Reference Entry

Society for Ethnomusicology

Bruno Nettl

in Oxford Music Online

Published in print November 2013 |
Published online January 2014 | e-ISBN: 9781561592630 | DOI:

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The world’s largest society devoted to the field of ethnomusicology. It is based in the United States but has a substantial number of international members. In 2010 there were 1900 individual (including 28% students) and 850 institutional members. Its conferences and publications include studies of all musics from virtually any perspective, but they emphasize non-Western, folk, and—from the late 20th century on—popular and vernacular traditions as well as the study of all musics using perspectives of anthropology and other social sciences. The society has avoided subscribing to a specific definition of ethnomusicology.

Founded in 1955, SEM became the legal successor to the Gesellschaft für vergleichende Musikwissenschaft, centered in Germany until its abolition in 1935. The impetus for its establishment was a meeting of David P. McAllester, Alan P. Merriam, Willard Rhodes, and Charles Seeger on 31 December 1952. This resulted first in the small triannual Ethno-Musicology Newsletter, mainly for reporting current events and publications, edited by Merriam, which led to the formal founding of the society at a meeting (attended by 24 people) in Boston on ...

Reference Entry.  519 words. 

Subjects: Music

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