Ethnomusicologists are researchers who study music as a cultural phenomenon, and although much of ethnomusicological research addresses contemporary practices, some studies also examine historical questions. This summer I have been thinking a lot about the methods of historical ethnomusicology, examining how studies in this subfield as well as in related fields such as anthropology, cultural history, and historical sociology, grapple with how to meaningfully represent the musical past in scholarship: both the evidence-based past of empirical research and the remembered past of cultural narrative (both of which seem important in very different ways).
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Based on a thorough review of documents in Japanese and European languages (which range from rare archival materials to very recently published research articles), as well as consultation with many Japanese experts and additional interviews and observations, I have developed a revisionary interpretation of this history which I look forward to discussing with other scholars, particularly those examining similar questions in the field of historical ethnomusicology.