What is Musicology?

Very briefly, musicology is the study of music history. From this point on, it's pretty open to interpretation. Realms of inquiry include such things as biography, social and cultural study, analysis and interpretation, performance practice, paleography, genre study, philosophical theory, psychology, and gender study, to name a few. Composers, performers, musical works, instruments, criticism, and theories of music are generally the subjects of a musicologist's work.

Why do we study these things? Who knows . . . I think everyone has a personal answer for this kind of question. As for me, I have a couple of answers. First of all, I find the past inherently interesting because it is familiar and yet completely unfamiliar - there were people doing many of the same things we do today with much the same human consciousness, and yet the way they understood things and organized themselves was very different in many cases (and surprisingly similar in others). Secondly, I find music to be a particularly interesting lens through which to view history because it is a social practice that has been and continues to be a large part of my own life. This gives me a connection with history because, by playing music, I have spent much of my life re-enacting pieces of history within the context of my own time and culture. Not only does this help me better understand the past in some ways, but it also helps me understand myself and my own culture.