The Anthropology of Music

Trade Paper – $29.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-0607-9
Publication Date
December 1964
Page Count
376 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Anthropology of Music

Alan P. Merriam

In this highly praised and seminal work, Alan Merriam demonstrates that music is a social behavior—one worthy and available to study through the methods of anthropology. In it, he convincingly argues that ethnomusicology, by definition, cannot separate the sound-analysis of music from its cultural context of people thinking, acting, and creating.

The study begins with a review of the various approaches in ethnomusicology. He then suggests a useful and simple research model: ideas about music lead to behavior related to music and this behavior results in musical sound. He explains many aspects and outcomes of this model, and the methods and techniques he suggests are useful to anyone doing field work. Further chapters provide a cross-cultural round-up of concepts about music, physical and verbal behavior related to music, the role of the musician, and the learning and composing of music.

The Anthropology of Music illuminates much of interest to musicologists but to social scientists in general as well.
About the Author

Alan P. Merriam held the position of Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University. He died in 1980.

"For the broad perspective it provides of man as music-maker, as also for the lucid résumé of past and present appraoches to this subject which it presents, Merriam's new book should, I think, be treated as essential reading both within the social sciences and the humanities." —Man

"With great thoroughness, Merriam has pointed out to anthropologists how much they can contribute to our general knowledge of music as human experience." —American Anthropologist

"...Merriam's book, seen from the viewpoint of anthropology, is deserving of the highest respect."