A man coynes not a new word without some perill, and lesse fruit; for
if it happen to be received, the praise is but moderate; if refus'd, the
scorn is assur'd.
Ben Jonson, Timber, or Discoveries Made upon Men and Matter, 622
New thought demands new words. Unavoidably—and I wish it could have been avoided—this book contains both many neologisms and many familiar terms employed in a special sense. All these are defined in the Glossary.
In addition to such technicalities, there are the problems faced by any cultural historian in designating historical periods, artistic genres, social or ethnic groups, and the like. At the cost of a certain clumsiness, I have generally preferred neutral indications of period to words like 'Renaissance', 'Baroque', or (especially) 'Romantic'.
Musical class distinctions have been an endless source of trouble, involving as they do such exasperating but indispensable words as 'folk', 'popular', and 'classical'. In particular, there seems to be no satisfactory term for music of—shall we say—a certain loftiness of brow. 'Art' or 'cultivated music' is about the best I could do.
In the absence of qualification, 'music' means European 'art' music, 'folk music' means 'European folk music', and so on. This is an entirely Eurocentric book. On the other hand, ethnic and geographical designations are generally to be understood in a broad sense. Unless the contrary is stated, 'German', for instance, includes 'Austrian'.