- Ethnomusicology is the scientific study of music (musicology) which focuses on the study of music forms in their cultural perspective. It deals with the role of music in the cultural history of a group of people, and how the formal structures of music evolve in different historical contexts.
- Confirmation of Events: Ethnomusicology confirms and supports events of history. Most folk songs and ancient musical forms usually make reference to important socio-economic events and political events in the life of the people who composed and sang them. E.g. the Asafo songs of the Fante make references to the exploits of their three warlords which included, Obunumakoma, Odapagyan and Oson. Also, the Akyem Abuakwa’s warrior Queenmother Dokuah’s role in the courageous woman who fights with the gun. This describes Dokuah’s contribution to the Akyem Abuakwa state. Similarly, in Mande peoples, the epic of Sunjata Keita recounts the formation of the empire of Mali.
- Storehouse of Information: It is also a storehouse of historical information in the form of drums, horn, music, dirges and praise songs. For instance, during the Damba festival of the Dagombas, they play drums that give messages about Toharjie-the great warrior who led them to their present settlements. Drums are one of the Africa’s great living books.
- Changes Occur In Music: The study of the changes that occur in people’s musical forms over a period of time is also another source of history, for example, a study of the religious songs of the Ga has revealed that the music as well as the song belongs to an older and different ethnic group. This supports the claim of Guan oral tradition that they occupied the highlands of the Ga state prior to the arrival of the Ga. Moreover the change in African musical instruments in the New World has given much information about diaspora history.
DEMERITS OF ETHNOMUSICOLOGY
- Lyrics authenticity: One major defects of ethnomusicology is the authenticity of the text or lyrics the song conveyed.
- Difficult to trace the origins of songs: Another shortfall of ethnomusicology is that there is no African culture ever developed a notational system for its organization of culturally defined musical sound. This implies there is little hope in hearing African music with any accuracy of tracing the actual sound of music to any substantial time-depth.