Ph.D. Qualifying Examination:
Folklore and Ethnomusicology
These essays were written in one day during two four-hour sessions, with a one-hour break
between Part I and Part II. You can see how my writing skills and intellectual acumen declined
over the course of the ordeal! They still awarded me a "High Pass", however (almost everybody
got a "High Pass" that year).
Part I: Folklore Theory and Materials
Q: Barbro Klein has written that American folklore scholarship since 1960 has been marked
and advanced mainly by two ideas: performance and material culture. Is she right?
It takes some doing to divide thirty-four years of Folklore scholarship into two broad
categories, and the heroine attempting this quest will be obliged to sacrifice some points and
textures in favor of others in making her choice. Barbro Klein has chosen performance and
material culture, and with just cause from a theoretical standpoint. Performance theory,
however debated in its definition and efficacy, has played a major role in the re-envisioning of
folklore that began to be aroused in the late 1950's; and "material culture" is perhaps as good a
term as any to use as a bin for those who have not pursued performance as an orientation in their
projects. I would argue, however, that these two terms fail to catch the tenor of folkloric
discussions since 1960, which have been so concerned with new definitions of folklore materials
and approaches, and with the expansion of the discipline into dimensions of power and identity
not overtly discussed in traditional Folklore.
Some thirty years ago, the basic ideas of Folklore --what the discipline studies, what its
concerns should be, what the word itself means-- were being challenged by a group of scholars
whom Richard Dorson dubbed "the Young Turks". Theoretically their concern was to re-orient
folklore studies from a focus on text and object (something to be collected, dissected, and
compared to other specimens) to a perspective based on process and context: how the things
folklorists study are made, received, and understood, not over the reaches of time and place but
in the original communities at the times of performance. What began as a concern for more
attention to context --an insistence that there was more to folklore than a text, words transcribed
and edited on paper-- became the peformance theory articulated and demonstrated by Dell
Hymes, Richard Bauman, Linda Degh and others. It also became the rather different brand of
analysis espoused by Alan Dundes in his more psychological orientation to the whys of folklore,
and, parallel with Hymes, to its textures. Through their work we have received a revised set of
assumptions: folklore is done by people for people; folklore is grounded in community
dynamics and in dynamics of meaning; folklore is not static. "Performance" alone does not
capture the full extent of these assumptions, but its suggestive capabilities (which have made it
so useful as a rubric for theory) make Klein's choice effective.
If "material culture" is meant to describe the impulses in folklore that do not lead to
performance studies, it too is suggestive while falling short of the mark. Henry Glassie's Folk
Housing in Middle Virginia is, by its title, a material culture study, but the author's intentions are
not simply to look at forms of architecture. Glassie uses old houses as a means of exploring the
minds of the people who made them, who are no longer around to be interviewed for emic
associations, but whose works sprang from their mental and thus cultural models of what a
house should be and do --a structuralist, historical study of the forms of folklore and their
significations; a "reading" of form in houses. Michael Owen Jones' study of chairmakers in
Kentucky is similarly something of a mixed breed: a material culture study that applies
principles of performance analysis to the understanding of what these chairs mean to the folks
who make them. Broad categories always break down when faced with the idiosyncracies of
specific examples, and Klein is not to be faulted for this phenomenon; it is difficult to make
human things sit still in our categories. Her choice suggests, however, that "performance" and
"material culture" represent exclusive or separate impulses in folklore since 1960, which does
not hold true. I would make the additional point that the scholarly motivation of revising old
approaches to emphasize mind, context, and communication in folklore, is more significant for
the marking and advancing of folklore scholarship since 1960 than the broad descriptive
categories of "performance" and "material culture".
One significant aspect of current folklore scholarship which Klein's two terms fail to
address is the growing interest in issues of power and authority: nationalism, gender studies, and
popular culture. She might have done well to follow Elliott Oring's lead and use "identity" as her
second term, rather than material culture, since "identity" has recently become something of an
umbrella for problems in nation/ethnicity, gender, and popular/mass culture. While not every
study in these areas is concerned specifically with power dynamics, the categories have been
linked in a more general way by the ideas of control and subversion: who has authority over
whom, how people are allowed to define themselves, and how people claim power in who they
are. How would the Journal of Folklore Research number on gender, edited by Beverly Stoeltje,
fit into Klein's two categories, for example? Or Chris Waterman's historical and economic
ethnography of Yoruba juju music, which specifically addresses both the construction of pan-Yoruba identity and the socioeconomic inequities built into the performance of the genre (a
topic folklorists have traditionally been unwilling to address)? Considering the vigor of this
movement in folklore studies, it seems inappropriate to attempt subsuming it under
Much of the tone, the richness, of any body of work is lost when we reduce ourselves to
generalities. For those of us whose orientation in life, and whose attraction to the discipline of
folklore, is largely fueled by those very qualities of tone and texture, efforts such as Klein's ring
hollow, although perhaps useful. While her division of folklore scholarship cites "performance"
and "material culture" as ideas marking and advancing the discipline, I believe the terms work
more effectively as categories of study than as motivating ideas, and as categories omit too much
of currect discussion in the discipline.
Q: It is often claimed that the three fields of study that have had the greatest impact on the
development of folklore as a discipline are anthropology, linguistics, and literary studies.
Discuss the ways in which any one of these areas has affected concepts and theoretical
approaches in folklore.
Folklore studies arose out of an interdisciplinary body of scholars interested in the folk
cultures of Europe as the treasury of each nation's character, and in the traditions native to
America, as a museum of man. Anthropology, linguistics, and literature combined in a
sometimes unfriendly union, each with its own slant on the materials at hand. Linguistics and its
literary cousin philology have played central roles in the development of Folklore at several
points along its career. Linguistics' influence has been valued and sought due to a perceived
precision and solidity of method, and because of the explanatory attraction of certain theories
such as generative grammar. From the Brothers Grimm to Dell Hymes to Chomskian theory,
linguistics and linguists continue to make major contributions to folklore.
Friedrich and Wilhelm Grimm were primarily linguists, not folklorists; they collected
their texts in a study of German dialectal variation, in addition to having a certain interest in the
material. The great Indo-Europeanist movement was led by comparative language studies, and
used folklore texts as evidence for an ancient cultural origin of European languages and cultures
in northern India. This massive scholarly effort inspired the diffusionists and the Finnish school
of historic-geographic folktale scholarship both in theory and in method: collect and compare
texts to determine genetic relationships and discover paths of travel. The folklorists' interest in
texts as representative of larger links across time and space, and the search for original forms,
came from linguistics; the attention to language use and to bodies of tradition came from
philology. These two aspects of scholarship were to define much of folklore study into the mid-twentieth century, providing us with such leading scholars as the Krohns, Richard Dorson, and
Folklorists and anthropologists alike looked to linguistics as an older, more established,
more respectable discipline (even when some decided linguistics was a sub-branch of
anthropology). Linguistic theory has been seen as scientific, based on data-gathering like a
"hard" science such as biology or chemistry, and with a firm theoretical basis for analysis.
Linguists themselves dispute this attribution, but the reputation has remained. The historic-geographic method was appealing in part because of this linguistically-related scientific
precision, with its specific mission and method. Literary and cultural study of traditional
materials now had a distinct path and prestigious path to follow.
History with its love of irony presents us with a second variety of linguistic influence,
which participated in the great rebellion against the original linguistically-influenced
folkloristics. Linguistic theory about grammar motivated Vladimir Propp's study of the
morphology of folktales, melding an interest in the materials of the tale --the motifs-- with a
curiosity in how those materials are put together. The translation of Propp's work into English
fortuitously coincided with the first stirrings of a new orientation in folklore to context and
performance, contributing a linguistic perspective to Alan Lord's oral-formulaic theory of epic
construction. The work of sociolinguist Dell Hymes brought these ideas into focus, proposing
the concept of peformance as a state of action requiring responsibility to tradition as well as
individual creativity, in his studies on linguistic style in oral texts.
As this revised brand of folklore approach formed and matured, and the Dorson and
Thompson styles of linguistic-literary scholarship were rejected, folklore struggled again for a
professional legitimacy, a methodological standard. Alongside the development of performance
theory and other contextually-oriented methodologies sprang up a new influence from
linguistics. Noam Chomsky's transformational grammar became very popular in the early
1970's, with its emphasis on performative competence, the well-formed sentence, and the rules
which generate forms. This last idea was the most potent for folklorists: here was a new way to
understand the genres we deal with, to analyze them with emic appropriateness rather than in the
bad old way of museum-style classification. Simply discover the underlying rules for the
syntactic structure of each form, and you will have the definition of the genre, or simply of the
performance event, not limited to oral texts. While linguists would argue that this was an
overextension of a partly-understood theory, it has still worked well for folklorists.
Linguistics is surely one of the taproots of folklore scholarship, and its influence has
been relied upon for both trail-blazing and road maintenance in the discipline. Its historical role
in the development of folkloristics remains significant, and folklore remains an interdisciplinary
endeavor. While we are one hopes beyond the point of requiring other disciplines' theories to
prop up our academic image, drawing on many ways of thinking will continue to be one of
folklore's primary strengths.
Q: Elliott Oring has argued that the problem of identity has provided a consistent orientation in
folklore scholarship from the beginning to the present. Select any other term that focuses
folkloristic scholarship --tradition, say, or performance, genre, art, community, culture, or any
other-- and develop an argument that exhibits the degree to which the concept provides a sense
of continuity in the history of folkloristic practice.
While Elliott Oring's selection of identity as the unifying problem for folklore
scholarship throughout its history indicates a primary consideration of our own times, I would
propose an alternative I feel to be somewhat more coherent: communication. While
"communication" is also a modernist/post-modernist term in contemporary folkloristics, it
encompasses the intentions of earlier scholars when one remembers to ask the question,
"Communication of what?"; or, "Communication how?" For some it has been the
communication of a collective national spirit, for others the communication of the themes and
motifs of various texts, for others perhaps the communication of worldview or the words of the
ancestors. However one feels about the exigencies of summing up diverse and idiosyncratic
scholarship with one word (and however many words that could be made to work well with a
little hammering), the exercise is valuable as it requires us to review the work and thought of
various scholars and find their points of contact.
In the beginnings of romantic nationalism, Herder spoke of folklore as the repository of a
nation's spirit. From that perspective, the telling of tales and epics, the speaking of proverbs, the
making of houses and bowls, speaks about what it means to be the particular kind of person to
whom those particular kinds of tales, proverbs, and bowls belong. The Grimm brothers
collected German Marchen to study dialect, but published them to share the treasury of lore that
belonged to the German people and could be compared with that of others. The Child ballads
represent a similar study in heritage, a repertoire of expressive culture that communicates
images and conventions of imagination (Child was not looking at the tunes). In these kinds of
studies we are exploring the communication of tradition --in this case, the scholar as
representative of the vast generalized collective of the folk.
The diffusionist scholars were also studying the communication of tradition, but with the
aim of discovering origins. The historic-geographic method provided a means for such scholars
as Karl Krohn and Antti Aarne to follow the path of a tale, to see how it had been handed down
through generations and across space. Here communication is not about the people but about an
abstraction of the tale itself, how it gets communicated and in what form. Stith Thompson
dedicated his academic life to this pursuit, collecting and collating the pieces intended for
communication. Scholars like Richard Dorson were interested as well in regional style, another
side of the "how" of communication.
Albert Lord was interested in the "how" from yet another angle: for him the interest lay
in how the epic singer constructs his performance of his text --what the performer decides to
communicate out of the traditional pattern, depending on his audience and the nature of the
setting. Dan Ben-Amos defined folklore as "artistic communication in small groups", and Dell
Hymes included communication as one of the domains of his definition as well. Hymes' work is
largely based on what happens when someone tells somebody else a story, how the teller
becomes a performer, and what the stories indicate. Modern performance theory makes this
interest more specific, studying the how of communication in a particular event or for a
particular genre or performer, and expands the "what" beyond verbal text to include kinesics,
proxemics, nature of the audience, etc. The rebellion against the collection-based traditional
folklore scholarship was based in part on a demand for meaning --what are these materials we
study supposed to be saying, what do they say to people who make and receive and use them?
Again, the central concern is communication (what is being communicated, and how), only the
terms of advancement have been changed from texts and objects to people and ideas.
A multitude of examples can be given of the different aspects of communication which
folklorists have studied in the last few decades. Alan Dundes has proposed "Folk Ideas as Units
of Worldview", the basic materials of folkloric communication; Gary Gossen has pursued the
emic definition of genres as a more appropriate means of understanding categories of
communication. Ruth Stone's Let the Inside Be Sweet follows the means performers use to cue
each other, a more hidden level of communication. John McDowell's Sayings of the Ancestors
explores the esoteric sayings of the Sibundoy Indians as indicators of cosmology and history
among the people, and as strategies of survival in an age requiring a certain syncretism. Beverly
Stoeltje's studies of rodeo examine the ideas conveyed in the symbolism and structure of rodeo
events as ritual.
Folklore research is largely an effort to be communicated to, to understand (and be able
to articulate to other scholars) what this event or genre or house or place or group of people
means. If the doing of folklore, the materials of folkore, are about communicating features of
cosmology, history, aesthetics, behavior standards, and identity, then the study of folklore is
about learning how to be communicated to, and how in turn to communicate that knowledge
back to academia. "Communication" can represent almost every aspect of what folklorists do
and what folklorists study, and so is a very handy term for summing up the discipline. While it
must be stretched (as any term would be) to cover all the bases, it has served the purpose of this
Part II: Ethnomusicology
Q: One of the purposes behind transcription is to allow for the comparative study of music
across genres and/or cultures. Describe two scholars' approaches to transcription and cite the
advantages and disadvantages of those approaches in terms of comparative study.
Musical transcription is a primary tool for ethnomusicological study, and approaches to
transcription are often heavily weighted by theoretical and methodological concerns. What are
we attempting to accomplish in the effort to translate musical sound into a written form, and
what do we hope to convey to those who examine the results of our efforts? Techniques chosen
to fulfill these purposes can range widely in appearance and application, depending on the intent
of the researcher. A written record allows not only for representation but for comparison.
Charles Seeger and James Koetting provide two very different examples of how transcription
methods respond to the needs of the comparatist.
Charles Seeger's generous intellect covered wide-ranging ground during his many years
of writing about music and experimenting with its representation. He was a founding member of
the American Comparative Musicology Society, and had a deep interest in examining music in
its entirety as a human phenomenon. He made the distinction between descriptive and
prescriptive transcription, i.e., that which represents a performance in some of its aspects, and
that which can be used to reproduce a performance. His notations of music reflect his grounding
as a musicologist and his fine sense of form. He made both the detailed, exact variety of
transcriptions of which Bela Bartok was the master, and reduced notations, showing primary
notes of a melody, for instance, with indications of ornamentation. These reductions made it
easier to make the kind of comparisons between variations of a tune, and between tunes, that
allow for broader understanding of a genre or of the differences and similarities between
traditions, but they only went so far. This type of transcription could work well for melodically-oriented music, and for analyzing structural features, but had the same inherent weaknesses that
Western notation does in general: an infelicity as far as subtleties of rhythm and pitch are
concerned, and a near-total incapacity for textural or timbral aspects of music.
Seeger was deeply concerned with the problems of accuracy in notation, following
Hornbostel in the recognition that an ear trained in one music system cannot be relied upon to
discern the ways of music from an entirely different system. In his desire for a more objective
measure he developed the Melograph, a device that recorded sound vibrations onto film; the film
could then be viewed for a representation of frequencies, fundamentals, and harmonics. These
records proved awkward to use and reproduce, however, requiring grids to show pitch and time
markings for reference, and Seeger frequently juxtaposed the melograph record with a "noted"
transcription in order to make it easier to follow. It produced so much information that even for
a practiced reader it could be confusing on its own. The melograph provided a more textural
and complete representation of sound without the travail required by notation from the human
ear; its graphs could allow detailed comparison between different samples on a level not
possible with regular notation. The density of the data tends to defeat itself, however, requiring
additional explanation in other forms of transcription. The principles of the melograph live on
in computerized transcription such as the voice tracker, but as in Seeger's time these tools tend to
be used more by linguists and speech specialists than by ethnomusicologists. Comparison
requires clarity as well as precision.
An alternative to both the limitations of Western notation and the dense detail of
machine transcription is the invention of graphic representations for specific purposes. James
Koetting did just that when he pioneered the use of time boxes as an aid to analyzing rhythmic
patterns in African music. Each box represents a basic rhythmic pulse, or subdivision of the
prevailing rhythm such as two-against-three. A dot in the box indicates a beat on that pulse.
The different parts of an ensemble can then be arrayed to show the ways they overlap, tug at
each other, and contribute together to the overall rhythmic pattern. This method has the beauty
of a dual simplicity, both for the transcriber and for the reader. It has a tendency to make the
music look too "square", however, and as it has been used extensively as a teaching tool for non-African students of African drumming this can be considered a drawback. As a tool for
comparison it enables clear distinction of patterns, and is applicable across a wide variety of
styles. It is useful for discerning and representing rhythmic patterns, and this can be
indispensable for the EuroAmerican scholar who is not bred to interdependent rhythmic
complexity. Its restriction to rhythm, however, limits the scope of its applicability as a
comparative tool, just as standard Western notation excels at straightforward melodic
representation but is inadequate for styles focussed on other, or more subtle, musical properties.
Transcription will always be a defining problem for ethnomusicology, as long as we still
feel the need to show music on paper. Notation allows the researcher to focus her reader's
attention on specific features of the music, and allows for the same kind of focus in analysis.
Koetting's solution of the time box for rhythmic notation is a useful addition to the collection of
ethnomusicologists' tools, as was Seeger's melograph for showing us what we're missing. While
broad comparative studies have fallen out of fashion, I don't think we have forgotten their uses
entirely. Comparative study requires consistent representation of varied examples, and
ethnomusicologists with an interest in how people do things differently in different places will
continue to need reliable transcription techniques.
Q: Choose a topic for an ethnomusicological fieldwork project. Describe your purpose,
theoretical orientation, method, and plan of study. Suggest the potential contributions to the
Music can act as a potent symbol for belonging, for individual identification with a
particular group. I am interested in church music as an especially intense symbol of that kind, as
a defining expression for the church community, and as a symbol which members manipulate
and re-invent. I propose a comparative study of three congregations in Bloomington, Indiana:
Bethel A.M.E. Church, an African American church of which I am a member, and whose music
director is Dr. Mellonee Burnim and organist is Dr. Portia Maultsby, whose guidance I will
require in my project; the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, an evangelical charismatic movement
that sprang up in the early 1980's and produces its own music, where I have several friends; and
St. Thomas Lutheran Church, chosen in part as a "control group" but also because of Lutheran
history as the Vineyard of the 16th century, so to speak. All three of these churches feature
distinctive musical traditions and senses of historical and present identity. My purpose is to
explore the different musical styles of each church, to examine the rhetorical messages conveyed
by each music, and pursue the meaning of church membership and church music for the
Rhetoric does not require words. Features of music style can be just as indicative of
standards of cooperation and social structure as any explicit text (e.g., a responsorial song style
where the men initiate and women answer). Texts, of course, are important, but they are not the
only source of message for the church. Standards of dress and of body movement during
service, for example, can bear a great weight of meaning in defining membership in the group.
How space is arranged and filled, to take a lead from Ruth and Verlon Stone, can be indicative
as well of community standards and ideas. Gender and age role assignments tend to remain
unspoken but nonetheless known and enforced. Music in the church is attractive as a subject
because it bears specific core messages of worldview as religious performance; to sing in church
is at least theoretically to worship, to praise God and pronounce one's faith.
My theoretical base of operations will, as for most of us, be drawn from many sources.
Phenomenology offers me the idea that reality is socially constructed, that we make our
interpretations of the world together, that we have inner and outer time. Kenneth Burke's
Rhetoric of Religion and Peter Berger's religious meditations are helpful to me in my approaches
to church and identity. Victor Turner and Beverly Stoeltje's works have instructed me regarding
ritual structure. Erik Routley's extensive work on the meanings and applications of church
music as a community expression of faith have also been formative for me. Acculturation
theory in Christian missions scholarship will apply to my work in Bloomington as well, as I
examine how each church appropriates the gospel in its own terms. Mellonee Burnim's work
regarding gospel music and cultural aesthetics applies richly to my experience at Bethel, and
will continue to be a reference for me, and Mark Slobin's Chosen Voices on the American
cantorate remains a model of academic writing on sacred music.
My first duty will be a musical inventory of each church, surveying with the aid of audio
recording and transcription (and video, with permission) the styles performed during service, the
musical patterning of that service, and the observation of the social context surrounding musical
performance in the church. As I get to know people better I will begin to ask questions
regarding the meaning of music for the church, and how music works in understanding
membership there. What role does music have in the church? What is it supposed to do for the
congregation and the worship service? Who makes music in the church, and when? Where does
music performed in church come from, and who chooses it? What does music in church teach
you about what the church is and who you are in it? In what different ways does the church
arrange and use men and women, children, adults, and older people, in music-making and
otherwise? I will solicit interviews with the pastor and music directors of each church, as well
as rank and file members, and will attend choir rehearsals in order to observe the dynamics at
work there. And of course I will worship along with the congregants, and participate in their
music-making during service (not hiding the fact that I come also as a researcher).
A project like this one has much to contribute to ethnomusicology and to folklore.
Comparative studies have long been on the wane, but can offer much in the way of
understanding a common phenomenon, in this case church music. I look forward to being
surprised by some of the differences and similarities between these congregations, points of
contact and contrast which will drive my work. I am privileged to build on the work of the
scholars I follow, but believe I also have a unique perspective. My fascination has always been
the ways people make each other meaningful in groups --the fine balance of individual and
community which is at the heart of folklore studies and which I feel has not been explored in the
way I find most satisfying. I am interested in connections between people; in how individuals
respond to the standards and expectations of the groups they belong to; how memberships in
multiple groups interpenetrate and affect each other, both for the individual and for the groups
she identifies with; how groups position themselves in the world. The human creativity involved
in all of this is fascinating to me, as people work within and around both change and continuity.
I look forward to doing this work.
Q: Identify five (5) terms from the following list, emphasizing their definitions within the field of
ethnomusicology and citing particular scholars where appropriate: hemiola, comparative
musicology, mode, idiophone, urban music, event, hocket, ethno-musicology, music in/as
Five terms from the list provided can give us a summary of sorts of the history of
ethnomusicology, with examples from contemporary concerns: comparative musicology, ethno-musicology, music in/as culture, event, and urban music. Erich von Hornbostel is our first and
foremost exponent of comparative musicology, although Adler included the term as a sub-field
in his great definition of the aims of musicology in 1885. Comparative musicology was the first
formal name for what the people now called ethnomusicologists do. It designates the study of
music outside the European art music tradition, which is the proper assumed domain of
musicology; comparative, because such study acts as a counterpoint to and expansion of the
understanding of European music. Despite this bias in the term, many scholars who called
themselves comparative musicologists studied "primitive", "folk", or "exotic" music on its own
terms, without reference to a European standard.
Hornbostel relied for his comparative research primarily on recorded cylinders collected
by others and brought to his Phonogramarchiv in Berlin. He believed strongly in the danger of
cultural bias in studying music, and worked to refine methods of transcription and analysis. His
student, George Herzog, travelled to America and studied also with Franz Boas; Herzog joined
Charles Seeger and Helen Heffron Roberts in forming the American Comparative Musicology
Society in the 1930's, and a great body of work was done following the methods of the Berlin
School. The society eventually folded as World War II loomed.
Growing unrest with the term "comparative" musicology, when comparison was not
necessarily the aim of study, and an implied comparison with the West was not desired, led Jaap
Kunst to coin the term "ethno-musicology" in a treatise of the same name. Kunst had worked
with Hornbostel as well, and studied music in Indonesia. The term was meant to imply the study
of ethnic music, and the study of the ethnicity, or cultural-ness, of music. The hyphen was
shortly dropped, and the Society for Ethnomusicology was formed in the mid-1950s.
In 1964 Alan Merriam published his The Anthropology of Music and revised the
definition again, describing ethnomusicology as the study of music in culture, or even music as
culture. This led to some debate among those such as Richard Malm and Mantle Hood who
turned first to sound and structure in music, and then to the human equation as a supporting
dimension of meaning. The study of music in culture means to emphasize the cultural context
and production of music: music as a cultural phenomenon, an aspect of human behavior,
something people do. Music as culture means to see in music a cultural world of its own, with
standards and values particular to itself. John Blacking's definition of music as humanly
produced sound is related to the idea of music in/as culture.
Developments in performance theory have led to an orientation to "event" as a subject for
study, an event being a particular performance occasion, the social and physical site of a
performance. Ruth Stone studied Kpelle performance events in Let the Inside Be Sweet and
Dried Millet Breaking, examining the dynamics of performance and the nature of epic in those
events. In the first book her analysis of these events provided insights into how a performance is
organized, how it is evaluated, and how musicians orient both to each other and to patrons and
audience members during a performance. In Dried Millet Breaking the performance event of the
Woi epic gave an opportunity to study the way in which time is felt in the construction,
performance, and hearing of the epic, and to discern the aesthetic attributes of proper Kpelle
epic telling. J.H. Kwabena Nketia has described several Ghanaian performance events; the
famous film, "A Great Tree Has Fallen" depicts one event, the funeral of the Asante-hini. The
study of events, as examples of a genre or as miniature social laboratories, has been very rich for
Urban music represents the popular genres that develop in the modern setting of the city;
these genres are usually syncretic, and use technologies such as electrification and broadcasting.
The emergence of urban music as a fitting subject for ethnomusicologists represents another
important development in the discipline, the opening of popular music as legitimate for study.
Previously, such music was not considered quite appropriate because of its seeming lack of
cultural roots, and its reliance on instruments and techniques derived from the commercial
music industry. Yet many scholars have found urban music to be a rich field for
ethnomusicological endeavor, demonstrating the nature of cultural response to urbanization, and
the manner in which traditional aesthetics are adapted to new circumstances. Christopher
Waterman's socioeconomic ethnography of Yoruba juju music is a fine example of how much
such a study can contribute to the discipline, with its emphasis on history, identity, and on
aspects of power and poverty which scholars usually prefer to avoid.
These five terms have led us quickly through where ethnomusicology has come from in
the last 110 years or so, and into some of its major concerns today. Comparative musicology, a
name with formal recognition from the academy, became unsatisfactory in its implications;
ethno-musicology, offerred in its stead, became the new name without its hyphen, which is now
being debated in its turn. Music in/as culture describes how many ethnomusicologists perceive
the object of the discipline, although it can be protested as failing to give sufficient recognition
to the aural nature of music. "Event" allows a new way to get at how music is made; and "urban
music" leads to a new sub-field, popular music. Identifying these terms has provided a
pleasantly clarifying exercise.