European Voices II

Folk Terminology and Musical Phenomenon

Although the fundamental meaning of basic terminology is well established for every scholarly discipline, many concepts are often questioned and redefined. In the case of ethnomusicology, this process is all too familiar, as researchers within the discipline focus on the most diverse of music cultures. The manifold worldviews of the contact person, who serves both as source and presenter (in both meanings of the word) of their tradition, complicate the matter. This situation has particular significance in the context of multipart vocal singing because of the unique “musical aesthetic” and specific vocabularies established among singing groups. A duality of folk terminology’s “regionality” and academia’s “universality” of terminology results. The duality is accentuated by the varied processes of change within every tradition on the one hand, and the influence of other disciplines on ethnomusicology on the other. Historical musicology, which concerns itself primarily with “western art music”, has a specific status in this question.

One approach to this problem is to address questions of “cultural hearing” and of the “local discours” of multi-part music in the context of an international network, consisting of specialists and actively participating contact persons. An investigation of the distinctive qualities and history of multi-part music in Europe from this perspective would also provide new answers to questions of emergence and reception of musical phenomenon as such. Ultimately, researching the colourful history of this music’s changes is the best approach to still-debated hypotheses of origin in a number of regions today.