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Title

The Invention of 'European Music' in the Long Eighteenth Century

AuthorsIrving, David R. M.
KeywordsMusic in Europe
Eighteenth Century
Terminological designations
Issue Date2019
PublisherUniversity of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna
CitationFolk Music Research, Folkloristics, and Anthropology of Music in Europe: Pathways in the Intellectual History of Ethnomusicology : (2019)
AbstractIdeas of Europe as a geographical and cultural construct have changed drastically over the last half-millennium. The concept of 'European Music' is a commonplace today, applied to music of several millennia; yet the combination of this specific adjective and noun cannot be traced in Western European languages earlier than the late seventeenth century. Cosmological dimensions of music obviated the need for supranational terminological designations, although there were occasional references to the eastern and western practices of early Christian music. When musical differences with other parts of the world were acknowledged, European scholars spoke of 'our music', in a similar vein to 'our Europe' (Christian Europe). The idea of a monolithic category of 'European music', encompassing and eliding multiple national styles, originated outside Europe -- according to its relative geographical boundaries at any time -- with references made by others to concepts such as 'Frankish music'. Within Europe, due to increased global exchange and increasing knowledge of 'radical others', scholars began to refer to an opaque and undifferentiated macro-category of 'European music', coexisting with but also transcending national styles, from the late seventeenth century. This self-reflexivity generated a new collective identity of Europeanness, and musical 'modernity', in comparative ethnographies and music historiography. In this context the term 'European music' first began to be used in multiple European languages, deliberately and self-consciously, in a smattering of references until 1770, then consistently from that decade on. The invention of 'European music' was thus made through a dialectical relationship with knowledge of musics from around the world. In this paper I argue that the term and concept cannot be applied indiscriminately during or before the long eighteenth century without careful qualification. It needs unpacking, since it implies a degree of essentialism that cannot be retrospectively projected.
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/214209
Appears in Collections:(IMF) Comunicaciones congresos
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