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Abraham, Otto


ABRAHAM, OTTO (1872–1926), ethnomusicologist. Born in Berlin, Abraham graduated in medicine at Berlin University in 1894 and thereafter dedicated himself to psychoacoustics and the physiology of music. From 1896 to 1905 he was assistant to Carl Stumpf (1868–1936) at the Berlin Institute of Psychology, and collaborated with E.M. von *Hornbostel in the establishment of the "Phonogrammarchiv" in 1900 which is known for its unique historical collections of music of the world. Abraham's work on tone perception was one of the pioneer studies in the psychology of music. His studies, mostly with Hornbostel, on the non-Western musical traditions and his suggested methods for transcribing this music put him among the founders of modern systematic ethnomusicology. Abraham introduced the first German attempt to record non-Western music. He recorded on wax cylinders a visiting Siamese court orchestra, music from South Africa and Japan, Armenian and Muslim songs, and Indian and Amerindian music. Between 1903 and 1906, Abraham and Hornbostel published important studies based on their tonometric measurements and transcriptions of those recorded examples. Among his articles are "Wahrnehmung kürzester Töne und Geräusche" (1898), "Studien Ueber das Tonsystem und die Musik der Japaner" (1902–3), "Phonographierte Tuerkische Melodien" (1904), "Phonographierte Indianermelodien aus Britisch-Colombia" (1906), "Zur Akustik des Knalles" (1919), and "Zur Psychologie der Tondistanz" (1926).


Grove online; mgg2; J. Ellis et al., Abhandlungen zur vergleichenden Musikwissenschaft, von A.J. Ellis, J.P.N. Land, C. Stumpf, O. Abraham und E.M. von Hornbostel, aus den Jahren 1885–1908 (1922)

[Israela Stein (2nd ed.)]

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