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Representing Non-Western Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Representing Non-Western Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 366
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  • Book Info
    Representing Non-Western Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain
    Book Description:

    Bennett Zon's Representing Non-Western Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain is the first book to situate non-Western music within the intellectual culture of nineteenth-century Britain. It covers many crucial issues -- race, orientalism, otherness, evolution -- and explores the influence of important anthropological theories on the perception of non-Western music. The book also considers a wide range of other writings of the period, from psychology and travel literature to musicology and theories of musical transcription, and it reflects on the historically problematic term "ethnomusicology." Representing Non-Western Music discusses such theories as noble simplicity, monogenism and polygenism, the comparative method, degenerationism, and developmentalism. Zon looks at the effect of evolutionism on the musical press, general music histories, and histories of national music. He also treats the work of Charles Samuel Myers, the first Britain to record non-Western music in the field, and explores how A. H. Fox Strangways used contemporary translation theory as an analogy for transcription in The Music of Hindostan (1914) to show that individuality can be retained by embracing foreign elements rather than adapting them to Western musical style. Bennett Zon is Reader in Music and Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University UK and author of Music and Metaphor in Nineteenth-Century British Musicology (Ashgate, 2000).

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-694-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History, Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Introduction: Humanizing the Musical Savage: Orientalism and Racism in the History of British Ethnomusicology
    (pp. 1-14)

    At its territorial peak, just after the end of World War I, the British Empire consisted of “naval stations and military bases extending from Gibraltar to Hong Kong, the four great dominions of settlement [Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa], the Indian empire that occupied an entire subcontinent, the crown colonies in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean and the League of Nations Mandates, especially in the Middle East.”¹ This included “self-governing colonies with predominantly white populations, Crown Colonies and Protectorates with non-European subjects, and the British Raj in India as an Empire in its own right.”² Inevitably, as British...

  7. Part 1: Early Anthropological Influences

    • Chapter One Cultural Anthropology from the Late Eighteenth Century to the 1850s
      (pp. 17-24)

      From the late eighteenth century into the 1850s anthropology remained a somewhat unalloyed and disparate set of anthropological studies, including, among other things, nascent research in physical and linguistic anthropology, the ethnology of sexuality, and juridical and economic ethnography.¹ From the 1850s to 1890s, however, anthropology began to be professionalized—principally through the hegemony of evolutionary theory—and the field defined itself in increasingly unified disciplinary, yet more theoretically problematizing, terms.

      The earlier stage of anthropology is generally described as developmentalist. This revolves around Enlightenment concepts of cultural and human progression that are fundamentally rigid in their application across all...

    • Chapter Two The Interplay of Anthropology and Music: Nineteenth-Century Travel Literature
      (pp. 25-47)

      There is documentation in English of the music and musical activities of non-Western peoples from as early as the middle of the sixteenth century. Although most pre-nineteenth-century material is recorded by expatriates, travelers, and explorers, rather than by professional musicians, it nonetheless provides an extremely rich and historically important record of non-Western music.¹ From the seventeenth century there are numerous examples of musical commentaries translated into English, as well as those written originally in English, such as Lionel Wafer’sA New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America(1699). Eighteenth-century descriptions are plentiful in both English and English translations,...

    • Chapter Three Music in the Literature of Anthropology from the 1780s to the 1860s
      (pp. 48-68)

      Among the earliest learned societies, both in Britain and abroad, there is evidence of an anthropological interest in music of non-Western cultures from the 1780s. William Jones, renowned scholar of Indian languages, literature, and philosophy, supreme court judge in Bengal from 1783 and founder of The Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784, published Francis Fowke’s “On the Vina or Indian Lyre” in the first issue of the society’sAsiatick Researchesin 1788. Not long afterward, he published his own work, “On the Musical Modes of the Hindoos” in the third issue of the same journal in 1792. Gerry Farrell, in...

  8. Part 2: Musicology in Transition to Evolution

    • Chapter Four Cultural Anthropology after Darwin
      (pp. 71-77)

      Without question, anthropology was irrevocably changed by Darwin. Where previously anthropology remained disparate both in its theoretical and professional constructions, after Darwin it emerged as a unified intellectual discipline. This is not to suggest that evolutionary theory was uniformly accepted, nor that it provided an immediately unifying methodological framework for understanding anthropology. What it did do, however, was to focus anthropological minds on a single idea that spanned the full conceptual horizon. As Harris says, Darwin “put together an argument for the evolution of species that was unprecedented in detail, accuracy, and scope.”¹ At the same time, it completely undermined...

    • Chapter Five From Travel Literature to Academic Writing: Anthropology in the Musical Press from the 1830s to the 1930s
      (pp. 78-94)

      Non-Western music appears relatively often in the nineteenth-century musical press. Early nineteenth-century citations derive principally from travel literature, in both English and translation, reflecting the frequently Prichardian and degenerationist landscape of that genre. While these ideologies are embraced in theHarmoniconand theQuarterly Musical Magazine and Reviewin the early years of the nineteenth century, theMusical World, in contrast, encapsulates the often conflicted ideological complexities of mid-century as it begins to question the merits of comparative anthropology. TheMusical Timessees academic writing achieve hegemony over travel literature, and with it the development of evolutionary paradigms critiqued in...

    • Chapter Six Non-Western Music in General Music Histories: Progression toward Evolution
      (pp. 95-113)

      The same methodological features one observes in anthropological literature about music is found in work of a strictly musicological kind, principally because the same material is being used in both types of literature at roughly the same time. Unsurprisingly, early general histories of the period from the 1820s rely heavily on travel literature, and as such, evince all the characteristic ideologies of the genre. Among the earliest nineteenth-century histories of music to include reference to non-Western music is William Stafford’sA History of Music(1830 ). As Joep Bor says, Stafford’s book is remarkable in devoting almost a third “to...

    • Chapter Seven Histories of National Music (1): Henry Chorley and the Anthropological Background
      (pp. 114-128)

      Many of the issues that characterize general music histories are also found in general histories of national music: the “ancient or modern” confusion; the aesthetically deprecating tone; the inability to conceptualize systemic relationships with Western music; and most important, perhaps, the use of racist language as a vehicle for establishing ontological superiority. In this genre, as in general music histories, non-Western music continues to be used as a metaphor for aesthetic and moral inferiority, with Western music lurking in the Western imperial background as the gold standard for all national music. Two figures immediately come to mind in this genre,...

    • Chapter Eight Histories of National Music (2): Carl Engel and the Influence of Tylor
      (pp. 129-144)

      Carl Engel represents an altogether different view of national music. Unlike Chorley, who wrote from a more openly journalistic and populist standpoint, Engel was an organologist and musicologist, and considerably less tendentious. Perhaps the most significant scholar of non-Western organology and music of his age,¹ he compiled an extensive musical instrument collection, most of which eventually went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. An exhibition of instruments was given in 1872 for which he compiled a catalogue, and two years later he produced theDescriptive Catalogue of the Musical Instruments in the South Kensington Museum(1874). In addition to...

    • Chapter Nine Overcoming Spencer: Late-Century Theories of the Origin of Music
      (pp. 145-156)

      While Carl Engel sought to explain non-Western music within the context of comparative East–West research, underwritten by Tylorian concepts of cultural unity, he does not, like his predecessors, project a teleological historiography leading ineluctably from the primitive East to the civilized West. Nevertheless, conventional developmental teleologies remained fixed in musicological consciousness, and were subsumed into the increasingly popular debates about the origin and evolution of music. The well-recorded debates about the origins of music leave little doubt that non-Western music was considered a living fossil, and that modern European music was its direct and more developmentally evolved descendant. Indeed,...

  9. Part 3: Individualism and the Influence of Evolution:: Charles Samuel Myers and the Role of Psychology

    • Chapter Ten Charles Samuel Myers and the General Movement toward Individualism
      (pp. 159-176)

      Despite its prevalence toward the end of the century the type of universalism developing in Wallasheck and Glyn was not consensual among anthropologists or musicologists, and would not become consensual until it was harmonized with theories of individualism in the seminal work of the psychologist and forerunner of British ethnomusicology, Charles Samuel Myers. Through what became his theory of individual differences (known as differential psychology), Myers resists the assumption of universal human characteristics, and adopts a theory of human psychology predicated on identifying and celebrating human characteristics that give rise to personal identity and difference. At the same time, Myers...

    • Chapter Eleven From Individualism to Individual Differences
      (pp. 177-195)

      The growth of individualism found in anthropological literature is a microcosm of a larger intellectual tendency situating the individual within broader scientific methodologies. As Pitt Rivers’s previously cited criticisms of Rowbotham imply (see chapter 10), in anthropology individualism was increasingly subsumed into a Darwinian discourse. The same process occurs in psychology, and in the case of music it is typified by the emergence of the idea of a musical faculty. In the musical faculty, individualism and evolutionism coalesce into theories of the origin of music—of especial concern for Myers, in his efforts to define the beginnings of non-Western music....

    • Chapter Twelve The Psychological Writings and the Place of Evolution and Individual Differences
      (pp. 196-217)

      Bartlett, with an air of palpable disappointment, writes that Myers’s scientific writing was largely completed by the time he was forty—roughly halfway through his career. He divides what he calls Myers’s “scientific” writings into three clear categories: (1) expository; (2) ethnological with an experimental bias; and (3) strictly experimental. Although he does not provide copious examples of each category, it is clear that he perceives certain works as falling within these three categories quite distinctly.A Text-Book of Experimental Psychologyis an example of expository writing; the musicological and anthropological work from 1896 to 1913 is ethnological; and Myer’s...

    • Chapter Thirteen Myers’s Ethnomusicological Writings
      (pp. 218-246)

      As suggested earlier, Myers’s concentration on intervallic content in his ethnomusicological findings is a particularly noticeable feature of his work, because it is in the rhythmic content of the music that he suggests one finds a heightened complexity parallel to that of the harmonic (and ultimately polyphonic) content of European music. Nevertheless, it is from harmonic analysis that Myers is able to extrapolate theoretical underpinnings that explain the evolution of primitive music. The emphasis on intervallic analysis is also important in light of Myers’s theoretical and methodological conviction in individual differences. For the intervals, and their own individual differences, by...

  10. Part 4: Retaining Cultural Identity:: A. H. Fox Strangways and the Problems of Transcription

    • Chapter Fourteen Transcription and the Problems of Translating Musical Culture
      (pp. 249-260)

      The universalizing, yet individualizing, tendencies that evolved out of Myers’s synthesis of evolutionism and individual differences culminate in the work of A. H. Fox Strangways, and in particular his magnum opusThe Music of Hindostan(1914 ). Indeed, there is evidence that the two exchanged ideas and offered one another advice.¹ Where Myers, however, derived his sense of individualizing universalism principally from the intellectual landscape of anthropology and psychology, Fox Strangways drew upon the fertile and largely unploughed field of translation. Where this is most evident is in Fox Strangways’s approach to transcription.

      When Martin Clayton discusses Fox Strangways’sThe...

    • Chapter Fifteen A. H. Fox Strangways and Attitudes Toward Song Translation
      (pp. 261-276)

      Implicit in Day’s conception of transcription is an aim to universalize music, and it is this type of universalism that Fox Strangways seems to imbibe. Hipkins, for example, suggests that Day does more than situate Indian music within the framework of Western national music scholarship. He universalizes music by equalizing the Western perception of previously marginalized Eastern musics:

      He [Day] shows us the existence of a really intimate expressive melodic music, capable of greatest refinement of treatment, and altogether outside the experience of the Western musician. What we learn from such inquiries is that the debated opinions of musical theorists,...

    • Chapter Sixteen Fox Strangways and The Music of Hindostan
      (pp. 277-290)

      As Martin Clayton suggests, the putative relationship between translation and transcription in Fox Strangways is problematical:

      It is tempting, moreover, to see Fox Strangways’s whole project in terms of his passions for translation. Musical sound is, of course, untranslatable: a musical transcription is essentially a graphic representation of a temporal, sonic form, whereas a text transcription, however unsatisfactory, attains the status of a linguistic text in its own right. It is often argued, of course, that much literature is also “untranslatable” and can in fact only be transformed into essentially new literary products. The difficulties of literary translation are, however,...

  11. Epilogue: The “Ethnomusicology” in Long Nineteenth-Century Representations of Non-Western Music
    (pp. 291-302)

    As this book attempts to show, the representation of non-Western music in nineteenth-century Britain was influenced by a wide array of contemporary discourses and ideologies, including theories of noble simplicity, monogenism, polygenism, the comparative method, degenerationism, developmentalism, evolutionism, individualism, and universalism. While among historians of ethnomusicology it is generally recognized that these methods of interpreting non-Western musical cultures informed modes of representation in travel literature and more academic literature of the period, it is not generally acknowledged that the figures discussed in this book—especially Myers and Fox Strangways—were more than mere antecedents in a progression toward modern ethnomusicology....

  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 303-332)
  13. Index
    (pp. 333-344)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 345-351)