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The Search for Medieval Music in Africa and Germany, 1891-1961Scholars, Singers, Missionaries$
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Anna Maria Busse Berger

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226740348

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226740485.001.0001

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Comparative Musicology and Comparative Linguistics

Comparative Musicology and Comparative Linguistics

Chapter:
(p.15) Chapter One Comparative Musicology and Comparative Linguistics
Source:
The Search for Medieval Music in Africa and Germany, 1891-1961
Author(s):

Anna Maria Busse Berger

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226740485.003.0002

This chapter provides a summary of two major nineteenth-century schools of comparative linguistics. Ethnomusicologists today are not fully aware of the extent to which comparative musicologists were influenced by comparative linguists. The influence can be discerned in four areas. First, all comparative musicologists subscribed to Kulturkreislehre, that is, they were convinced that cultural traits could be grouped into "geographical circles of distribution." They were cultural evolutionists just as August Schleicher and linguists following him. Second, they were concerned with the origins of music just as the linguists were concerned with the origins of language. Third, both linguists and comparative musicologists used missionaries as informants. And fourth, comparative linguists concentrated particularly on languages that existed in written form thousands of years ago (in the case of Greek) or one thousand years ago (in the case of Icelandic) in order to trace the development of language. Comparative musicologists similarly tried to understand the origins of music by comparing their recordings to notated medieval music, be it Gregorian chant or early polyphony.

Keywords:   comparative linguistics, missionaries, Greek music, medieval music, origins of language, August Schleicher, origins of music

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