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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Musicology (Greek: μουσική = "music" and λόγος = "word" or "reason") is the scholarly study of music. The word is used in narrow, broad and intermediate senses. In the narrow sense, musicology is confined to the music history of Western culture. In the intermediate sense, it includes all relevant cultures and a range of musical forms, styles, genres and traditions. In the broad sense, it includes all musically relevant disciplines and all manifestations of music in all cultures. The broad meaning corresponds most closely to the word's etymology, 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).

In the broad definition, the parent disciplines of musicology include history; cultural studies and gender studies; philosophy, 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, 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.

Traditionally, historical musicology has been considered the largest and most important subdiscipline of musicology. Today, historical musicology is one of several large subdisciplines. Historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and systematic musicology are approximately equal in size - if numbers of active participants at international conferences is any guide. Systematic musicology includes music acoustics,the science and technology of acoustical musical instruments, physiology, psychology, sociology, philosophy and computing. Cognitive Musicology is the set of phenomena surrounding the computational modeling of music.




Historical musicology

Music history or historical musicology studies 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 different approaches to music. There are also national differences in the definition 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 assumed (ethnocentrically) to imply Western Art music.

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, 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, biography of composers and other musicians, or book-length studies. 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. On the other hand, some scholars take a broader view, and assess the place of a given type of music 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. (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.)' (Rosen 2000).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.


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 Titonhas 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 socologIcal perspective, cultural studies and sociology as well as other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Though some ethnomusicologists primarily conduct historical studies, the majority are involveod in long-term participant observation. Therefore, ethnomusiological work can be characterized as featuring a substantial, intensive ethnographic component. Closely related to ethnouiology is the emerging branch of sociomusicology.

Popular music studies

Mickey Hart (above, at the Web 2.0 conference in 2005) is a noted musicologist. Hart performed drumming and percussion for many years with the U.S. rock band the Grateful Dead as part of a dual drum set ensemble, along with Bill Kreutzmann.

Popular music studies, known, "misleadingly,"(Moore 2003, p.2) 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 (Moore ibid, p.4).

Music theory, analysis and composition

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 in important ways, 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 and cognition

Music psychology applies the content and methods of all subdisciplines of psychology (perception, cognition, motivation, personality and so on) to all aspects of musical behaviour and experience (performance, listening, composition). Music cognition is the study of music as information, from the viewpoint of cognitive science. Since it primarily addresses the processing of musical information by humans, it may be regarded as a subdiscipline of music psychology. The discipline shares the interdisciplinary nature of fields such as cognitive linguistics.

Performance practice and research

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.


Exclusion of disciplines and musics

In its most narrow definition, historical musicology is the music history of Western culture. Such a definition arbitrarily excludes disciplines other than history, cultures other than Western, and forms of music other than "classical" ("art", "serious", "high culture") or notated ("artificial"). A somewhat broader definition incorporating all musical humanities is still problematic, because it arbitrarily excludes the relevant (natural) sciences (acoustics, psychology, physiology, neurosciences, information and computer sciences, empirical sociology and aesthetics) as well as musical practice.

Within historical musicology, scholars have been reluctant to adopt postmodern and critical approaches that are common elsewhere in the humanities. According to Susan McClary (2000, p.1285) the discipline of "music lags behind the other arts; it picks up ideas from other media just when they have become outmoded." Only in the 1990s did historical musicologists, preceded by feminist musicologists in the late 1980s, begin to address issues such as gender, sexualities, bodies, emotions, and subjectivities which dominated the humanities for twenty years before (ibid, p.10). In McClary's words (1991, p.5), "It almost seems that musicology managed miraculously to pass directly from pre- to postfeminism without ever having to change - or even examine - its ways." Furthermore, in their discussion on musicology and rock music, Susan McClary and Robert Walser also address a key struggle within the discipline: how musicology has often "dismisse[d] questions of socio-musical interaction out of hand, that part of classical music's greatness is ascribed to its autonomy from society." (1988, p. 283).

Exclusion of popular music

According to Richard Middleton, the strongest criticism of (historical) musicology has been that it by and large ignores popular music. Though musicological study of popular music has vastly increased in quantity recently, Middleton's assertion in 1990-- that most major "works of musicology, theoretical or historical, act as though popular music did not exist" -- holds true. Academic and conservatory training typically only peripherally addresses this broad spectrum of musics, and many (historical) musicologists who are "both contemptuous and condescending are looking for types of production, musical form, and listening which they associate with a different kind of music...'classical music'...and they generally find popular music lacking. He cites three main aspects of this problem (p.104-6). The terminology of historical musicology is "slanted by the needs and history of a particular music ('classical music')." He acknowledges that "there is a rich vocabulary for certain areas [harmony, tonality, certain part-writing and forms], important in musicology's typical corpus"; yet he points out that there is "an impoverished vocabulary for other areas [rhythm, pitch nuance and gradation, and timbre], which are less well developed" in Classical music. Middleton argues that a number of "terms are ideologically loaded" in that "they always involve selective, and often unconsciously formulated, conceptions of what music is."

As well, he claims that historical musicology uses "a methodology slanted by the characteristics of notation," 'notational centricity' (Tagg 1979, p.28-32). As a result "musicological methods tend to foreground those musical parameters which can be easily notated" such as pitch relationships or the relationship between words and music. On the other hand, historical musicology tends to "neglect or have difficulty with parameters which are not easily notated", such as tone colour or non-Western rhythms. In addition, he claims that the "notation-centric training" of Western music schools "induces particular forms of listening, and these then tend to be applied to all sorts of music, appropriately or not". As a result, Western music students trained in historical musicology may listen to a funk or latin song that is very rhythmically complex, but then dismiss it as a low-level musical work because it has a very simple melody and only uses two or three chords. Notational centricity also encourages "reification: the score comes to be seen as 'the music', or perhaps the music in an ideal form." As such, music that does not use a written score, such as jazz, blues, or folk, can become demoted to a lower level of status. As well, historical musicology has "an ideology slanted by the origins and development of a particular body of music and its aesthetic...It arose at a specific moment, in a specific context - nineteenth-century Europe, especially Germany - and in close association with that movement in the musical practice of the period which was codifying the very repertory then taken by musicology as the centre of its attention." These terminological, methodological, and ideological problems affect even works symphathetic to popular music. However, it is not "that musicology cannot understand popular music, or that students of popular music should abandon musicology" (p.104).

See also

Further reading

Popular music studies

  • Winkler, Peter (1978). "Toward a theory of pop harmony", In Theory Only, 4, pp. 3-26., cited in Moore (2003), p.9.
  • Tagg, Philip (1982). "Analysing Popular Music: Theory, Method and Practice", Popular Music, Vol. 2, Theory and Method, pp. 37-67., ibid.
  • van der Merwe, Peter (1989). Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth Century Popular Music. ISBN 0198163053 (1992)., ibid.
  • Middleton, David (1990) Studying Popular Music. ISBN 0335152759., ibid. and van der Merwe (2007), p.515.
  • Brackett, Richard (1995). Interpreting Popular Music. ISBN 0-520-22541-1., ibid.
  • Everett, Walter, ed. (2000). Expression in Pop-Rock Music. ISBN 0815331606., ibid.
  • Moore, A.F. (2001). Rock: The Primary Text, 2nd edn., ISBN 0754602982., ibid.


  • Adler, Guido (1885). Umfang, Methode und Ziel der Musikwissenschaft. Vierteljahresschrift für Musikwissenschaft, 1, 5-20.
  • Honing, Henkjan (2006). "On the growing role of observation, formalization and experimental method in musicology." Empirical Musicology Review, 1/1, 2-5
  • 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 0394564758.
  • 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, Allan, ed. (2003). Analyzing Popular Music, p.2. ISBN 9780521771207. p.2n2 reads: "'Popular musicology' should be read as the musicological investigation of popular music, rather than the accessible investigation of music!"
  • Parncutt, Richard. (2007). "Systematic musicology and the history and future of Western musical scholarship", Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies, 1, 1-32. [1]
  • 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.
  • Rosen, Charles (2000). "The New Musicology", in Critical Entertainments: Music Old and New, pp. 255–272. Harvard University Press.
  • 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.

External links

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).

  • 19th-Century Music (1977-2004)
  • Acta Musicologica (1931-2002) (current organ of the International Musicological Society)
  • American Music (1983-2005) (Society for American Music)
  • Asian Music (1968-2002)
  • Black Music Research Journal (1980-2004) (Center for Black Music Research)
  • British Journal of Ethnomusicology (1992-2002)
  • Early Music History (1981-2002)
  • Ethnomusicology (1953-2003) (Society for Ethnomusicology)
  • Journal of Music Theory (1957-2002)
  • The Journal of Musicology (1982-2004)
  • Journal of the American Musicological Society (1948-2004) (American Musicological Society)
  • Music Educators Journal (1934-2007)
  • Music Theory Spectrum (1979-2003) (Society for Music Theory)
  • The Musical Quarterly (1915-1999) )
  • Perspectives of New Music (1962-2000)
  • Popular Music (1981-2003)
  • Yearbook for Traditional Music (1981-2003)


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

It has been suggested that New musicology be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)

Musicology is the scholarly study of music. The word is used in narrow, broad and intermediate senses. In the narrow sense, musicology is confined to the music history of Western cultural elites. In the intermediate sense, it includes all relevant humanities and a range of musical forms, styles, genres and traditions. In the broad sense, it includes — at least potentially — all musically relevant disciplines and all manifestations of music in all cultures.


  • It is important to remember that there really is very little resembling criticism of any sort in musicology.
    • Susan McClary in Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality(1991), p.19-20. ISBN 0816618984
  • Considering how readily musicologists criticize one another — witness the merciless footnotes (and reviews) of so many books and articles — the innocent bystander must find it strange that they remain unwilling to venture judgments about the quality of the music around which they work... But it is hard to see what can be the purpose of musicology if not to advise people on what to hear and how to hear it. Separating out the good, the bad and the indifferent, and helping listeners enjoy the best, is surely the least we can offer society in return for our keep.
    • Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, in "The good, the bad and the boring" in Companion to Medieval & Renaissance Music (1997) ISBN 0198165404

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up musicology in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to School:Music and Dance article)

From Wikiversity

Welcome to the School of Music and Dance, part of Humanities!
Bass ostinato Snow Red Hot Chili Peppers.png


Welcome to the Wikiversity School of Music and Dance.
Music is an extremely broad topic. This school will offer learning material in music theory, composition, ear training, and history courses.
The courses in each field of study are numbered in the order that the courses should be completed. Please feel free to add courses or subject matter.
Table of Content
Nuvola apps korganizer.png

Divisions and Departments

Here are the current departments in the School of Music and Dance

  • Music in Film - Participants study the history of music in film and create sound tracks for new movies.
This course breaks down film scoring into the basic steps for musicians and filmmakers who want to expand their skills. After 15 very short lessons, you begin working with real scenes. Developed in partnership with Wikiversity Film School.
  • Basic Blues & Rock - participants learn and practice the fundamental patterns, chord progressions and other basics of Blues, Rock and related music styles.
  • Department of Country Music

Note to new instructors
Proper formatting
If you wish to start your own Division or Department in the School of Music and Dance, please use the page naming format of:
[[Topic:Your Department Name | Your full departmental name]]
Divisions and Departments of this school exist on pages in "topic" namespace. Start the name of departments with the "Topic:" prefix; departments reside in the Topic: namespace. Departments and divisions link to learning meaterials and learning projects. Divisions can link subdivisions or to departments. For more information on schools, divisions and departments look at the Naming Conventions.

Active participants

The histories of Wikiversity pages indicate who the active participants are. If you are an active participant in this school, you can list your name here (this can help small schools grow and the participants communicate better; for large schools it is not needed).

  • Tdawggk
  • Dr. Lovely Sharma, Sitarist
  • Pianist
  • Mr Music play a note
  • Chridall
  • Pedmands
  • Matt Kaner
  • HappyCamper
  • Jonathan Chasteen
  • CQ
  • Robert Elliot, the instructor for the "Film scoring introduction for filmmakers (non-musicians) and the Film scoring for musicians." If you want more information about the courses, you can contact me by clicking here.
  • Shadow Song
  • Ahmednh
  • Capacchione
  • Aidan
  • Scott
  • Raspberry - Ear training, Western music theory, many broad topics
  • Bananagirl
  • Nannus the focus of my interest is in African music and dance. I also want to work on making the structure of this school a little less eurocentric.
  • MusicWeaver
  • Randalllin
  • Kittybriton I know a little about the recorder, and its part in early music, so will try to start building a course for recorder students.
  • Richums
  • Laleena 19:01, 6 July 2007 (UTC) My specialty is Biblical music & musical instruments, including piano & flutophone. Not much theory/composition.
  • Aaron Walden Specializing in folk instruments and early instruments.
  • Dr. Raphael Thoene Graduate in composition, music theory, Ph.D. in musicology. I look forward to contribute a few articles on Music-Theory related questions or musicological concepts.
  • User:Chocoman
  • User:Piratebob13 specializing in Bluegrass, New Acoustic and folk music, especially concerning the mandolin.
  • P.M. Dahl
  • Matt Balmer -- specializing in brass instruments, music theory, and music education in general.
  • User:goodguy007 -- specializing in country and christian music, along with clairnet drum and piano areas.

School news

  • August 15 - School founded! -what year?

Learning resources

Where are the courses?
Waiting for you to create one. Wikiversity is a developing project, and depends on its contributors (anyone can contribute) for its content. Whether you call it a "course" or a "learning project", you can organize it here. Courses/Learning projects can be organised from a new "Topic" page, or directly in the Main namespace (ie without any prefix). We encourage you to take the initiative and add your materials here!
Follow these links to learn how: Intro to Learning Projects • The Main Learning Projects Page • Credentials, diplomas & provenance • Policies • Learning • Education


  • Percussion Instruments
    • Auxiliary Percussion (Cymbals, wind chimes, other toys, etc.)
    • Concert Drums (Snare drum, bass drum, timpani, etc.)
    • Drumset
    • Mallet Instruments (Marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, chimes, etc.)
    • Tabla (an Indian pair of drums)
    • Pipe and tabor

Theory and Composition

Western Music

The goal of the Theory and Composition department is to equip the student with the tools and skills necessary to compose, arrange and analyze music. At the completion of this course of study, students will possess the skills and knowledge of western theory, creative writing, arranging, as well as having a portfolio of original works.

Ear Training

Ear training is learning/training your ears to recognize what you hear and put it down onto paper. These are basic learning guides, exercises and projects to help you understand in a meaningful way the flurry of sound in music.



Western Music

African Music

African Music and Dance

Jazz Studies


Hands On



External links

Simple English

Musicology means the study of music by a scholar. A scholar is an academic person, often a professor or lecturer at a university. Someone who studies musicology is a Musicologist.

Musicologists study all kinds of music. They study the history of music and learn about all the composers and how they developed their ideas and learned from one another. They can do this by studying music scores, or by looking for historical documents which tell us about musicians from the past. Musicologists may also study the philosophy of music (thinking about what music means).

They write articles in musical journals or books on music. This can help us to know and understand more about the music we play or listen to.


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