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date: 27 November 2020


  • Bruno Nettl


The principal subject of the publication at hand, whose readers will almost certainly have strong ideas of the denotative and connotative meanings of the word. Presenting the word ‘music’ as an entry in a dictionary of music may imply either an authoritative definition or a properly comprehensive treatment of the concept of music, at all times, in all places and in all senses. That last would require discussion from many vantage points, including the linguistic, biological, psychological, philosophical, historical, anthropological, theological, and even legal and medical, along with the musical in the widest sense. Imposing a single definition flies in the face of the broadly relativistic, intercultural, and historically conscious nature of this dictionary.

Selecting from a number of alternative viewpoints, this article addresses issues and approaches to perspectives that exhibit the great variety of the world’s musics and of the diversity of cultural attitudes and conceptions of music. The verbal definitions provided in standard linguistic and musicological reference works, even counting only those in English, differ substantially, and the ...

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