Musicology

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For other uses, see Musicology (disambiguation).
Late 18th- century painting of instruments from the school of Zlatá Koruna. On the wall are several lutes and brass instruments. On the left is a cello-type instrument. In the middle are several drums. On the right is a small pipe organ.

Musicology (from Greek μουσική (mousikē), meaning "music", and -λογία (-logia), meaning "study of-") is the scholarly analysis of, and research on, music, a part of humanities. A person who studies music is a musicologist.[1] For broad treatments, see the entry on "musicology" in Grove's dictionary, the entry on "Musikwissenschaft" in Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, and the classic approach of Adler (1885).[2]

Traditionally, historical musicology (commonly termed "music history") has been the most prominent subdiscipline of musicology. In the 2010s, historical musicology is one of several large musicology subdisciplines. Historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and systematic musicology are approximately equal in size.[3] Ethnomusicology is the study of non-Western music. Systematic musicology includes music acoustics, the science and technology of acoustical musical instruments, and the musical implications of physiology, psychology, sociology, philosophy and computing. Cognitive musicology is the set of phenomena surrounding the computational modeling of music. In some countries, music education is considered to be a prominent subfield of musicology, while in others it is regarded as a distinct academic field, or one more closely affiliated with teacher education, educational research, and related fields.

The parent disciplines of musicology include general history; cultural studies; philosophy (particularly aesthetics and semiotics); ethnology and cultural anthropology; archeology and prehistory; psychology and sociology; physiology and neuroscience; acoustics and psychoacoustics; and computer/information sciences and mathematics. Musicology also has two central, practically oriented subdisciplines with no parent discipline: performance practice and research (sometimes viewed as a form of artistic research), and the theory, analysis and composition of music. The disciplinary neighbors of musicology address other forms of art, performance, ritual and communication, including the history and theory of the visual and plastic arts and of architecture; linguistics, literature and theater; religion and theology; and sport. Musical knowledge and know-how are applied in medicine, education and music therapy, which may be regarded as the parent disciplines of applied musicology.

Subdisciplines[edit]

Historical musicology[edit]

Main article: Music history
Historical musicology, which was traditionally the most prominent subdiscipline of musicology, studies the history of music. Central to this study is the examination of historical scores, such as this original manuscript sketch by Ludwig van Beethoven for Piano Sonata No. 28, Movement IV, Geschwind, doch nicht zu sehr und mit Entschlossenheit (Allegro), in his own handwriting. The piece was completed in 1816.

Music history or historical musicology is concerned with the composition, performance, reception, and criticism of music over time. Historical studies of music are for example concerned with a composer's life and works, the developments of styles and genres (e. g. baroque concertos), the social function of music for a particular group of people (e. g. court music), or modes of performance at a particular place and time (e. g. Johann Sebastian Bach's choir in Leipzig). Like the comparable field of art history, different branches and schools of historical musicology emphasize different types of musical works and approaches to music. There are also national differences in various definitions of historical musicology. In theory, "music history" could refer to the study of the history of any type or genre of music (e.g., the history of Indian music or the history of rock). In practice, these research topics are more often considered within ethnomusicology (see below) and "historical musicology" is typically assumed to imply Western Art music of the European tradition.

The methods of historical musicology include source studies (esp. manuscript studies), paleography, philology (especially textual criticism), style criticism, historiography (the choice of historical method), musical analysis (the analysis of music in order to find "inner coherence"),[4] and iconography. The application of musical analysis to further these goals is often a part of music history, though pure analysis or the development of new tools of music analysis is more likely to be seen in the field of music theory. Music historians create a number of written products, ranging from journal articles describing their current research, new editions of musical works, biographies of composers and other musicians, book-length studies or university textbook chapters or entire textbooks. Music historians may examine issues in a close focus, as in the case of scholars who examine the relationship between words and music for a given composer's art songs. On the other hand, some scholars take a broader view, and assess the place of a given type of music, such as the symphony in society using techniques drawn from other fields, such as economics, sociology, or philosophy.

New musicology is a term applied since the late 1980s to a wide body of work emphasizing cultural study, analysis, and criticism of music. Such work may be based on feminist, gender studies, queer theory, or postcolonial theory, or the work of Theodor Adorno. Although New Musicology emerged from within historical musicology, the emphasis on cultural study within the Western art music tradition places New Musicology at the junction between historical, ethnological and sociological research in music.

New musicology was a reaction against traditional historical musicology, which according to Susan McClary, "fastidiously declares issues of musical signification off-limits to those engaged in legitimate scholarship." Charles Rosen, however, retorts that McClary, "sets up, like so many of the 'new musicologists', a straw man to knock down, the dogma that music has no meaning, and no political or social significance".[5] Today, many musicologists no longer distinguish between musicology and New Musicology, since many of the scholarly concerns that used to be associated New Musicology have now become mainstream, and the term "new" clearly no longer applies.

Cultural musicology or ethnomusicology[edit]

Main article: Ethnomusicology

Ethnomusicology, formerly comparative musicology, is the study of music in its cultural context. It is often considered the anthropology or ethnography of music. Jeff Todd Titon has called it the study of "people making music". Although it is most often concerned with the study of non-Western musics, it also includes the study of Western music from an anthropological or sociological perspective, cultural studies and sociology as well as other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Some ethnomusicologists primarily conduct historical studies,[6] but the majority are involved in long-term participant observation, or combine ethnographic and historical approaches in their fieldwork. Therefore, ethnomusiological scholarship can be characterized as featuring a substantial, intensive fieldwork component, often involving long-term residence within the community studied. Closely related to ethnomusiology is the emerging branch of sociomusicology. For instance, Ko (2011) proposed the hypothesis of "Biliterate and Trimusical" in Hong Kong sociomusicology.[7]

Popular music studies[edit]

Popular music studies, known, "misleadingly,"[8] as popular musicology, emerged in the 1980s as an increasing number of musicologists, ethnomusicologists, and other varieties of historians of American and European culture began to write about popular musics past and present. The first journal focusing on popular music studies was Popular Music, which began publication in 1981. It was not until 1994 that an academic society solely devoted to the topic was formed, the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. The Association's founding was partly motivated by the interdisciplinary agenda of popular musicology though the group has been characterized by a polarized 'musicological' and 'sociological' approach also typical of popular musicology.[9]

Music theory, analysis and composition[edit]

Main article: Music theory

Music theory is a field of study that describes the elements of music and includes the development and application of methods for composing and for analyzing music through both notation and, on occasion, musical sound itself. Broadly, theory may include any statement, belief, or conception of or about music (Boretz, 1995). A person who studies or practices music theory is a music theorist.

Some music theorists attempt to explain the techniques composers use by establishing rules and patterns. Others model the experience of listening to or performing music. Though extremely diverse in their interests and commitments, many Western music theorists are united in their belief that the acts of composing, performing, and listening to music may be explicated to a high degree of detail (this, as opposed to a conception of musical expression as fundamentally ineffable except in musical sounds). Generally, works of music theory are both descriptive and prescriptive, attempting both to define practice and to influence later practice. Thus, music theory generally lags behind practice but also points towards future exploration, composition, and performance.

Musicians study music theory in order to be able to understand the structural relationships in the (nearly always notated) music, and composers study music theory in order to be able to understand how to produce effects and to structure their own works. Composers may study music theory in order to guide their precompositional and compositional decisions. Broadly speaking, music theory in the Western tradition focuses on harmony and counterpoint, and then uses these to explain large scale structure and the creation of melody.

Music psychology[edit]

Music psychology applies the content and methods of all subdisciplines of psychology (perception, cognition, motivation, etc.) to understand how music is created, perceived, responded to, and incorporated into individuals' and societies' daily lives.[10] Its primary branches include cognitive musicology, which emphasizes the use of computational models for human musical abilities and cognition, and the cognitive neuroscience of music, which studies the way that music perception and production manifests in the brain using the methodologies of cognitive neuroscience. While aspects of the field can be highly theoretical, much of modern music psychology seeks to optimize the practices and professions of music performance, composition, education, and therapy.[11]

Performance practice and research[edit]

Main article: Authentic performance

Performance practice draws on many of the tools of historical musicology to answer the specific question of how music was performed in various places at various times in the past. Although previously confined to early music, recent research in performance practice has embraced questions such as how the early history of recording affected the use of vibrato in classical music, or instruments in Klezmer.

Within the rubric of musicology, performance practice tends to emphasize the collection and synthesis of evidence about how music should be performed. The important other side, learning how to sing authentically or perform a historical instrument is usually part of conservatory or other performance training. However, many top researchers in performance practice are also excellent musicians.

Music performance research (or music performance science) is strongly associated with music psychology. It aims to document and explain the psychological, physiological, sociological and cultural details of how music is actually performed (rather than how it should be performed). The approach to research tends to be systematic and empirical, and to involve the collection and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data. The findings of music performance research can often be applied in music education.

Education and careers[edit]

Music historian Jack Stewart lectures at a conference.

Musicologists typically hold a Ph.D in musicology. In the 1960s and 1970s, some musicologists obtained professor positions with an M.A. as their highest degree, but in the 2010s, the Ph.D is the standard minimum credential for tenure track professor positions. As part of their initial training, musicologists will typically complete a B.Mus or a B.A. in music (or a related field such as history) and in many cases an M.A. in musicology. Some individuals apply directly from a bachelor's degree to a Ph.D, and in these cases, they may not receive an M.A. In the 2010s, given the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of university graduate programs, some applicants for musicology Ph.D programs may have academic training both in music and outside of music (e.g., a student may apply with a B.Mus and an M.A. in psychology). In music education, individuals may hold an M.Ed and an Ed.D.

Most musicologists work as instructors, lecturers or professors in colleges, universities or conservatories. The job market for tenure track professor positions is very competitive. Applicants must hold a completed Ph.D or the equivalent degree and have a strong record of publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Some Ph.D-holding musicologists are only able to find insecure positions as sessional lecturers. The job tasks of a musicologist are the same as those of a professor in any other humanities discipline: she teaches undergraduate and/or graduate classes in her area of specialization and, in many cases some general courses (such as Music Appreciation or Introduction to Music History), conducts research in her area of expertise, publishes articles about her research in peer-reviewed journals, authors book chapters, books or textbooks, travels to conferences to give talks on her research and learn about research in her field, and, if her program includes a graduate school, supervises M.A. and Ph.D students and gives them guidance on the preparation of their theses and dissertations. Some musicology professors may take on senior administrative positions in their institution, such as Dean or Chair of the School of Music.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Haines, Eight Centuries of Troubadours and Trouvères: The Changing Identity of Medieval Music (Cambridge, 2004), '55.
  2. ^ Adler, Guido (1885). Umfang, Methode und Ziel der Musikwissenschaft. Vierteljahresschrift für Musikwissenschaft, 1, 5-20.
  3. ^ The numbers of active participants at international conferences suggests that the subdisciplines are equal in size
  4. ^ Beard, David; Kenneth Gloag (2005). Musicology: the key concepts. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-31692-7. 
  5. ^ Rosen, Charles (2001). "The New Musicology". Critical Entertainments: Music Old and New (Harvard University Press). p. 264. ISBN 978-0-674-00684-3.  Missing or empty |title= (help) "(I doubt that anyone, except perhaps the nineteenth-century critic Hanslick, has ever really believed that, although some musicians have been goaded into proclaiming it by the sillier interpretations of music with which we are often assailed.)"
  6. ^ McCollum, Jonathan and Hebert, David, Eds., (2014). Theory and Method in Historical Ethnomusicology Lanham, MD: Rowman&Littlefield.
  7. ^ Ko, C. K. S. (2011). An analysis of sociomusicology, its issues; and the music and society in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Ko Ka Shing. ISBN 978-9-881-58021-4. This book has been selected for inclusion in the Association for Chinese Music Research Bibliography in 2012, see [1].
  8. ^ Moore, Allan, ed. (2003). Analyzing Popular Music, p. 2. ISBN 978-0-521-77120-7. p. 2n2 reads: "'Popular musicology' should be read as the musicological investigation of popular music, rather than the accessible investigation of music!"
  9. ^ Moore 2003, p. 4.
  10. ^ Tan, Siu-Lan; Pfordresher, Peter; Harré, Rom (2010). Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance. New York: Psychology Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-84169-868-7. 
  11. ^ Ockelford, Adam (2009). "Beyond music psychology". In Hallam, Susan; Cross, Ian; Thaut, Michael. The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 539. ISBN 978-0-19-929845-7. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Allen, Warren Dwight (1962). Philosophies of Music History: a Study of General Histories of Music, 1600-1960. New ... ed. New York: Dover Publications. N.B.: First published in 1939; expanded and updated for republication in 1962.
  • Babich, Babette (2003) "Postmodern Musicology" in Victor E. Taylor and Charles Winquist, eds., Routledge Encyclopedia of Postmodernism, London: Routledge, 2003. pp. 153–159. ISBN 978-0-415-30886-1.
  • Brackett, David (1995). Interpreting Popular Music. ISBN 0-520-22541-4.
  • Everett, Walter, ed. (2000). Expression in Pop-Rock Music. ISBN 0-8153-3160-6.
  • McCollum, Jonathan and David Hebert, eds. (2014). Theory and Method in Historical Ethnomusicology. Lanham, MD: Lexington. ISBN 978-0-7391-6826-4.
  • Honing, Henkjan (2006). "On the growing role of observation, formalization and experimental method in musicology. " Empirical Musicology Review.
  • Kerman, Joseph (1985). Musicology. London: Fontana. ISBN 0-00-197170-0.
  • McClary, Susan, and Robert Walser (1988). "Start Making Sense! Musicology Wrestles with Rock" in On Record ed. by Frith and Goodwin (1990), pp. 277–292. ISBN 0-394-56475-8.
  • McClary, Susan (1991). Feminine Endings. Music, Gender, and Sexuality. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-1899-2 (pbk).
  • McClary, Susan (2000). "Women and Music on the Verge of the New Millennium (Special Issue: Feminists at a Millennium)", Signs 25/4 (Summer): 1283-1286.
  • Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-15275-9.
  • Moore, A.F. (2001). Rock: The Primary Text, 2nd edn., ISBN 0-7546-0298-2.
  • Parncutt, Richard. (2007). "Systematic musicology and the history and future of Western musical scholarship", Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies, 1, 1-32.
  • Pruett, James W., and Thomas P. Slavens (1985). Research guide to musicology. Chicago: American Library Association. ISBN 0-8389-0331-2.
  • Randel, Don Michael, ed. (4th ed. 2003). Harvard Dictionary of Music, pp. 452–454. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01163-5.
  • Tagg, Philip (1979, ed. 2000). Kojak - 50 Seconds of Television Music: Toward the Analysis of Affect in Popular Music, pp. 38–45. The Mass Media Music Scholar's Press. ISBN 0-9701684-0-3.
  • Tagg, Philip (1982). "Analysing Popular Music: Theory, Method and Practice", Popular Music, Vol. 2, Theory and Method, pp. 37–67.
  • van der Merwe, Peter (1989). Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth Century Popular Music. ISBN 0-19-816305-3 (1992).
  • Winkler, Peter (1978). "Toward a theory of pop harmony", In Theory Only, 4, pp. 3–26., cited in Moore (2003), p. 9.

External links[edit]

On-line journals

Although many musicology journals are not available on-line, or are only available through pay-for-access portals, a sampling of peer reviewed journals in various subfields gives some idea of musicological writings:

The following musicology journals can be accessed on-line through JSTOR (requires subscription for full access). Many of them have their latest issues available on-line via publisher portals (usually requiring a fee for access).