Musicology for Art Historians

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If you consider yourself a musicologist, this chapter may not be for you. As the title implies, my aim is not to break new ground in the field so much as to introduce the lay of the land, as I currently find it, to those whose disciplines do not ordinarily address music as an object of study. Since many scholars of visual culture will already be familiar with aspects of the academic study of music, the following pages are not intended as a beginner’s guide or “how to” manual. Instead, I propose a holistic, if necessarily selective and subjective, account of the history and priorities of (predominantly Anglo-American) musicology. What this brief survey lacks in detail, I hope it makes up for in usefulness. At any rate, my remarks and observations are not offered as conclusive statements on the discipline, but rather as a means of “joining the dots” and focusing further discussion. I begin by addressing musicology’s problematic disciplinary identity before introducing some late-nineteenth-and twentieth-century figures whose work has formed the backdrop to a number of ongoing debates. I then consider what might be called the “privileged objects” of musical study, as well as the challenge to music’s object status signaled by performance-oriented approaches. The chapter ends in an optimistic mood with some personal reflections on the present state of musicology and speculation regarding future areas of research. While all of the above is offered with art historians in mind, I do not attempt to flag up each shared interest or every occasion for dialogue, but prefer to leave it to readers to establish such connections for themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture
EditorsTim Shephard, Anne Leonard
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780415629256
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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