, actually becoming a sort of private
military leader, who oered services to both Christian and Muslim leaders. By
about 1090, the Cid was again empowered by Castile for the task of consolidating Iberian power, and in 1094 he led the siege of Valencia, which was
being held by North African armies (see Fig. 10.4).



Fig. 10.4 Woodcut from the 1869 edition of Herders Cid translation El Cid
in Valencia and in death (romance 49) (Herder 1869)

The Cid of history and the Cid of myth constantly negotiate and blur the
borders of medieval Iberia and al-Andalus. Narrative borders are also critical
here. In particular, the Cid is moving across the borders between oral and literate
traditions. In musical and literary genres, there is the constant negotiation of
myth and history as well. He can, and to a certain extent must, be both Rodrigo
Daz and El Cid. Rodrigo Daz was a historical gure quickly entering various
literary traditions, but did so always with various mythological epithets, Cid/
Said from Arabic sources, Campeador from Spanish and Latin sources. The
question is: why does this obscure gure from a village that even today has
only a few hundred residents rise through the genealogy of various families to
unify Iberia and buttress Europe against its historical and religious others? The
questions about authenticity, however, shift across the narrative and historical
borders, shifting thereby to questions about authority and authorship. Inside
and outside of history, Rodrigo Daz, Ruy, Count of Bivar, Said and Cid,
Campeador and epic singer, the Cid of myth insistently and persistently

Herder and the global moment of world-music history


becomes modern, in Herders age and ours no less than in Spains eleventh
The history of Herders Cid is coeval with that of the rise of modern folk
song itself, so much so, in fact, that we are compelled to examine the history as
a coterminous foundational myth for what, since the birth of folk-music and
folklore studies in the early nineteenth century, we understand folk music to
be. The Cid epic entered this epoch-making discourse at its very inception.
Herder was no less a polyglot than a polymath, and as such he was a passionate
student of languages his entire life. It was in the winter of 1777, months before
his folk-song volumes began to appear in print, that Herder determined to
learn Spanish. We know from his literary estate that one of the ways in which
he taught himself Spanish was to write out Spanish ballads, romances, from a
1568 Antwerp Cancionero (Cancionero de romances 1568). In these rst autodidactic lessons are the texts of thirty-eight romances, of which a total of eleven
contain narratives about the Cid. In addition to making copies, Herder also
tried his hand at translating certain lines and fragments from the Cid romances.
In her memoir, Herders wife, Karoline, writes of this period in Herders life:
Almost every day, when his ocial duties permitted, my husband translated a
ballad [Romanze] from Cid, from his old manuscripts; in fact, at the time he was
editing his folk songs, he was writing out romances from the Cid.
(cited in Gaier 1990, 12878; memoir dated May 23, 1803)

The next time we encounter the Cid in Herders biography is ve years later,
when, in conjunction with the planning of a second edition of the folk-song
volumes, Herder seeks complete editions of the Spanish Cancionero, which
quickly led him to realize the full extent of the problem of the epics wholeness.
Herder was not, however, the only Enlightenment thinker to regard the
problem of a complete epic in the full heroic and poetic style of the
Romantic era of the Spaniards to be of critical importance. Long critical
and polemical articles about Cid sources and historiography appeared in
leading literary journals. What Herder did, thereby locating the Cid in the
global moment of world-music history, was to provide a response to these
debates, hence solving one of the vexing problems of the late Enlightenment,
for which the Cantar de Mio Cid was emblematic. Herder determined that the
only way to translate the Cid and convey its epic fullness was to use both
Spanish and French sources. He took as his Spanish source the edition that was
believed to be the rst attempt to create a composite Cid the volume of
romances collected by Juan de Escobar and published in Lisbon in 1605 (de
Escobar 1605). Chief among his French sources were romances from the
Bibliothque universelle des Romans, though he turned to numerous French



sources. Of the seventy romances translated by Herder, over three-quarters the

rst fty-two come from French translations (Khler 1867).
Like his folk-song works, Herders Cid translation was ongoing, and
he pursued it throughout his life. Folk song and epic both reect a process
of creation called by Herder, but also by others, bertragung, literally the
recuperation of a musical and poetic text, of poesy, from one source and
representing it in the contemporary contexts of another. This process of
recuperation and representation would become crucial to musicological
methods in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, indeed, until the
present, not because it allowed ethnomusicologists and philologists alike
to claim complete texts and authentic sources, but rather because it allowed
them to ll in the gaps.
Folk-song collections, including Herders foundational collections, at rst
had no musical notation, but new generations of scholars added musical
notation when that became possible. We witness this with virtually every
collection of the nineteenth century, from Achim von Arnim and Clemens
Brentanos Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Arnim and Brentano 18068) to Francis
James Childs English and Scottish Popular Ballads (188698). The representational gap, moreover, can be understood as the space between oral and written
tradition. For Herder and the generations that followed, that space, too, was of
extraordinary importance, for it was a space of movement, from transmission
to reception, reexively back to variation and transmission and reception of
altered form. It was the space of agency, and in epic it was the space in which
the past was performed as the present. For Herder, epic was so critically important because it revoiced the long debate between the ancients and the moderns.
Cid connects the two Europes of history, the premodern and the modern (Meier
2007; see also Andruchowytsch and Stasiuk 2004).
The Cid in Herders sounding and re-sounding had the potential of being
both ancient and modern. As Herder himself stated on the title page, the
romances in the Cid were at once historical (historisch) and romantic (romantisch),
and he is therefore explicit in giving Romanticism a literal meaning conveyed
by the romance from Cids medieval world. The use of romances allowed
Herder to return to what he regarded as the vernacular, the language of a
subaltern expressing itself historically. He wrote about the romance in the fth
volume of Adrastea, which appeared in 1804 at the end of his life.
Songs in the local language are called romances. Their syllables form patterns which
are the most natural of all in the language, that is, in the forms of the language
in which Spanish folk sayings are found . . . The romance is actually no more
nor less than the mother tongue of the southern lands of Europe as expressed in
the speech and songs of the folk.
(Herder 2000, 796 and 800)

Herder and the global moment of world-music history


Epic and the voice of the nation

Herders turn toward Cids epic heroism gradually shifted from an attempt
to work through issues of folk song to a confrontation with attributes of
identity that he would don as his own. Herder was by no means the only
scholar to translate and anthologize the Cid. His own work on the Cid, moreover, produced as many detractors as supporters. The point, then, is that it is
critical to reect upon Herder as part of a tradition that was itself becoming
a stream within the history of world music. If he were not entering intellectual
history in this way, his Cid would not have had the impact it did on the
Enlightenment tradition and on the global moment of world music.
Why, then, does Herders Cid play this special role? My rst answer to that
question has to do with timing: Herders Cid was the right work and the
right time. The reception history of Herders Cid unfolded during the age of
the national epic, and it therefore provides, once again, a parallel history, this
time to the history of nationalism. In the fty years following Herders Cid, the
number of national epics to appear in print, one way or another, is staggering.
In Finland, Elias Lnnrot gathered runes and fragments from the Karelian
borders with Russia to publish the Kalevala in 1835 (see Lnnrot 1999).
Lnnrot employs exactly the same process of translating narrative fragments
that Herder used, even if he refers to the Kalevalas internal units as cantos
instead of romances. At the same historical moment, Vuk Stefanovic Karadic,
having studied in Germany, transformed Croatian, Montenegrin, Bosnian, and
Serbian fragments into modern epic forms, such as those employed as canonic
repertory by guslars, or epic singers, today (Karadic 1997; see also Bohlman
and Petkovic 2012). In Ukraine, Taras Shevchenko began to publish modern
epics, consciously producing a nationalist hybrid forged from songs for the
bandura and his own poetry, songs, and paintings.
The constellation of epics that assumed new forms above all, new musical
forms with Herders Cid radiating new light from the sun at its Enlightenment
center is remarkable. It was at the end of the eighteenth century that new eorts
to recuperate the German-language Nibelungen accelerate, leading, in the musical realization best known to us, to Richard Wagners Ring des Nibelungen. The
French Chanson de Roland achieves its modern form in the rst decades of the
nineteenth century. There are those, not least among them Irish scholars, who
lay claim to Thomas Moores Irish Melodies, which begin to appear in 1810, as the
modern Irish epic (see Bohlman 2012).
The critical question of reception history is, however, not whether Herders
Cid, sounding the global moment for national dissemination of the epic,
actually brought it about. There was, indeed, an awareness of Herders Cid,



and it is possible to identify direct impact on the Finnish and Serbian epics, as
well as later epic endeavors, such as those aiming to create a Yiddish and Jewish
folk-song repertory. Of even greater importance, however, are the ways in
which Herders Cid articulated a process of historiography through translation.
Herders Cid revealed the ways in which a given set of materials could lend
themselves to a process of cultural translation and hence to the production of
the modern nation. The cultural translation took the oral and rendered it as the
written. It appropriated myth and recast it as history. The multiple linguistic
variants romances in various languages, the encroachment of Russian and
Swedish into Finnish, or the absence of a modern literary Slavic language in
southeastern Europe all these variants underwent a process of standardization and arrogation into the national language the moment they were sounded
in the modern epic. Once the process of cultural translation was unleashed,
the products of the modern epic lent themselves to further translation. Wagner
translated the Nibelungen epic, Jean Sibelius the Kalevala the production
history of epic translations spread throughout the world in the nineteenth
And, yet, I nd myself returning to Herder. Though he never completed a
denitive version in his own lifetime, eighty-eight editions of Herders Cid
had appeared by 1922, all in all thirty-ve in new editions, many with expanded translations or attempts to place Herders translation in new contexts.
Dominating the editions are the volumes created for use in the schools of
Austria and Germany, which is to say, for the standardization of Germanlanguage education that was spreading into Eastern Europe with the AustroHungarian and German Empires.
As form and genre, Herders Cid became the model for ballad cycles in the
poetry of the Schlegels, Eichendor, Uhland, Grillparzer, Brentano, and
many others; in other words, the literature and music of Romanticism.
Heinrich Heines Deutschland, ein Wintermrchen or Schumanns translations
of Romantic poetry into song cycles lend themselves to interpretations created
in the spirit of Cid translations. Such a claim may not seem so very outlandish
if one also considers the extent to which art song of the nineteenth century
reinstantiates and reproduces the nation at a profound level.

Translating Cid being translated

As myth and history, the life of Rodrigo Daz began to expand with epic
proportions already during his own lifetime. As epic, the Cid emerges fully
formed, translated, and transformed into a symbol for a Europe that would
emerge itself fully formed from the parts of late Antiquity and the religious

Herder and the global moment of world-music history


Que a Castiella / irn Buenos mandados,

That to Castile / will go good tidings,
Que mio Cid Roy Daz / lid campal a arrancado.
That My Cid Roy Daz / a pitched battle has won.

Fig. 10.5 Lines 783 and 784 from the Poema de Mio Cid

diversity of the rst millennium of the Common Era. An extensive epic

version of the Cid had already entered written tradition prior to 1157; in
other words, within a half-century of Rodrigo Dazs death (see Powell
1983). Called the Poema de Mio Cid, the rst surviving versions already
contain 3,700 lines, composed stichically (line-by-line), with consciously
reproduced epic formulae, above all, line breaks that produce hemistiches
(Fig 10.5).
The language of the Poema de Mio Cid, moreover, clearly combines the
oral and the literary, for it is in a hybrid style, weaving Latin and a spoken,
vernacular Spanish together. Though narrative, form, and style are fully
formed by the mid-twelfth century in other words, though we can already
speak of a single work appropriately called the Cid epic it is impossible to
identify a single author, or even a single type of author. It is impossible to
attribute a Homer to a work that has become Homeric. There was ample space,
it follows, for a Herder.
Critical to my historiographic argument in this chapter is that the twelfthcentury epic achieves its symbolic potential through the synthesis of poesis,
and therein lies the potential for spawning multiple identities that surely
attracted Herder. The Poema de Mio Cid forms from a cluster of Cid texts
in many languages. Writing in the twelfth century, Ibn Bassm a-antarn
already takes account of the Cids military exploits and political achievements,
both positively and negatively. Latin and Hebrew texts, too, appear in the rst
half of the twelfth century.
It was in the twelfth century, moreover, that individual narratives since
the eighteenth century we would call them ballads spun o from this constellation of texts, contributing a distinctive corpus of songs to the Cid epic.
The songs entered several repertories and practices: on one hand, those of the
court or courts, purveyed by the professional class of singers called juglares,
jongleurs, or generally minstrels today; on the other hand, Cid songs moved
to the peripheries, where they survived from the twelfth century to the
present, for example, in the Ladino-language romanceros of Sephardic Jews
(broadsides of these appear in numerous variants throughout Armistead and
Silverman 1986).



Historiographic and discursive traditions, therefore, move Cid into other

languages quickly, translating the epic into a pan-Romance-language tradition
that spread quickly into France in the late Middle Ages, and then across the
Mediterranean with the expulsion of the Jews from Iberia in the late fteenth
and sixteenth centuries. Genre, too, is constantly going through processes of
translation. Battle chronicles enter juglar and troubadour traditions. Stichic
and strophic genres, improvised epics and standardized romances, fold themselves into intertextuality.
New genres, too, emerge, further expanding the processes of cultural translation that forge new paths for the formation of early modern Europe as Spain
and Portugal unleash the global spread of Christianity during the Age of
Discovery. One of the rst notable moments of early modern cultural translation is Guillen de Castros 1621 play Las Mocedades del Cid, which in turn
became the prototype for Pierre Corneilles 1637 Le Cid, which, because of the
controversy it caused at the Acadmie franaise, brought about nothing
short of a revolution in the French theater for the subsequent centuries (see
Landis 1931). Translation begets translation, as the Cid becomes modern on
the threshold of the Enlightenment. Transformation begets transformation,
as the Cid becomes European.
It is into this tradition of translation and transformation that Herder stepped
with his Cid. In certain fundamental ways, his translation succeeds because it
is so thoroughly traditional. He seemingly seeks a compromise between short
and long forms. He recognizes the narrative integrity of the strophic romance,
but he weaves these into what would be called a Romanzenkranz (laurel of
romances), an unending garland of ballads (see Duttenhofer 1833). Having
created a long work out of seventy small poems, Herder then seeks a way of
evoking the qualities of the epic, which he is able to do brilliantly because he
knows Homer so very well, and because he has labored over the problem of
improvisation in contemporary narrative form.
Herder uses his translation to nd the smallest divisible units for the German
translation, hemistiches, and to suture these, stich-by-stich, to the whole, in
a bold gesture making it a new kind of epic. We witness such suturing in the
printed version that follows centuries of translation as Herder sings
besingt, as he expresses the process of translation in German the call to
battle in Valencia at the end of the sixty-seventh romance (Fig. 10.6).
Herders Cid at once realized the proliferation of multiple identities from
the twelfth and the eighteenth century. Fragments combine to form wholes.
The ssures between past and present are sutured in order to heal nations
and continents torn asunder by history. Hemistich by hemistich, line by line,
Europe becomes one. Again, however, nothing is that simple when we seek to

Herder and the global moment of world-music history


Auf nun, auf! / Trommeten, Trommeln,

Pfeifen, Klar / inetten tnet,
bertnet / Klag und Seufzen;
Denn der Cid / befahl es da.
Ihr gelei / tet auf die Seele
Eines Hel / den, der entschlief.
[Arise now! / Trumpets, also drums,
Flutes with clar / inets intoning,
Sounding loudly / the baleful sigh;
For the Cid / orders it thus.
You are led / deeply from the soul
Of a he / ro, who rises up.]

Fig. 10.6 Herders Cid, romance 68, lines 4954 (in Herder 1990, 6823)

understand how the modernity of a post-Enlightenment world might accommodate multiple identities. Epic, as sweepingly as it might connect parts to
the whole, does so only at the risk of reifying the very categories of fragmentation that it seeks to eliminate. In Herders Cid and the tradition of modern
epic formation that it unleashed, no category of fragmentation assumes more
power than that of the nation. The nation as fragment, the nation as whole.
Their epic intertextuality remains fragmented in the epic of modern Europe.
Perhaps this is because, in Herders Cid, the national and the nationalist are
privileged before the nation. The dierences so distinctive in Iberia and
al-Andalus disappear as Castilian national power is centralized.
As epic, Herders Cid relies on the language of power that divides Europe
from Africa, the history of Europe from that of its other. East and West,
North and South, emerge, fully gloried, as categories of power. Religion in
Europe is reied as exclusive rather than as inclusive. Cids history becomes
that of redening Europe as Christian against Islam, ideologically laying
claim to a single Christian Spain and a single Muslim North Africa. In the
course of the past two centuries during the history of world music, the Cid
has become relevant again and again. Herders notion of the epic, sounded
rst in his Cid and resounded by modern singers of tales throughout the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, aorded the modern nation a complex
and contested set of myths. Paradoxically but hardly unexpectedly, the
resilience of the Cid also calls attention to the ways in which borders
cultural, historical, religious, and musical become ssures in the fabric of
Europe (see Schneider 1994).
In his nal work, the writings he gathered serially in the pages of Adrastea
from 1801 until the end of his life in 1803, Herder mused about the death of



epic heroes, or more to the point, the ways in which death accompanied the
life of the hero. In the fth piece in volume three of Adrastea, Herder reworks
a section from Brookes Fool of Quality in German, publishing it in German as
Who was the greatest hero? (Herder 2000, 3827). In Socratic dialogue
between the author and his friend, the essay turns from the celebration of
heroism to its condemnation.
A hero means a half-god, a being with superhuman power. How does this
superhuman quality show itself? By gently attending to the welfare of fellow
humans, with the gentle voice of goodness, which is never harsh or arrogant?
By no means, instead with uproar and tumult, by pounding cities into dust, by
the moaning of violated women, by the agony of dying nations, with all that
heroes take to blow the trumpet of fame.
(Ibid., 3856)

Herder names names in this interpellation of the hero near the end of his own
life; never the Cids name, however, only that of another unlikely Spanish hero,
Sancho Pansa, who is meant ironically to invoke the virtues of a dierent epic
life and death. Herder closes this essay from the nal years of his life by failing
to answer the question posed in the title.
When I hear all the talk about these heroes [who destroy the work of others],
I lose all patience. I dont lose half so much of myself when I read my own
works. Keep going, I plead, read farther; maybe Ill return to a more pleasant
(Ibid., 387)

And so it is, Herder gives us the modern epic, which in turn enunciates the
global moment of world-music history. Herder wills the modern epic into
existence so that its identities will proliferate. Having located music in history,
Herder then moves on, as any self-conscious polymath would upon recognizing the contradictions of his own life and age.

Adler, H. (2006) Herders Stil als Rezeptionsbarriere, in T. Borsche (ed.), Herder im
Spiegel der Zeiten: Verwerfungen der Rezeptionsgeschichte und Chancen einer Relektre,
Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, pp. 1531
Andruchowytsch, J., and A. Stasiuk (2004) Mein Europa: Zwei Essays ber das sogenannte
Europa, trans. by S. Onufriv and M. Pollack, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp
Armistead, S. G., and J. H. Silverman (1986) Judeo-Spanish Ballads from Oral Tradition,
vol. 1, Epic Ballads, Berkeley: University of California Press
Arnim, L. A. von, and C. Brentano (18068) Des Knaben Wunderhorn: Alte deutsche Lieder,
Heidelberg: Mohr und Zimmer
Bohlman, P. V. (2007) Becoming ethnomusicologists: On colonialism and its aftermaths, SEM Newsletter, 4, 1: 45

Herder and the global moment of world-music history


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of Irish Traditional Music and Dance, Cork University Press, pp. 181205
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Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press
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und Chancen einer Relektre, Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag
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Zammito, J. H. (2002) Kant, Herder, and the Birth of Anthropology, University of Chicago

. 11 .

Tartini the Indian: perspectives on world

music in the Enlightenment

When Charles Fonton (b. c. 1725) compiled his Essai sur la musique orientale
compare la musique europenne in 1751, he followed the Enlightenment model
of comparison (a modern edition appears in Betzwieser 1993, 370419).
Fontons project, however, bears the stamp of empirical observation, made
under his own authority and undertaken in situ in the culture under review.
Discursive claims are balanced against observations, and insights drawn from
informants. The full title of Fontons Essai indicates its broad scope, for it also
looks into the question of taste in Asia, Eastern rules for chant, and tonal and
scalar structures, with an abridged introduction into Asian musical instruments.
Fontons project echoes Enlightenment approaches to music, to music
aesthetics, and to the double nature of music as both art and science. These
approaches articulate a sphere of reasoning and activity that deserves systematic study. Music theory and musical practice can thus emerge as a coherent
cultural eld that oers itself for comparison with other cultures, thereby
lending Fontons discourse an objectivity that individual travelogues or isolated observations were unable to reach. Fonton, moreover, develops a framework of functional factors which help him to penetrate the culture he is
examining and to enhance comparison with Western traditions. Paving the
ground is Fontons colorful rendering of Western misconceptions of other
cultures and their musics. Fonton examines these heavily biased opinions
against the background of music as a universal occurrence:
Music is a divine art form, which receives praise wherever it appears in a world
that contains such diverse peoples. Its empire extends to everything that
breathes, even to those places that are barbarous, where it still produces sweetness and charm.
(Fonton 1751 in Betzweiser 1993, 372)

Fonton also anticipates several strands of cultural relativism, treating dierent

cultures in their own right and within their respective contexts:
Every nation has its music, but taste is distinctive in each, even if it is common
in other ways. Music in dierent places is also distinctive, just as with customs
and clothing.




Although Fonton explicitly avoids countering claims of Western superiority,

there is evidence of such sentiment in the text:
One could well imagine, and this is not simply a matter of judgment growing
from familiarity, that foreign nations, especially those whose residents are
unlike Europeans, are destitute of many things known to us, and are thus
marked by the darkness of a great ignorance.

Despite the seemingly bizarre mlange of accents, the movements without

grace, and the cacophony, Fonton insists oriental music is a topic worth
studying. If music is indeed truly universal and aects all living beings,
European music, too, will have to be put in perspective, for it cannot embody
this universality alone. The music of Lully or Tartini need not please those
living in the East, for they might delight in the sounds recorded by the
Moldavian Dimitrius Cantemir (16731723) in his musical chronicles of the
Ottoman court (see Wright 2000). Criteria of taste, according to Fonton, are
culture-specic, but may be grounded in an underlying and universal notion of
taste. The matter gets more complicated because representatives of Western
cultures, too, do not share the same taste. The specic circumstances of
upbringing, the air that one breathes, the manifold impressions during a lifetime, dierent inclinations, and ways of thinking shape the various dispositions
for taste. They are manifest in the diversity of Italian, German, English, and
French views of got (Fonton 1993, 373; see Shiloah 1990).
Fontons manuscript shows how massive a challenge music presented,
especially foreign music and its respective cultural, aesthetic, and moral
legitimacy, for an Enlightenment discourse founded on stable, independent
truths, and objective criteria. These principles are interrogated by the
I should like to make a claim for a principle that can be regarded as absolutely true
and independent. Could it, then, be applied to everything? The more that something is not like other things, the more it asserts independence; or is it simply
beautiful, relative, and arbitrary?
(Fonton 1751 in Betzweiser 1993, 373)

Conformity to reason is dicult to gauge if the phenomena are only supercially reviewed and not put into cultural contexts. If bizarre cacophonic
musics of the Orient run counter to a Western notion of music and of taste,
their justication and cultural meaning must lie in something else, that is,
unless one rejects the idea of a truly universal music. Fonton elaborates the
argument by drawing on another tenet of Enlightenment aspiration: learning
and adaptation. Since the sensual capacities of human beings are universally
equal and grounded in one human nature, why would our eyes and ears

Perspectives on world music in the Enlightenment


respond so dierently to dierent cultural phenomena? Fonton mobilizes

adaptation and learning as they prove both the universal nature of humanity
and its endless capacity to adapt to specic circumstances. This conviction,
however, is jeopardized by cultural norms that will prevent listening habits
from fully adapting to unfamiliar sounds (ibid., 374).
Fonton writes that it is not for such traditions of listening that he has
geared his Essai. He cannot expect oriental music to nd adequate acoustic
appraisal in all Western ears (ibid.). If aural persuasion fails and prejudices
cannot be easily ruled out, a reasonable strategy for representation must
make up for these setbacks. In line with the Enlightenment, Fonton starts
with an account of the origins and history of oriental music. This is followed
by remarks on the various genres, on the taste and rules of oriental music. An
account of the prodigal eects of oriental music complements Fontons
attempt to present a true picture of the music of the East, its traditions,
and musical instruments. The author avoids engaging matters of moral and
aesthetic judgment; rather, he prefers to have the culture and its history
speak for themselves. The potential aesthetic eect on unfamiliar Western
readers and listeners is minimized in favor of a structural inquiry of dierences between oriental and Western music.
Fontons writing strategy has signicant repercussions for our understanding of music. It implies that we should concede agency to music, independent
from institutions, systems of belief, and other factors. Musical understanding
must no longer be exclusively theologically or cosmologically legitimized, but
stands for itself as a viable human cultural practice that, despite existing dierences, can be explored on the basis of a framework one could also use for the
study of European music.
The Essai foreshadows another facet of modern anthropological surveys
through its fear that traditional oriental music and the knowledge of its tonal
system and musical instruments are in danger of disappearing. It would be
premature to concede to Fonton a world-music consciousness avant la lettre,
but the way he articulates his fear indicates an awareness that oriental music is
part of a universal cultural practice that merits protection and retrieval
(ibid., 380). Fontons documentation by way of music examples, illustrations
of musical instruments and performance practices, as well as renderings of the
musical system, complements his formidable eort to explore oriental music
in its own right against the background of music as a truly universal mode of
human communication. Music can be used as a clue and indeed as a key
that can disclose vital facets of human culture and, through its sheer acoustic
presence and eects, place our own customs and aesthetic ideals in



Musics cultural and social eloquence: the challenge

of non-Western musics
Fontons Essai is symptomatic of the new perspectives, discourses, and strategies of representation that unfolded during the Enlightenment. These were
instrumental in creating social formations that no longer simply acknowledged
the existence of other, exotic musics, but that reviewed such musics using a
variety of analytical and representational strategies. While encounters with the
other and strategies of cultural critique in early ethnomusicology have been
written about cogently (e.g., Bohlman 1991), the challenge in the present
chapter is to characterize if and how music came to be regarded as world
music, which in Enlightenment thought came to mean 1) a universal cultural
practice that can be potentially encountered everywhere, 2) whose specic
manifestations can be placed on a matrix with a historical and a geographical
axis, and 3) which is relevant for the understanding of ones own culture and its
Exotic and ancient musics, of course, had been the subjects of earlier scholarly consideration, most prominently and chronologically closest to the
Enlightenment in the works of the Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher (see,
e.g., Kircher 1650). The dierences we witness in the Enlightenment lie in the
fact that the matrix of global musics is also inhabited by familiar Western
music, and thereby the discourses of origin, heredity, and causality could be
applied to non-Western musics. Global perspectives were hardly unfamiliar to
European cultural elites: complex polyphony as cultivated in the era of FrancoFlemish music up to the time of Palestrina was accepted as the lingua franca of
advanced musical expression across Europe, forging a common idiom that
would stretch from Poland to Portugal. Gifted composers and singers lived
through a truly cross-national career pattern, serving courts from England to
the northern Italian signorie, while maintaining property or tax privileges in
their home region. The polyphonic idiom, however, did not comprise nonWestern music, whose emerging simultaneity (Bellman 1998, xi) in the
eighteenth century would be studied by a variety of scholars, and whose
aesthetic appeal did not pass unnoticed among librettists and composers.
The growing recognition of world music cannot be divorced from more
tangible practices of global interaction in the realm of commerce, politics, and
economic exchange, the international circulation of goods, individuals, and
ideas (Bley and Knig 2006). The Jesuits boasted no fewer than 800 schools
scattered around the globe by the mid-eighteenth century, securing a constant
ow of ideas and data to Rome (OMalley 1999, 28). They clearly operated on
an international scale, but rarely questioned the deeply religious convictions

Perspectives on world music in the Enlightenment


steering their campaigns. The mundus combinatus they explored, in which everything in nature had its place, was replaced by a mercantilist, functional, and
analytical conviction that tried to mold the newfound contingencies in nature
and society into a new paradigm. This implied philosophical reorientation, the
dierentiation of various public spheres, and the rise of individual and collective actors who negotiated emerging Enlightenment positions. As a world
based on similarities and correspondences gave way to a worldview privileging
representations and historicizing the past, the study of music, too, gained new
currency. It was culturally and morally eloquent and therefore relevant to
Enlightenment thought. This eloquence was no longer read in theological
and ontological terms that treated music as a manifestation of higher truths
reected in its proportions; rather, music was increasingly regarded as an
expression of human nature, and indeed of humankind in the Enlightenment
sense of this category, with its link to specic social purposes.
Only against this background could authors such as Fonton claim a place for
public debate and exchange about a concept of non-European music that was
no longer determined by a religious order, noble ruler, or individual patron.
The very expectation that composers might pick up on Fontons observations
and study his magnicent tables of instruments and the details of nonEuropean tonal systems rst appears during the Enlightenment. The case of
exotic music, though, was particularly complex, for it could not be exhaustively
explored and subjected to full academic, aesthetic, and formal control. The
absence of notational systems and the unfamiliarity with its musical codes
made access to non-European music dicult. Metaphysically, it was even
harder to decide if this music was a part of natural history and instinctive
cultural expression, or if it belonged to the unfolding sphere of the arts. Did
it enrich European self-understanding, or was it a mere forerunner that
received little interest? Did it enhance a sense of a shared and truly universal,
natural history? Can its eects be objectied, rehearsed, explained? While
listening to other musics, either performed by ethnic musicians or written by
professional Western composers, did Western ears somatically experience
something that impressed listeners through wonder, otherness, and imprecision? Is it possible that something produces distinctive eects, but still cannot
be fully contained?
Such questions paraphrase Enlightenment concerns. They indicate a thorough repositioning of music in the study of culture. Without written clues,
students of foreign music turned to the circumstances in which the music
was played and heard. These provided the hard data, while the music itself
escaped detailed analysis. This approach implied a deep recognition of
musics social agency and a moral force that contrasted with the usual notion



of music as something aurally pleasing and entertaining. The contextualization of music with social and cultural qualities, precisely because of the
diculty in describing its acoustic content, had repercussions for the
approach to music in general. World music in this Enlightenment sense
could therefore be read not only as a geographic indicator, but also as
heightening musics role in self- and world-making. Such views were formulated in the era of rst contact (Tomlinson 2007; see also Agnew in this
volume) before they were fully acknowledged in the Enlightenment as music
became intricately linked to social purposes.
The conceptual transformation of music had even wider consequences: if
listening was not only providing aesthetic pleasure but would also lead to a
kind of knowledge, then music was among the media and the cultural expressions capable of producing knowledge. The Enlightenment concept of acroamatic listening (akroamatisches Hren; see Trabant 1993), listening tied to
reasoning and yielding insight, makes manifest the new musicalphilosophical
claims that were promoted, among others, by Leibniz and Herder (see also
Bohlman on Herder in this volume). In this chapter I argue that it was
axiomatic that the encounter with other musics enhanced this attitude of a
deep listening, registering dierences, seeking meaning in acoustic data, coupling aesthetic and cognitive capacities, and measuring the distances between
the familiar and the unfamiliar.
Concepts of world music in the Enlightenment were not a monolithic body
of thought. They oscillated between an overwhelming sense of connectedness
and commensurability nurtured by contact with other musics and, in contrast,
the realization of an existing but conceptually inaccessible site of cultural
expression that belied the Enlightenment obsession to classify, to dene
origins, and to establish causalities (see Nettl in this volume).
Music and, in particular, opera came to represent a fascinating source of
intersections and contradictory readings of the cultural other whose loose ends
did not t neatly into a European whole. Descriptive traditions of an emerging
anthropology were confronted with the aural and visual orchestration of world
music on the stage, leading to two competing yet highly unequal narratives.
The vagueness and open, fragmentary character of ethnographic descriptions
that incorporated more music as the century advanced collided with the musically and visually specic and precise renderings of cultural others on stage.
Opera did not lean toward authenticity, rather toward a persuasive musical
representation of the other, which it formally controlled and contained. The
business of opera was about a conjectural history from the very beginning: the
Italian camerata who invented early opera at the beginning of the seventeenth
century could not rely on any precise records of Greek intonation and mousik.

Perspectives on world music in the Enlightenment


They employed a kind of conjectural history in evoking the Orfeo myth, itself at
least as exotic as the explicitly exotic subjects lling eighteenth-century opera.
While conceptions of world music were as diverse as those who wrote about
it and as diverse as the national cultures to which they belonged, the same can
be stated about Western music theory itself. Music emerged as a rich and
contradictory aesthetic formation related to many Enlightenment concerns,
ranging from the question of origin and the concept of imitation to the
cultivation of taste and the articulation of human autonomy and agency.
Music did not represent a secure and accepted concept in eighteenthcentury debates. On the contrary, some of its core tenets had been called
into question, starting with the discovery of the complex nature of musical
sounds and overtones that threatened the reliance of Pythagorean theory on
simple numbers. Another area of debate was musical imitation, which during
the course of the century was modied from an imitation of nature to an
imitation of individual aects. The reassessment of instrumental music, hitherto regarded as inferior to vocal music, and the long querelle, or dispute, over
the superiority of melody over harmony, that is, Italian or French music in
opera, represent further substantial issues that demonstrate just how volatile
the image of music and music-theory was. The composer and theorist JeanPhilippe Rameau (16831764) openly exposed questions of musical instinct
and the intelligibility of sounds, anticipating modern psychoacoustics and
musical semiotics (Cohen 2001). Although he propagated his ideas in a remarkable number of treatises and academic responses to his adversaries, his position
became isolated when he fell out of favor even with the compilers of French
encyclopedias, who had sympathies for Rameau in the early seventeenth
century. No less controversial was the appreciation of music either as a mathematical science safely rooted in proportions or as a seductive acoustic phenomenon that produced physical and psychological reactions for which a
theory of aects could no longer account. In performance, music was regarded
as a highly ambivalent terrain in which moral concerns and gender expectations were negotiated.
The new preoccupation with world music took place within a lively atmosphere of discussion in which it was applied to contradict or to esh out
important arguments aecting music and aesthetics in general. Observations
and assumptions about non-Western music were intensely absorbed by musical
discourse, establishing a eld of dense interactions and intersections from
anthropology, philosophical reection on the origin of language and music,
acoustic theory that incorporated ndings from non-Western tonal systems,
and composition. Those engaged in these discussions cultivated specic ways
of dealing with world music, forcing them to stretch their imagination, to



adapt existing theories to the new musical systems, and to invent new musical
idioms that registered the discovery of musics from other cultures, from
empires long past, or from remote geographical regions termed savage at the
The situation in France or, to put it more precisely, the global interchange
between France and the oriental world is particularly instructive, for the
study of foreign music was supported by the French court as part of a wellplanned missionary campaign, above all covering the Orient. The dense interplay of archaeological and geographical survey, linguistic study, the acquisition
of antiquities for the Louvre, diplomacy, and the academy is echoed in the
production of operas evoking oriental manners (Betzwieser 1993). The rise of
an Enlightenment mentalit of world music in France and French opera represents key developments in a core culture of the Enlightenment.

Music as a transforming agent: the case of Rameaus

Les Indes galantes
Librettists and composers of opera, particularly in France, catered for a musical
orientalism that expanded the range of subjects and can be read as a performative counterpart to the histoires galantes (gallant histories) in the eld of
literature. The musical discoveries fabricated for the stage took account of
the growing availability of information about other cultures and the norms
of French classicist opera and dance. Opera la turque, which had established
itself as an operatic tradition, was a highly mediated appropriation of nonEuropean musics. It gained visibility in a far more persuasive and aestheticized
manner than academic Essais and travel reports. Jean-Philippe Rameau programmatically elaborated the taste for things Indian by giving his heroic ballet
Les Indes galantes four dierent settings: Turkey, Peru, Persia, and North
The concept of transforming agents oers a suitable tool for the discussion
of Les Indes galantes. Music acts as an agent that transforms both our imagination of these foreign musics and the practice and hearing modalities of
Western music. The latter must confront new musical idioms resulting from
an unfamiliar use of instrumental combinations, of foreign tunes, of unusual
melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic structures.
The plots chosen by the librettist Louis Fuzelier (16721752) incorporate
actual historical events, or at least those deemed as such, in order to root the
exotic scenes in reality, not purely in the imagination (Betzwieser 1994, 160).
By expanding the geography of ballet and opera, Fuzielier and Rameau
surely catered to the taste of the Parisian crowds. The libretto and the

Perspectives on world music in the Enlightenment


music of the ballet, nonetheless, carry an underlying signicance: they obey

the poetic norms of the merveilleux (marvelous) and of vraisemblance
(verisimilitude) (ibid., 159), thus implying full recognition of a subjectivity
outside the canon of mythology that had fed European opera libretti until
that time. Whereas the scenes feature geographic diversity, the prologue sets
a common frame for all. They take shape as the power of Hebb, goddess of
Youth, and of lAmour withers in the European territories. Hebb and
lAmour decide to expand their sphere of inuence to the gardens of Pasha
Oman (No. 1), the Peruvian desert (No. 2), the gardens of the Persian prince
Tacmas (No. 3), and a forest close to the Spanish and French colonies of
North America (No. 4).
Rameaus orchestration of the exotic contains no pretense of being authentic, for he employs no tunes appearing in contemporary scientic travel
studies. Instead, he aims at surpassing and aestheticizing them by way of
imitation, an aesthetic and philosophical concept that went beyond simple
replication. The issues of authenticity were never argued in favor of or against
Fuzelier and Rameau precisely because the librettist and composer sublimated
attempts at realistic portrayal, and because the concept of the authentic did not
exist in the way in which we understand it today.
The subtle adaptations of his French idiom to the new subject led to
ingenious musical characterizations with the help of extraordinary intervals,
asymmetric periods, and the frequent use of unison (ibid., 161). Exotic places
emerge as territories populated by actors who share similar concerns and to
whose cultural expressions audiences could relate, even within the court genre
of the ballet-hroque. World music came to life, transported to audiences by
noble stage characters. The singer on stage provided a coherent in situ vision of
an apparently unfamiliar musical practice that appears to function within the
context depicted on stage. Plots acquired their dynamics from intrigue,
romance, and conquests, all implicated in the encounter between the
Europeans and their others, but well familiar as topoi to opera audiences
from seventeenth-century tragdies-lyriques. In an empire constructed of
music, those representing the roles of otherness continue to speak from a
musical and aective position familiar to the European characters they encounter. Phrasing, accents, and moral economies may dier, but music is powerful
enough to accommodate alternative versions of human sociality and render
them familiar for the West.
Contemporary criticism did not target these social formations of otherness,
but Fuzeliers weak prologue, its poor development of characters, and the music
that represented them (Betzwieser 1993, 164). The prologue features allegorical
gures and the allied forces of the French, Italian, Spanish, and Polish empires,



and does not embrace any exotic protagonist on the stage. Musical evocations of
the exotic in Les Indes galantes share some features that outweigh the impact of
local idioms, as if Rameau wanted to complement French music with one overarching idiom of the exotic that would embrace any regional diversity. Octave
leaps, the exotic turning gure (ibid., 167), unusual metrical repetitions, and bold
rhythms can be encountered across the four scenes. Again, the dierence from
modern assumptions surrounding authenticity is obvious. Music exercises universalizing powers that blend all local exotic idioms into one, similar to the ways
the gure of lAmour connects the plot across the four scenes.
The circumstances leading to Les Indes galantes can be grasped thanks to a
unique case of documentation that records a performance of Native Americans
in Paris in 1725, prior to the project of Les Indes galantes. The Mercure de France
published an account of this event:
Two natives, who would appear to have come from Louisiana and were large
and well-built, about twenty-ve years old, performed three dierent dances,
together and apart, in such a way as to leave little doubt about their country
of origin and that they were quite unlike anything in Paris. There could be little
doubt that they were performing something from their own country, but this
was not particularly dicult to understand. (quoted in Betzwieser 1993, 174)

The author of this account clearly reaches the limits of a hermeneutic reading
and simultaneously admits that these dances will be meaningful in their traditional social context. The attempt to penetrate captured the analytical gaze
of an Enlightenment author cultivated in the face of a style of performance
foreign to him, which he reads as if from a pedagogical perspective. Because
these performances cannot be integrated into familiar aesthetic and moral
norms, what remains to be observed is something that could be still gained.
Cultural distance did not collapse, but the dierence it entailed was a matter of
study and of rendering it meaningful to a European observer.
Here was something that we could comprehend. The rst dancer represented
the chief of his people and was clothed more modestly than he would have been
in Louisiana, but still projected a sense of bodily nudity. Upon his head was a
crown, not particularly rich, but rather adorned with feathers of dierent
colors. The other one displayed nothing more than the demeanor of a simple
warrior . . . Together, the ballet corps performed a dance of peace. The second
dance called to mind a war-dance as performed by a group of savages, ready to
enter into combat with other people and displaying considerable horror . . .
Together, they imitated a battle scene that was supposed to depict the defeat of
the enemy. After that, the entire ensemble performed a dance of victory.
(Fonton 1751 in Betzweiser 1993, 174)

Perspectives on world music in the Enlightenment


Poised along the delicate line between objects of study and performers of
highly formalized rituals previously unknown in Paris, the account conrms
the important social role of music among Native Americans. Through their
mock dances of war, they have acquired the means to sublimate and to
appropriate real conict. Music and dance conrm their role as primary
media for eshing out these manifestations of cultural self-images, and creating
cultural dissonance with Western audiences.
Because aesthetic expression was hard to classify and to understand,
European audiences scanned exotic performance for plot structures and the
social contexts of music making. This structural approach, which admitted the
existence of real dierence and incommensurability, was turning toward other
frames of inquiry. It contributed to viewing these musical cultures in their own
right, assuming that the aects and social rites shown will be utterly meaningful in their setting.
Rameau witnessed the presentation by the two Native Americans, and it led
him to compose a keyboard piece, Les Sauvages (lit., the savages), for his
Nouvelle Suite de Pices de Clavecin of 1728. According to one of his letters, he
had tried to characterize the chants and dances of the Native Americans in
this composition, but characterization in this sense comprises sublimation,
enhancing imitation in the philosophical sense of encompassing the substance
of the actions under review.
Harmony was of special concern to Rameau, the theorist, for it contained
fundamental acoustic truths he had discovered in nature. It is worth remarking
that the most visible and committed theorist of harmony in the eighteenth
century conceded the characters in his exotic subjectivities were also governed
by the laws of harmony. All four scenes in the ballet boast of a polyphonic and
rhythmic splendor and nesse that runs counter to common opinion that
Rameau actually masked other cultures, especially the individual characters
on the stage, who, instead, retain a command of complex communication
systems. Rameaus Indians do not speak in metaphors that, according to
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, might correspond to their semiotic capabilities.
The operative musical powers the foreign protagonists receive from Rameau
point toward another facet of the universality of music. Music, a synonym for
harmony in Rameau, is deeply rooted in nature (Cohen 2001). The earth itself
nurtures harmony and its manifold manifestations. The composer does not
hesitate to use all four entres as showcases for the power of this harmony, of
something rising out of the world as a whole and not from a specic culture or
nation (see Christensen 1993). This might explain why Rameau did not hesitate
to reshue the order of pieces in the concert version of Les Indes galantes
that employs tonality as a classifying method (Betzwieser 1993, 161 and 4201).



Site-specic plots in the four scenes are replaced or reduced (Les Indes galantes
rduits quatre grand concerts) by musical considerations that underlie the driving
force of harmony. The fact that this reworked version was conceived and published conrms an intention of authenticity in the rendering of non-European
cultures that pales in comparison with the more important apotheosis of harmony. Harmony was powerful enough to accord abstract form to individual
circumstances. In contrast, the hybrid mixture of pieces from The Generous
Turk, The Flowers, and The Incas of Peru reveals that these individual
instances of musical expression can function in other contexts and can become
part of various cross-fertilizations (an additional concert piece, The Savages,
was added in its entirety to a later version of the Ballet rduits quatre concerts [see
Duc 2005]). A global hybridity enters the eighteenth-century stage to signify a
world music: if the opra-ballet and ballet-hroque replaced the journey into the
past oered by the tragdie-lyrique by a temporal voyage (ibid., VI), harmony,
tonality, and lamour are the organizing forces of this voyage across the musics of
the world undertaken by Rameau in his Les Indes galantes.

Music and human universalism

Transformation in Enlightenment musical thought might be described in
terms of exploration and discovery that aected the nature of music and of
reasoning in aesthetic and anthropological debates. Michel-Paul Guy de
Chabanon (173092), a man of letters, amateur violinist, and friend of
Rameau, explored new ground in the 1780s. He set out to engage music on
its own terms rather than through its imitative or referential functions. In his
De la musique considre en elle-mme et dans ses rapports avec la parole, les langues,
la posie, et le thtre (Guy de Chabanon 1969), evidence from new musical
discoveries played a crucial role. Chabanon contested musics imitative powers,
calling into question a key tenet of Enlightenment aesthetic theory. The thesis
deserves historical elaboration by showing that the role of imitation decreases
as history progresses:
If you approach the songs uttered by the rst human beings, which were
intended to imitate dierent sounds they experience and reected the diverse
sentiments that moved them, do you not arrive at an order of truth that is less
palpable and less evident? Nothing that requires imitation has the potential to
become one of the essential properties of music.
(Ibid., 40)

Guy de Chabanon discusses musical instinct as a faculty commanded by both

animals and infants before he turns to people living in the natural world of the

Perspectives on world music in the Enlightenment


Transport yourself to the forests inhabited by ferocious and wild peoples, and
you will encounter a music that is inseparable from the human and is reducible
ultimately to the instincts of the native. This is music from the very cradle of
life, from which it retains all the characteristics of natural institutions, and its
originality could never become a force for falsifying. Here there is no state of an
attempt to imitate.
(Ibid., 44)

Guy de Chabanon moves on to the social rituals of the savage people, that is,
the ceremonies Rameau had aestheticized in Les Indes galantes, which had
premiered half a century before Guy de Chabanons text was written. He is
unable, however, to detect any correspondence between the musical features
and the ritual occasion under observation:
Natives employ music in their festivals, whether military or funerary. Their
songs, even as they issue forth, are songs expressing a joy over death. What kind
of idea can make one accentuate music in such a way that ferocious beings
rejoice in barbaric triumph as they prepare for an execution? Is there never a
music that illustrates and expresses such circumstances? The songs of the
natives, nevertheless, are susceptible to all the traits made possible by our
imagination; melody is sweet and happy far more than terrible, and it is easy
to recognize songs of war are no dierent from songs of death. (Ibid., 445)

While imitation may have had relevance in the genesis of language, matters
appear to be substantially dierent in the case of music. Using a well-known
trope of Enlightenment discourse, Guy de Chabanon assumes that present-day
non-European cultures would lay bare the core of European culture. He
implicitly argues, moreover, that even in primitive cultures music generates
cultural meaning, not through imitation, but rather through the more complex
semantic maneuvers he will tackle in the course of his inquiry.
After staking out his theoretical position on the music of people living close to
nature, he works his way toward other social groups who command, so he
believes, only basic musical instincts, ranging from African Americans to French
The absence of compatibility between song and words is abundantly evident in
the song of Africans living in our colonies. Song is present in all events and
rituals, even in those that are happy and sinister, where they have no less of the
same character.
(Ibid., 45)

Based on such observations, Guy de Chabanon argues that music has the
capacity to aord pleasure independent of any imitation (ibid., 51), and that
it is a natural and universal language in its own right:
Everything that we have come to know until today leads us to consider that
music is a universal language, with all the principles and eects that belie the



sense that music obeys very particular laws only. Music, indeed, emanates
directly from human organization and that is evident also among many of the
(Ibid., 129)

From a twenty-rst-century ethnomusicological perspective, Guy de Chabanon

imputes an anthropological basis to music and of its particular forms, which are
anchored in the mental and physiological organization of human beings and not
on conventions. In a similar vein, Rameau had followed the same path by
grounding his musical creations on a universal harmony emanating from the
depths of nature. Guy de Chabanon eshes out the truly universal character of
music by a variety of instances in which diverse musics can be heard, and
understood without additional assistance. Again, music beyond Europes borders gures prominently. Guy de Chabanon provides proof of this universality
by way of musical transcriptions he made of Native American songs that speak to
him in a familiar idiom:
Such songs absolutely resemble our own; even if the individual notes are
dierent from those in our songs, they follow the same rules of an implicit
harmony (harmonie sous-entendue). One of these songs can be very agreeable,
even when the composer has conceived it for a piece in which its contexts
change through modulation. The natives place such notes in dierent uses,
more or less. Here, we ourselves witness the birth of art, or something that can
be called art, because it assumes the form of natural language in the song.
(Ibid., 133)

LHarmonie sous-entendue (implicit harmony) is a key term from Rameaus Trait

de lharmonie (Rameau 1722; Rameau 1971; see also Christensen 1993).
Rameaus strategy of musical representation elaborates and enriches existing
concepts of harmony, expanding harmony to a truly universal concept. As an
opera composer and music theorist, he invited viewers and listeners not only to
a lavish ballet displaying dances in non-European cultural contexts, but also to
appreciate the implicit functions (sous-entendues) that operate in the harmonies,
but are not represented in notes xed in the score. In other words, nonEuropean musics transferred to the stage by Rameau absorb our senses and
cognitive capacities, our intelligibility of music, to the same degree and with
the same complexity as European art music.
Though language assumes local forms through dialect, music, according to
Guy de Chabanon, would be one and the same throughout the world because
of underlying and implicit harmonic structures:
Music is of one kind throughout the world. How can it be! The idea of beauty is
not the same among all peoples, and then song is the same for all people! The

Perspectives on world music in the Enlightenment


Hurons sing like the workers of France! This is hard to imagine, much less
extend it to all that we know!
(Guy de Chabanon 1969, 133)

In his discussion of music examples, Guy de Chabanon detects familiar

European music in the earliest Native American songs:
The melody of the earliest song is entirely agreeable, for it expresses the dignity
of a civilized people. I am not trying to be deceptive, rather to approach this
matter as Tartini would.
(Ibid., 394)

Other Native American songs evoke songs of the French Catholic church.
Again, the transformative agency of music becomes evident in a theoretical
text through which Guy de Chabanon unfolds a kind of auditory synopsis,
short-circuiting distant musical cultures through the discovery of similarities.
These are not based on the study of tuning systems, rather on the individual
aesthetic impressions they make on Guy de Chabanon, who opens his imagination in search of such hidden connections. The aesthetic impression and
a classifying impulse stimulate each other. The ease with which Guy de
Chabanon couples stylistic remarks on an anonymous song, delivered secondhand, with the name of a renowned virtuoso and theorist of his day, is
remarkable. One cannot help imagining the Baroque Italian composer
Giuseppe Tartini (16921770) disguised as a Native American and vice
A worldview based on world music is consolidated when such analytical
observations intermingle with an imagined, music-driven cultural genealogy. This genealogy easily embraces the natural history of animals and
humans, the individual development from child to adult, the various social
strata of Western society, and the many stages through which non-Western
societies pass. Arising from this approach is an attack on a stronghold of
early Enlightenment convictions: imitation is no longer a valid concept,
because the expression of passion takes its place. This growing Enlightenment
critique is inspired by evidence drawn from other cultures, underlining the
impact and relevance of this universal outlook. Such evidence is not ethnographic in the modern sense of a concern for world musics contexts, but it
follows the form of eighteenth-century scientic investigation, taking world
musics texts its harmonie sous-entendue as evidence. Musics universal
powers, thus, can have literal meaning: the ocer who was part of the entourage
of Louis-Antoine Bougainvilles famous voyage in the 1760s and who reported
the Native American songs transcribed by Guy de Chabanon is said to have
survived capture only due to his singing skills, his projection of familiarity
through musical communication (Guy de Chabanon 1969, 393).



Listening to reciprocity
The French Jesuit Jean Joseph Marie Amiot (171893) was part of the last
missionary campaign in China before the Jesuits were ocially excluded from
China. He devoted a full volume of his encyclopedic study of Chinese history
and culture (Amiot 177691) to Chinese music both ancient and modern. The
Mmoire sur la musique des chinois tant anciens que modernes (Amiot 1779)
provided him with a more suitable format than a full-blown treatise on
Chinese music, which he otherwise would have been unable to write due to
his amateur background. The study of Chinese music also gave him considerable freedom to reread accounts of ancient music histories, which even in
the late eighteenth century had mainly embraced Egyptian and Greek musical
cultures. Amiot reconstructed the historical depth and scope of ancient
Chinese music, pleading for its pioneering role as an inuence on other
ancient musical systems.
Before turning to more scientic analysis, Amiot gave a lively account of the
responses of Chinese listeners to French Baroque music by Rameau and Blavet,
only to realize that it left no impression whatsoever on the Chinese (ibid., 2).
A Chinese interlocutor politely paraphrased their experience of French music
before highlighting the impact of Chinese music on local ears and souls: The
melodies of our most ancient music have a dierent sound, and they leave a
dierent aect upon us (ibid., 3). In this comparison, Western music fails to
reach the soul of the Chinese, who are attuned instead to their own music.
Ancient Chinese music would have produced even greater eects on them. On
its surface, such a claim would seem to contradict notions of music as a
universal art, but it is through the lens of history that Amiot seeks to restore
the concept of a universal harmony. His study of Chinese music and its ancient
history is motivated by curiosity in the face of the absence of reception of
Western music by Chinese listeners. Secondarily, Amiot is motivated by a
search for an early layer of a tonal system from which all ancient systems
took inspiration (ibid., 6). If the Chinese learned music traditions that preceded
Pythagorean and ancient Egyptian musical theories, it is in the musique chinoise
ancienne that these early roots of harmony can be located and the ancient
sanctuary of nature be revealed. To Amiot, this primitive urharmony
would be the closest concept to a world music, obscured by regional manifestations of such harmony in the course of the history of mankind. Within this
Enlightenment framework of a history of harmony as part of a history of
mankind, Amiot surpasses mere antiquarian interests and discursive strategies.
The level of precision, the detailed account of tonal systems and of previous
attempts of reconstruction, and the wealth of carefully arranged materials

Perspectives on world music in the Enlightenment


produces a scientically rigorous reading, through which Amiot credits China

with having the most ancient musical system.
One wonders why Amiot never reected on the immediate eects of Chinese
music on Western listeners or on himself. He does expose himself to a reciprocal hearing of Chinese music, but listening in this way is subtler, for it is
directed toward hearing Chinese music history and the harmonies resonating in it. His ndings are substantial and do not lend themselves to being
incorporated in discourses of the exotic. Instead, world music appears in a
completely new, historically informed light. Amiots Mmoire proved how
dedication and commitment to cultures and languages that are unfamiliar
and foreign as well as to their notation systems and musical instruments, guided
by scientic method in the spirit of a balanced comparison, might yield insights
that aect our own history and myths. If Pythagoras was a traveler who
absorbed as much as he could from arcane traditions to build his own convictions (ibid., 173), the lore of ancient Western music theory and of musics
justication in the science of numbers and proportions shrinks to second-hand
knowledge and stands apart from the real origins of true harmony.
Amiot identies musics transformative power in ways dierent from
Fonton and Guy de Chabanon, yet in each of these cases the encounter with
musics either ancient or foreign triggered recalibrations of established truths
that lie at the heart of European musical and historical self-image. Although he
plunged deeply into historical materials, Amiots conclusions generate notions
of world music both with respect to its origins and to the current relevance of
non-Western musics, and of Western musics acceptance in non-Western
cultures (see Nettl in this volume).
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Western encounter with other musics
is that musical communication as such never appears to be an issue. Perhaps with
the exception of Amiots native listeners, who are unable to relate to French
music, Rameaus representations of Native Americans blend into the idiom
of the ballet-hroque just as smoothly as Guy de Chabanon detects in the
songs of the Hurons similarities to European practices. The project of an
Enlightenment world music can be grasped precisely in these negotiations,
in the way music was capable of exposing and narrowing distances. These
negotiations also accommodated views of cultural incommensurability, based
on dierent anthropologies and listening traditions (see Agnew in this volume). They stretched from Guy de Chabanons musical universalism to
Rameaus carefully crafted renderings of musical global interchanges under
the auspices of lamour, of Love, on the stage of Enlightenment French ballet.
Paradoxically, normative claims of a decisively disparaging nature were
not voiced against exotic, but against the most familiar musical cultures:



Rousseaus biting invective against French music displays full command of the
Enlightenment tactics of comparison and eighteenth-century debate (querelle).
In the closing paragraph of his Lettre sur la musique franaise from 1753, he
denied French music both ordered rhythm (tactus) and melody. The French had
no music and never would have any (Rousseau 1753). Rousseaus claims are the
same fundamental criticism one would have expected at the time to be directed
against primitive musics. Ignoring for a moment Rousseaus underlying
ideology of the superiority of Italian music as the real music, we recognize
the ways in which the dynamics of the debate show how intimately music and
its national manifestations were linked to central critical strategies and to what
extent they were considered part of the culture and humanity of an overarching global diversity.

World music as the negotiation of distances

The debates about music that raged in eighteenth-century France also signal
that the Enlightenment was dealing with materials and arguments that were
too complex to be answered or solved in a satisfactory manner. Rameaus
Les Indes galantes can be criticized for the failures of Fuzeliers narrative plot,
but it cannot be completely rejected as evidence for an intellectual paradigm
shift. If Amiots report on Chinese music seemed incorrect or incomplete in the
eyes of some readers, competitors and fellow missionaries found themselves
able to embark on journeys of encounter of their own, thus making it possible
to scrutinize and expand upon Amiots ndings. Guy de Chabanon invites
other opinions and fresh observations on the material he has discussed.
No single actor or institution can claim to have ultimate authority on matters
foreign, but can only steer discourses in one direction or the other. This
conrms the specic texture of Enlightenment discourse on the exotic, to
which a multiplicity of voices increasingly accrued. In the emergence of later
discourses of Orientalism, the Enlightenment came to produce a bewildering
number of simultaneous conversations intrinsic to this cultural and geographic
exchange (Bellman 1998, xi).
By examining the dierent ways world music took shape in French music
and musical scholarship in the eighteenth century, it has been my goal in this
chapter to show how the reective horizon of Enlightenment authors and
composers stretches beyond the West. Appropriations of foreign music, in
whatever format or medium, were driven by many research and missionary
agendas, and they functioned within dierent musical genres, such as on the
opera stage. Fragmentary as the evidence from other cultures was, it helped
implement a perspective that widened the awareness of national cultures

Perspectives on world music in the Enlightenment


within Europe to embrace an international perspective, which in turn was

coupled with a historicizing impulse that extended to the world. From the
success of opera la turque one may conclude that performed vocal exotic
music provided tangible readings of foreign manners and customs that a
learned travel report, a Persian tale, or an artifact from the region could
never achieve. Vocal music and dance, moreover, were regarded as moral
lessons, for they represented a social activity, a way of passionate interaction
that was socially and culturally eloquent and from which insight and knowledge could be gained. For this reason, the characteristic in music overrode the
nascent notion of the authentic in music. A characteristic rendering of foreign
subjects comprised a higher realism, a penetrating mimesis aiming to bring out
fundamental truths underlying the actions and aspirations shown on the stage,
fully acknowledging their fabricated nature.
If music was termed primitive or cherished as an expression of passions in its
own right, if it was believed to supplement or complement Western music, if it was
reported in a documentary manner or imaginatively evoked, or if it was used to
conrm cultural incommensurability or universalism, the growing understanding of an expansive world music depended on very specic circumstances,
subjectivities, and discursive positions. Detailed descriptions of these circumstances would come to apply empirical research so that the specic mobility and
patterns of circulation of music, of musicians both Western and ethnic, of
musical instruments, of music examples in travel reports, and of music missionary campaigns in an age of global interchange could be characterized
more precisely. Empirical data would come to confront musics transformative
power, a property harder to pin down as it interacted with the cultural imagination. This imagination was impregnated by the experience of expansion,
embracing cultural and political expansion, but also the metaphorical expansion
into newly imagined cultural geographies, opera subjects, tonal spaces, and
physical movement in dance. The Enlightenment, for the rst time analytically
and critically, dealt with the tension between musics universal nature and its
systemic and structural mediatedness and situatedness. The constant familiarizing and defamiliarizing both of imagined exotic musics and, as a consequence, of
Western music interacting with it, was paramount for dening this tension.
The galoubet (little ute) and tambourin (tambourine) that Rameau used in the
Les Sauvages scene of Les Indes galantes to portray the peace ceremony of the
Native Americans (and Persians, Incas, and Turks) were popular Provenal
instruments. In the eighteenth century, they had undergone a cross-cultural
appropriation by the French elites to whom they evoked pastoral sentiments.
The instruments thus carried a regional and a culturally imagined eloquence to
which Rameau added a third, global dimension in orchestrating this scene. As



the history of world music followed a universal turn in the course of the eighteenth century, unraveling such cross-fertilization would increasingly become
vital in exploring reciprocities and for a historically informed deep listening to
musics transformative powers in the age of Enlightened global interaction.

Amiot, J. J. M. (177691) Mmoires concernant lhistoire, les sciences, les arts, les murs, les
usages, &c. des Chinois, Paris: Nyon
(1779) Mmoire sur la musique des chinois, tant anciens et modernes, Paris: Nyon
Bellman, J. (1998) Introduction, in J. Bellman (ed.), The Exotic in Western Music, Boston:
Northeastern University Press, pp. ixxiii
Betzwieser, T. (1993) Exotismus und Trkenoper in der franzsischen Musik des Ancien Rgime:
Studien zu einem sthetischen Phnomen, Laaber Verlag
(1994) Rameau: Les Indes Galantes, in C. Dahlhaus et al. (eds.), Pipers Lexikon des
Musiktheaters, vol. 5, Munich: Piper Verlag, pp. 15862
Bley, H., and H.-J. Knig (2006) Globale Interaktion, in F. Jaeger (ed.), Enzyklopdie der
Neuzeit, vol. 4, Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, columns 94557
Bohlman, P. V. (1991) Representation and cultural critique in the history of ethnomusicology, in B. Nettl and P. V. Bohlman (eds.), Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of
Music: Essays on the History of Ethnomusicology, University of Chicago Press, pp. 13151
Christensen, T. (1993) Rameau and Musical Thought in the Enlightenment, Cambridge
University Press
Cohen, D. E. (2001) The gift of nature: Musical instinct, and musical cognition in
Rameau, in S. Clark (ed.), Music Theory and Natural Order from the Renaissance to the
Early Twentieth Century, Cambridge University Press, pp. 7092
Duc, P. (2005) Introduction, in J.-P. Rameau, Les Indes galantes: Ballet rduit quatre
grands concerts 17351736, Courlay: Fuzeau, pp. vxiii
Fonton, C. (1751 [orig. ms]) Essai sur la musique orientale compare la musique europenne
[full title of the manuscripts reads Essay sur la Musique Orientale compare la
Musique Europene ou Lon tache de donner une ide Generale de la Musique des
Peuples de lorient, de leur gout particulier, de leur Regles dans le Chant, et la
Combinaison des Tons, avec une Notion abrege de leurs Principaux Instrumens];
modern edition in Betzwieser (1993), pp. 370419
Guy de Chabanon, M.-P. (1969, orig. publ.1785) De la musique considre en elle-mme et
dans ses rapports avec la parole, les langues, la posie, et le thtre, Geneva: Slatkine
Kircher, A. (1650) Musurgia universalis, Rome: Corbelletti
Neubauer, E. (1999) Der Essai sur la musique orientale von Charles Fonton, Frankfurt am
Main: Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science at the Johann Wolfgang
Goethe University
OMalley, J. W. (1999) The historiography of the Society of Jesus: Where does it stand
today?, in idem et al. (eds.), The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts 15401773,
University of Toronto Press, pp. 337
Rameau, J.-P. (1722) Trait de lharmonie rduite ses principes naturels: Divis en quatre
livres, Paris: De lImpr. de J. B. C. Ballard

Perspectives on world music in the Enlightenment


(1736 [?]) Les Indes galantes: Ballet rduit quatre grands concerts, avec une nouvelle entre
complette, Paris: Boivin
(1971) Treatise on Harmony, trans. P. Gossett, New York: Dover
Rousseau, J.- J. (1753) Lettre sur la musique franaise, Paris, n.p.
Shiloah, A. (1990) An eighteenth-century critic of taste and good taste, in S. Blum,
P. V. Bohlman, and D. M. Neuman (eds.), Ethnomusicology and Modern Music History,
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, pp. 1819
Tomlinson, G. (2007) The Singing of the New World: Indigenous Voice in the Era of European
Contact, Cambridge University Press
Trabant, J. (1993) Der akroamatische Leibniz: Hren und Konspirieren, in Das Ohr als
Erkenntnisorgan, special issue of Paragrana, 2, 12: 6471
Wright, O. (2000) Demetrius Cantemir: The Collection of Notations, Aldershot: Ashgate

. 12 .

The music of non-Western nations and the

evolution of British ethnomusicology

According to Philip Bohlman, national music reects the image of the nation
so that those living in the nation recognize themselves in basic but crucial ways.
It is music conceived in the image of the nation that is created through eorts to
represent something quintessential about the nation (Bohlman 2004, 823).
Like all nations, Britain conceived of music in its own image, whether indigenous or foreign, and while the British Empire expanded from the seventeenth
century onward, so too did its characterization of its own, and the worlds,
national music. Until the middle of the nineteenth century this characterization
was premised on an early anthropological model called developmentalism, but,
from that time forward, evolutionary models increasingly challenged its hegemonic position.
This chapter explores the relationship between anthropological theory and
the representation of non-Western music from the heyday of the British
Empire to its decline after World War I. It sets the scene by tracing the
often-fraught history of anthropology from developmentalism to evolutionism, highlighting important developmental paradigms, such as monogenism,
polygenism, the comparative method, and slightly later the evolutionary
models of Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin. It then situates these developmental and evolutionary templates with contemporary representations of
world musics, providing in ne a suggested explanation for their adoption and

Anthropology from developmentalism

to evolutionism
Developmentalism is an immutable and universal law of cultural and human
progression a teleological paradigm, which Peter Bowler classies as a precursor to evolutionism (2003, 4895). One of developmentalisms major exponents, the Enlightenment thinker Adam Ferguson, looked for pattern, law, or

Non-Western nations and the evolution of British ethnomusicology


direction operating behind the particular events of history (Honigmann 1976,

86) through a three-stage approach, from savagery and barbarism to civilization.
Using a theory known as the comparative method, Ferguson and many of his
contemporaries exploited the tautological nature of developmentalism to
prove that not all living peoples had advanced to an equal developmental
stage. Thus, modern savages remained xed as living fossils akin to primitive
man, whereas modern often European civilized humans had evolved from
savagery more fully. George Stocking writes of developmentalism and its application in the comparative method as de rigueur, citing exponents such as
Rousseau, Goguet, de Brosses, Lord Kames, Ferguson, Boulanger, de Pauw,
Reynal, Millar, Demeunier, Adam Smith, William Robertson, and Condorcet
(Stocking 1987, 15).
Another Enlightenment thinker, William Godwin, speaks for the multitude
when he claims that while savage races can become more civilized and civilized
races can retain traces of primitive stages of development, all humans should
be brought into union with the great whole of humanity, and be made capable
of taking part in its further progress . . . It is the vocation of our [human] race
to unite itself into one single body, all parts of which shall be thoroughly
known to each other, and all possessed of a similar culture (Godwin 1793,
quoted in Nisbet 1980, 275). While concepts of inalienable human similarity
lay at the root of much late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European and
British anthropology (Wheeler 2000, 10), they failed to account for manifest
dierence between peoples, both ancient and modern. To that end, theories
of human origins evolved alongside developmentalism to help explain diversity. The Great Chain of Being linked man and apes, and eventually apes and
people of African ancestry (see Jahoda 1999, 25), and seminal theories of
monogenesis (human origins in Adam and Eve) and polygenesis (diverse
human origins) emerged. Cultural and physical disparity became important
signiers of dierence, and in Britain, as elsewhere across Europe, anthropologies of dierence and similarity coalesced into early forms of scientic racism
(Bolt 1971, 9).
Monogenesis was especially susceptible to racism, as it tried to account for
the presence of people omitted from biblical descent, such as non-Christians,
heathens, and savages. Degeneration arose to explain just such peoples. As
George Stocking writes, Degeneration, conceived in physical and cultural
terms, provided an alternative explanation for the manifest human diversity
that increasingly forced itself on anthropological thoughts, just as aggressive
ethnocentrism and Christian humanitarianism coexisted in the general cultural
attitude toward non-Western peoples (Stocking 1987, 44). Where degenerationism seemed to resolve nagging questions of diversity, its racial emphasis



often fueled prejudice. The British anthropologist James Cowles Prichard

(17861848), for example, believed that all mankind had originally been
black and that dierentiation was a result of civilization (Augstein 1996,
xxiv). In this regard, polygenism oered no better solution, being used at
times to advocate slavery and an invidious belief in natural human dierence.
Polygenism simply reinforced already prevalent concepts of racial dierence,
arguing, only dierential descent from a dierent ancestor can account for
the bodily dierences that come to be called racial dierence (Saakwa-Mante
1999, 30). Graham Richards calls this the subhumanity question (1997, 7)
namely the largely polygenist attitudes that denigrate nonwhite people, and,
in particular, black people.
The practical application of these developmental models was abundant in
British culture well into the 1850s, with perhaps no better example than the
Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace. Stocking describes it in the following terms:
Much of the Crystal Palace encouraged speculation of a more specic sort;
the overall system of classication, which forced jurors to compare the same
functional object in a variety of national forms; the character of the dierent
national exhibits, which led one along a line of progress from the Tasmanian
savage through the barbaric civilizations of the East, northwest across the
European continent toward an apex in Great Britain.
(Stocking 1987, 5)

That this rigid concept of human development was underpinned by racism is

unquestionable. Robert Knox, for instance, writes in The Races of Men, Race is
everything: literature, science, art in a word, civilization depends upon it
(Knox 1850, v).
At the same time, however, advances in theories of heredity began to force
a reconsideration of earlier developmental models. Charles Darwins younger
cousin, Francis Galton, who is widely known today as the father of eugenics,
traveled widely in the 1840s and 1850s to develop a theory of racial heredity,
based on physical attributes, linguistics, behavior, and belief (see Galton 1883,
17). As Stocking points out, despite its lack of conceptual cohesion, Galtons
travels were suciently inuential to be included as a reference in the Crystal
Palace guidebook and were subsequently cited in R. G. Lathams Descriptive
Ethnology of 1859 (Stocking 1987, 94). While Galton was busy developing racial
science into eugenics, Alfred William Wallace, co-discoverer of the evolutionary principle, was traveling in the Amazon, collecting material that would
ultimately be published in A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro
(1853). Wallaces account (which contains limited reference to music) provides
a putatively less racist approach, diminishing the signicance of race in favor
of questions of adaptation and descent.

Non-Western nations and the evolution of British ethnomusicology


For all their signicance in the history of anthropology, neither Galton nor
Wallace would derail developmentalism in the way that their contemporary
Charles Darwin would. Darwin, who put together an argument for the
evolution of species that was unprecedented in detail, accuracy, and scope
(Harris 2001, 116), simply undermined all previous systems of thought. In one
fell swoop he denied progress and stripped out from anthropology any teleological purpose or goal. As Steven Jay Gould writes, Darwins mechanism
can only generate local adaptation to environments that change in a directionless way through time, thus imparting no goal or progressive vector to lifes
history (Gould 2002, xixiii). Darwins impact, to use Oldroyds term (1980),
situated evolution at the vanguard of anthropological thinking and located
it at the intersection of science, ideology, and worldview (Greene 1981)
thus was born the Darwinian paradigm (Ruse 1989), or conversely, the
non-Darwinian revolution (Bowler 1988).
Darwins exponent, Thomas