Music history  

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This page Music history is part of the music series.Illustration: Sheet music to "Buffalo Gals" (c. 1840), a traditional song.Maxim: "writing about music is like dancing about architecture".
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This page Music history is part of the music series.
Illustration: Sheet music to "Buffalo Gals" (c. 1840), a traditional song.
Maxim: "writing about music is like dancing about architecture".

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The field of music history, or sometimes historical musicology, is the highly diverse subfield of the broader discipline of musicology that studies 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 (such as baroque concertos), the social function of music for a particular group of people (such as music at the court), or the modes of performance at a particular place and time (such as the performance forces of Johann Sebastian Bach's choir in Leipzig).

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 nearly always misleadingly categorized as part of ethnomusicology or cultural studies.

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. (For a more detailed discussion of the methods see the section on "Research in Music History" below)

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.

History

Before 1800

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.

1800–1950

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.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Music history" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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