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systematized study of music and musical style, particularly in the realm of historical research. The scholarly study of music of different historical periods was not practiced until the 18th cent., and few published efforts were rigorously researched. Notable exceptions include the works of two Englishmen, Charles Burney's General History of Music (1776–89) and J. Hawkins's General History of the Science and Practice of Music (1776).

In the 19th cent. the general interest in antiquity induced curiosity in older music and the key problem of understanding obsolete forms of musical notation. François Joseph Fétis (1784–1871) and August Wilhelm Ambros (1816–76) were among the first to publish satisfactorily researched overviews of the development of Western music. Their inclusion of transcriptions of unknown medieval and Renaissance pieces is especially important.

Today, the domain of musicology is defined by universities, where such study is centered, and includes study of form and notation, national, period, and personal styles, the lives of composers and players, musical instruments, acoustics, ethnomusicology, and aesthetics. Ironically, the study of musical compositions as such, as distinct from the study of data related to them, is not regarded as within the sphere of musicology but rather in the academically separate branch of study called music theory (see theorytheory,
in music, discipline involving the construction of cognitive systems to be used as a tool for comprehending musical compositions. The discipline is subdivided into what can be called speculative and analytic theory.
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, in music).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the study of music; one of the fields of art studies. Marxist-Leninist teachings provide a firm foundation for a genuinely scientific musicology that studies the objective determination of principles, phenomena, and processes in the development of musical art, as well as their various ties with diverse aspects of public life. Although it considers music a form of public ideology subordinate to the general laws of social development, Marxist-Leninist musicology demands a profound and thorough study of the concrete characteristics of music. A scientific materialistic knowledge and explanation of music make it possible to actively influence practical work in music and to arm those creatively involved in musical art with a clear understanding of their tasks and the ways to execute them.

Music theory, the history of music, ethnomusicology, and criticism are branches of music. Acoustics, which studies the acoustical prerequisites for music, and music psychology, which is the study of the psychology of the composition and perception of music, are independent divisions of music, as well as subdivisions of physics and psychology. In the 1960’s and 1970’s the sociology of music, which studies the concrete forms of music in society, emerged as a special discipline.

Music theory studies the ways in which reality is reflected in music. Like aesthetics, it examines the fundamental regularities established during the historical development of music. In addition, it investigates compositional means and techniques of general significance or of particular importance as aspects of a specific period. Music theory includes disciplines devoted to separate elements of music: melodies, rhythm and metrics, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, and form. These disciplines have theoretical or scientific and cognitive importance and are the foundation for developing compositional techniques and achieving practical mastery of music’s expressive resources. The methodological and substantive essence of the analysis of musical works—a special discipline that examines form and content as an integral part of music—is the complete study of a specific work, using all the information provided by the various subdivisions of music theory. Also related to music theory are scientific, methodical disciplines that work out the principles of performance (solo and choral singing, conducting, and playing the various instruments) and the principles for developing a good ear (solfege).

The goal of the history of music is the creation of a complete picture of the development of musical culture, showing the close interaction of its various aspects and its dependence on changes in social conditions. In doing research on the phenomena of musical composition, the history of music relies on information provided by the analysis of works of music. However, the conclusions reached with the aid of music theory are incomplete and cannot be scientifically validated unless the historical basis for the phenomena of composition is considered. The existence of a profound, organic link between theory and history is one of the fundamental methodological principles of Marxist-Leninist musicology.

In addition to a general history covering the musical culture of all periods and peoples and elucidating the regularities or patterns in music history at various stages in the development of human society, the history of music focuses on the music of particular peoples and countries, on particular genres and forms (for example, opera, the symphony, and the sonata), on particular types of performance (the art of playing the piano or violin, for example), and on particular branches of music (for example, the development of teaching of harmony).

The study of folk music (musical folklore) is an indispensable, organic, integral part of the general history of music, as well as of the history of the music of each country. A special field, ethnomusicology, studies the characteristics of folk creativity. In Soviet musicology the Marxist-Leninist view of the people as the creative force in history determines the understanding of folk music and the method for studying it.

Music criticism—the analysis and evaluation of contemporary practice—has an important role in musical culture. The main task of Soviet music criticism, which is outstanding for its scholarly substantiation of judgments and its adherence to party principles, is to contribute to the development of greater realism in music. In this respect, Soviet criticism is carrying on the democratic traditions of progressive Russian criticism of the classical period.

History of musicology. The rudiments of a scientific approach to music appeared in the highly developed cultures of antiquity (China, India, and Greece, for example). Before the Common Era, the Chinese had worked out a five-tone (pentatonic) system. In the third century they developed a seven-tone system. In addition, based on the interval of a fifth, a twelve-step chromatic scale (lü) was established. In ancient Greece a well-balanced system of modes was created, the acoustical regularities of intervals were investigated, and the doctrine of ethos, which associates each of the modes, rhythms, and other elements of music with a particular emotion and moral quality, was developed. This doctrine was in sharp contrast with the abstract cosmological views on music prevalent in Egypt and other Eastern countries. Unlike Pythagoras and his followers, whose music theory rested on arithmetic mysticism, Aristoxenus (fourth century B.C.), the most important Greek music theorist and a pupil of Aristotle, proposed that the study of musical phenomena be based on hearing.

In his treatise On Music (five books; sixth century), which greatly influenced the development of medieval music theory, the Roman philosopher and scholar Boethius provided an outline of the fundamental achievements of classical musicology. However, the medieval theorists’ views on music were often scholastic. Research by music scholars of the late Middle Ages, such as Hucbald and Guido d’Arezzo, focused on developing practical rules for polyphonic composition and on improving notation. Scholars from Middle Asia, including Abu Nasr al-Farabi (tenth century) and Avicenna (tenth through 11th centuries), as well as Arab, Persian, and Byzantine theorists, made a great contribution to the development of musicology.

During the Renaissance the rules of polyphony were reduced to an orderly system, and the foundation of the major-minor modal system was developed. The Swiss scholar Glarean and the Italians G. Zarlino and V. Galilei established the principles for teaching harmony, which relies on information provided by listening and the laws of acoustics. In the 17th century the principles of harmony were developed by the French theorist M. Mersenne, whose works also contain rich and valuable information on the history of music.

The affirmation of the homophonic (harmonic) system in European music from the late 16th century gave rise to the figured bass and to a system created by J.-P. Rameau (Treatise on Harmony, 1722), the most prominent representative of the classical school of theorists. In the 17th and 18th centuries the theory of affections—an attempt to establish a direct connection between certain compositional techniques and expressive resources and emotions, feelings, or affections—played a very important and, considering the period, a very positive role in the development of musical aesthetics. The theory of affections was most fully expressed in the works of the 18th-century German music scholar, J. Mathesson.

The rationalistic, abstract features inherent in the theory of affections were criticized by the French encyclopedists D. Diderot and J. D’Alembert, who participated in the struggle among various tendencies in 18th-century musical aesthetics. Upholding the principle of realism, they defined music as the expressive “language of feelings” and stressed the importance of melody.

The interest in the historical study of music, which had been aroused during the Renaissance, was further developed in major 18th-century works by G. B. Martini (1781, Italy) and J. Hawkins and C. Burney (1776–89, Great Britain).

The development of progressive thinking in aesthetics in the 19th century was connected with outstanding achievements made in composition and with the flowering of national schools in many European countries. Progressive figures in music and music criticism struggled against formalism and for lofty ideas and content in musical creativity. Works on aesthetics and theory by major composers such as Berlioz, Schumann, Wagner, and Liszt raised a number of important problems in theory.

During most of the 19th century the dominant position in Western European music theory was held by the traditional school (the Frenchman C. Catel, the Czech A. Reicha, and the Germans A. B. Marx, L. Bussler, and E. Richter, for instance). The traditionalists classified the techniques and means of composition according to the branches of musicology (for example, harmony and polyphony). Among the positive aspects of the traditional school were its close ties with the practice of composition and its endeavor to base the principles of composition on information provided by listening and by examples from the great classic masters. Nonetheless, the works of the majority of the school’s practitioners suffered from empiricism and weak theoretical generalizations.

In the last quarter of the 19th century, functional theory was established (the German scholar H. Riemann, the English theorist E. Prout, and the Belgian F. Gevaert). Its advocates emphasized the interdependence of compositional techniques and means and used data from the natural sciences to explain musical phenomena. Although the functional school made many innovations in theoretical musicology, it failed to go beyond the formal method of analysis.

Among the most important achievements of 19th- and 20th-century Western European historical musicology are the publication of musical literature dating from the Middle Ages through the 18th century and an emphasis on monographic research on the life and creative work of outstanding musicians or on the development of particular forms and genres. Many major studies were written by O. Jahn, H. Kretzschmar, H. Abert, A. Einstein (Germany), A. W. Ambros, G. Adler (Austria), O. Hostinsky (Bohemia), J. Tiersot, J. Combarieu (France), F. J. Fétis (Belgium), and E. Dent (Great Britain). Valuable and extensive material is to be found in general reference works written by groups of scholars from various countries: the Oxford History of Music (vols. 1–6, 1901–05); The Music Encyclopedia and Dictionary of the Conservatory, edited by A. Lavignac and L. de La Laurencie (fascs. 1–2, 1913–31); The Handbook for Music Study, edited by E. Bücken (vols. 1–13, 1928–34); The Handbook for Music History, edited by Adler (1924); and the Norton History of Music (1943–66). However, these works often suffer from too great an emphasis on description. The development of music is divorced from the general historical process and is considered in isolation from the social and cultural-historical preconditions. Adler was the first to view the history of music as a succession of various stylistic formations, but he and later Western scholars continued to have a formalistic and idealist understanding of music.

The study of musical folklore developed a great deal during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, when the rise of national schools in Europe contributed to a growing interest in folk songs. Of outstanding importance are studies by the Polish ethnologist O. Kolberg, the Croatian F. Kuhač, and the Bulgarian D. Khristov. A new stage in the study of national musical creativity is associated with the Hungarian composer and scholar B. Bartók, as well as with his countryman, Z. Kodály. The viewpoints expressed in Bartók’s research, as well as his methodology, had a beneficial influence on the study of the musical folklore of countries other than Hungary.

At the beginning of the 20th century, comparative musicology, a special trend in the ethnology of music, developed in the West, primarily in the work of C. Stumpf, E. von Horn-bostel, C. Sachs, and R. Lachmann (Germany) and A. Ellis and G. Abraham (Great Britain). Research in comparative musicology deals with the folk music of different countries. Comparative methods have been developed in the works of musicologists such as W. Wiora (Germany) and P. Collaer (Belgium). A great deal of information has been gathered by comparative musicologists, who have made interesting comparisons and conclusions regarding, for the most part, the musical cultures of non-European peoples. However, their general conclusions are often unfounded, because their approach to folk creativity is antihistorical and formalistic. By the mid-20th century most scholars had discarded the term “comparative musicology,” replacing it with the concept of ethnomusicology as a separate scholarly discipline.

In the 20th century a number of new systems of music theory have grown out of efforts to take into account and explain various processes in modern composition. Among the most famous of these theories have been advanced in works by the Swiss musicologist E. Kurth (Foundations of Linear Counterpoint, 1917; Romantic Harmony and Its Crisis in Wagner’s “Tristan,” 1920), whose point of departure is a conception of music as an alternating process of concentration and discharge of psychic energy. Some aspects of his concept of energy have influenced the development of modern music theory. Studies by composers such as A. Schönberg (Austria) and P. Hindemith (Germany), which are devoted primarily to problems in harmony, are of interest as attempts to generalize the creative experience of the most contemporary music. A number of the theoretical systems developed in the second half of the 20th century are associated with attempts to apply modern mathematical methods to the analysis of music. However, in most cases, these attempts have been purely formal and have completely ignored the content of music. Asocial, elitist tendencies, as reflected in the musicological works of T. Adorno (Federal Republic of Germany), have greatly influenced musical aesthetics abroad.

In Russia music theory as an independent discipline originated in the 17th century. Theoretical works of the 15th and 16th centuries were purely empirical and were used as guides to the study of medieval systems of notation. The centuries-old tradition of the monophonic singing of ancient Rus’ was generalized in 1668 in A. Mezenets’ Primer in Znamenny Chant (published in 1888). A treatise by the Ukrainian theorist and composer N. P. Diletskii (Musical Grammar, 1st ed., in Polish, 1675; translated into church Slavonic, 1677) focused on the foundation of the polyphonic style (part singing) that had replaced the ancient monophonic tradition.

With the establishment of new, secular forms of musicianship in the 18th century, musical aesthetics was confronted with a new set of problems. Russian literature and journalism paid a great deal of attention to problems in music, particularly to the possibility of creating Russian national opera on the basis of folk traditions.

The struggle to bring narodnost’ (close ties with the people) into Russia’s artistic culture aroused a special interest in folk songs. Collections of songs were published by V. F. Trutovskii and by I. Prach and N. A. L’vov, many distinguished literary and public figures expressed their views on folk music, and N. A. L’vov published a specialized research work, On the Russian Folk Song (1790). A. N. Radishchev was outstanding for his profound understanding of the essence of the folk song as a reflection of the life and spirit of the toiling people.

In the 19th century the struggle for realism and narodnost’ in music was led by Russian music critics, including V. F. Odoevskii, A. N. Serov, V. V. Stasov, G. A. Larosh, P. I. Tchaikovsky, C. A. Cui, S. N. Kruglikov, and N. D. Kashkin. The opinions expressed by outstanding realist composers such as M. I. Glinka, A. S. Dargomyzhskii, M. A. Balakirev, M. P. Mussorgsky, A. P. Borodin, N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, and P. I. Tchaikovsky were very important to the development of progressive thought in musical aesthetics.

Advanced Russian musicology contributed to the affirmation of the progressive creative principles of the national classical school. Of particular importance were works on Glinka and Dargomyzhskii by Odoevskii, Serov, and Stasov; works on Mussorgsky and Borodin by Stasov; and N. D. Kashkin’s work on Tchaikovsky. Russian critics defended the creative work of the classical composers in the struggle against the cosmopolitan tendencies of the dvorianstvo (gentry and nobility) and aristocratic circles, whose opinions were reflected in the work of reactionary critics such as F. M. Tolstoi and A. S. Famintsyn.

Progressive figures in Russian musicology, who highly esteemed the achievements of foreign art, wrote valuable studies on classical Western composers (for example, A. D. Ulybyshev’s massive, three-volume monograph on Mozart, and a number of Serov’s works on Beethoven). Serov’s greatest contribution was his affirmation of the historical principle, which asserts that the consideration of musical works is an indestructible link between form and content. Serov and Stasov laid the foundation for the realistic theory of operatic dramaturgy and made a major contribution to the study of problems related to the programmatic symphonic style, as well as to the study of other theoretical problems raised by the artistic practice of composers. Russian musicology also made important contributions to the development of various disciplines in music theory. To meet the needs of professional music education, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky wrote textbooks on harmony. Among the most important Russian works on music theory are Rimsky-Korsakov’s Foundations of Orchestration (vols. 1–2, 1913) and S. I. Taneev’s Invertible Counterpoint (1909).

The most prominent representatives of Russian musicology waged a decisive struggle against formalistic aesthetics, which was most fully expressed by the Austrian music historian and critic E. Hanslick in On the Beautiful in Music (1854), which is still recognized as an authoritative work by foreign bourgeois musicologists. Russian musicians and critics such as Serov, Stasov, and Tchaikovsky made a great contribution to musicology by exposing the formalistic essence of Hanslick’s work.

In the 19th century, examples of folk creativity were extensively collected and studied. Valuable material is to be found in collections of Russian folk songs compiled by D. N. Kashin, I. A. Rupin, M. A. Stakhovich, Balakirev, Rimsky-Korsakov, N. E. Pal’chikov, N. M. Lopatin and V. P. Prokunin, A. K. Liadov, and S. M. Liapunov. Theoretical works by Odoevskii, Serov, Iu. N. Mel’gunov, and P. P. Sokal’skii established some of the essential aspects of the musical thought and inspiration behind the folk song.

In the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th the rise and development of national schools aroused greater interest in the folk creativity of other peoples of the multinational Russian state. The works of N. V. Lysenko were of fundamental significance to the study of Ukrainian folk music. Komitas’ writings contributed a great deal to research on Armenian folk music, and A. Juriānu’s work was important to the development of studies on Latvian folk creativity.

Unlimited possibilities and perspectives opened in musicology after the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution. Soviet musicology developed on the foundation of Marxist-Leninist theory. The mastery of Marxist methodology and aesthetics in musicology is associated with the overcoming of ideologically alien influences and with the struggle against overt and covert reactionary bourgeois tendencies. Lenin’s opinions on literature and art and the guiding instructions of the CPSU on ideological questions are of decisive importance for musicology in the USSR. The tasks of Soviet musicology are to contribute to the construction of a new, socialist musical culture, to promote the musical enlightenment and upbringing of the broad masses of the working people, and to struggle for a profound, comprehensive mastery of the classical heritage and for an accurate, realistic reflection of reality in composition. In addition, Soviet musicology exposes manifestations of reactionary, decadent bourgeois ideology in music. Working closely with composers and performers, musicology helps to solve problems confronting them and to define the means and possibilities for the further development of music.

The Communist Party and the Soviet government ensure the best possible conditions for the rapid development of musical scholarship. Scientific research institutes have been established to deal with general problems in art studies and specifically, with musicological problems. (Among them are the Institute of the History of Art of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR [Moscow], the State Scientific Research Institute of Theater, Music, and Cinematography [Leningrad], and analogous establishments in the Union republics.) Musicologists are trained in conservatories in departments of theory and the history of music, which also do scholarly research. Soviet musicologists, critics, and composers are united in the Union of Composers, in whose creative work they actively participate.

A. V. Lunacharskii’s works, which are devoted to elucidating the high value of the classical music heritage and to criticism of the decadent bourgeois art of the capitalist countries, have played a positive role in the development of Soviet musicology. B. V. Asafev, one of the most important Russian music scholars, made an outstanding contribution to the development of various branches of the historical and theoretical study of music. Problems in music theory have been dealt with successfully in works by B. L. Iavorskii, Iu. N. Tiulin, Kh. S. Kushnarev, S. S. Skrebkov, V. A. Tsukkerman, L. A. Mazel’, and V. V. Protopov. One of the main achievements of Soviet music theory has been the development of new methods of analysis designed to reveal the content of works, the structure of their images, and their ideological and artistic design. V. V. Asaf ev’s theory of intonation has become the basis for a realistic understanding of music.

The national music heritage is being studied extensively, and the publication of forgotten or unknown works of historical significance continues. In the history of Russian music, research by N. F. Findeizen, Rimsky-Korsakov, V. V. Iakovlev, A. V. Ossovskii, T. N. Livanova, M. S. Pekelis, and O. E. Levasheva is very important. They and other scholars have been the first to reveal and to substantiate as completely as possible the tremendous historical importance of the classics of Russian music as representatives of a new, progressive stage in the development of world music. In addition, they have pointed out the lofty ideas, realism, and narodnost’ in the creative work of the outstanding Russian composers. Intensive study of the historical development of the various national cultures is under way in most of the Union republics and in many of the autonomous republics. The research of M. V. Ivanov-Boretskii, K. A. Kuznetsov, I. I. Sollertinskii, Iu. A. Kremlev, M. S. Druskin, V. D. Konen, I. F. Belza, and D. V. Zhitomirskii focuses on various phenomena and periods in foreign music.

Soviet musicology has made important achievements in the collection and study of examples of folk creativity. Of particular value in this branch of musicology are works by A. D. Kastal’skii, A. M. Listopadov, and E. V. Gippius (Russian folklore); F. M. Kolessa and K. V. Kvitok (Ukrainian folk music); D. I. Arakishvili (Georgian folk music); S. Melikian (Armenian folk music); and U. Gadzhibekov (Azerbaijani folk music); A. V. Zataevich (Kazakh and Kirghiz folk music), V. A. Uspenskii (Uzbek and Turkmen folk music), J. K. Ciurlionyté (Lithuanian folk music), E. Melngailis (Latvian folk music), and V. M. Beliaev (the folk music of various peoples of the USSR) have also made important contributions in this field.

Among the most important tasks facing Soviet musicology are the study and analysis of contemporary processes in musical creativity, the study of the musical culture that has grown out of the interaction and mutual creative enrichment of the various national cultures, and the generalization or summary of the historical development of multinational Soviet music. D. B. Kabalevsky, G. N. Khubov, A. I. Shaverdian, B. M. Iarustovskii, and I. V. Nest’ev have devoted many articles and books to these problems. Through the efforts of many groups of musicologists a number of fundamental, general works have been written, including The History of Soviet Russian Music (vols. 1–4, 1956–63) and The History of the Music of the Peoples of the USSR (vols. 1–5, 1970–74). Publication of the USSR’s first Music Encyclopedia began in 1973. Soviet musicology pays a great deal of attention to various aspects of music education and propaganda and to the creation of popular and pedagogical literature on music.

After World War II (1939–45) the international prestige of Soviet music increased. Contacts between Soviet musicologists and foreign scholars, particularly those from the socialist countries, have grown stronger. Musicologists from the USSR participate in the work of the International Musicological Society and other international organizations. Attending various international congresses and symposia, they defend the principles of realism and narodnost’ana struggle against reactionary idealistic and formalistic tendencies in music and music scholarship. The Seventh Congress of UNESCO’s International Music Council, which was held in Moscow in 1971, played a major role in strengthening the international prestige of Soviet music and in bringing together progressive musicians and scholars from various countries.

Edited by IU. V. KELDYSH

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the scholarly study of music
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