To date, the major of ethnomusicology is still debatable among experts. Some experts consider that the major of ethnomusicology is: “ethnical music “; “traditional music”; “music as a culture”; “music created by human being “; “music from human society ” that is alive from long time ago until now, etc. Similarly, they agree that ethnomusicology is a science that learns “music”, although a definition of “music” itself may still be debatable, but it is agreed that “music” contains some main interpretations between: pitch and/or rhythm. In this context, considering main concepts on “pitch” and “rhythm”, it is potentially different perception between one group of society and other group of society in which ideally, “music” created as the result of creativity of one group of society should have been learned in the context of the culture of said society holistically.

Hingga saat ini, bidang studi etnomusikologi masih diperdebatkan oleh para ahli. Sejumlah ahli berpendapat bahwa bidang studi etnomusikologi adalah: “musik etnik”; “musik tradisional”; “musik sebagai kebudayaan”;”musik yang dibuat manusia”; “musik dari suatu masyarakat manusia” yang hidup dari zaman dahulu sampai sekarang, dan lain-lain. Begitupun, mereka sepakat bahwa etnomusikologi adalah suatu disiplin ilmu pengetahuan yang mempelajari “musik”, dan sekalipun pengertian “musik” ini sendiri masih dapat diperdebatkan, akan tetapi disepakati bahwa “musik” mengandung beberapa anasir pokok antara lain: nada (pitch) dan/atau irama (rhythm). Dalam hal ini, karena konsep-konsep mendasar mengenai “nada” dan “irama” ini kemungkinan besar berbeda antara satu kelompok masyarakat dengan kelompok masyarakat lainnya, maka idealnya “musik” yang tercipta sebagai hasil kreatifitas dari suatu kelompok masyarakat itu sudah seharusnya dipelajari dalam konteks kebudayaan masyarakat bersangkutan secara holistik.

Kutipan-kutipan berikut ini mungkin bisa lebih memperjelas apa itu etnomusikologi.

This note may provide more explanation on what ethnomusicology is.

The University of Sheffield:
“Ethnomusicologists seek to understand the whole human process within which music is imagined, discussed and made, and to relate specific musical sounds, behaviours and ideas to their broader social, cultural and political contexts. Studying individuals and societies all around the world, including the West, we aim to discover and document human musical life in its full richness and diversity. … Ethnomusicology is not the study of “ethnic music”, for ethnomusicologists don’t accept the idea that only some musics (and some peoples) are “ethnic”. Rather, ethnomusicology literally means “studying the music of a people”–any people–in terms of how the people view their own music, as well as how it might appear to a trained researcher. We aim to make a distinctive contribution to shared human understanding by allowing people to speak for themselves about their own musical lives and beliefs, adding in the insights available to the specialist researcher, who plays a role also in sharing the results internationally. Much research takes place with living people and so demands full attention to ethical principles. For instance, we typically carry out extended fieldwork so that we can get to know well those whom we study, aiming to become a participant in the music itself. This helps us to learn from the inside, recognise differences between ideals and practices, and discuss our emerging results with those around us, which means we gain their further guidance as the research develops. Much ethnomusicological research has academic outcomes but there is a rising trend for projects to aim to inform social policy or lead to improvements in the public sector” (Source:

“Ethnomusicology is a branch of Musicology. This discipline developed after World War II in Western countries with a special emphasis on the inter-disciplinary approach to music. Like any other academic field which is being created and recreated through research, writing and teaching of its practitioners, Ethnomusicology also had many variations in concepts, interpretations and applications.
The discipline Ethnomusicology branched out of Musicology because of the ardent desire of many Western musicologists to study non-western music which exist with oral traditions and especially with the tribal and village communities of the non-western countries. The term Ethnomusicology was introduced by Jaap Kunst, a Dutch Musicologist in 1950, though the discipline was in existence in the name of comparative musicology from the late 19th Century. It may be said that from the publication of the Viennese Scholar Guido Adler, “UMFANG METHODEUND ZID DER MUSIKWISSENSCHAFT”(1885) the term comparative Musicology was used for the study of non – western music’s as a separate branch of musicology. The first edition of the Harvard Dictionary defines Comparative Musicology as the ‘study of exotic music’ and “the musical cultures outside the European Tradition”.
After World War II, the term comparative musicology was not favoured by many musicologists and one of them was Jaap Kunst, the Dutch Ethnomusicologist who argued that, “the term (comparative musicology) is not entirely satisfactory. However the comparative method is frequently used in other fields of musicology and studies in this field are often not directly comparative.” Therefore Jaap Kunst introduced the term Ethnomusicology in his little booklet MUSICOLOGICA in the title page of the book in 1950. He placed the prefix “Ethno” in front of the word Musicology with a hyphen to indicate that the study would be on the music of the races of man or ethnic group.
The term was virtually accepted immediately and a Society for Ethnomusicology was established in 1956 in the United States of America. The general consensus of the members who framed the society discussed and favoured the view that “Ethnomusicology is by no means limited to the so called ‘primitive music’ and is defined more by the orientation of the student than by any rigid boundaries of discourse.” The term Ethnomusicology is more accurate and descriptive of this discipline and its field of investigation than the older term, comparative musicology. The hyphen in Ethnomusicology was officially dropped by the Society for Ethnomusicology in 1957. Prof. David Mcallester one of the founders of the Society for Ethnomusicology emphasise that this new discipline must not be defined by music under study, but by its methodology. By the second half of the decade in the 1950s, the term Ethnomusicology came into use with or without hyphen as synonyms and by the end of the decade, the term comparative musicology reached a status of a historic term.
The term Ethnomusicology has been defined by many Ethnomusicologists from time to time changing the connotations of the term. Jaap Kunst defined the term Ethnomusicology as the study of “the music and musical instruments of all non-European peoples, including both the so called primitive peoples and the civilised Eastern Nations”. In the third edition of this same book, he wrote that it is a study of “Traditional Music and Musical Instruments of all cultural stratas of mankind” but specifically named “Tribal and Folk Music and every kind of non-western Art Music” specifically excluding Western Art and popular music. This definition was satisfactory at that period for many Ethnomusicologists. More definitions for the term Ethnomusicology began to come up from 1960s from various Ethnomusicologists extending the scope of study wider and wider”. (Source:

John Benham, Ed.D., Program Director, Bethel University:
“Ethnomusicology is the merging of music and anthropology. It focuses on the music cultures of non-Western societies, including tribal and folk cultures of the world. The ethnomusicologist is in growing demand on the overseas mission field and in ethnic ministries in the U.S.” (Source:

University of Limerick:
“Ethnomusicology is the study of music in its cultural context. By employing conceptual models developed in the Social Sciences and by testing these within the context of field research, Ethnomusicology provides an alternative approach to the study of Irish Traditional Music, Popular Music and World Music. This approach embraces Anthropology, Cultural Studies, and Education in addition to relevant area and musical studies” (Source: maetmu/index.html).

University of Tampere, Department of Music Anthropology:
“Ethnomusicology is culture-based music research, which in principle covers all traditions of music. Special emphasis is put on different manifestations of popular music.
Ethnomusicologists try to understand the human by analysing him through his music, musical phenomena and socio-economic factors which are related to music. Thus, in a way, we are talking about cultural anthropology. On the other hand, ethnomusicology is musicology in its broadest sense” (Source:

“Put simply, ethnomusicology is the study of indigenous music and its place within society. Not only do ethnomusicologists study song, musical instruments and music production, but they also analyze the people and culture that the music represents. Ethnomusicology is an important part of Scripture use” (Source: Ethnomusicology.aspx)

Paula E. Kirman (1997):
Ethnomusicology is a relatively new field in the social sciences. It is a division of both Anthropology and Musicology. In loose terms, Ethnomusicology is the academic study of musical cultures. Anthropology is the study of human culture, and Musicology is the study of music itself. Combine the two, and the result could also be called “Musical Anthropology.”
A more precise definition is presented in the New Harvard Dictionary of Music, as “a subdivision of musicology concerned primarily with the comparitive study of musics of the world, music as an aspect of culture, and the music of oral tradition” (p. 291). This can include non-Western music, traditional and folk music, and even contemporary popular music studied from a cultural perspective. The study of a particular kind of music involves field research commonly used in Anthropology, that is, going out and experiencing the music *and* culture firsthand.
Although the roots of Ethnomusicology lay in the 1800’s, with the scholarly study of non-Western music in Europe, a major surge of interest and activity occurred around 1950, which is the year usually credited as Ethnomusicology’s birth. Because it is still so new, there is not as much material, print or online, as there is for other social sciences. However, there are some excellent online resources, most of which are of a specific, academic nature, and associated with a post-secondary institution” (Source: weekly/aa101797.htm).

Cape Brenton University:
“Ethnomusicology is the study of people’s musics, and more specifically, the study of the relationship between music and culture. It is about understanding what music means to particular groups of people, and the role of music in their lives. Ethnomusicologists study music in order to illuminate issues of politics, gender, identity, aesthetics, and social organization. It is the study of any and all musics, including traditional, popular, and western art musics. Ethnomusicologists use interdisciplinary approaches – particularly anthropology and musicology, but also a range of other disciplines such as folklore, sociology, linguistics, and education – to study sounds themselves, as well as the people who make and listen to those sounds. Ethnomusicology is the study of the contexts and processes involving the creation, performance, and reception of music” (Source:

From Encycolpedia Britannica Online,5716,33720+1+33140,00.html
Scientific study of music in any world culture or subculture in terms of its actual sounds and performance practices, in its relation to the specific culture, and in comparison with other cultures. The field was originally called comparative musicology in the 1880s by scholars concerned with the measurement of pitches, anthropological data, museum archiving, or the study of exotic music.
Jaap Kunst, a Dutch expert in Indonesian music, created the term ethnomusicology in the 1950s, and in 1956 an ethnomusicology society was founded, consisting of musicians and anthropologists interested in world music. In the spirit of the preceding definition, the field has continued to expand so that such topics as Japanese art music, New Guinean tribal music, African court music, English folk songs, jazz, and the social and financial structure of European-American popular music can be found in its studies.

Jeff Titon’s definition discussed by Jonathan Stock at
One of the neatest definition’s of ethnomusicology is Jeff Todd Titon’s: the study of “people making music.” In other words, ethnomusicologists are as interested in the people making the music as in the music they are making, and we try to consider the whole process and contexts through and within which music is imagined, discussed and made, not just the musical sound structures themselves. Studying individuals and societies all around the world, mncluding the West, we aim to discover what music means to particular groups of people – what part it plays in their lives. From time to time, we try to relate our culture- and context-specific discoveries to the broader human picture.
In terms of methodology and perspective, ethnomusiology draws at least as much from anthropology and the social sciences as it does from musicology and the humanities. It is common for ethnomusicologists to live for an extended period among the people whom they are studying, experiencing for themselves musical life (and everyday life) in that community. Most ethnomusicologists are thus also musicians, and many are active music makers in more than one musical tradition.

From SIL International (formerly Summer Institute of Linguistics) at

“Studying music from the outside in and from the inside out.”

Ethnomusicology’s definition and proper concerns have been debated over the years. Essentially ethnomusicology is looking at music as part of a culture and social life and looking at the music system itself.
Once these basic parameters are made then musics can be compared and studied across cultures and across time and in other ways, such as, how music affects cultures and the people involved and how culture affects music.

The British ethnomusicologist John Blacking has written of “humanly
organized sound” and “soundly organized humanity.” The first
emphasis is studying how and why people make musical choices
within their cultural system; just what IS music, anyway? A surprising
variety of answers is found throughout the earth, but one common
thread is that music is made of sounds that are organized in some
manner by people. The organization principles may not be obvious to
all people, even within the culture under study, but most cultures
would say that certain sounds organized by certain people will qualify
as “music.” The study of musical organization and related topics is
what we call “studying music from the inside out.”

It is also possible to study “soundly organized humanity,” that is, how
music and music-making opportunities shape and impact and guide
peoples’ behavior and attitudes. Throughout the world, music plays
an important part in marking important events in peoples’ lives:
festivals, funerals, weddings, religious occasions. An ethnic group can
mark its agrarian calendar by music. For example, during the planting
and growing season, the Mofu-Gudur of Cameroon only sing certain
songs and have prohibitions against playing certain instruments.
During the harvest season, however, other song types will be heard
and additional instruments are permitted by local custom to be
played. The study of musical behavior and related topics is what we
call “studying music from the outside in.”

Ethnomusicology within SIL is concerned not only with research and
documentation of musics around the world, but also with promoting
and encouraging the use of indigenous music to meet contemporary
needs within the given society.

Cileungsi, 5 Juni 2007


8 Komentar pada “ETNOMUSIKOLOGI”

  1. chaviera Says:

    Saya mau tanya nih, kira-kira lapangan pekerjaan untuk etnomusikologi itu apa ya?..Kataya penuh dengan studi tentang ilmu budaya dibandingkan dengan jurusan sastra lainya, tapi kenapa di departemen budaya dan pariwisata, Departemen Luar negeri, dll (yang berhubungan dengan kultur) tidak diterima dari jurusan ini?, apakah karena orang belum familiar denga jurusan ini? Lantas untuk apakah dibuka jurusan ini?

  2. edinasution Says:

    Terima kasih atas pertanyaan anda tentang eksistensi Etnomusikologi, khususnya di Indonesia. Sudah pasti, disiplin ilmu yang masih baru ini belum cukup dikenal oleh para pembuat kebijakan di negeri ini, mereka umumnya beranggapan etnomusikologi hanya sekedar upaya pelestarian musik-musik tradisional dan mendokumentasikannya sebagai khasanah budaya bangsa (Indonesia) yang bernilai tinggi dan luhur. Padahal, lewat musik-musik tradisional itu, seperti kaajian-kajian antropologi dan sosiologi, kita dapat mengenal dan memahami budaya seutuhnya dari pemilik musik-musik tradisi itu. Ringkasnya, etnomusikolog itu sebenarnya sangat berperan penting dalam upaya mengembangkan dan memajukan kebudayaan suatu negara-bangsa, baik di bidang musik, penelitian dan pengembangan ilmu pengetahuan, pariwisata, dan lain sebagainya.
    Untuk dapat mengenal dan memahami musik-musik tradisional itu secara utuh, maka unsur-unsur kebudayaan lainnya dari pemilik musik-musik tradisi itu juga harus dipelajari, kita harus melihat musik dan unsur-unsur budaya lainnya sebagai satu kesatuan yang utuh (terintegrasi satu sama lain, tidak bisa dipisah-pisahkan). Dengan melihat musik tradisi sebagai bagian yang integral dari unsur-unsur budaya (religi, sistem/struktur sosial, mata pencaharian hidup, sistem pengetahuan dan teknologi, dll), kita akan sampai pada “satu titik” bahwa melalui musik juga kita dapat memahami eksistensi kebudayaan manusia secara utuh.
    Lagi pula, siapa sih yang mau susah-susah meneliti musik tradisi yang sudah banyak diantara kita yang memandangnya ketinggalan zaman, kuno dan tidak ada manfaatnya bagi kepentingan sosial-ekonomi di masa sekarang, terlebih-lebih bagi sebagian besar dari kita yang lebih berorientasi “materialistis” (homo economicus).
    Sekian dulu tanggapan kami, lain kesempatan dibicarakan kembali.

  3. Salam damai..

    Saya ingin bertanya, hal kongkrit apa dr bidang etnomusikologi yg sebaiknya disosialisasikan kpd generasi muda yg menggeluti musik; & punya kemampuan dlm berkarya?

    Terima kasih..

    • edinasution Says:

      meneliti, mendokumentasikan (audio-visual), menuliskan (transkripsi) dan menginformasikan kekayaan motif2 musik tradisi kita untuk pengembangan musik (domestik & internasional.

  4. joe tony tony Says:

    knpa buku tentang etnomusikologi,tidak di trbitkan di kalangn SMA atau SMK.

  5. selamat pagi boos …
    saya mau tanya niih ,hmmm kalo kita sudah lulus dari bidang etnomusikologi itu kita magangnya harus kemana yaaaah booos ???
    dan apa sudah ada dibuka lapangan kerja yang bertentangan dengan itu ???
    makasiiih …

  6. edinasution Says:

    duh, kita juga nggak tahu tentang hal itu bro, tapi yang jelas alumni etnomusikologi bekerja di berbagai bidang, bahkan ada yang di perbankan, dll. Makasih kunjungannya.

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