Music Research Institute

Music as Culture

by Marcia Herndon and Norma McLeod
Published by the MRI Press. 2nd paperback edition 1990 

226 pp, ISBN 0-9627473-0-0 

Preface to first edition


$19.95 per copy plus shipping 


This book is the direct result of extensive discussions, telephone calls and correspondence with many colleagues. At the annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology in 1971, a number of people came to gather in a casual discussion of the needs of ethnomusicology. A number of areas were identified at that time, with agreement that the immediate need was for a comprehensive textbook for introductory courses in ethnomusicology. Although is was recognized that several good books are available, no one book had, to that point of time, attempted a synthesis of both the cultural and musical aspects of ethnomusicology. 

In preparing this book, we have drawn upon wide range of examples from various areas of the world. We have not made any attempt to cover all of the geographic areas, or to arrive at a fair sampling of representative examples from the entire world. Instead, the strategy has been to use examples from our own field work which covers everything from urban musics, to peasant musics, to those of hunting and gathering societies. 

From Preface to First Edition
Marica Herndon. Berkeley, CA. May 1979. 


.... Music As Culture is still one of the most challenging books in ethnomusicology. In contrast to other works that approach music out of its context, the authors discuss music as a social and cultural product, and as part of human behavior. It is consistently provocative and enlightening, addressing issues that have become part of mainstream ethnomusicological research such as aesthetics, cognition, and performance. It also explores theories and discusses fieldwork methodology, illustrating these with examples from the authors' fieldwork in Malta, Madagascar, the United States, and other places. The approach is cross-cultural, systematically comparative, and engagingly creative. An in-depth scrutiny reveals the need to update and revise some aspects of the book. At the same time Music As Culture remains an unending source of rich ideas of interest to students and scholars alike, in ethnomusicology as well as in other fields .... 

From 7/17/00
Laura Larco, University of Maryland, College Park

HERNDON, Marcia. Music as culture, by Marcia Herndon and Norma McLeod. Norwood Editions, 1979. 196 p index 79-19209. 19.95
This is a totally original book, treating the various philosophical concerns of ethnomusicology in an imaginative and thought-provoking way. It is written at the professional to advanced undergraduate level but is highly readable. It is designed as a textbook for a seminar in ethnomusicology with emphasis placed on the concerns of anthropology. There are sections field methods, techniques, professional ethics, and the like; but the authors also deal in depth with such universal themes as the nature of music, the role of context in performance, the learning process, cognition and value judgments, and the relationship of music to social institutions, thus making much of the discussion interesting to the general reader as well. There are no illustrations or musical examples, but all points are well made with examples drawn from the author’s own fieldwork experiences. Both authors are well qualified; McLeod was formerly editor of Ethnomusicology and Herndon was her graduate students. A glossary, index, and bibliography are included. Paper is heavy stock, buff in color, printed with unjustified right margin; good layout. High recommended.

Roderic Knight, CHOICE March 1980: 85.


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