KWI – Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (Kulturwissenschaftliches Intitut Essen, KWI)

Research areas


Project India and Europe. A Sociological Comparison of Music Cultures

Project description:
Using music as a means to compare cultures, the research project deals with dif-ferences between Indian Classical and European Classical Music. The main con-cern of the project is, whether the structure and the social practise of Indian and European Classical Music can be understood as expressions of different cultural concepts.
The comparative study is based on three dichotomies: improvisation vs. composi-tion, orality vs. literacy, music for one voice vs. music for several voices.
Empirically the sociological study focusses on music education. The different ways of teaching classical music in India and in Europe reflects different cultural ideas. In Europe music education nurtures social independence, self awareness and the belief in the concept of composition. In India – especially in the tradition of Guru-Shishya Parampara - music education fosters social interdependence, over-coming of the ego and the ability to improvise.
As part of the project a documentary film was made which gives an introduction into the structure, the aesthetics and the social practise of (North-)Indian Classical Music.

Ronald Kurt (2009): Indien und Europa. Ein kultur- und musiksoziologischer Verstehensversuch. Bielefeld: transcript.