chapter  1
16 Pages

Introduction: The Ethnomusicology of Western Art Music

ByLaudan Nooshin

In her 2001 article on the early music scene in Boston, Kay Kaufman Shelemay offers

what she hoped would be ‘useful insights into the collapsing musical boundaries in

our changing world and the new agendas that might unite musical scholarship

through a shared pedagogy and practice of musical ethnography’ (2001:1). She goes

on to discuss the ways in which historical musicologists have begun to engage with

ethnographic method previously seen as the reserve of*and indeed characterising* ethnomusicology. Shelemay notes in particular the work of Gary Tomlinson

(for example, 1993), Leo Treitler (1989) and Peter Jeffrey (1992), all of whom have

in various ways thematised notions of historical ‘Otherness’, as well as some of the

contributors to the 1995 special issue of the Journal of the American Musicological

Society on ‘Music Anthropologies and Music Histories’. As I discuss below, Shelemay’s

observation (citing her earlier 1996 article) that ‘On the ground, wherever scholars

actually practice a musical ethnography, it is becoming increasingly difficult to

discern where boundaries conceptualized and named geographically can in fact be

drawn’ (2001:4) has especial salience for the articles presented in this themed issue of

Ethnomusicology Forum; this is symptomatic both of the trend towards ethnography

within musicology (that is, the musicology of western art music, or ‘historical

musicology’ in the United States; henceforth simply ‘musicology’), and more broadly

of changes within the discipline since the late 1980s which have led to a growing

interest in and engagement with ethnomusicological thought and method.