Academic journal article Canadian University Music Review

Introduction-Music Studies in the New Millennium: Perspectives from Canada

Academic journal article Canadian University Music Review

Introduction-Music Studies in the New Millennium: Perspectives from Canada

Article excerpt

During the last quarter of the twentieth century, two innovations occurred in the academic study of music. The first was the manner in which disciplines such as sociology and social anthropology, and intellectual trajectories such as cultural studies, feminism, structuralism and semiology, post-structuralism, postmodernism, post-colonialism, Foucauldian discourse theory, and gay and lesbian studies began to have far-reaching consequences in terms of bow scholars thought and wrote about music. These developments followed, and in many cases became allied with those resulting from the increasing presence of ethnomusicology in the academy. The second innovation was the manner in which distinctions between the disciplines of academic music became less clear as similar questions and issues arose within them, largely as a result of the influx of new ideas from disciplines and intellectual trajectories not principally concerned with music. The complex totality of these innovations has been referred to variously as "the new musicology," "critical musicology," or "cultural musicology."

As James Deaville's Preface attests, Canada has proved a fertile ground for such developments. Not only have individual Canadian scholars played an important role in these innovations. The Canadian University Music Review has itself demonstrated a long-standing commitment to the presence within its covers of disciplinary diversity, as well as to the insights to be gained from the crossing of disciplinary borders. It has also-in its openness to diversity and innovation-proved welcoming to new and challenging insights as well as to scholarship in more established veins. The wealth of this activity has been further enriched by the presence of two languages and the cultural and intellectual diversity that this in turn engenders.

The purpose of this special issue of the Canadian University Music Review is to celebrate the contributions of Canadians and the Canadian University Music Review to the innovations in music scholarship that have occurred over the last quarter of a century or so. It is also to afford an opportunity to a number of Canadian scholars who have been active in critical forms of musicology to reflect on past developments, and to identify those questions and issues in the academic study of music which they see as the most important and the most pressing as a new millennium begins. The scholars who have agreed to contribute to this special issue represent a wide range of academic disciplines within music: historical musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, music education, and popular music studies.

One of the more intriguing characteristics of the history of the academic study of music is the manner in which Guido Adler's original, speculative mapping of the field became so influential and so entrenched. This mapping, which dates back to 1885, was very much rooted in the formation of a German national cultural identity, and a consequent desire in the realm of music to establish and legitimate a canon of European "great works" in which German music figured prominently. Adler's mapping drew a distinction between historische Musikwissenschaft ("historical musicology")-drawn from the writing of histories-and systematische Musikwissenschaft ("systematic musicology")-based upon the idea that, in an ahistorical fashion, musical works could be "entities unto themselves," capable of being analyzed and understood in almost complete isolation from their surrounding circumstances. Adler's mapping subsequently translated in the North American context to a clear division between historical musicology and music theory.

Adler's mapping took on the mantle of a canon, and came to be presented as the self-evident and unquestioned way of thinking about and organizing scholarly work on music. It was based upon and came to entrench the idea that music as an art-form was contained within the parameters of the sounds that embodied it. …

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