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Subdisciplines Of Musicology, Principal Methodologies For Musicological Research, Music Notation, Bibliography

Musicology is the scholarly study of music, where music can be considered either as a fixed object of investigation or as a process whose participants are the composer, the performer, and the listener. As a field of knowledge, it encompasses every aspect of the aesthetic, physical, psychological, and cultural dimensions of the musical art. In practice, consequently, the discipline includes not just music itself—considered either as a fixed object of study or as a process—but also anything that relates to music in any way. Thus, for example, the history of music patronage during the Renaissance is considered to be a musicological topic, as is the history of the development of printing presses able to reproduce music notation. The potentially unlimited scope of the discipline has led one contemporary musicologist to define musicology as "whatever musicologists do as musicologists" (Leech-Wilkinson, p. 216).

Historically, in the Western tradition, musicology has to a great extent been identified with the study of classical music ("art music"), as opposed to popular music. Neither of the terms "classical music" or "art music" is entirely satisfactory. The former is somewhat ambiguous, as it also refers less generally to music written in the Classical style of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by composers such as Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). And the term "art music," although it is widely in use, carries with it an undesirable and inaccurate connotation of elitism. Throughout this article, the phrase "classical music" is used, somewhat as the lesser of two evils, to refer generally to the notation-based music of the Western high-culture tradition.

Musicology has traditionally been differentiated from ethnomusicology, which in the most general terms is the comparative study of non-Western musics, as well as the study of popular and folk music from both Western and non-Western cultures and subcultures. However, recent developments within musicology (principally, the advent of what is referred to as the "new musicology" and the paradigm shift in musicological methodology described below under "The Critical Method") have tended to diminish greatly previously significant differences between the two disciplines. (For an example of traditional ethnomusicological methodology applied to the study of Gregorian chant, see Jeffery, Re-Envisioning Past Musical Cultures.)

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