- Like me, he began with an early interest in the natural sciences (in his case, zoology), before turning to music.
- Also like me, he grew up away from major musical centers (in his case, New Zealand) before moving to the metropolis.
- Also like me, he had made some attempts at composition but had become discouraged with the task, and this discouragement led to an ethnomusicological point of view.
- To a composer in the Western art music tradition, musical material and its meanings partly come from the unwritten music that exists in the composer's world but does not reach the page. Historical musicologists and theorists have sometimes forgotten this, focusing exclusively on the biography, psychology, or technique of a genius composer.
- Conversely, unwritten musical traditions may have concepts of authorship and a persistent musical work, even in the absence of prescriptive notation. Ethnomusicologists and folklorists have sometimes forgotten this, ascribing unwritten music to groups of people rather than to individuals.
"If we imagine a performance in which the members of the orchestra sold the tickets themselves, arranged their own seating and moved the piano around and where everyone, audience as well as conductor, soloist and orchestra members, stayed afterward to clean up, there would be brought into existence another set of human relationships, another kind of society. It would not necessarily be a better society, but we may be sure that those taking part would not remain strangers to one another for very long.” (Musicking, pp. 35-36)
If you have any experience with an amateur or volunteer chorus, you know that what Small describes is no utopian fantasy. It is the everyday reality of making a choral concert happen. I took it as a challenge to do fieldwork among choral singers to demonstrate empirically what Small had surmised.