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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Musicology (from Greek (mousik), meaning "music", and - (-logia), meaning "study of-")
is the scholarly analysis and research-focused study of 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
In the broad definition, the parent disciplines of musicology include history; cultural 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 (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.
Traditionally, historical musicology has been the most prominent 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.

1 Subdisciplines
1.1 Historical musicology
1.2 Cultural musicology or ethnomusicology
1.3 Popular music studies
1.4 Music theory, analysis and composition
1.5 Music psychology
1.6 Performance practice and research
2 See also
3 References
4 Further reading
5 External links

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 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 (the analysis of music in order to find "inner coherence"),[3] 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".[4] 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

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. Though some
ethnomusicologists primarily conduct historical studies, the majority are involved in long-term participant
observation. Therefore, ethnomusiological work can be characterized as featuring a substantial, intensive
ethnographic component. 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. [5]

Popular music studies

Popular music studies, known, "misleadingly,"[6] 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 (
mnemonic=pmu), 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.[7]

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 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
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. [8] 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.[9]

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.

See also
Appropriation (music)
Computational musicology
List of musicologists
List of musicology topics
Music and emotion
Music and mathematics
Music education
Musical scale
Musical temperament
Musical tuning
Prehistoric music
Psychoanalysis and music
Set theory (music)
World music
Virtual Library of Musicology

1. John Haines, Eight Centuries of Troubadours and Trouvres: The Changing Identity of Medieval Music
(Cambridge, 2004), '55.
2. Adler, Guido (1885). Umfang, Methode und Ziel der Musikwissenschaft. Vierteljahresschrift fr
Musikwissenschaft, 1, 5-20.
3. Beard, David; Kenneth Gloag (2005). Musicology: the key concepts. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-31692-7.
4. 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.)"
5. 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] (
6. 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!"
7. Moore 2003, p. 4.
8. Tan, Siu-Lan; Pfordresher, Peter; Harr, Rom (2010). Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance. New
York: Psychology Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-84169-868-7.

9. 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
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. 153159. 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.
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. 277292. 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. 452454. 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. 3845. 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. 3767.
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. 326., cited in
Moore (2003), p. 9.

External links
The American Musicological Society ( (Wikipedia entry)
Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology Online
AMS: Web sites of interest to Musicologists (
The Society for American Music (

Wikimedia Commons has

media related to
Wikiquote has quotations
related to: Musicology

Graduate Programs in Musicology (

Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology (
International Association for the Study of Popular Music (
Society for Ethnomusicology (
Outreach Ethnomusicology ( An Online Ethnomusicology Community and
Fieldwork Resource
Wikiquote - quotes about musicology (
Rpertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM) - database of musical sources from around
the world (
Musicology in Cuba
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
JIMS: Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies (
Echo: a music centered journal (
Empirical Musicology Review (
Ethnomusicology Review (
Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies (
JMM: The Journal of Music and Meaning (
Music Theory Online (
Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music (
Ethnomusicology OnLine (
Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online (
Music and Politics (
Volume ! The French journal of popular music studies ( all articles available
for free download up to n-2.
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 (19772004)
Acta Musicologica (19312002) (current organ of the International Musicological Society)
American Music (19832005) ( Society for American Music)
Asian Music (19682002)
Black Music Research Journal (19802004) ( Center for Black Music Research)
British Journal of Ethnomusicology (19922002)
Early Music History (19812002)
Ethnomusicology (19532003) ( Society for Ethnomusicology)
Journal of Music Theory (19572002)
The Journal of Musicology (19822004)
Journal of the American Musicological Society (19482004) ( American Musicological Society)
Music Educators Journal (19342007)
Music Theory Spectrum (19792003) ( Society for Music Theory)
The Musical Quarterly (19151999)
Perspectives of New Music (19622000)
Popular Music (19812003)
Yearbook for Traditional Music (19812003)

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