Soft Boundaries: Re-Visioning the Arts and Aesthetics in American Education

By Claire Detels | Go to book overview

4
Fragmentation in the Musical Field

As discussed in Part I, hard-boundaried specialization has had a very negative effect on education in the arts and aesthetics: it has marginalized them as singledisciplinary concerns of specialists, unconnected to each other and to the general curriculum. Within the individual disciplines of the arts, hard-boundaried specialization has further led to the development of separate subdisciplines of history, theory, and practice in various art forms. Some of the arts are more divided and subdivided than others. In drama, issues of theory, history, and practice are often integrated in the study and preparation of historical works for performances. In the visual arts, issues of history and theory are merged in undergraduate art history classes. In music, however, there are sharp divisions between history, theory, practice, and there are many other divisions as well.

Specialization is so advanced in the discipline of music that is more properly called fragmentation: a fragmentation of the musical field into separate subdisciplines of musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, composition, music education, musical aesthetics, music therapy, music psychology, music sociology, popular music, music in general education, music performance, and conducting. Actually it is difficult to list all the separate subdisciplines that currently fragment the musical field because there are separate academic societies, journals, and programs for virtually every instrument and musical activity under the sun. Most of the specialties in music are contained within the discipline of music and its departments, but not all of them: music therapy and music psychology are typically under psychology; music sociology is under sociology; popular music is under cultural studies, communication, or even English; and musical aesthetics is under aesthetics in philosophy. Each specialty has a different perspective on what is important in research, education, and practice, with the result that music departments feature more factional relationships than typically exist elsewhere in academia. There is one organization, the College Music Society,

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