ABSTRACT

By examining how Enlightenment scholars thought about the particularity of the world's musical cultures, people stand to learn something about Europeans' changing views on music, about the conception of the human in the eighteenth century, and about emerging theories of biological race. This chapter begins with some of the Enlightenment's limit cases those unfamiliar forms of musical practice that represents a low rung on the scale of musical progress; curious music that seems the very antithesis of reason, and indicative of a people's strangeness. If Kolb was unusually generous in his assessment of the Khoikhoi, like subsequent commentators, he was uncertain what to make of their musical bow, the gora. Surprisingly, perhaps, music factored in debate, with the relative happiness and cultural sophistication of the savage mobilized as part of a triangular argument. Thus, it is found that, although music was instructive and the world's peoples considered worthy of study, Khoikhoi could never be redeemed by their culture.