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Ethnomusicology (from the Greek ethnos = nation and mousike = music), formerly comparative musicology, is the study of music in its cultural context, cultural musicology. It can be considered the anthropology or ethnography of music. Jeff Todd Titon has called it the study of "people making music". It is often thought of as a study of non-Western musics, but often includes the study of Western music from an anthropological perspective. "Ethnomusicology as western culture knows it is actually a western phenomenon." (Nettl 1983:25)
While musicology contends to be purely about music itself (almost always western classical music), ethnomusicologists are often interested in putting the music they study into a wider cultural context. Ethnomusicology as it emerged in the late 19th century and early 20th century, practiced by people such as Vinko Zganec, Franjo Ksaver , Carl Stumpf, Erich von Hornbostel, Curt Sachs and Alexander J. Ellis, tended to focus on non-European music of an oral tradition, but in more recent years the field has expanded to embrace all musical styles from all parts of the world.
Ethnomusicologists apply theory and methods from cultural anthropology as well as other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. People who have done well known ethnomusicological work have sometimes been previously trained as anthropologists studying many other aspects of a society as well as their music. A well known example of such a study is Colin Turnbull's study of the Mbuti pygmies. Another example is Jaime de Angulo, a linguist who ended up learning much about the music of the Indians of Northern California (see ). Yet another is Anthony Seeger, professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studied the music and society of the Suya people in Mato Grosso, Brazil (see ).
Four important centers for ethnomusicological study are the Universities of California at Los Angeles and Santa Barbara; Indiana University, Bloomington, and the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research at University of Zagreb, Croatia.
- Nettl, Bruno (1983). The Study of Ethnomusicology. Urbana, Chicago, and London: University of Illinois Press.
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