Music history, sometimes called historical musicology, is a highly diverse subfield of the broader discipline of musicology that studies music from a historical point of view. 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 often categorized as part of ethnomusicology or cultural studies, whether or not they are ethnographically based. The terms "music history" and "historical musicology" usually refer to the history of the notated music of Western elites, sometimes called "art music" (by analogy to art history, which tends to focus on elite art).
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.
The music of India includes multiple varieties of Punjabi Music, classical music, folk music, filmi, Indian rock, and Indian pop. India's classical music tradition, including Hindustani music and Carnatic, has a history spanning millennia and developed over several areas. Music in India began as an integral part of socio-religious life.
Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.
The methods of music history 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. Some of the intellectual products of music historians include editions of musical works, biography of composers and other musicians, studies of the relationship between words and music, and the reflections upon the place of music in society.
A manuscript was, traditionally, any document that is written by hand — or, once practical typewriters became available, typewritten — as opposed to being mechanically printed or reproduced in some indirect or automated way. More recently, the term has come to be understood to further include any written, typed, or word-processed copy of an author's work, as distinguished from its rendition as a printed version of the same. Before the arrival of printing, all documents and books were manuscripts. Manuscripts are not defined by their contents, which may combine writing with mathematical calculations, maps, explanatory figures or illustrations. Manuscripts may be in book form, scrolls or in codex format. Illuminated manuscripts are enriched with pictures, border decorations, elaborately embossed initial letters or full-page illustrations.
Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics. Philology is more commonly defined as the study of literary texts as well as oral and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning. A person who pursues this kind of study is known as a philologist.
Textual criticism is a branch of textual scholarship, philology, and of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification of textual variants, or different versions, of either manuscripts or of printed books. Such texts may range in dates from the earliest writing in cuneiform, impressed on clay, for example, to multiple unpublished versions of a 21st century author's work. Historically, scribes who were paid to copy documents may have been literate, but many were simply copyists, mimicking the shape of letters without necessarily understanding what they meant. This means that unintentional alterations were common when copying manuscripts by hand. Intentional alterations may have been made as well, for example the censoring of printed work for political, religious or cultural reasons.
Although most performers of classical and traditional instruments receive some instruction in music, art pop, or rock and roll history from teachers throughout their training, the majority of formal music history courses are offered at the college level. In Canada, some music students receive training prior to undergraduate studies because examinations in music history (as well as music theory) are required to complete Royal Conservatory certification at the Grade 9 level and higher
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of one. A college may be a degree-awarding tertiary educational institution, a part of a collegiate or federal university, an institution offering vocational education or a secondary school.
Most medium and large institutions will offer both types of courses. The two types of courses will usually differ in length (one to two semesters vs. two to four), breadth (many music appreciation courses begin at the late Baroque or classical eras and might omit music after WWII while courses for majors traditionally span the period from the Middle Ages to recent times), and depth. Both types of courses tend to emphasize a balance among the acquisition of musical repertory (often emphasized through listening examinations), study and analysis of these works, biographical and cultural details of music and musicians, and writing about music, perhaps through music criticism.
Baroque music is a period or style of Western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750. This era followed the Renaissance music era, and was followed in turn by the Classical era. Baroque music forms a major portion of the "classical music" canon, and is now widely studied, performed, and listened to. Key composers of the Baroque era include Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, Claudio Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, Alessandro Scarlatti, Henry Purcell, Georg Philipp Telemann, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Arcangelo Corelli, Tomaso Albinoni, François Couperin, Giuseppe Tartini, Heinrich Schütz, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Dieterich Buxtehude, and Johann Pachelbel.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
Medieval music consists of songs, instrumental pieces, and liturgical music from about 500 A.D. to 1400. Medieval music was an era of Western music, including liturgical music used for the church, and secular music, non-religious music. Medieval music includes solely vocal music, such as Gregorian chant and choral music, solely instrumental music, and music that uses both voices and instruments. Gregorian chant was sung by monks during Catholic Mass. The Mass is a reenactment of Christ's Last Supper, intended to provide a spiritual connection between man and God. Part of this connection was established through music. This era begins with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century. Establishing the end of the medieval era and the beginning of the Renaissance music era is difficult, since the trends started at different times in different regions. The date range in this article is the one usually adopted by musicologists.
More specialized seminars in music history tend to use a similar approach on a narrower subject while introducing more of the tools of research in music history. The range of possible topics is virtually limitless. Some examples might be "Music during World War I," "Medieval and Renaissance instrumental music," "Music and Process," "Mozart's Don Giovanni."
A musical instrument is an instrument created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates to the beginnings of human culture. Early musical instruments may have been used for ritual, such as a trumpet to signal success on the hunt, or a drum in a religious ceremony. Cultures eventually developed composition and performance of melodies for entertainment. Musical instruments evolved in step with changing applications.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era.
The methods and tools of music history are nearly as many as its subjects and therefore make a strict categorization impossible. However, a few trends and approaches can be outlined here. Like in any other historical discipline, most research in music history can be roughly divided into two categories: the establishing of factual and correct data and the interpretation of data. Most historical research does not fall into one category solely, but rather employs a combination of methods from both categories. The act of establishing factual data can never be fully separate from the act of interpretation.
Archival work may be conducted to find connections to music or musicians in a collection of documents of broader interests (e.g., Vatican pay records, letters to a patroness of the arts) or to more systematically study a collection of documents related to a musician. In some cases, where records, scores, and letters have been digitized, archival work can be done online. One example of a composer for whom archival materials can be examined online is the Arnold Schoenberg Center.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. Scholars investigate questions such as which instruments or voices were used to perform a given work, what tempos (or tempo changes) were used, and how (or if) ornaments were used. Although performance practice was previously confined to early music from the Baroque era, since the 1990s, research in performance practice has examined other historical eras, such as how early Classical era piano concerti were performed, how the early history of recording affected the use of vibrato in classical music, or which instruments were used in Klezmer music.
The Vatican Secret Archives is the central repository in the Vatican City for all of the acts promulgated by the Holy See. The pope, as Sovereign of Vatican City, owns the archives until his death or resignation, with ownership passing to his successor. The archives also contain the state papers, correspondence, papal account books, and many other documents which the church has accumulated over the centuries. In the 17th century, under the orders of Pope Paul V, the Secret Archives were separated from the Vatican Library, where scholars had some very limited access to them, and remained closed to outsiders until the late 19th century, when Pope Leo XIII opened them to researchers, more than a thousand of whom now examine some of its documents each year.
An archive is an accumulation of historical records or the physical place they are located. Archives contain primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime, and are kept to show the function of that person or organization. Professional archivists and historians generally understand archives to be records that have been naturally and necessarily generated as a product of regular legal, commercial, administrative, or social activities. They have been metaphorically defined as "the secretions of an organism", and are distinguished from documents that have been consciously written or created to communicate a particular message to posterity.
Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg was an Austrian-born American composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century. He was associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School. With the rise of the Nazi Party, Schoenberg's works were labeled degenerate music, because they were modernist and atonal. He emigrated to the United States in 1933.
Biographical studies of composers can give us a better sense of the chronology of compositions, influences on style and works, and provide important background to the interpretation (by performers or listeners) of works. Thus biography can form one part of the larger study of the cultural significance, underlying program, or agenda of a work; a study which gained increasing importance in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Sociological studies focus on the function of music in society as well as its meaning for individuals and society as a whole. Researchers emphasizing the social importance of music (including classical music) are sometimes called New musicologists.
Semiotic studies are most conventionally the province of music analysts rather than historians. However, crucial to the practice of musical semiotics – the interpretation of meaning in a work or style – is its situation in a historical context. The interpretative work of scholars such as Kofi Agawu and Lawrence Kramer fall between the analytic and the music historical.
The first studies of Western musical history date back to the middle of the 18th century. G.B. Martini published a three volume history titled Storia della musica (History of Music) between 1757 and 1781. Martin Gerbert published a two volume history of sacred music titled De cantu de musica sacra in 1774. Gerbert followed this work with a three volume work Scriptores ecclesiastici de musica sacra containing significant writings on sacred music from the 3rd century onwards in 1784.
In the 20th century, the work of Johannes Wolf and others developed studies in Medieval music and early Renaissance music. Wolf's writings on the history of musical notation are considered to be particularly notable by musicologists. Historical musicology has played a critical role in renewed interest in Baroque music as well as medieval and Renaissance music. In particular, the authentic performance movement owes much to historical musicological scholarship. Towards the middle of the 20th century, musicology (and its largest subfield of historical musicology) expanded significantly as a field of study. Concurrently the number of musicological and music journals increased to create further outlets for the publication of research. The domination of German language scholarship ebbed as significant journals sprang up throughout the West, especially America.
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") – implying that the omitted disciplines, cultures, and musical styles/genres are somehow inferior. 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. The musicological sub-disciplines of music theory and music analysis have likewise historically been rather uneasily separated from the most narrow definition of historical musicology.
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)
According to Richard Middleton, the strongest criticism of (historical) musicology has been that it generally 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 five 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 sympathetic to popular music. However, it is not "that musicology cannot understand popular music, or that students of popular music should abandon musicology." (Middleton, p. 104).
During the Lebanese Civil War, Lydia Canaan, musical pioneer widely regarded as the first rock star of the Middle East,defied convention, social stigma, socio-religious authorities, and broke millennia-old gender barriers with her musical splash. Her initial performances under the stage name Angel were historically unprecedented on more than one front; her career began with her risking her life to perform amidst enemy military attacks, her concerts literally being held in vicinities of Lebanon which were simultaneously being bombed. According to Arabian Woman magazine: "As...A girl who grew up in the midst of a bloody civil war...Canaan was breaking down seemingly insurmountable barriers...She rocked the establishment". As noted by The Gulf Today: "It is incredible that amidst the state of civil war that existed in Lebanon at that time, when most people had no idea if they would see another day, she managed to keep her ambitions alive". Society magazine attests: "In a small country that was ripped by war, there was this young girl making a difference". Concerning Canaan's first concert as Angel, The Gulf Today writes: "The first show produced a phenomenal reaction". Society magazine states: "Tickets were sold out but more teenagers stormed in to see the young Angel perform...To accommodate the crowd, the concert organizers had to stamp on each fan's hand as they ran out of tickets. It was...Her first success". In 2015 Canaan was listed in the catalog of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Library and Archives as the first rock star of the Middle East. Canaan is a prime example of how popular music can be categorized as music history in theory, though in practice fall under cultural studies.
Music notation or musical notation is any system used to visually represent aurally perceived music played with instruments or sung by the human voice through the use of written, printed, or otherwise-produced symbols.
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.
Art music is music that implies advanced structural and theoretical considerations or a written musical tradition. The terms "serious" or "cultivated" are frequently used in relation to music in order to present a contrast with ordinary, everyday music. At the beginning of the 20th century art music was divided into "serious music" and "light music".
New musicology is a wide body of musicology since the 1980s with a focus upon the cultural study, aesthetics, criticism, and hermeneutics of music. It began in part a reaction against the traditional positivist musicology of the early 20th century and postwar era. Many of the procedures of new musicology are considered standard, although the name more often refers to the historical turn rather than to any single set of ideas or principles. Indeed, although it was notably influenced by feminism, gender studies, queer theory, postcolonial studies, and critical theory, new musicology has primarily been characterized by a wide-ranging eclecticism.
The music of Lebanon has a long history. Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, has long been known, especially in a period immediately following World War II, for its art and intellectualism. Several singers emerged in this period, among the most famous Fairuz, Sabah, Wadih El Safi, Nasri Shamseddine, Melhem Barakat, Salwa Katrib, Majida El Roumi, Ahmad Kaabour, Marcel Khalife,, and Ziad Rahbany, who—in addition to being an engaged singer-songwriter and music composer—was also a popular playwright. Lydia Canaan was hailed by the media as the first rock star of the Middle East.
Middle Eastern music spans across a vast region, from Morocco to Iran. The various nations of the region include the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa, the Iranian traditions of Persia, the Hebrew music of Israel and the diaspora, Armenian music, the varied traditions of Cypriot music, the music of Turkey, traditional Assyrian music, Berbers of North Africa, Coptic Christians in Egypt, and the Andalusian music very much alive in North Africa, all maintain their own traditions. It is widely regarded that some Middle-Eastern musical styles have influenced India, as well as Central Asia, Spain, and the Balkans.
Sociomusicology, also called music sociology or the sociology of music, refers to both an academic subfield of sociology that is concerned with music, as well as a subfield of musicology that focuses on social aspects of musical behavior and the role of music in society.
Systematic musicology is an umbrella term, used mainly in Central Europe, for several subdisciplines and paradigms of musicology. "Systematic musicology has traditionally been conceived of as an interdisciplinary science, whose aim it is to explore the foundations of music from different points of view, such as acoustics, physiology, psychology, anthro- pology, music theory, sociology, and aesthetics." The most important subdisciplines today are music psychology, sociomusicology, philosophy of music, music acoustics, cognitive neuroscience of music, and the computer sciences of music. These subdisciplines and paradigms tend to address questions about music in general, rather than specific manifestations of music. In the Springer Handbook of Systematic Musicology "(the) sections follow the main topics in the field, Musical Acoustics, Signal Processing, Music Psychology, Psychophysics/Psychoacoustics and Music Ethnology while also taking recent research trends into consideration, like Embodied Music Cognition and Media Applications. Other topics, like Music Theory or Philosophy of Music are incorporated in the respective sections."
Lydia Canaan is a Lebanese singer-songwriter and humanitarian activist widely regarded as the first “rock star” of the Middle East.
Computational musicology is an interdisciplinary research area between musicology and computer science. Computational musicology includes any disciplines that use computers in order to study music. It includes sub-disciplines such as mathematical music theory, computer music, systematic musicology, music information retrieval, computational musicology, digital musicology, sound and music computing, and music informatics. As this area of research is defined by the tools that it uses and its subject matter, research in computational musicology intersects with both the humanities and the sciences. The use of computers in order to study and analyze music generally began in the 1960s, although musicians have been using computers to assist them in the composition of music beginning in the 1950s. Today, computational musicology encompasses a wide range of research topics dealing with the multiple ways music can be represented.
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.
Music archaeology is an interdisciplinary study field that combines musicology and archaeology. As it includes music from numerous cultures, it is often seen as being a part of ethnomusicology, and indeed a study group looking into music archaeology first emerged from ethnomusicological group the ICTM, not from within archaeology.
Throughout the years, the Cuban nation has developed a wealth of musicological material created by numerous investigators and experts on this subject.
Danilo Orozco González was a Cuban musicologist and professor.
Gopeshwar Banerjee or Gopeshwar Bandopadhyay (1880–1963) was an Indian classical singer and musicologist, belonging to Bishnupur gharana of Hindustani music, which originated in Bishnupur in West Bengal. He was known for his khyal and dhrupad renditions, besides Rabindra Sangeet. He also sang thumri, and most notably the thumri, Kon Gali Gayo Shyam, in Raga Mishra Khamaj, which he popularised. As a musicologist, he published several books of rare compositions with musical notations, including dhrupad and Rabindra Sangeet.
Women in musicology describes the role of women professors, scholars and researchers in postsecondary education musicology departments at postsecondary education institutions, including universities, colleges and music conservatories. Traditionally, the vast majority of major musicologists and music historians have been men. Nevertheless, some women musicologists have reached the top ranks of the profession. Carolyn Abbate is an American musicologist who did her PhD at Princeton University. She has been described by the Harvard Gazette as "one of the world's most accomplished and admired music historians".
Ruth Katz is an Israeli musicologist, a pioneer of academic musicology in Israel, professor emerita at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has been a corresponding Member of the American Musicological Society since 2011. She was named laureate of the Israel State Prize in 2012.