Familiarity, information and musicological efficiency

Hawes, V. (2013) Familiarity, information and musicological efficiency. In: King, E. and Prior, H., eds. Music and Familiarity: Listening, Musicology and Performance. SEMPRE Studies in the Psychology of Music. Farnham: Ashgate. pp. 157-173 ISBN 9781409420750

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Musicology, as a discipline, is neither based wholly on scientific methods, nor on methods from the humanities. The conceptual space of the discipline is complex, incorporating many sub-disciplines, each with their own structures and methods. This complexity makes it difficult for a graduate student in musicology to become familiar with and to navigate sub-disciplines that can vary widely from those which the student is familiar with from their previous experience or supervisor’s influence. However, in becoming familiar with approaches from other sub-disciplines affords new perspectives on the student’s specialist topic and opportunities for interdisciplinary work.

All musicological outputs communicate some new knowledge or idea to a reader or listener. In the sciences, tools derived from an information-theoretical approach have been proposed for the exploration and evaluation of theories, concentrating on issues of communication and efficiency (Brillouin 1962, 1964; Goertzel 2004). Similarly, approaches from performance analysis critical theory and systematic musicology suggest an approach to the philosophy of musicology that addresses the fragmentation of musicology’s discourse using concepts of effective communication between scholars and musicians (Parncutt 2007b; Korsyn 2003; Cook 1999). Building on these points of view from very different sub-disciplines within musicology, approaches to assessing the efficiency of musicology, independent from its specific topic or eventual purpose, are discussed.

Three questions are proposed here as the starting point for an examination of musicology with regards to efficient communication: questions about scope, predictive accuracy, and simplicity. The interaction between perceived ‘familiar’ and ‘unfamiliar’ elements are then used in examples from computational analysis (Temperley 2009), ethnomusicology (Browner 2000) and popular music studies (Björnberg 1994) to explore the three questions and to examine issues of communication within those three example outputs. This chapter proposes the use of this kind of thinking for a systematic approach to the study of musicology as a discipline, with the purpose of providing people with tools to help them negotiate their way through musicology and developing a systematic approach to a philosophy of musicology.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature on music > ML3797 Musical research
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Music and Performing Arts
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dr Vanessa Hawes
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2016 11:53
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2016 11:53
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/14424

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00