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A. H. Fox Strangways and The Music of Hindostan: Revisiting Historical Field Recordings

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020

Martin Clayton*
The Open University


The writer of an article is often at a loss as to how to begin.

A. H. Fox Strangways

Of what practical use are historical field recordings? This article is a partial response to that question, one which struck me on many occasions while working with ethnographic wax cylinders at the British Library National Sound Archive (NSA). There are, I believe, at least three possible answers to the question. One is that historical recordings can (and indeed should) be returned to the societies from which they originated, for which they serve as valuable cultural documents — documents both of indigenous cultural practices and of the engagement of scholars and other collectors with those practices (often within a colonial context). Another is that they can be used in studies of musical continuity and change, a possibility exploited most extensively by the ethnomusicologist Nazir Jairazbhoy, who retraced the path of his predecessor and mentor Arnold Bake's Indian field trips, comparing his own findings in 1984 with Bake's in 1938. My third answer is that historical recordings, together with the publications based on them, can contribute to studies of the historical development of ethnomusicological method — of the ways in which music has been recorded, transcribed and analysed. This article pursues this last possibility, taking as an example one of the classical works of early twentieth-century comparative musicology, A. H. Fox Strangways's The Music of Hindostan. I consider the author's aims, methods and conclusions, their status in the light of subsequent research, and their significance for music studies today.

Research Article
Copyright © Royal Musical Association, 1999

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Note. This is not intended to provide a complete Fox Strangways bibliography, though it includes most of his writings of relevance to ethnomusicology as well as a number of biographical references. He published a large number of articles, in The Times, the Observer, Music and Letters and elsewhere, on a wide variety of musical topics.


Blom, Eric, et al., ‘A. H. F. S. aet LXXX’, Music and Letters, 20 (1939), 343–51Google Scholar
Blom, Eric, ‘A. H. Fox Strangways (1859-1948)’, Music and Letters, 29 (1948), 229–37Google Scholar
Colles, Henry C., rev. Howes, Frank, ‘Fox Strangways, A(rthur) H(enry)’, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London, 1980), vi, 737–8Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, Henry, Arthur, ‘The Hindu Scale’, Sammelbände der Internationalen Musikgesellschaft, 9 (1907-8; repr. Hildesheim, 1971), 449511Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, The Music of Hindostan (Oxford, 1914; repr. 1965)Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, ‘Words and Music in Song’, Essays and Studies, by Members of the English Association, vii, ed. Bailey, John (Oxford, 1921), 3056Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, ‘Exotic Music’, Music and Letters, 6 (1925), 119–27Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, ‘Wagner's Melody and some Human Needs [1. Hindu music, 2. Wagner's melody]’, British Musician, no. 19 (vol. 3, no. 4, 1927), 108–11Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, ‘Folk-Song’, The Oxford History of Music, ed. Buck, Percy Carter, introductory vol. (Oxford, 1929), 164–83Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, ‘The Pipes of Pan’, Music and Letters, 10 (1929), 5864Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, ‘Indian Music’, Encyclopaedia Britannica (14th edn, London, 1929), xii, 241–2Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, ‘Indian Music’, The Sackbut, 10 (1930), 154–6Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, ‘East and West’, Zeitschrift für vèrgleichende Musikwissenschaft, 1 (1933), 23; repr. Nendeln, Liechtenstein, 1976)Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, ‘The Gāndhara Grāma’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1935), 689–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Strangways, Fox, Music Observed; the Selection made by S. Wilson (London, 1936)Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, ‘Music’, The Legacy of India, ed. Garratt, Geoffrey Theodore (Oxford, 1937), 305–27Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox, ‘Indian Music’, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Henry C. Colles (4th edn, London, 1940, ii, 703–7 (rev. Arnold A. Bake in 5th edn, 1954)Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox and Karpeles, Maud, Cecil Sharp (Oxford, 1933)Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox and Wilson, Steuart, Schubert's Songs Translated (Oxford, 1924; school edn, 1925)Google Scholar
Strangways, Fox and Wilson, Steuart, Schumann's Songs Translated (Oxford, 1929)Google Scholar
Howes, Frank, ‘A. H. Fox Strangways’, Music and Letters, 1 (1969), 914Google Scholar
Lachmann, Robert, and Henry, Arthur Strangways, Fox, ‘Muhammedan Music’, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Henry C. Colles (4th edn, London, 1940), iii, 575–9Google Scholar
Maine, Basil Stephen, ‘A. H. Fox Strangways’, Behold those Daniels; being Studies of Contemporary Music Critics (London, 1928), 17Google Scholar
Musical Times, ‘A. H. Fox Strangways’, Musical Times, 89 (1948), 172Google Scholar