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Understanding Signed Music Cripps & Lyonblum in this paper) also falls in line with how scholars have written that every culture in the past and present has its own music regardless of size (Brown, Merker, & Wallin, 2000; Hamm, Nettl, & Byrnside, 1975). However, music theory acceptance of signed music is a rather recent phenomenon. The relationship between culture and music may have existed for thousands of years, but the topic of connecting culture to music remains new to music scholarship. A book called The Cultural Study of Music was published in 2003 and its second edition, published in 2012, documents one of the earliest times when ethnomusicologists with similar interests came together to further investigate the relationship between culture and music across disciplines. The idea that deaf people have their own music will reinforce what has been discussed for ethnomusicology and cultural musicology. The ASL signing deaf community in the United States and Canada is vulnerable to society’s biases and discriminatory practices, and opportunities for music over the years has been restricted (especially since signed music has been excluded from, or not even considered for, curricula in schools for deaf children). Music has been categorized by scholars into Western and non-Western arts. This division was formalized throughout the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Classical music is considered part of Western art music, and is the foundation of traditional musicology. Ethnomusicologists concentrate on other types of music, (e.g., jazz, rap, pop rock, etc.) which are considered the roots of non-Western culture. During the 1980s and 1990s, musicologists, music theorists, and ethnomusicologists studied new types of music, then considered a radical shift from classical to a broader perspective on music in academia (Middleton, 2012). These new types of music included perspectives across the arts, humanities and social sciences. Middleton (2012), one of these music scholars, experienced obstacles when he argued that culture has a role in music, thus music scholars must think differently than before, by including culture. Music Studies is the new approach that he proposed to define this particular “culture and music” paradigm. Cook (2008) also recommended that musicologists broaden their horizons by including a range of different disciplines such as ethnomusicology, historical musicology, and music psychology. With this approach, music scholars are now more receptive to the idea of music as part of culture, as they have begun analyzing music for its meaning beyond a strictly theoretical perspective. This approach also gave way to Cultural Musicology, the analysis and criticism of works in American and Western European Music through cultural studies. The formation of Music Studies has essentially opened the doors for investigations in signed music as its subgenre (J. H. Cripps, Rosenblum, Small, & S. Supalla, 2017). To sum it up, when asked “who does music belong to?,” the second author of this paper, a music scholar, clarified in his interview that “[music] belongs to whatever culture it comes from” (Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf, 2015, p. 5). Thus, it is appropriate to state that signed music belongs to deaf culture and deaf people themselves. One of many research interests from ethnomusicologists is to examine how cultural meaning is captured through musical performance. With this kind of investigation, audiences and performers’ cultural identities can be further analyzed to understand how identity plays an important role in creating performances (Cook, 2012). That is, the performer and audience who share cultural identities are likely to appreciate the same musical performances due to similar experiences and perspectives. Deaf people, may share cultural identities through discrimination. An example of similar experiences that deaf people faced is “audism” and it is expressed in some contemporary signed music performances (J. H. Cripps et al., 2017). This term expresses discriminatory behavior toward deaf people due to their inability to hear, and suggests the superiority of spoken language when compared to signed language (Bauman, 2004; Eckert & SASLJ, Vol. 1, No. 1 – Fall/Winter 2017 83