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Musicology

Updated on August 21, 2014

Musicology is the organized scientific study of music. Many of its activities have a very long history, but as a separate academic discipline it emerged in Germany and Austria after the middle of the 19th century. Its important pioneers emphasized "that musical studies, particularly those in the field of history, should be raised to the same level of seriousness and accuracy which had long been adopted in the other fields of knowledge, natural sciences as well as humanities".

The musicological curriculum first proposed was to include notation, history, acoustics, melody, rhythm, harmony, counterpoint, philosophical speculation, and general research. The inclusiveness of this claim aroused opposition, and musicology more recently has come to deal chiefly with research, tending to remain aloof from (though naturally parallel with) traditional academic studies of theory, counterpoint, harmony, and form and the teaching of music history. Thus, Webster's New International Dictionary defines musicology as "a branch of knowledge of field of investigation; esp., historical study of musical documents, investigation of sources, gathering and organization of neglected data, etc."

An American musicologist, Otto Kinkeldey has written: "It distinguishes carefully between the actual work of the musician, the artist (creative or reproductive), and the work of the scholar or of the scientific observer and investigator." Recognized university courses in musicology, some of them advanced graduate study leading to the Ph.D. degree, naturally have evoked textbooks of its procedures. Particularly useful in acquiring understanding of its scope and methods is Glenn Haydon's Introduction to Musicology, published in several revised editions since its first appearance in 1941.

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