I’m not sure when I first heard the word musicology, but it must have been some time before I had any interest in pursuing it seriously. I majored in composition and trombone performance as an undergraduate. I have a masters in musicology, but started to work on a doctorate in performance before I decided musicology was a better fit.
When I started college, I had a double major in music and history. (And yes, my music major was a double major, too. Kids! Think they can do it all! What a glutton for punishment!) The history major did not survive long, but I took enough intellectual and social history classes to notice that music was pretty much ignored in most of the voluminous reading I had to do. And I noticed in my music history classes that the textbook and other readings barely made a stab at describing the cultural context in which the music was created.
Both of those omissions bothered me a great deal. I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually turn to musicology. Not many people have any idea what that means. It can be a lot of things, but for me it is the historical study of music. Of course, there’s too much of it for any one person to become familiar with everything.
Some musicologists devote their careers to a narrow specialty, like establishing the provenance of Medieval manuscripts. Others like to step back and look at how music intersects with some other broad discipline, such as sociology or psychology. I have devoted most of my research to the history of the trombone. That’s narrow enough, but I have tried to view it in its social, political, economic, cultural (etc.) context, which seems broad enough.
Anyway, that’s musicology, and that’s me. Now that I have separated music from my original all-purpose blog, I expect that more people will visit and stick around here. Be sure to leave comments so I’ll know what you find interesting and informative.
I have moved all of the musical posts originally published to The All-Purpose Guru to Musicology for Everyone. In case anyone cares, I have added the original publication dates at the end.