This essay discusses the study of musical communities, taking as its point of departure the growing avoidance of the term “community” within much of recent musical scholarship. After exploring factors that have been responsible for the move away from community studies, the paper details both the creation of new nomenclature and the discourse surrounding the introduction of these new terms. Based on insights drawn from musical ethnography with recent African immigrants to the United States, the paper goes on to propose a revised framework for approaching “community.” It suggests that attention to processes of descent, dissent, and affinity both elucidates music's generative role in shaping new collectivities and unsettles the notion of music as a static sonic marker of social groupings. The conclusion touches briefly on new research from the sciences that is beginning to shed new light on music's role in generating social outcomes and the potential it holds for future collaboration with music scholars across disciplinary boundaries.
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