This course is an introduction to the
disciplines in systematic musicology, offering a broad overview of traditional
areas of scholarship and applying them to questions of musical meaning.
Engaging in systematic musicology involves eclectic exploration within
multiple disciplines that include: ethnomusicology, music theory, music philosophy, acoustics, psychoacoustics,
cognitive and behavioral psychology of music, experimental aesthetics,
philosophical aesthetics, philosophy of science, sociology of music, and music
criticism. The fundamental nature of
systematic musicology is explored. For
example, is systematic musicology a field? Is it a method of research?
If we accept that what we know depends on what we ask
and how we ask it, the diversity of approaches within music scholarship indicates
that, at various times and for various reasons, a great variety of different
types of questions have claimed our interest and efforts. Such investigations have resulted in a body
of knowledge that seems to be made out of the independent compartments we call
music disciplines. And although it is
neither possible nor desirable to subsume all musical investigations under a
single aegis, understanding them as a system has important academic advantages.
By understanding music scholarship as a system, all
questions and perspectives become interconnected. In a system, the answer to any question can
be seen as leading to other questions (i.e. interdependence) and any one
question can be rephrased in terms of another (transposition). By transposing questions and following out
their branches of interdependencies we are able to compare the most diverse
theoretical orientations, which begin from different perspectives and ask
seemingly different questions. A systematic approach
to music scholarship entails the initiation of dialogues across disciplines.
It reflects an investigator’s
willingness to accept the existence, importance, and urgency of musical
questions other than those he/she is usually prone to ask, and as an extension,
the possible existence of important questions not yet asked.
In an effort to expose students to this form
of music scholarship, the course involves discussion and critical analysis of
diverse readings from the related literature, examining their logical intra-
and inter-consistency and exploring the various possible relationships between musical
scholarship and musical experience.