“How,” asks Kartomi, “do musical instruments reflect the musical thoughts of society?”
What if you asked how musical instruments shape (not just reflect) the musical thoughts (and actions) of a society?
It is possibly a seed for a more sociological approach. It is, potentially, more akin to actor-network theory and implies some role for objects themselves. What are an instrument’s affordances?
Kartomi, Margaret. 1990. On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments. Chicago and London: Univ. of Chicago Press.