When attending a concert, several elements make the experience powerful. The spotlight is not only in the music itself, musicians’ interpretations and audience reactions play a significant role in the performance also. The roots of the sociomusicology discipline started in the 18th century, the idea consisted on making an effort to understand society.  Thus, values, beliefs, religion, culture are crucial elements to study sociomusicology. The music appreciation process varies from person to person. The focus of attention is not measurable; each listener has been exposed to different circumstances to enjoy music. For example, a five year-old could perceive Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in a completely different way than senior music-major. Enjoying music goes beyond knowing the exact form of a piece. This is where sociomusicology comes handy and helps describing the emotional elements of music as well as the social impact in society. For example, composers of the 20th century began exploring atonality. Schonberg, creator of the serialism, had a particular musical style that was not easy to listen to – it was completely on purpose. Schoenberg wanted to portray the chaos that he was experiencing making music sound atrocious. Debussy, on the other hand, composed his last work when he was extremely ill. Even though Debussy did not intend to keep composing, he was forced to do it by his publisher and the result was a intense work. All of these issues can be addressed through sociomusicology. These events are relevant to the understanding of music and to the period of time it was written.   Sociomusicology is, to a certain extent, similar to music history; however, the difference is that sociomusicology focuses more in the impact that music and composers had in the society. Sociomusicology is not limited to Western music; music can have a social impact in any region of the world.

-Sandra Rivera



Mikkonen, Simo. 2009. Music and Power in the Soviet 1930s : A History of Composers’ Bureaucracy. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2009. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed January 23, 2017).

Rabinovitz, Brian E., and Zehra F. Peynircioglu. “Flexibility of Temporal Order in Musical and Linguistic Recognition.” The American Journal of Psychology 127, no. 1 (2014): 87-106. doi:10.5406/amerjpsyc.127.1.0087.

Simon, Peti, and Szabo, Tamas. Music : Social Impacts, Health Benefits and Perspectives. New York, US: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2013. Accessed January 23, 2017. ProQuest ebrary.

Shepherd, John “Sociology of music.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed January 23, 2017,


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