World Music Textbooks in the Twentieth Century

October 1, 2000

Music Cultures of the PacificMusic of the Whole EarthMusic of Many CulturesWorlds of MusicExcursions in World Music


Book title: Ancient and Oriental Music
Book author: Wellesz, Egon, ed.
ISBN: 0-1931-6301-2
TISBN: 0193163012

Book title: Festival of Oriental Music and the Related Arts
Book author: Anon.

Book title: Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents
Book author: Bruno Nettl
ISBN: 0-13-323247-6
TISBN: 0133232476

Book title: Music Cultures of the Pacific, the near East, and Asia
Book author: Malm, William
ISBN: 0-13-608000-6
TISBN: 0136080006

Book title: Music of the Whole Earth
Book author: Reck, David
ISBN: 0-306-80749-1
TISBN: 0306807491

Book title: Musics of Many Cultures: An Introduction
Book author: Elizabeth May, ed.
ISBN: 0-520-04778-8
TISBN: 0520047788

Book title: Musics of Many Cultures: Study Guide and Workbook
Book author: Dale Olsen
ISBN: 0-7872-1245-8
TISBN: 0787212458

Book title: Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World's Peoples
Book author: Jeff Todd Titon, ed.
ISBN: 0-0287-2612-X
TISBN: 002872612X

Book title: Excursions in World Music
Book author: Bruno Nettl
ISBN: 0-13-230632-8
TISBN: 0132306328


Wellesz, Egon, ed. Ancient and Oriental Music. The New Oxford History of Music, Volume 1. London: Oxford University Press. xxiii; 530 pp.

Anon. Festival of Oriental Music and the Related Arts. Los Angeles: University of California. 68 pp.

Nettl, Bruno. Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 213 pp.

Second ed. (1973) ISBN 1-13-322933-5; xiii; 258 pp.
Third ed. (1990) ISBN 0-13-323247-6; vx; 286 pp.

Malm, William. Music Cultures of the Pacific, the near East, and Asia. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 169 pp.

Second ed. (1977) ISBN 0-13-608000-6; xv; 236 pp.

Reck, David. Music of the Whole Earth. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 0-68-414631-2; xi; 545 pp.

Reprint edition (Da Capo Press, 1997) ISBN 0-306-80749-1; xi; 545 pp.

May, Elizabeth, ed. Musics of Many Cultures: An Introduction. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-04778-8; xix; 434 pp.

Olsen, Dale. Musics of Many Cultures: Study Guide and Workbook. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. (1993) ISBN 0-7872-1245-8; xi; 226 pp.

Titon, Jeff Todd, ed. Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World's Peoples.New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-02-872600-6; xviii; 325 pp.

Second ed. (1992) ISBN 0-02-872602-2; xxiv; 469 pp.
Third ed. (1996) ISBN 002872612X; 536 pp.

Nettl, Bruno, et al. Excursions in World Music. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-299025-3; vii; 340 pp.

Second ed. (1997) ISBN 0-13-230632-8; xii; 340 pp.

A major development in the college music curriculum during the second half of the twentieth century was the introduction of the world music survey course. Often called "Music of the World's Cultures" or "Introduction to World Music," this course typically exposes students to a wide variety of musical sounds, genres, and practices from many cultures, while exploring some of the ways in which music shapes, and is shaped by, human experience. The world music survey for undergraduate students first began to be offered at American colleges and universities during the 1950s (Bruno Nettl, personal communication). Initially, the course was directed at upper division music majors, because it was thought that students should acquire substantial background in European art music before learning about other traditions. The course gradually became reoriented toward lower-division music majors, and by 1970, it began to be offered to general undergraduates at any level. As the goals and methods of teaching world music have changed, so have its textbooks. This essay sketches the history of world music textbooks from their antecedents through current titles, and suggests how these texts have helped define and reinforce developments in the teaching of world music.

In the early years of the world music survey, textbooks were not available, although some faculty members could have assigned readings from The New Oxford History of Music, an eleven-volume series modeled on the Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft and edited by Ernst Bken (Wildpart-Potsdam: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion, 1928-34). Volume I of The New Oxford History of Music, Ancient and Oriental Music edited by Egon Wellesz (London: Oxford University Press, 1957), contains eleven chapters on topics such as primitive music (Marius Schneider), the music of China (Laurence Picken), and the music of India (Arnold Bake). The volume includes numerous musical transcriptions and photographs, as well as a bibliography. The chapters on Asian musics are heavily oriented toward music history and theory, while the chapter on primitive music addresses concepts such as musical evolution, totemism, instrument classification, and the origin of polyphony. Intended for "the professed student of music" (p. vii), Ancient and Oriental Music uses technical terms and assumes considerable musical knowledge; in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it could have been used by professional scholars, graduate students, and some upper-division music majors, but it is not designed for general readers. Another precursor to world music textbooks, the Festival of Oriental Music and the Related Arts (Los Angeles: University of California, 1960), offers enhanced program notes for a two-week series of lectures and concerts sponsored by the UCLA Music Department. This slim book contains ten brief essays on the musical cultures represented at the festival, such as "Music in Bali" (Colin McPhee) and "Persian Classical Music" (Hormoz Farhat). The essays are illustrated by photographs, line drawings, and two musical examples. This book could have been assigned as supplemental reading in a world music survey, but would not have served as a primary textbook.

As these early publications suggest, the need for a world music textbook appropriate for use with undergraduate students had become apparent by 1960. In 1962, Prentice-Hall commissioned Bruno Nettl and William Malm to write the first world music textbooks as part of the History of Music series, a set of eleven paperbacks for use in undergraduate music courses. Nettl and Malm divided the world in half, each covering as much terrain as possible. Nettl introduces the traditional musics of Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Americas in Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965). Malm covers the eastern hemisphere, including Australia and the Pacific Islands, in Music Cultures of the Pacific, the Near East, and Asia (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1967).

Nettl begins Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents with two chapters discussing general issues and concepts in the study of world music, such as oral tradition, historical process, cultural context, style description, and research methods. The remainder of the book provides a sampling of musical genres, instruments, and performance contexts from each geographical region in the western hemisphere. The book is illustrated with musical transcriptions as well as line drawings of instruments. Each chapter concludes with an annotated bibliography and discography. In 1973, Nettl published a second edition, incorporating new information on the role of music in culture, folk musics in urban settings, and a chapter on Latin American music by Gérard Béhague. The third edition (1990) was revised by Valerie Goertzen, who further expanded the book and updated the reference material.

In his companion volume, Malm states that he has "looked directly at the musical sounds and tried to find out where they come from, how they make sense, and how one can learn to appreciate them" (p. xi). Malm incorporates ethnomusicological concepts into the body of the text, rather than introducing them in a preliminary chapter. He emphasizes the music theory of Asia and the Near East, such as the Indian raga system and the Arabic maqamat. In other respects, Music Cultures of the Pacific, Near East, and Asia is similar in form and content to Nettl's book, featuring musical transcriptions, line drawings of instruments, and annotated bibliographies and discographies. Malm published a revised, second edition of Music Cultures of the Pacific, Near East, and Asia in 1977. On a personal note, the Nettl and Malm books were used in the world music survey I myself took as an undergraduate twenty-six years ago.

The Prentice-Hall books, each written by a single author covering a vast territory, reflect the goals and methods of teaching world music during the 1960s and early 1970s. The purpose of the survey was to expose upper-division music majors to as wide a variety of musical sounds, instruments, and performance practices as possible, emphasizing theoretical concepts and style analysis. Students were expected to know a good deal about Western art music before studying the rest of the world's music, and the assumption that they could read European notation is reflected in the generous use of musical transcriptions. During the 1970s, the orientation of the world music survey shifted toward lower-division music majors and general students. In response, textbooks began to feature a stronger contextual component and a more practical, experiential approach.

The first world music textbook aimed at general undergraduates was Music of the Whole Earth by David Reck (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1977). Reck eschews the geographical approach for organization by musical topics. The first part of the book discusses music as a human universal, musical origins, definitions of music, and musical instruments. The second part addresses components of musical style, including time elements, melody, timbre, texture, ensembles, and form. Each chapter provides suggestions for further reading and the book is richly illustrated with photographs and line drawings. Since Reck does not assume that students can read European notation, he uses his own form of graphic notation to convey visual information about music. In addition, Reck offers instructions for building a variety of instruments, reflecting his hands-on approach to teaching world music. Music of the Whole Earth was reprinted as an unabridged paperback by Da Capo Press in 1997.

The first world music textbooks were each written by a single author who did not claim expertise in every culture surveyed. The textbook that broke this mold was Musics of Many Cultures: An Introduction, edited by Elizabeth May (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980). Each of the book's twenty chapters is written by an acknowledged authority on the musical area under discussion. The chapters are individualistic in terms of scope and content; some focus on a particular village, others on a country or even an entire continent, depending upon the author's interests and orientation. Each chapter includes a glossary of terms, bibliography, discography, and filmography. The book contains many photographs, line drawings, musical transcriptions, and analytical diagrams. In addition, this book includes maps showing the location of different ethnic or linguistic groups in a given area. May's other major innovation is the provision of audio recordings keyed to musical examples discussed in the text. Dale Olsen prepared a handbook entitled Musics of Many Cultures: Study Guide and Workbook (Dubuque: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 1993; 2d. ed., 1995). For each chapter in May's book, Olsen provides a summary, list of terms, questions to test reading comprehension, listening exercises, suggested video excerpts, and sample test questions.

May's book was soon followed by Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World's Peoples, edited by Jeff Titon (New York: Schirmer Books, 1984). Even more tightly focused than the May book, Worlds of Music presents essays on the musics of Native North America (David McAllester), sub-Saharan Africa (James Koetting), African America (Jeff Titon), Eastern Europe (Mark Slobin), and South India (David Reck). The book begins with an introduction to the study of world music and concludes with a chapter on conducting a fieldwork project. Unlike May's book, Worlds of Music maintains consistency among its chapters. Each chapter includes an introductory overview of the region, a discussion of musical style and instruments, the life story of one particular musician, a detailed description of music in specific social contexts, and information on recent developments. Most of the authors provide directions for building and playing musical instruments from the cultures they discuss. The book is illustrated with photographs, line drawings, musical transcriptions, analytical diagrams, and song texts and translations, and each chapter concludes with suggestions for reading and listening. The two cassettes that accompany this book are among its most valuable features, including unusual material from the authors' field recordings, such as postal workers canceling stamps at the University of Ghana post office.

The second edition of Worlds of Music, published in 1992, is revised as well as expanded by the addition of chapters on Indonesia (R. Anderson Sutton), East Asia (Linda Fujie), and Latin America (John Schechter), so that the book's coverage now includes eight musical cultures. The accompanying recordings are similarly augmented and the music is now available on both cassette and compact disk. The third edition, published in 1996, substitutes a new chapter on African music (David Locke) for the original, and the chapter on central and southeastern Europe (Mark Slobin) features substantial revisions. Worlds of Music is now available through Wadsworth Publishing Company, which acquired the Schirmer music textbooks in 1999. Wadsworth plans to publish a new, shorter edition of the book in 2001.

The most recent world music textbook is Excursions in World Music by Bruno Nettl, Charles Capwell, Isabel Wong, Thomas Turino, and Philip Bohlman (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1992). This book is directed at undergraduate students and general readers with no technical background in music. The first chapter provides general information on the study of world music, followed by ten chapters on major musical areas, introducing all of the world's musics with the exception of Australia and the Pacific Islands. One of the best features of this book is that each chapter begins with a detailed description of a musical event that is broadly representative of the culture area being introduced. For example, the chapter on Indian music describes what it is like to attend a concert in Calcutta, while the chapter on North American folk musics describes the annual Pittsburgh Folk Festival. Each chapter also surveys the cultures and societies of the region and presents general information on musical ideas, style, history, and instruments, a description of selected genres and performance contexts, and recent developments. The book's most radical feature is that it is the first world music text to incorporate European art music. The book is illustrated with photographs and some diagrams, but since it is oriented toward readers without technical background in music, it includes few musical examples. Each chapter concludes with a bibliography and discography, and two cassette recordings accompany the volume.

Prentice-Hall published a second edition of Excursions in World Music in 1997. The book has been revised in several ways, including the addition of maps and a glossary, and the integration of the companion recordings into the text. The recordings are now available on compact disk as well as cassette, and a separate instructor's manual has been prepared by Margaret Sarkissian. The instructor's manual offers valuable suggestions for building both listening skills and musical knowledge through a series of assignments that engage students as active learners. Sarkissian summarizes the content of each chapter and highlights key concepts and listening skills, provides additional explanation for recorded examples, and offers further suggestions for listening and videos. The appendix includes sample test questions.

The world music survey has undergone considerable change since its introduction in the 1950s. Today, the course is directed primarily at general undergraduates, with the twin goals of developing global musical literacy and an appreciation for what it means to be human, across cultures and around the world. The two books most widely used now, Worlds of Music and Excursions in World Music, each have particular strengths and merits. Choosing which one to use at a given institution depends upon considerations such as the faculty member's background and training, the prevailing student culture, the academic calendar in use, the library resources available, and so on. The next generation of world music textbooks is already being developed, and it will be interesting to see the new approaches they bring to the teaching of world music in the twenty-first century.

4139 Last modified on October 17, 2018