Defining Etnomusicolgy

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Do we know what `Ethnomusicology' really is?

What is the functionally, politically and formatively correct definition of `Ethnomusicology'? Ethnomusicology has been defined in many ways; its varied interpretations arise due to the difference in opinion held by the advocates of these definitions. Although `it is a recognized discipline in the field of music, ethnomusicologists, anthropologists, musicologists and other academics within and outside the field have yet to find an undisputed and universally accepted definition and identity for the term `Ethnomusicology'. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the term `definition' is a "statement expressing the essential nature of something"; keeping this exegesis in mind I aim to find an apt interpretation for the term `Ethnomusicology'.

Let me first put forward the proposed definitions of the term as they stand today, and cite the inconsistencies that exist in them. `Ethnomusicology' has often been described as " a study of a music foreign to one's own", in pretext of widely held beliefs this definition might be true however it does have a loophole; that being, we find some scholars who study the music of their own culture, (usually the music of a group outside the framework of western, educationally elite strata), aware to this fact a formal use of this definition would not be appropriate. Another popular rendition of the term states that " `Ethnomusicology' is the study of music that exists in oral tradition", this particular explication in my opinion does not hold true since in many music cultures the world over, oral tradition is an important component that complements the use of notation. Moving on we find other schools of thought advocat...

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...he arguments put forth in their entirety that `Ethnomusicology' is the study of people making music in and as a culture; the study of the sounds of music they are making, and that of the whole process and contexts through and within which music is imagined, discussed and made. Studying individuals and societies all around the world, aiming to discover what music means to particular groups of people - what part it plays in their lives and their attitude towards it. I feel this definition comprehensively deals with all the aspects of `Ethnomusicology' that confirm to the universally subscribed opinions held by various academics in the field. Thus owing to the accretion of facts and possibilities that I have encountered, some of which I have rebuked, I propose the above-mentioned definition to be a comprehensive and illustrative rendition of the term `Ethnomusicology'.
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