Since the Phonogrammarchiv’s foundation, any kind of musical practice (except Western classical music) has been of interest for its musicological collections. Regarding the history of ethnomusicology, it is held today that the discipline was only established, or had actually started, with the invention of sound recording. Based on the Phonogrammarchiv’s worldwide orientation, various foci emerged – ranging from folk to popular music and from “traditional” to world music; associated topics, e.g. questions of methodology or special problems concerning particular genres or communities, were likewise studied and discussed accordingly.
The topic of music and minorities is not only a prevailing topic in today’s musicological discourse but was considered an important issue already in the early days of sound recording, albeit under different labels. Researchers were interested in hitherto unknown music, which included not only geographically remote, “different” music but also “different” or hitherto “unknown” music in familiar areas nearby. Therefore, the topic can be studied from a historical as well as a methodological perspective, and is an important factor in the analysis of recent social changes.