Philosophies of Music History

By Warren Dwight Allen | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

I. THE SCOPE OF THE INQUIRY

THE original purpose of this study was to write a history of an interesting body of literature known as "general histories of music." To this end, the needs of students and teachers of the subject were to be kept primarily in mind. But as this is the first time that such a survey has been attempted, it has seemed wise to broaden the scope of the inquiry to include a study of the philosophies of music history that have tried to picture the subject as a whole. This literature bears important relationships to general trends in thought and culture, in the environment of each author and in his musical and intellectual heritage. Furthermore, concepts have been borrowed from other disciplines to make "general histories" of music possible. The processes of music history have been explained in terms of theology, mathematics, biology, mechanics, and psychology. Therefore an attempt has been made to point out the historical sources of these concepts and analogies and the fallacies involved.

Finally, this study has come to be concerned with the separation that exists between the "scientific" and the "popular" approach to the history of music. It is suggested (in Chapter 13) that both types of inquiry can co-operate to explain (without analogies) how our musical arts, preferences, and prejudices have come to be what they are.


II. THE DIFFICULTIES INVOLVIED.

Any inquiry of this sort faces certain difficulties which are peculiar to the literature and the teaching of music. In the first place, older literature about music is rare and inaccessible in this country. This is true to an extent that is inconceivable to teachers of other arts, or to teachers in the social studies. In all these fields, the classics of the literature are still available in anthologies, translations, and reprints. Only two histories of music written before 1890 are available in second editions. The larger and most scholarly foreign treatises have not been translated, and most current findings in recent research are only available to those who read foreign lan-

-vii-

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