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Ecomusicology (from Greek οἶκος, meaning "house"; μουσική, "music"; and -λογία, "study of-") is an academic discipline concerned with the study of music, culture, and nature, and considers musical and sonic issues, both textual and performative, related to ecology and the natural environment. It is in essence a mixture of ecocriticism and musicology (rather than "ecology" and "musicology"), in Charles Seeger's holistic definition. [1] [2]

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Music form of art using sound and silence

Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.

Nature Universe events since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago

Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, or material world or universe. "Nature" can refer to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. The study of nature is a large, if not the only, part of science. Although humans are part of nature, human activity is often understood as a separate category from other natural phenomena.



With the increasing intertwined interest in the environment and the sciences in North America from the 1970s, there has been an increase in interest in the term ecomusicology, which was established as a term in the early 21st century in North American and Scandinavian circles. [1] As a field, ecomusicology was created out of a common area of interest between the fields of ecocriticism and musicology, expressed by a range of scholars and artists such as composers, acoustic ecologists, ethnomusicologists, biomusicologists, and others. [3]

Acoustic ecology, sometimes called ecoacoustics or soundscape studies, is a discipline studying the relationship, mediated through sound, between human beings and their environment. Acoustic ecology studies started in the late 1960s with R. Murray Schafer and his team at Simon Fraser University as part of the World Soundscape Project. The original WSP team included Barry Truax and Hildegard Westerkamp, Bruce Davies and Peter Huse, among others. The first study produced by the WSP was titled The Vancouver Soundscape. The interest in this area grew enormously after this pioneer and innovative study and the area of acoustic ecology raised the interest of researchers and artists all over the world. In 1993, the members of the by now large and active international acoustic ecology community formed the World Forum of Acoustic Ecology.

Ethnomusicology study of music emphasizing cultural, social, material, cognitive, biological, and other dimensions

Ethnomusicology is the study of music from the cultural and social aspects of the people who make it. It encompasses distinct theoretical and methodical approaches that emphasize cultural, social, material, cognitive, biological, and other dimensions or contexts of musical behavior, instead of only its isolated sound component.

Biomusicology is the study of music from a biological point of view. The term was coined by Nils L. Wallin in 1991 to encompass several branches of music psychology and musicology, including evolutionary musicology, neuromusicology, and comparative musicology.

Ecomusicology embraces what is today considered the field of historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and related interdisciplinary fields, which while at the same time may enable specialists within each of these fields to interact with academics in the other fields in their approach, it also provides individuals with flexibility to approach an ecocritical study of music through a variety of disciplines and fields. [1]

Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combining of two or more academic disciplines into one activity. It draws knowledge from several other fields like sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics etc. It is about creating something by thinking across boundaries. It is related to an interdiscipline or an interdisciplinary field, which is an organizational unit that crosses traditional boundaries between academic disciplines or schools of thought, as new needs and professions emerge. Large engineering teams are usually interdisciplinary, as a power station or mobile phone or other project requires the melding of several specialties. However, the term "interdisciplinary" is sometimes confined to academic settings.

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Musicology is the scholarly analysis and research-based study of music. Musicology departments traditionally belong to the humanities, although music research is often more scientific in focus. A scholar who participates in musical research is a musicologist.

Environmental movement Movement for addressing environmental issues

The environmental movement, also including conservation and green politics, is a diverse scientific, social, and political movement for addressing environmental issues. Environmentalists advocate the sustainable management of resources and stewardship of the environment through changes in public policy and individual behavior. In its recognition of humanity as a participant in ecosystems, the movement is centered on ecology, health, and human rights.

Political ecology study of political, economic and social factors about environmental issues

Political ecology is the study of the relationships between political, economic and social factors with environmental issues and changes. Political ecology differs from apolitical ecological studies by politicizing environmental issues and phenomena.

Environmental history specialisation of history

Environmental history is the study of human interaction with the natural world over time, emphasising the active role nature plays in influencing human affairs and vice versa.

Ecopsychology studies the relationship between human beings and the natural world through ecological and psychological principles. The field seeks to develop and understand ways of expanding the emotional connection between individuals and the natural world, thereby assisting individuals with developing sustainable lifestyles and remedying alienation from nature. Theodore Roszak is credited with coining the term in his 1992 book, The Voice of the Earth, although a group of psychologists and environmentalists in Berkeley, including Mary Gomes and Allen Kanner, were independently using the term to describe their own work at the same time. Roszak, Gomes and Kanner later expanded the idea in the 1995 anthology Ecopsychology. Two other books were especially formative for the field, Paul Shepard's 1982 volume, "Nature and Madness," which explored the effect that our ever-diminishing engagement with wild nature had upon human psychological development, and philosopher David Abram's The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, published in 1996. The latter was the first widely read book to bring phenomenology to bear on ecological and ecopsychological issues, examining in detail the earthly dimensions of sensory experience, and disclosing the historical effect of formal writing systems upon the human experience of nature's agency, voice, and interiority.

Ecocriticism is the study of literature and the environment from an interdisciplinary point of view, where literature scholars analyze texts that illustrate environmental concerns and examine the various ways literature treats the subject of nature. Some ecocritics brainstorm possible solutions for the correction of the contemporary environmental situation, though not all ecocritics agree on the purpose, methodology, or scope of ecocriticism. In the United States, ecocriticism is often associated with the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE), which hosts a biennial conference for scholars who deal with environmental matters in literature and the environmental humanities in general. ASLE publishes a journal—Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (ISLE)—in which current international scholarship can be found.

Environmental humanities

The environmental humanities is an interdisciplinary area of research, drawing on the many environmental sub-disciplines that have emerged in the humanities over the past several decades. The environmental humanities aim to help bridge traditional divides between the sciences and the humanities, as well as between Western, Eastern and Indigenous ways of relating to the natural world and the place of humans within it.

Environmental philosophy branch of philosophy

Environmental philosophy is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with the natural environment and humans' place within it. It asks crucial questions about human environmental relations such as "What do we mean when we talk about nature?" "What is the value of the natural, that is non-human environment to us, or in itself?" "How should we respond to environmental challenges such as environmental degradation, pollution and climate change?" "How can we best understand the relationship between the natural world and human technology and development?" and "What is our place in the natural world?" As such, it uniquely positions itself as a field set to deal with the challenges of the 21st Century. Environmental philosophy includes environmental ethics, environmental aesthetics, ecofeminism, environmental hermeneutics, and environmental theology. Some of the main areas of interest for environmental philosophers are:

Ecolinguistics, or ecological linguistics, emerged in the 1990s as a new paradigm of linguistic research, widening sociolinguistics to take into account not only the social context in which language is embedded, but also the ecological context.

Greta Jo Gaard is an ecofeminist writer, scholar, activist, and documentary filmmaker. Gaard's academic work in the realms of ecocriticism and ecocomposition is widely cited by scholars in the disciplines of composition and literary criticism. Her theoretical work extending ecofeminist thought into queer theory, queer ecology, vegetarianism, and animal liberation has been influential within women's studies. A cofounder of the Minnesota Green Party, Gaard documented the transition of the U.S. Green movement into the Green Party of the United States in her book, Ecological Politics. She is currently a professor of English at University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a community faculty member in Women's Studies at Metropolitan State University, Twin Cities.

Alexander Rehding is Fanny Peabody Professor of Music at Harvard University. Rehding is a music theorist and musicologist with a focus on intellectual history and media theory, known for innovative interdisciplinary work. His publications explore music in a wide range of contexts from Ancient Greek music to the Eurovision Song Contest—and even in outer space. His research has contributed to Riemannian theory, the history of music theory, sound studies, and media archaeology, reaching into the digital humanities and ecomusicology.

Gary Alfred Tomlinson is an American musicologist and the John Hay Whitney Professor of Music and Humanities at Yale University. He was formerly the Annenberg Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Ph.D., in 1979 with thesis titled Rinuccini, Peri, Monteverdi, and the humanist heritage of opera.

Ecological art is an art genre and artistic practice that seeks to preserve, remediate and/or vitalize the life forms, resources and ecology of Earth, by applying the principles of ecosystems to living species and their habitats throughout the lithosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere, including wilderness, rural, suburban and urban locations. It is a distinct genre from Environmental art in that it involves functional ecological systems-restoration, as well as socially engaged, activist, community-based interventions. Ecological art also addresses politics, culture, economics, ethics and aesthetics as they impact the conditions of ecosystems. Ecological art practitioners include artists, scientists, philosophers and activists who often collaborate on restoration, remediation and public awareness projects.

Ecofeminism is a branch of feminism that sees environmentalism, and the relationship between women and the earth, as foundational to its analysis and practice. Ecofeminist thinkers draw on the concept of gender to analyse the relationships between humans and the natural world. The term was coined by the French writer Françoise d'Eaubonne in her book Le Féminisme ou la Mort (1974). Ecofeminist theory asserts that a feminist perspective of ecology does not place women in the dominant position of power, but rather calls for an egalitarian, collaborative society in which there is no one dominant group. Today, there are several branches of ecofeminism, with varying approaches and analyses, including liberal ecofeminism, spiritual/cultural ecofeminism, and social/socialist ecofeminism. Interpretations of ecofeminism and how it might be applied to social thought include ecofeminist art, social justice and political philosophy, religion, contemporary feminism, and poetry.

Environmental hermeneutics is a term for a wide range of scholarship that applies the techniques and resources of the philosophical field of hermeneutics to environmental issues. That is to say it addresses issues of interpretation as they relate to nature and environmental issues broadly conceived to include wilderness, ecosystems, landscapes, ecology, the built environment (architecture), life, embodiment, and more. Work in environmental philosophy, ecocriticism, environmental theology, ecotheology, and similar disciplines may overlap the field of environmental hermeneutics.

In the public sphere, much of the focus on “the environment” is concerned with discovering scientific facts and then reporting how policy can act on these facts. On its face, philosophical hermeneutics might appear to be an unrelated enterprise. But... even the facts of the sciences are given meaning by how humans interpret them. Of course this does not mean that there are no facts, or that all facts must come from scientific discourse. Rather... [it calls] for mediation—the mediation that grounds the interpretive task of connecting fact and meaning through a number of different structures and forms. (Clingerman, et al. 2013, emphasis added)

Anthony Carrigan (academic) British post-colonial theorist

Anthony James Carrigan was a British academic noted for his pioneering work in combining the theoretical paradigms of postcolonialism and environmental studies.

Serenella Iovino is an Italian professor, and cultural and literary theorist. From 2001 to 2018 she has been a professor of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and of Modern Cultures at the University of Turin, Italy.. In 2019 she has become Professor of Italian Studies and Environmental Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 2008 to 2010, she has served as President of the European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and Environment (EASLCE). In 2014, Iovino was a J. K. Binder Lecturer at the University of California, San Diego. She is considered one of the main environmental philosophers of Italy.

Ecofiction is the branch of literature that encompasses nature-oriented (non-human) or environment-oriented works of fiction. While this super genre's roots are seen in classic, pastoral, magical realism, animal metamorphoses, science fiction, and other genres, the term ecofiction did not become popular until the 1970s when various environmental movements created the platform for an explosion of environmental and nature literature, which also inspired ecocritism, the study of, among other ideas, humanity's connection with nature in literature. By this time, natural histories of ecology were modernizing, and literature followed. Environmentalists had claimed that the human relationship with the ecosystem often went unremarked in earlier literature.

Joni Adamson

Joni Adamson is an American literary and cultural theorist. She is considered one of the main proponents of environmental justice and environmental literary criticism, or Ecocriticism. She is a professor of the environmental humanities and senior sustainability scholar at Arizona State University in Arizona. In 2012–13, she served as President of the Association for the Study Literature and Environment (ASLE), the primary professional organization for environmental literary critics. From 1999 to 2010, she founded and led the Environment and Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association (ASA-ECC).


  1. 1 2 3 Allen, Aaron S. (forthcoming 2013), "Ecomusicology", Grove Dictionary of American Music, New York: Oxford University PressCheck date values in: |year= (help)
  2. " – Main Page" . Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  3. Allen, Aaron S. (Summer 2011). "Ecomusicology: Ecocriticism and Musicology" (PDF). Journal of the American Musicological Society . 64 (2): 392–393. doi:10.1525/jams.2011.64.2.391 . Retrieved 1 April 2013.

The American Musicological Society is a musicological organization founded in 1934 to advance scholarly research in the various fields of music as a branch of learning and scholarship. It grew out of a small contingent of the Music Teachers National Association and, more directly, the New York Musicological Society (1930–1934). Its founders were George S. Dickinson, Carl Engel, Gustave Reese, Helen Heffron Roberts, Joseph Schillinger, Charles Seeger, Harold Spivacke, Oliver Strunk, and Joseph Yasser. Its first president was Otto Kinkeldey, the first American to receive an appointment as professor of musicology.