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date: 19 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Ethnomusicology has often had an ambivalent relationship with technology: we owe our discipline to mid-twentieth-century developments in recording technology. Nevertheless there is a strong counter-modern streak that characterizes ethnomusicologists as a group. This essay investigates the reasons for ethnomusciologists’ mistrust of certain kinds of music technology and interprets ambivalence as a mode of critical engagement. It surveys turning points in the field from comparative musicology to the critical turn and from the critical turn to the new digital humanities. I conclude that digital humanities needs ethnomusicological ambivalence in the form of critical engagement. Good data analytics needs a skeptical view from the vantage point of music scholars and contextual knowledge-bearers in the cultures of study.

Keywords: ethnomusicology, participatory music, sound recordings, musical analysis, ethnography

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