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Music and the New Global CultureFrom the Great Exhibitions to the Jazz Age$
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Harry Liebersohn

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226621265

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226649306.001.0001

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Scales around the World

Scales around the World

(p.91) 4 Scales around the World
Music and the New Global Culture

Harry Liebersohn

University of Chicago Press

Alexander Ellis’s essay "On the Musical Scales of Various Nations” (1885) relied on his mathematical training and Hipkins’ musical knowledge to compare scales from musical systems across Eurasia. It also drew on a great influx of people, texts and instruments into London, often connected to international exhibitions and the reach of colonial authorities, making the essay a document of the age of globalization. For classical Middle Eastern music, Ellis used a theoretical tract by the Greek-Lebanese intellectual, Mīkhā'īl Mishāqa, written in collaboration with the American missionary, Eli Smith. For Japan, Ellis turned to Japanese performers at the Japanese Village in London while contesting the westernized explanation of the scale by Shūji Isawa and his American collaborator, Luther Whiting Mason. As for Chinese music, Ellis heard a Chinese band assembled by Robert Hart for the International Hygiene Exhibition. S.M. Tagore was his chief guide to Hindustani music, providing instruments and theoretical tracts along with a Hindu nationalist characterization of Muslim musicians as corrupters of Vedic tradition . Overall, Ellis intellectualized the definition of music to the detriment of its performative dimension and social meanings, but also made a decisive critique of the notion of Western musical superiority.

Keywords:   Hindustani music, Alexander Ellis, On the Musical Scales of Various Nations, Mīkhā'īl Mishāqa, Shūji Isawa, Luther Whiting Mason, Japanese Village, Robert Hart, International Hygiene Exhibition, S.M. Tagore Hindustani music

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