chapter  12
15 Pages

From 'incomprehensibility' to 'meaning'

Transcription and Representation of Non-Western Music in Nineteenth-Century British Musicology and Ethnomusicology 1

This chapter proposes to do just that, by comparing music-historical and ethnomusicological attitudes towards the representation of non-Western music. It examines how non-Western music is represented conceptually within the framework of nineteenth-century British musicology; The chapter analyses the ethnomusicological representation of non-Western music through notions of transcription, and to this end have chosen to focus on three important treatises on Indian music. It traces the transcription of a single tune, and the attitudes they express towards it. It is in these words that the psychologist and ethnomusicologist Charles Samuel Myers encapsulates one of the principal difficulties of studying non-Western music, namely how we progress from 'incomprehensibility' to 'meaning'. For British musicologists non-Western music has been a constant source of interest from the late eighteenth century; In 'Representation and Cultural Critique in the History of Ethnomusicology', Philip Bohlman proffers a methodological template for studying this progression.