Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Early comparative musicology habitually ignored, even extinguished, timbre in its single-minded focus on pitch. This chapter traces the broader social, cultural, and political consequences of this framework. It surveys how, at the turn of the twentieth century, John Comfort Fillmore and Benjamin Ives Gilman followed the lead of Alice Fletcher and Alexander Ellis in deploying a broad range of technologies—phonograph, Helmholtz resonator, keyboard, and musical notation—to develop frameworks for analyzing essential similarities and differences between Native American and Western musics. It argues that such scholarship, while ostensibly aimed at salvaging Native American music, also served American efforts to reform and silence indigenous voices. The postscript examines the resonances between their theories and modern frameworks of parametric analysis that construe pitch and timbre as autonomous, and proposes that there may be unrecognized perils in overly articulating the boundaries between pitch and timbre to focus analytical attention exclusively on the measurable quantities of musical sound.

Keywords: pitch-timbre relationship, early recording technology, transcription, keyboard, comparative musicology, ethnocentrism, cultural relativism, Native American music, music perception, parametric analysis

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.