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Musicology/Ethnomusicology: evolutions and problems

Musicologies / ethnomusicologies : évolutions et problèmes

Fifth issue of NEMO

NEMO-Online numéro 5

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Published on Friday, January 15, 2016 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

Since its origins as Vergleichende Musikwissenschaft, ethnomusicology struggles to define itself in relation to classical Occidental musicology, the latter being the semantic carrier of a more general character which is nevertheless restricted to the study of musics which in a first instance concerns only the Occident, and in a second instance, which is concerned with music labelled as ‘learned’, even integrating popular musics such as jazz, pop, rock and electro-acoustic musics – a rather large musicological study, all of this placed in a context of a growing as well as various unification specialisation proposals of general musicology sub-fields.

Announcement

Research groups CERMAA, ICONEA and IReMus are seeking papers for the fifth issue of NEMO. The theme will be about ‘Musicology/Ethnomusicology: evolutions and problems’.

Argument

Since its origins as Vergleichende Musikwissenschaft, ethnomusicology struggles to define itself in relation to classical Occidental musicology, the latter being the semantic carrier of a more general character which is nevertheless restricted to the study of musics which in a first instance concerns only the Occident, and in a second instance, which is concerned with music labelled as ‘learned’, even integrating popular musics such as jazz, pop, rock and electro-acoustic musics – a rather large musicological study, all of this placed in a context of a growing as well as various unification specialisation proposals of general musicology sub-fields.

History of music and of its instruments ; a society producing a, or various specific and determined musics ; musical production means ; musical form classification ; teaching methods ; study of manuscripts ; musical analysis and its different approches… which, inevitably are means and disciplinary fields labelled traditional musicology by adepts of the New Musicology, are also investigated by ethnomusicologists whose semantic or institutional self-characterisation strategy hesitates between acceptations of ‘musical anthropologists’ (oral or not), with, here and there, a survival of the problematic meaning of ‘ethnical musicology’ (study/science of the music of extra-Occidental cultural communities). Additionally, it is possible to offer the idea that its fancy name makes of ethnomusicology a science of an auto-reflexive nature, contrarily to the science which qualifies itself as ‘of music’.

Is there a musicology specific to non-Occidental musics that could be qualified as Art ? Would the multiple forms that these musics may have within their own society, their coexistence among diverse popular musics the structural system of which comparable, and especially that of the origins of their oral transmission exclude them of ‘hard’ musicology which would be unthinkable without score analysis ? And would not this latter become obsolete in a world where recording has predominated for over one century, as for over the past decades, for compositions made from unlimited samples of pre-recorded and infinitely bespoken sounds ?

Boundaries become blurred within musicology and ethnomusicology which, because of the power of concepts and facts, share both convergent and divergent characteristics ; what has become of the perception of these fields, essentially Occidental in nature, when they are revisited by non-Occidental musicologists often trained in Occidental universities ? In what way does the tripartite semiology, or even TrầnVăn Khê’s definition of ‘mode’ characterize a so-called Chinese, Arabian, or Azeri music ? Is the presence of a musical score or not sufficient an argument to integrate one music and reject one or another from the study of musical semiotics ? What about musics which, as Occidental music operate, write their compositions on a score and therefore do no longer belong to the oral tradition and as such would be subjected to the rules of ‘hard’ musicology ? Lastly, should ethnomusicology disolve while absorbing Occidental musicology ?

Beyond denominations, the terminologies for these fields are extremely ambiguous and as a consequence contribute to a consubstantial confusion with the origins of these fields…

Some ideas :

  • Are TrầnVăn Khê’s four characteristics of the mode useful to define modal musics ?
  • And what of non-Occidental alterity of musicologists and ethnomusicologists studying their own music or the music of others including Occidental music ?
  • Are musical myths opposing a scientific approach to music ?
  • How does archaeomusicology fit in within musicology ?
  • In which ways does the musical ritual studied in non-Occidental societies differs in nature from Occidental music rituals ?
  • Synchronic musicology and diachronic archaeomusicology ?
  • What is the function of comparative musicology in contemporary musicology ?
  • Does systematic musicology belong to the field of musicology or ethnomusicology ?
  • Are there any musicological fields (of musical sciences) which are distinct from Occidental musicology and ethnomusicology and how are they distinct ?
  • What terminology for what musicology ?
  • Can the quest for universals in music continue while musical analysis tools are insufficient for most parts of world musics ?
  • On account of the historical evolutionist aspects of a culture, do some forms of ethnomusicology which neglect these aspects deny the legitimity to these cultures, labelling them as curiosities ?

We would like this issue of NEMO to spearhead a debate between the various components of world musicology concerning the usefulness of the science, and about the problems raised due to powerful and contradictory non-scientific charasteristics and the manner in which they could be approached.

Submission guidelines

Papers to be sent both to Richard Dumbrill and Amine Beyhom and should follow the editorial layout.

The Editing Board will consider the publication of papers which might be ‘off subject’ as long as they retain some relationship with the wider theme of the publication.

Deadlines: proposals by end of June 2016 and finalized paper by end of August 2016.

Previous volumes available here.

Academic board

  • Cem Behar (İstanbul Sehir Üniversitesi – Turkey)
  • Amine Beyhom (CERMAA research group – FOREDOFICO ; Lebanon)
  • Frédéric Billiet (IReMus research institute – Université Paris-Sorbonne ; France)
  • Philippe Brunet (Université de Rouen ; France)
  • Jérôme Cler (IReMus research institute – Université Paris-Sorbonne ; France)
  • Laurent Cugny (IReMus research institute – Université Paris-Sorbonne ; France)
  • Richard Dumbrill (ICONEA, Institute of Musical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London ; Great-Britain)
  • Jean During (CNRS ; France)
  • Ricardo Eichmann (ISGMA, International Study Group on Music Archeology ; Berlin – Germany)
  • Bruno de Florence (ICONEA, Institute of Musical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London ; Great-Britain)
  • Ralf Martin Jäger, (CMO – Institut für Musikwissenschaft und Musikpaedagogik of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität – Münster ; Germany)
  • Scott Marcus (University of California – Santa Barbara ; USA) ; UCSB’s Center for Middle East Studies
  • Paul Mattar (CERMAA research group, IESAV – St-Joseph University ; Lebanon)
  • Nicolas Meeùs (IReMus research institute – Université Paris-Sorbonne ; France)
  • François Picard (IReMus research institute – Université Paris-Sorbonne ; France)
  • Mourad Sakli (Higher Institute of Music in Tunis ; Tunisia)
  • Lassâad Zouari (Higher Institute of Music in Sfax ; Tunisia)

Editorial Board

  • Richard Dumbrill
  • Rosy Azar Beyhom
  • Amine Beyhom

Editor in Chief

  • Amine Beyhom

Date(s)

  • Thursday, June 30, 2016

Keywords

  • musicology, ethnomusicology, evolution, problem, popular music, transmission, system, recording, archaeomusicology

Contact(s)

  • Amine Beyhom
    courriel : abeyhom [at] nemo-online [dot] org

Information source

  • Amine Beyhom
    courriel : abeyhom [at] nemo-online [dot] org

To cite this announcement

« Musicology/Ethnomusicology: evolutions and problems », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, January 15, 2016, https://calenda.org/352789

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