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Music history

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Music history

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In musicology, music history is the study of how music has developed over time, and may include manuscript studies, textual criticism, iconography, studies of the relationship between words and music, and the relationship between music and society. Ethnomusicology and music archeology are also fields of study within music history. However, music history often means the study of the history of music theory.

In 1957 Marius Schneider (p.xvii) wrote that, "Until a few decades ago the term 'history of music' meant merely the 'history of European art music'. It was only by degrees that the scope of music was extended to include the indispensable foundation of non-European and, finally, prehistoric music."

In the studies of primitive music which attempt to relate the music to the culture around it there are two prevailing approaches, that of the "Berlin school"'s Kulturkreis and the US "cultural area" tradition. Adherents to Kulturkreis include Curt Sachs, who analyzed the distribution of instrument types according to the Gräbner, Schmidt, Ankermann, Preuss, and other's culture circles, finding that they matched or correlated. According to this theory all cultures pass through the same stages, with cultural difference indicating the age and speed of a culture, both of which cause cultures to be in different stages. The cultural area theory, however, analyzes music according to regions in which people share the same culture (for example, all traditional Inuit owned a kayak, a cultural commonality that defined the Inuit cultural area), without assigning those areas historical meaning or value. In each theory, the regions of that theory necessarily overlap, populated with people who share parts of more than one culture, with cultural centers being easier to define. (Nettl 1956, p.93-94)


  • Wellesz, Egon, ed. (1957). New Oxford History of Music, Vol. 1: Ancient and Oriental Music.
  • Nettl, Bruno (1956). Music in Primitive Culture. Harvard University Press.

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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