Note: not quite to scale…
A true story to illustrate the parochial limitations of academic views of musical cultures of the world:
Way back in the days when ethnomusicology was Neither Profitable Nor Popular, a bright young expert on Korean music went to interview for a job at the Music Department of an English university. Besides his Korean speciality, he realized he should probably offer a wider course on East Asian music, to include China and Japan—a mere 3,000 years’ continuously-documented history of local folk, popular, and elite traditions.
The board politely commented that this was rather too limited, so he proposed he could do a yet broader course, on Asian music—further including south, southeast, and central Asia. Glancing at the map, these countries look quite small, don’t they—how hard can it be?
When they still felt this was too narrow, my friend asked, bemused:
“So what kind of courses have you been offering, then?”
The chair of the board eagerly replied:
“Well, last year we ran a very successful course on 19th-century English Art Song…”
For a similar debate at the New Grove dictionary of music and musicians, see here. I often observe the diverse soundscapes within China alone, as here. For more interview stories, click here.
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