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Systematic Musicology: Empirical and Theoretical Studies

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Edited By Albrecht Schneider and Arne von Ruschkowski

This volume contains articles most of which present empirical studies in the field of systematic musicology. Contributions in particular deal with aspects of melody including modeling and computer-assisted analysis as well as with various issues in sound and music perception, musical acoustics and psychoacoustics. Topics range from loudness perception in ‘Techno’ music to sound radiation in classical singing styles, and from timbre research to wave field synthesis and room acoustics. One focus of this volume is on pop and rock music, another is on ethno and folk music. In addition to empirical investigations, theoretical and methodological issues are addressed including some fundamental concepts in ethnomusicology and folk music scholarship.

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Introduction: Systematic Musicology and Empirical Research

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As is known from many sources, Greek and Hellenic philosophers and scientists directed much of their inquiry to a field covering fundamentals of music and mathematics (see, e.g. Szabo 1978, Barker 2007). Different from biased opinion according to which these approaches were based on mere 'speculation' (by the way, an approach relevant to heuristics), there is evidence that theoretical thought was accompanied by observation of nature as well as by some experimentation. In regard to music, at times also 'practical' issues were taken into account (as is obvious from the writings of Aristoxenus). Music and music theory again played a central role within the framework of the scientific revolution that took place in Europe between, roughly, 1550 and 1750. It was during this period that basic discoveries relevant to acoustics and psychoacoustics were made (cf. Cannon & Dostrovsky 1981, Cohen 1984). Again, calculation and also 'specu- lation' were combined with by then much more extended and thorough observations and experiments, many of which had an impact on contemporary organology and instrument building as well as on other areas of musical practice. Also, music theory took up concepts developed in acoustics in order to maintain scientific foundations. In particular Rameau has been criticized for having introduced 'physicalism' into music theory (Handschin 1948), and Riemann has been blamed to have even conducted dubious 'moonshine experiments' to give his harmonic theory a semblance of rigour. Such criti- cism perhaps is not without reason. It seems inadequate though given the problems any attempt at establishing...

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