Update: للنسخة العربية إضغط هنا Following the success of our Wax Cylinder Recordings Album, we are working on our next project: Oxford Maqam and the Villoteau Transcriptions (1809) Our next project will be about one of the earliest sources of written transcriptions of modern Egyptian song – a source that was largely neglected in the Arab world until recently, thanks to Zoheir ElShayeb's translation. This is Guillaume André Villoteau’s De l'état actuel de l'art musical en Egypte of 1827. Villoteau is celebrated in the West as ‘the first ethnomusicologist’, and much has been written about how he invented modern ethnomusicological methods. But what does his work have to tell us about the history of Arabic music? At first sight, we have hundreds of pages of detailed transcription – surely a treasure trove. But a closer glance reveals nothing but problems. Who was Villoteau listening to in Cairo in 1799? How well was he able to listen and understand what he was hearing? To what extent does his research reflect the colonial prejudices and anxieties of his moment? Whatever there is to learn from this intriguing document – from the point of view of those of us interested in histories of modern Arab song – we will have to exercise caution, as well as imagination and a bit of creativity.