Born in Gießen, Germany, he studied musicology and composition at the University of Cologne from 1933–1935, and ethnology at the Universities of Leipzig and Munich from 1935-1936. He took his doctorate at Munich doing his dissertation on Burmese music. In 1952–1968 he was a director of the Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv.
His chief area of interest in the field of ethnomusicology was the folk music of Turkey.
- Types of Turkmenian Songs in Turkey, Journal of the International Folk Music Council 9, 1956
- On the problem of pre-pentatonic scales: particularly the third-second nucleus, Journal of the International Folk Music Council 10, 1958
- Türkische Musik, Berlin, 1962
- "Türkische Musik", in Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 1966
- Musique de Turquie (in French, with Ursula Reinhard), Buchet/Chastel (Paris), 1996
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