One of the crucial lessons that anthropology has taught ethnomusicology is the importance of trying to understand things from the inside, to explore the emic view, the folk view, actor's view, evaluation, explanation, model, representation; there are lots of terms for it. The point was made clearly many years ago by Alan Merriam in The Anthropology of Music, in the contrast between what he termed the folk evaluation and the analytical evaluation (Merriam 1964:31-32). Like other authors, Merriam emphasised the need for the researcher to find out how people define music and distinguish music from non-music:
One of the most important of such concepts is the distinction, implied or real, made between music on the one hand, and noise, or non-music, on the other; this is basic to the understanding of music in any society … If one group accepts the sound of the wind in the trees as music and another does not, or if one group accepts the croaking of frogs and the other denies it as music, it is evident that the concepts of what music is or is not must differ widely and must distinctively shape music sound (ibid. 63).