Musicology (from Greek, Modern μουσική (mousikē), meaning 'music', and -λογία (-logia), meaning 'study of') 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 (psychological, sociological, acoustical, neurological, computational). A scholar who participates in musical research is a musicologist.
Traditionally, historical musicology (commonly termed "music history") has been the most prominent sub-discipline of musicology. In the 2010s, historical musicology is one of several large musicology sub-disciplines. Historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and systematic musicology are approximately equal in size. Ethnomusicology is the study of music in its cultural context. Systematic musicology includes music acoustics, the science and technology of acoustical musical instruments, and the musical implications of physiology, psychology, sociology, philosophy and computing. Cognitive musicology is the set of phenomena surrounding the computational modeling of music. In some countries, music education is a prominent sub-field of musicology, while in others it is regarded as a distinct academic field, or one more closely affiliated with teacher education, educational research, and related fields. Like music education, music therapy is a specialized form of applied musicology which is sometimes considered more closely affiliated with health fields, and other times regarded as part of musicology proper.
The parent disciplines of musicology include:
Musicology also has two central, practically oriented sub-disciplines 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 is applied in medicine, education, and music therapy—which, effectively, are parent disciplines of applied musicology.
Music history or historical musicology is concerned with 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 approaches to music. There are also national differences in various definitions 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 typically assumed to imply Western Art music of the European tradition.
The methods of historical musicology include source studies (especially manuscript studies), paleography, philology (especially textual criticism), style criticism, historiography (the choice of historical method), musical analysis (analysis of music to find "inner coherence"), 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, biographies of composers and other musicians, book-length studies or university textbook chapters or entire textbooks. 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's art songs. On the other hand, some scholars take a broader view, and assess the place of a given type of music, such as the symphony 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 W. 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." Today, many musicologists no longer distinguish between musicology and new musicology, since many of the scholarly concerns once associated with new musicology have now become mainstream, and they feel the term "new" no longer applies.
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. Some ethnomusicologists primarily conduct historical studies, but the majority are involved in long-term participant observation, or combine ethnographic and historical approaches in their fieldwork. Therefore, ethnomusiological scholarship can be characterized as featuring a substantial, intensive fieldwork component, often involving long-term residence within the community studied. 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.
Popular music studies, known, "misleadingly," 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, which began publication in 1981. The same year 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.
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 to understand the structural relationships in the (nearly always notated) music. Composers study music theory to understand how to produce effects and structure their own works. Composers may study music theory 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 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. 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.
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.
Musicologists in tenure track professor positions typically hold a Ph.D in musicology. In the 1960s and 1970s, some musicologists obtained professor positions with an M.A. as their highest degree, but in the 2010s, the Ph.D is the standard minimum credential for tenure track professor positions. As part of their initial training, musicologists typically complete a B.Mus or a B.A. in music (or a related field such as history) and in many cases an M.A. in musicology. Some individuals apply directly from a bachelor's degree to a Ph.D, and in these cases, they may not receive an M.A. In the 2010s, given the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of university graduate programs, some applicants for musicology Ph.D programs may have academic training both in music and outside of music (e.g., a student may apply with a B.Mus and an M.A. in psychology). In music education, individuals may hold an M.Ed and an Ed.D.
Most musicologists work as instructors, lecturers or professors in colleges, universities or conservatories. The job market for tenure track professor positions is very competitive. Entry-level applicants must hold a completed Ph.D or the equivalent degree and applicants to more senior professor positions must have a strong record of publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Some Ph.D-holding musicologists are only able to find insecure positions as sessional lecturers. The job tasks of a musicologist are the same as those of a professor in any other humanities discipline: she teaches undergraduate and/or graduate classes in her area of specialization and, in many cases some general courses (such as Music Appreciation or Introduction to Music History), conducts research in her area of expertise, publishes articles about her research in peer-reviewed journals, authors book chapters, books or textbooks, travels to conferences to give talks on her research and learn about research in her field, and, if her program includes a graduate school, supervises M.A. and Ph.D students and gives them guidance on the preparation of their theses and dissertations. Some musicology professors may take on senior administrative positions in their institution, such as Dean or Chair of the School of Music.
The vast majority of major musicologists and music historians from past generations have been men, as in the 19th century and early 20th century; women's involvement in teaching music was mainly in elementary and secondary music teaching. Nevertheless, some women musicologists have reached the top ranks of the profession. Carolyn Abbate (born 1956) 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".
Susan McClary (born 1946) is a musicologist associated with the "New Musicology" who incorporates feminist music criticism in her work. McClary holds a PhD from Harvard University. One of her best known works is Feminine Endings (1991), which covers musical constructions of gender and sexuality, gendered aspects of traditional music theory, gendered sexuality in musical narrative, music as a gendered discourse and issues affecting women musicians. In the book, McClary suggests that the sonata form (used in symphonies and string quartets) may be a sexist or misogynistic procedure that constructs gender and sexual identity. McClary's Conventional Wisdom (2000) argues that the traditional musicological assumption of the existence of "purely musical" elements, divorced from culture and meaning, the social and the body, is a conceit used to veil the social and political imperatives of the worldview that produces the classical canon most prized by supposedly objective musicologists.
Other notable women scholars include:
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 writings:
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).
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 (Cornell University, 1930).Art music
Art music (alternately called classical music, cultivated music, serious music, and canonic 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 (i.e. popular and folk music, also called "vernacular music"). At the beginning of the 20th century art music was divided into "serious music" and "light music".Bachelor of Music
Bachelor of Music is an academic degree awarded by a college, university, or conservatory upon completion of a program of study in music. In the United States, it is a professional degree, and the majority of work consists of prescribed music courses and study in applied music, usually requiring proficiency in an instrument, voice, or conducting. In Canada, the B.M. is often considered an undergraduate degree. Programs typically last from three to four and a half years.
The degree may be awarded for performance, music education, composition, music theory, musicology / music history (musicology degrees may be a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) rather than a B.M.) music technology, music therapy, sacred music, music business/music industry, entertainment, music production or jazz studies. In the 2010s, some universities have begun offering degrees in Music Composition with Technology, which include traditional theory and musicology courses and sound recording and composition courses using digital technologies.
In the United Kingdom, the Bachelor of Music is generally a first degree lasting three years (or four years in Scotland) and consisting of a wide range of areas of study (normally including performance, composition, music theory, musicology/music history), but at the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge it was a one-year postgraduate degree which could only be taken if a student were to have been a graduate in music with honors at those universities; the undergraduate course is in the Faculty of Arts and leads to the Bachelor of Arts (and subsequently the Master of Arts (Oxbridge)).Biomusicology
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.Evolutionary musicology studies the "origins of music, the question of animal song, selection pressures underlying music evolution", and "music evolution and human evolution". Neuromusicology studies the "brain areas involved in music processing, neural and cognitive processes of musical processing", and "ontogeny of musical capacity and musical skill". Comparative musicology studies the "functions and uses of music, advantages and costs of music making", and "universal features of musical systems and musical behavior".Applied biomusicology "attempts to provide biological insight into such things as the therapeutic uses of music in medical and psychological treatment; widespread use of music in the audiovisual media such as film and television; the ubiquitous presence of music in public places and its role in influencing mass behavior; and the potential use of music to function as a general enhancer of learning."Whereas biomusicology refers to music among humans, zoomusicology extends the field to other species.Chinese musicology
Chinese musicology is the academic study of traditional Chinese music. This discipline has a very long history. The concept of music yue stands among the oldest categories of Chinese thought, however, in the known sources it does not receive a fairly clear definition until the writing of the Classic of Music (lost during the Han dynasty).Cognitive musicology
Cognitive musicology is a branch of cognitive science concerned with computationally modeling musical knowledge with the goal of understanding both music and cognition.Cognitive musicology can be differentiated from other branches of music psychology via its methodological emphasis, using computer modeling to study music-related knowledge representation with roots in artificial intelligence and cognitive science. The use of computer models provides an exacting, interactive medium in which to formulate and test theories.This interdisciplinary field investigates topics such as the parallels between language and music in the brain. Biologically inspired models of computation are often included in research, such as neural networks and evolutionary programs. This field seeks to model how musical knowledge is represented, stored, perceived, performed, and generated. By using a well-structured computer environment, the systematic structures of these cognitive phenomena can be investigated.Even while enjoying the simplest of melodies there are multiple brain processes that are synchronizing to comprehend what is going on. After the stimulus enters and undergoes the processes of the ear, it enters the auditory cortex, part of the temporal lobe, which begins processing the sound by assessing its pitch and volume. From here, brain functioning differs amongst the analysis of different aspects of music. For instance, the rhythm is processed and regulated by the left frontal cortex, the left parietal cortex and the right cerebellum standardly. Tonality, the building of musical structure around a central chord, is assessed by the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum (Abram, 2015). Music is able to access many different brain functions that play an integral role in other higher brain functions such as motor control, memory, language, reading and emotion. Research has shown that music can be used as an alternative method to access these functions that may be unavailable through non-musical stimulus due to a disorder. Musicology explores the use of music and how it can provide alternative transmission routes for information processing in the brain for diseases such as Parkinson's and dyslexia as well.Ecomusicology
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.Ethnomusicology
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.
Folklorists, who began preserving and studying folklore music in Europe and the US in the 19th century, are considered the precursors of the field prior to the Second World War. The term ethnomusicology is said to have been first coined by Jaap Kunst from the Greek words ἔθνος (ethnos, "nation") and μουσική (mousike, "music"), It is often defined as the anthropology or ethnography of music, or as musical anthropology. During its early development from comparative musicology in the 1950s, ethnomusicology was primarily oriented toward non-Western music, but for several decades it has included the study of all and any musics of the world (including Western art music and popular music) from anthropological, sociological and intercultural perspectives. Bruno Nettl once characterized ethnomusicology as a product of Western thinking, proclaiming that "ethnomusicology as western culture knows it is actually a western phenomenon"; in 1992, Jeff Todd Titon described it as the study of "people making music".Evolutionary musicology
Evolutionary musicology is a subfield of biomusicology that grounds the psychological mechanisms of music perception and production in evolutionary theory. It covers vocal communication in non-human animal species, theories of the evolution of human music, and cross-cultural human universals in musical ability and processing.Music archaeology
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.Music history
Music history, sometimes called historical musicology, is the highly diverse subfield of the broader discipline of musicology that studies music from a historical viewpoint.
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).
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.Music psychology
Music psychology, or the psychology of music, may be regarded as a branch of both psychology and musicology. It aims to explain and understand musical behaviour and experience, including the processes through which music is perceived, created, responded to, and incorporated into everyday life. Modern music psychology is primarily empirical; its knowledge tends to advance on the basis of interpretations of data collected by systematic observation of and interaction with human participants. Music psychology is a field of research with practical relevance for many areas, including music performance, composition, education, criticism, and therapy, as well as investigations of human attitude, skill, performance, intelligence, creativity, and social behavior.
Music psychology can shed light on non-psychological aspects of musicology and musical practice. For example, it contributes to music theory through investigations of the perception and computational modelling of musical structures such as melody, harmony, tonality, rhythm, meter, and form. Research in music history can benefit from systematic study of the history of musical syntax, or from psychological analyses of composers and compositions in relation to perceptual, affective, and social responses to their music. Ethnomusicology can benefit from psychological approaches to the study of music cognition in different cultures.Musicology (album)
Musicology is the twenty-eighth studio album by American recording artist Prince. It was released on April 20, 2004 by NPG Records and distributed by Columbia Records. The album proved to be his most successful in years, reaching the Top 5 of the album charts in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and many other countries.
Musicology was the first album in five years that Prince released through a major label (Sony Music) and, being partially recorded in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, was his first to be recorded outside Minneapolis in many years. Musicology is R&B themed.At the end of the song "Musicology" snippets of "Kiss", "Little Red Corvette", "Sign o' the Times", "17 Days", "If I Was Your Girlfriend", as well as "Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance" can be heard. At the time of release Prince was quoted as saying he wished the album to provide musical education to listeners.Musicology (song)
"Musicology" is a song by Prince, and title track from his 2004 album of the same name. The song is an obvious ode to James Brown's style of funk music popularized in the early 1970s. The song is also reminiscent of Prince's own "The Work, pt. 1", from his 2001 album The Rainbow Children.
The B-side of the single is the Musicology track "On the Couch", a seductive ballad with a gospel flavor. In addition, Prince released a song on his website titled "Magnificent", which was listed as the "virtual B-side" to "Musicology".
In the United States, the song received airplay on Urban Adult Contemporary radio stations. The song had larger success as a video with television airplay, as it was played regularly on MTV, BET, and VH1. Outside the US, the song had considerable success on the pop charts in a number of countries. Specifically, "Musicology" went Top 40 in Argentina, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland.The song won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards.Musicology Live 2004ever
Musicology Live 2004ever was a concert tour by American recording artist Prince to promote his Musicology album. The tour began in March 27 in 2004 in Reno, Nevada and concluded on September 11 in San Jose, California. It was a commercial success earning $87.4 million from 77 shows in 52 cities across the United States and selling more than 1.4 million tickets. Prince said one of the goals of the tour was "to bring back music and live musicianship."Society for Ethnomusicology
The Society for Ethnomusicology is, with the International Council for Traditional Music and the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, one of three major international associations for ethnomusicology. Its mission is "to promote the research, study, and performance of music in all historical periods and cultural contexts."Officially founded in 1955, its origins extend back to November, 1953 at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Philadelphia with an informal agreement between Willard Rhodes, David McAllester, and Alan P. Merriam. These three traveled together to the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society in New Haven to enlist the support of musicologist Charles Seeger in their endeavor to create a new academic society. This meeting resulted in the launch of the Ethno-musicology Newsletter, ethnomusicology's first dedicated serial publication, containing notes about current field research projects, a bibliography, and list of recordings of interest to the nascent discipline. The first annual meeting of the society was in Philadelphia, in September 1955.
Over the decades, The Society for Ethnomusicology has created a setting that allows scholars to publish and present their work from the field, better communicate and connect with fellow researchers, and provides leadership opportunities for those striving to improve the field of ethnomusicology.The society currently publishes a quarterly newsletter, a quarterly journal entitled Ethnomusicology, and an extensive set of "ographies" (bibliography, discography, filmography, videography). It organizes an annual international conference and over a dozen regional conferences, maintains an active website, and presents more than a dozen awards for scholarship and service, such as the Jaap Kunst prize for the best published article in the field.Sociomusicology
Sociomusicology (from Latin: socius, "companion"; from Old French musique; and the suffix -ology, "the study of", from Old Greek λόγος, lógos : "discourse"), also called music sociology or the sociology of music, refers to both an academic subfield of sociology that is concerned with music (often in combination with other arts), as well as a subfield of musicology that focuses on social aspects of musical behavior and the role of music in society.Systematic musicology
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 (music sociology), philosophy of music (music philosophy), music acoustics (physics of music), cognitive neuroscience of music, and the computer sciences of music (including sound and music computing, music information retrieval, and computing in musicology). These subdisciplines and paradigms tend to address questions about music in general, rather than specific manifestations of music.
In the European tripartite model of musicology, musicology is regarded as a combination of three broad subdisciplines: ethnomusicology, music history (or historical musicology), and systematic musicology. Ethnomusicology and historical musicology are primarily concerned with specific manifestations of music such as performances, works, traditions, genres, and the people who produce and engage with them (musicians, composers, social groups). Systematic musicology is different in that it tends not to put these specific manifestations in the foreground, although it of course refers to them. Instead, more general questions are asked about music. These questions tend to be answered either by analysing empirical data (based on observation) or by developing theory - or better, by a combination of both. The 19th-century positivist dream of discovering "laws" of music (by analogy to "laws" in other disciplines such as physics; cf. Adler, 1885), and of defining the discipline of systematic musicology in terms of such laws, slowly evaporated. Ideological trends stemming from modernism and later post-structuralism fundamentally altered the nature of the project.
Since systematic musicology brings together several parent disciplines, it is often regarded as being intrinsically interdisciplinary, or as a system of interacting subdisciplines (hence the alternative name "systemic"). However, most systematic musicologists focus on just one or a select few of the many subdisciplines. Systematic musicologists who are oriented toward the humanities often make reference to fields such as aesthetics, philosophy, semiotics, hermeneutics, music criticism, Media studies, Cultural studies, gender studies, and (theoretic) sociology. Those who are oriented toward science tend to regard their discipline as empirical and data-oriented, and to borrow their methods and ways of thinking from psychology, acoustics, psychoacoustics, physiology, cognitive science, and (empirical) sociology.More recently emerged areas of research which at least partially are in the scope of systematic musicology comprise cognitive musicology, neuromusicology, biomusicology, and music cognition including embodied music cognition. As an academic discipline, systematic musicology is closely related to practically oriented disciplines such as music technology, music information retrieval, and musical robotics.Systematic musicology is less unified than its sister disciplines historical musicology and ethnomusicology. Its contents and methods are more diverse and tend to be more closely related to parent disciplines, both academic and practical, outside of musicology. The diversity of systematic musicology is to some extent compensated for by interdisciplinary interactions within the system of subdisciplines that make it up.
The origins of systematic musicology in Europe can be traced to ancient Greece; philosophers such as Pythagoras, Aristotle, Plato and Aristoxenus asked general questions about music. Historical musicology and ethnomusicology are much younger disciplines, and the relative importance of the three has fluctuated considerably during the past few centuries. Today, musicology's three broad subdisciplines are of approximately equal size in terms of the volume of research activity.Vernacular music
Vernacular music is ordinary, everyday music such as popular and folk music. It is defined partly in terms of its accessibility, standing in contrast to art music. Vernacular music may overlap with non-vernacular, particular in the context of musical commerce, and is often informed by the developments of non-vernacular traditions.The sales of phonograph records played a dominant role in spreading a cultural taste for popular and vernacular music styles.