Share your Fieldwork

The primary aim of Outreach Ethnomusicology is to share fieldwork research. Below is a list of items that are included for view by members of the community. 

Some of these articles are official documents of research which have been submitted to university departments, so they are set "not viewable" by the public, only registered members of outreach can view them. But, we welcome all sorts of articles within the interests of ethnomusicology, so please get in touch on if you think you would like to contribute.

When we receive documents, we usually will have a full read through, and then reply with a formatted version for the internet, ready to publish. How much exposure or access you want for your work will depend on your own needs, and we will publish or unpublish anything upon request. 

Thank you,




It's funny. When people ask what I'm interested in and I reply "ethnomusicology", it is always met with the same reaction (assuming they genuinely asked the question with an authentic desire to really know my answer)... "what?"

I like the response, and can't say that I hold them responsible for not knowing what it means. You see, I didn't even know there was a term or a title for that avenue of study. Little did I know, until a few years ago, that there are even degrees offered by a handful of institutions across the nation specializing in the pursuit.



Wikipedia, the online source for understanding that spews forth definitions and encyclopedic "knowledge", sometimes with no sources sited or referenced, says of ethnomusicology:

Ethnomusicology (from the Greek ethnos = nation and mousike = music), formerly comparative musicology, is the study of music in its cultural context. It can be considered the anthropology or ethnography of music. Jeff Todd Titon has called it the study of "people making music". It is often thought of as a study of non-Western musics, but can include the study of Western music from an anthropological perspective.


So that sums it up.


Well, that sums up the short description, it hardly sums up the understanding. Yet, I suppose my summation below makes things even less clear - mostly because I have a beginning and an end in mind, but I'm still discovering how it all connects.

But you know what, I hate "fuddy duddy" language and perfect sentence structure that shows off one's education (or lack thereof). So let me just say what's on my mind, street level:



Beginning: Music at it's core is self expression and is built within the human race




Ending: Music reaches it's full realization in the "community"


More about the "beginning":



Isn't it interesting that music predates almost everything?
I read somewhere that the oldest known song is called Seikilos and is inscribed on a gravestone, dating about 3,000 years ago... but, can you imagine human life without music or the need of self expression with even the most basic of tribal rhythms?
If you believe the Bible is correct, then music even existed in heaven long before the earth was even created.

Musicologists debate amongst themselves if music's genesis is an imitation of nature - for example a bird chirping draws out in humankind an irresistible need to copy the sounds.



Another school of thought says music is inherent just like the producing of vocal sound is in early development. You don't have to teach a baby to cry, it comes naturally. Without being taught, the child learns to escalate their voice or "coo" depending on mood or desires
I lean toward this notion.

More about the "ending":

What is the history of the concert? Why is the same music enjoyed by the masses? Why does the musician feel a need to record and/or perform their music for an audience or someone - anyone?

I maintain that if a musician writes a song, practices it, crafts it to satisfaction and then throws it away to never be heard again by another person's ears - then this "musician" has lost sight of his or her inherent direction.

A close friend of mine once posed the question to me: "Does music enter your house, or do you enter its house?" Take for example, a CD changer playing 10 different discs with random tracks. The CD player is blaring these songs in an empty house. The speakers are on, the music is playing, no question that the sound is ON, but there is not a living soul present to consume it. I know this is like the cliche question of "if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" - but the question itself provides answers that really do illuminate the path.

After a lively discussion that went on for months with late night contemplations, I believe we agreed that music enters your house.

Why do some folks like bluegrass and others hate the stuff? Why do some people only listen to hard rock and metal and others see it only as primitive garbage?

Well, because you're drawn to what is within you already. Let's not forget, music is art - and just like a painting, we know what we like. We see something in a painted canvas that attracts us, intrigues us or captures us. Some people see nothing in Pollock's art, but will turn right around and spend thousands on a Kinkade.

The same applies to music, and there is no music that appeals to only one person - every genre and style is enjoyed by groups.

So, knowing this about music, and knowing that music only enters the house (you) of the one who identifies with it. I think it's safe to conclude that music's true purpose is realized in community.



So for the rest of my life, I suppose I will be filling in the gaps between this beginning and end. I will try to find the quality in every piece of music I hear. I will try to grasp the screaming vengeance of Rob Halford and the happy yet saddened banjo of Bela Fleck. I'll reach for the sky and try to understand the complex grappling of emotions that Mozart expressed in his symphonies and I will savor the simplicity of Robert Johnson's wailing guitar. I'll close my eyes and try to feel the pain of Bessie Smith. I also want to revisit the music I excused in my youth - and I mean it! Here I come Liza Minnelli, Tom Jones and Bing!
Perry Como, I hated your stuff the first time I heard it, let me see what I might've missed. I'm not looking forward to it, but I will take on the challenge to give Herb Alpert another listen - maybe even Polka. Do I have to check out Show Tunes too? You betcha
I don't plan to stop with readily accessible State side pieces either! I want to understand the complex progressions of Bhajan, Uzun Hava, Ragas and the like.

If someone recorded the music, no matter how horrible I might think it is, at some point someone saw value in that voice, saw quality in that written song and felt the need to put it down forever in a recording... the least I can do is try to see it the same way they did - even if just for the moment.

Martin De Bourge is a vocalist from the United States of America. Visit his myspace at: or on facebook: