I think developing theory around music that does not already have a formal theory could be of great use to ethnomusicologists because it allows them to observe patterns within the music they are studying. It gives ethnomusicologists a certain set of parameters within which they can observe one specific type of music while also allowing them to have specific means of comparing different styles of music. It also allows them to compare musical styles to general cultural practices and how the two maybe be interrelated and how they influence each other. As we've discussed in class, peoples' environments have a great impact on the music they produce because of individual soundscapes. Because there are infinitely many things that go into the music people produce, developing theory that can be applied to any genre of music allows ethnomusicologists to compare styles of music in a less bias way and a more methodical, objective way. I do also believe that theory can only tell us so much, however. We can observe patterns within music that may have not been created intentionally, or look for patterns that would confirm our preconceived notions of what a specific type of music should look like.
One other point I would like to touch upon is that the general population knows nothing about music theory yet is able to enjoy music just as much as someone who has spent years studying theory. In fact, I believe knowing all of the technicalities of the music greatly influences how we listen to music. People don't love a popular song for its 1-4-5-1 progression, but for its sound. Yes, the progression is the sound in and of itself, but no one needs to know that for it to be pleasant to the ear (at least in Western culture, that is). I also believe that as overly curious human beings, we are prone to over analyzing. We have no way of knowing what the original composer was thinking when he/she wrote the music, or what his/her intentions were. Obviously we can observe patterns among individual composers and musical styles, but what about coincidences? Music is math, and rearranging patterns of notes and chords. By probability alone, composers are going to write music that sounds similarly to someone else's. So again, while theory can help us gain insight to styles of tendencies of musical eras and genres, studying music requires so much more beyond theory.