Raphael Georg Kiesewetter’s treatise Die Musik der Araber nach Originalquellen dargestellt (1842) is today considered as “pioneering ethnomusicological study of Arabic writings on music”. Created during a period of increased scientific interest in the Orient, it reflected the current state of knowledge about Arabic music at the time using diverse sources. From the current point of view, the book contains numerous shortcomings and does not meet the standards of modern ethno-musicological research. Nevertheless, this book offers the oppor-tunity to look back at the beginnings of ethno-musicology including the problems and questions concerning Arabic music which occupied the scientific world during the 19th century. In a time before the development of sound recording, written notation was the only possibility to gain access to Arabic music. However, European music notation originated from a completely different cultural context and suited this endeavour to a very limited extent. In spite of the attempt to ensure objectivity, the treatises of those days remained too dependent on European conventions and listening habits to adequately capture the reality of Arab music. Still, these writings – for which Kiesewetter’s Musik der Araber constitutes a paradigmatic illustration – allow insight into the formation of the European view on the Orient in the 19th century.