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Kurt Blaukopf on Music Sociology – an Anthology

2nd Unrevised Edition


Edited By Tasos Zembylas

This anthology contains seven texts by Kurt Blaukopf (1914–1999) that exemplify the sociological and epistemological position of this pioneer of Austrian music sociology. Blaukopf’s efforts were aimed at a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach and analysis of music as a cultural phenomenon and as social practice. The primary aim of this anthology is to make Blaukopf’s work better known in the English-speaking world. It offers the interested reader a fruitful analysis of the relation between music sociology and its sister disciplines, e.g. musicology, a solid analysis in terms of the philosophy of science on the possibilities and limits of music sociology, and a highly topical discussion about the significance of intrinsic artistic aspects in music sociology.
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Goals of the Sociology of Music



From time to time, one must return to investigate words; for the world can move away while words stand still.– Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Thus words too serve to express new ideas without changing their orthography.– Emile Durkheim

As a rule, one attempts to circumscribe the field of the sociology of music by starting with the idea, which must be defined more exactly, of how sociology should treat certain aspects of music. Assuming that existing disciplines already deal adequately with several aspects of music (for example, music theory, musical aesthetics, psychology of music, and so on) the only way to legitimize the sociology of music would be to describe its methods and area of application in such a way that its particular task is identified. For many years I regarded this as superfluous, because in my opinion every method of dealing with music involves sociological aspects, and a separate sociology of music could be justified as a “transient science” only as long as scholarship did not integrate it into musicology. I soon revised this interpretation (Blaukopf 1972, 5-6), because theory and methodology (primarily that of the empirical sociology of music) had evolved and become more refined, as reflected in an extensive literature on the subject (cf. Kneif 1966, Elste 1975).

To be sure, that dubious tendency which, over the last thirty years, has been called “the fight for a place in the academic sun” (Acham 1979, 135) has also been responsible for...

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