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,


Pete Seeger, Charles Seeger, and Musicology


Charles, Mike, Ruth, and Peggy Seeger circa 1937( Library of Congress)

I am not well-read in musicology; in fact right now I can only claim to have dipped a toe or two into its vast pool. Even so, I find certain things that grab my attention. One is the heavy involvement of the Seeger family in the tectonic shift that broke Ethnomusicology off into a different field. Another is the similar tensions that currently exist around Sociomusicology, which is still considered a discipline of musicology.

I spent my childhood listening to Pete Seeger and wondering what made him the kind of musician he was. Was he just born with this amazing interest and ability that enabled him to assimilate songs from almost any culture into his performing repertoire? He was a world musician before the term “world music” had even been coined. In one concert he would effortlessly and seamlessly move from Latin America to Africa to Israel…how did he do it? And why?

It was years later that I came across the fact that his father, Charles Seeger was a musicologist, and that the entire family was involved with field collection of folk music. As a result of this heavy exposure to folk music, especially Appalachian folk music, three of the Seeger Children became well-known professional folk musicians: Pete, Michael, and Peggy. In the next generation, their nephew Anthony took up the musicology torch once again.

The tectonic shift that established ethnomusicology as its own discipline happened in the 1950’s as a result of the realization that its predecessor (comparative musicology) was so entrenched in a Western-centered view of the world that it had a skewed perception of anything that was not western art music. [1] From the very start Charles Seeger was uncomfortable with the naming of the new field, and felt that  since ethnomusicology was defined as the study of all musics (even western art music), what was really called for was a redefining of musicology itself, away from the center of western art music.[2]

From today’s point of view, when the dominance of western music has been severely destabilized by the plurality of our society, the musics we listen to, the availability of different musical choices, and the variety of choices even within 20th and 21st century classical music[3], his concerns make sense. The need to create a brand new field grew from musicology’s tendency to compare everything else to the ethno-centric standard of western art music.

In the shift that established ethnomusicology as a field, many concepts and methods were taken from Anthropology, and there was a high degree of collaboration between Anthropologists and Ethnomusicologists in establishing the new field. [4]  I think the fact that sociomusicology is undergoing a similar dialogue about whether the sociology of music and the social history of music are really two different disciplines[5]is due to the fact that musicology has maintained its western-centric approach. To study western art music in its social context is simply to treat it the way any other type of music is treated in Ethnomusicology; the distinctions start to seem kind of silly. We don’t have a separate field of Ethnoanthropology or Ethnosociology; those are handled by disciplines within the field. I lean towards agreeing with Charles Seeger that it is all musicology, and that the ethnocentric biases of musicology are what cause the problems.

Another way that Charles Seeger was involved in the early establishment of Ethnomusicology as a field was in the wrangling about the language of the new field. [6] While to some it may have seemed like time would have been better spent in field research, it showed that Seeger understood how important language would be in defining the field and its approach. This careful process of defining set up a philosophy of “Canonic reflexivity” within the field, which established a tradition of questioning and redefining that has served the field extremely well, paving the way for open minded thinking and freedom to question assumptions that we see in works like Gary Tomlinson’s “Cultural Dialogistics and Jazz: a White historian signifies”, suggesting that the African-American tradition of signifying can be a useful tool for reframing the musical discussion.[7]

-Flora Newberry

[1][1] Philip V. Bohlman, “Ethnomusicology’s Challenge to the Canon; the Canon’s Challenge to Ethnomusicology” in Disciplining Music, ed. Katherine Bergeron and Philip Bohlman (University of Chicago Press:Chicago, 1992),  120.

[2] Ibid, 125

[3] Robert P. Morgan, “Re-thinking Musical Culture, Canonic Reformations in a Post-Tonal Age”, Disciplining Music,

Ed. Katherine Bergeron and Philip Bohlman (University of Chicago Press:Chicago, 1992), 56-57.

[4] Philip V. Bohlman, “Ethnomusicology’s Challenge to the Canon; the Canon’s Challenge to Ethnomusicology” in Disciplining Music, ed. Katherine Bergeron and Philip Bohlman (University of Chicago Press:Chicago, 1992),  121-122.

[5] Vincent Duckles, et al. “Musicology.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed January 24, 2017,

[6] Philip V. Bohlman, “Ethnomusicology’s Challenge to the Canon; the Canon’s Challenge to Ethnomusicology” in Disciplining Music, ed. Katherine Bergeron and Philip Bohlman (University of Chicago Press:Chicago, 1992),  124.

[7] Gary Tomlinson, “Cultural Dialogics and jazz:A White Historian Signifies” in Disciplining Music, ed. Katherine Bergeron and Philip Bohlman (University of Chicago Press:Chicago, 1992), 64.

Music Aesthetics

Throughout the years questions have risen, such as, what makes music? Why is it important to life and Society? Many philosophers, researchers, music historians have tried to answer this question too little or no avail. These questions have been asked many times throughout the history of music. Many musicologists such as Schreibe and Matterson believe that music comes from the theory of emoting. This theory proposes that a melodic line or the words to a song can cause in the listener a particular emotion. This means that not only could the music invoke an overall emotion for the audience, but also a personal emotion to each individual audience member.

We can see this take place through program music, although this type of music the composer has a literal meaning or feeling for the audience each member of the audience can interpret at their own separate way while still holding true to the vision of the composer. Such is the case with Hector Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique, and his “ghostly” imagery given in the 4th movement of the symphony.

This of course leads to the question of Aesthetics and for music that does not draw a definite emotion from an audience member. Such is the music of Arnold Schoenberg, or John Cage. When these composers are brought into question on what is music, they are not necessarily well received due to their “experimental” composing styles. With Schoenberg introducing 12-tone serialism and John Cage utilizing new ways to create music, many music enthusiasts find it hard to label their works as music in comparison to the works of Mozart or Beethoven. Many of these music enthusiasts are highly critical of 20th century composers and their works even though they attempt to find a new and unique style for what we call music. As music changes our preferred “aesthetic” must change with them or we could possibly discourage further composers from being great.

-John Guevara



Performing Practice in the 21st Century

Up until the 19th century performing practice did not exist as we know it today. As revivals of early music began, people began to wonder how this music would have been performed in its own time? From about 1890 to the present day, performing practice has become a much larger part of the canon of western repertoire. As with any historical practice there can be discrepancies such as misconstrued meanings of the original musical notation or a change in meaning over time. Any student of performing practice must carefully study the musical notation and symbols of each historical period. According to Harry Haskell, the historical performance movement began in 1890 through 1945. During this time there is a sort of revival in the making of early instruments. How can we truly appreciate early music without the instruments on which it was originally played?

Now how does this relate to us in our present day? Why should we care about the historical practice of this music? Most musicians of the 19th century believed that older music needed to be improved by performing it on modern instruments with their volume and added brilliance. A few others believed that unexpected beauties might be revealed if these works were performed as originally intended. I have to agree. There would be no history if we performed all music as we do now. There would be no variety, no unexpected beauty in discovering something we previously did not know existed. How could we take a work that we did not create and assume it needs to be made better? That is inconsiderate to the composers that produced such mastery.

So how do we continue this tradition today? Try to stay true to the composer and the historical period and to uncover the hidden beauties within.

-Jamille Brewster-img_0121


Burkholder, Peter J. “The Baroque era” Borrowing, 8: The Baroque era (accessed January 22,2017)

Brown, Howard Mayer. “General” Performing practice, I: Western (accessed January 22, 2017)

Duckles, Vincent. “Performing Practice” Musicology, II: Disciplines of musicology (January 2014) (accessed January 22, 2017)

Haskell, Harry. “Early Music” Early Music (accessed January 22, 2017)


Bach Double Concert- Early Music and Modern violin


My friend Sandra Rivera and I both master’s students and violinists had the difficult task to perform the Bach double concert for two violins and orchestra last semester. In the beginning of the rehearsals a question comes up, which style should we follow? The early music style or the late one? Baroque? Or modern? She insisted to follow the baroque style and for me that was strange without the baroque violins. Besides that, I never had the opportunity to play in a baroque violin so it was difficult for me to imagine which kind of sounds it was expected for me to have with a modern violin while playing early music style.   During all my years performing Bach, I always utilized the regular violin for it and not necessarily had to think about the early period style. Since nowadays if you are playing in tune and with the right rhythm, it is enough already. After thinking about it, we decided to follow the baroque style and that for me was a big challenge. It was difficult for me to try a new sound and explore my violin in ways I never did before and I realized that being able to use a regular violin and play with the same kind of sound the baroque ones have is one of the most difficult techniques for a violinist to develop and control, even my violin wasn’t responding as I thought it should. The baroque violin is totally different from the modern one with gut strings, lowered neck and bridge, reduced bass-bar, out curved bow, as for the bow – grip, the steading of the violin with the cheek or the chin. Besides that, we are still not sure about the real baroque sound because we don’t have enough evidence about it. The violinists born in this time period are influenced by the modern music style and do not know exactly how the baroque music style worked.

Watching some recordings on YouTube about this piece, I could realize that most of the violinists famous or not barely tried to follow the baroque style and only the recordings with real baroque instruments were successful to approach it, but they were not that popular.

To conclude if you are using modern instruments, then this is a very good opportunity to improve your skills as a violinist and try to better control your instrument , but if you have a baroque violin you can easily play the style. Unfortunately, violinists will never be sure if they are playing in the same way violinists played during that early period.


Johanny Veiga Barbosa

Donington, Robert. “Baroque Strings.” The Musical Times 119, no. 1620 (1978): 101-25. doi:10.2307/960600.

Falkus, Judith. “Baroque Violin Technique.” The Musical Times 118, no. 1617 (1977): 911-12. doi:10.2307/959970.

Monosoff, Sonya. Notes 44, no. 2 (1987): 261-63. doi:10.2307/941574.

Roche, Elizabeth. “Baroque Voices and Violins.” Early Music 33, no. 3 (2005): 533-35.



An Introduction to the Mindset of Stringed-Instrument Makers

In August of 2016 I purchased a new cello; a Viennese instrument made in 1767 by Joseph Ferdinand Leidolff.  My obsession with it over the past 6 months has made my choice of topic for this class rather simple.  I’ll be following the organology discipline of musicology to study the stringed instruments and luthiers of Vienna from the 17th and 18th centuries.  Overall, organology is the study of musical instruments including their history, physical characteristics, the science on how they produce sound, etc.

Even if you’re not familiar with the history and traditions of stringed instrument making, you’ve probably heard of the famous Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari.  He is credited for being the greatest violin maker of all time and his instruments fetch a price that reflects that. Recent auction prices have surpassed the $10 million mark.  Stradivari is a crucial figure in the history of stringed instruments because his success inspired most violin makers to model their instruments after his, including makers working today.  For example, most of the violins and cellos you see today, including those you find in most public schools, are modeled after a pattern that Stradivari invented.

I mention all of this because modeling instruments after a famous violin maker’s distinguished pattern was not just a practice in Italy, but all over Europe…including Austria.

This leads me to Jacob Stainer (1617-1683), the father of the Austro-German school of violin making.  Stainer was no doubt Austria’s “Stradivari.”  He is even thought to have studied under Niccolo Amati, who was also Stradivari’s teacher.  As all of the greatest makers did, Stainer combined techniques passed to him by his teacher with his own ideas to create a model of violin that was unique to his workshop.  These models would be responsible for inspiring future Austrian makers to follow suit.  Joseph Liedolff, the maker of my cello, did just that.


Next time I will give some background on Joseph Leidolff, his family, and what makes Austrian instruments unique.

-Nathan Black


Dilworth, John. “Maker: Joseph Leidolff.” Amati. Accessed January 24, 2017.

Hopfner, Rudolph. “The Vienna School – How the Austrian capital’s extraordinary music culture supported a host of talented violin makers for centuries.” Tarisio. June 29, 2016. Accessed January 24, 2017.

Maunder, Richard. “Viennese Stringed Instrument Makers, 1700-1800 .” The Galpin Society Journal 52:27-51. Accessed January 24, 2017.

“Instrument Makers of the Stainer Family.” Encyclopedia Smithsonian. Accessed January 24, 2017.


Female Instrumental Musicians in America

     When we are asked to name important figures in music history, what are some names that immediately come to mind? Composers like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, the list goes on. What about those who perform their music? Instrumentalists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Art Rubenstein, Wynton Marsalis, to name a few. Now the question is, what do these lists of musicians and performers lack? Women.

     Musicologists only began to recover the history of women in music during the 1970s. Women who played orchestral instruments were met with the greatest of resistance for a long time. They were initially widely accepted as vocal performers because they were irreplaceable, but public instrumental performance remained problematic for years. At first, only certain instruments were considered “acceptable” for women, including keyboard, guitar, and harp. These instruments were seen as “ladylike” because their sounds appeared delicate and soft, just as a lady was supposed to be. Once piano was considered to a be a soloist instrument, violin became popular. This opened the door for other stringed instruments except the cello, for it was considered too “physical” because it has to be held between the legs. During the 1860s, the endpin became a standard accessory for cello, making it more suitable for women to play “side-saddle”. Flute was the only blown instrument considered socially acceptable for a long time, mostly because there was no facial contortion necessary. In other words, they would still look “pretty” while performing.


Notice the title of this magazine article

Women responded to exclusion from orchestras by forming their own all-female organizations. Many had gaps in instrumentation, but if no woman was available to play a certain instrument, a man dressed in a woman’s clothes would fill the spot. Ironically, popularity of these orchestras rose because they were “odd” and women were seen playing “masculine” instruments. There are many reasons why men thought women couldn’t play these instruments: they were “unladylike”, it could ruin their looks, they weren’t strong enough to manage them, they didn’t have enough lip or lung power, or they wouldn’t be able to endure long rehearsals or touring schedules. Ultimately, any instrument was alright, but appearance would determine their amount of success. The greatest compliment a woman could receive during these times was that she played “like a man”. However, women have won more spots through a process called blind auditions, proving that gender has nothing to do with how well one plays an instrument.


One of the first all-female orchestras, Women’s Fadette Orchestra of Boston, founded in 1888 by Caroline B. Nichols.

-Kathryn Andrade


Vincent Duckles, et al. “Musicology.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed January 24, 2017,

Hinely, Mary Brown. “The Uphill Climb of Women in American Music: Performers and Teachers.” Music Educators Journal 70, no. 8 (1984): 31-35.

Macleod, Beth Abelson. “”Whence Comes the Lady Tympanist?” Gender and Instrumental Musicians in America, 1853-1990.” Journal of Social History 27, no. 2 (1993): 291-308.

Judith Tick, et al. “Women in music.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed January 24, 2017,



Rationalization: A Sociological Approach to Music

By Edwin Cordoba


A bunch of scholars out there like to look at music through the lens of “Sociomusicology”- where they examine the social roles of music, musicians and institutions from within. Think of it as an examination of what music does to society. But I think it’s far more interesting to look at Sociological Principles as they apply to music- we can take more things about history into consideration that way!

Let’s look at an example:

Max Webber was fond of looking at music from a Sociological Perspective. He noticed a bunch of different examples of the advancement of music from the “irrational” to the “rational” through history. Examples of this include a change in motivation for composer’s work (financial motivations?), a formation and restructuring of musical academia, and a change in how music performance was publicized. In fancy Sociological terms, it’s the replacement of values and emotions as motivators in behavior to more rational and calculated ones… we call this Rationalization. Him and other sociologists believed the process of rationalization wasn’t necessarily a good thing and essentially culminated in the achievement of capitalism… but that’s for another action-packed blog.


What’s interesting is that rationalization itself is what allows empirical observation to exist! Rationalization leads to bureaucracies… and it is these bureaucracies that allow us to catalogue the church documents, original manuscripts, and the archival documents that lead to sociological observations.


As a music educator, my field is concerned with the development of quality and efficiency in the musical learning process. Unfortunately, there are so many state mandates, standardized tests, and formatted music “contests”, that sometimes it’s easy to forget about the inherently artistic nature of our work. In many ways, our jobs are the culmination of this “Rationalization” that Webber talks about. Fortunately, I can now use this realization to guide me in my work… and use that as a reminder to try and always find beauty, creativity, and musical integrity in my work and in my student’s work.






Konrad Boehmer. “Weber, Max.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 22 Jan. 2017. <;.

Cady, Henry L. “The Sociology of Music: A Perspective.” Music Educators Journal, vol. 50, no. 2, 1963, pp. 25–58.

Hildegard Froehlich and Lucy Green. “Music Education, Sociology of.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 22 Jan. 2017. <;.

Turley, Alan C. “Max Weber and the Sociology of Music.” Sociological Forum, vol. 16, no. 4, 2001, pp. 633–653.


A Queer Musicology, A Review of Homosexuality in Music

             The study of sexuality in music developed alongside gender studies. It seems that acceptance into the musicological and critic’s societies for homosexual composers had similar struggles to those men and women fighting for their rights in the streets of Stonewall. Britten received nasty reviews of his opera Billy Budd, claiming it was basically an all-male daytime soap-opera. Early musicologists commented on Tchaikovsky as being “shameless in its sensuousness and splendor”.  It is only within the last 35 years that studies in the area of homosexuality began to develop, including in music. It wasn’t until 1993 that a collective body of gay and lesbian essays in the subject of musicology was generated. Musicology had developed so far by this point, Philip Brett coined the term “Queering the Pitch” to represent the study of homosexuality in musicology. This has caused a movement that prevents the ability to simply ignore the fact that composers such as Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein lead a lifestyle that could be studied apart from their music, rather than in connection.

barbermenotticopland           Homosexual composers simply weren’t taken seriously. It has only been in the recent decades that we have begun to search for the true history behind composers such as Franz Schubert and G.F. Handel. Philip Brett wrote many essays on the subject of “queer theory”, taking the lead role as a musicologist in homosexuality. Through this research, we are able to discover more about composers and the music they wrote. For example, Britten’s opera Peter Grimes was a subtle tribute to his rough life coming to terms with his own sexuality and lifestyle. It was also the deciding moment for Britten to return to his home country from the United States. As our society, country, and world become more accepting and diverse, more freedom in composition and other areas of art will continue to grow. It is disappointing, frustrating, and a travesty that it has taken centuries for classical music to develop into this role, however it seems to be headed down a good and right path.  More avenues for gay and lesbian composers are open.

-Joshua Lott

Brett, Philip. “Britten and Grimes.” The Musical Times 118, no. 1618 (1977): 995-1000. doi:10.2307/959289.

Brett, Philip. “Are You Musical? Is It Queer to Be Queer? Philip Brett Charts the Rise of Gay Musicology.” The Musical Times 135, no. 1816 (1994): 370-76. doi:10.2307/1003225

Duckles, Vincent et al. “Musicology.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed January 24, 2017,

Peraino, Judith, and Suzanne G. Cusick. “Music and Sexuality.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 66, no. 3 (2013): 825-72. doi:10.1525/jams.2013.66.3.825.





Sociomusicology and Middle School

middle-music-400What an interesting selection of musicology disciplines!  I chose sociomusicology for my “jumping off point.”  What is Sociomusicology?  I had actually never heard of the term.  It is also referred to as Music Sociology.  Sociomusicology is basically the role of music in society.  How is music a social activity?  How does music help us interact with each other?  How does it make people behave?

When I came across this discipline, I immediately thought about adolescents in music education classes and how young people not only learn how to play an instrument but also develop better social skills by participating in music ensembles.  I am not sure this could constitute as a form of sociomusicology but here is the angle I went for using some previous exploration I had done before.  In the bibliography course I took last semester I did some research on the positive effects children encounter while partaking in a music class.  One was their need for social interaction and social acceptance.  In particular, I wanted to highlight how being in a music class can help alleviate the effects of bullying and provide a safe place for students.  Bullying has always been an unfortunate social issue and is common in our society.  With recent advancements in social media (twitter, Instagram, snapchat, etc.), bullying seems to be more prevalent and can now be more easily accomplished.  Music teachers/music classrooms provide a safe place for students by teaching kids how to work as a team and communicate not only through performing music but by having students interact with each other to reach the same goal.  Students develop a bond with their group (much like a sports team).  In this case music can bring people together that would have otherwise never met.  The interaction involved can create an alliance between young people that can help them ward off bullying situations.  If they should encounter some sort of harassment outside of the classroom, these music students know that they have a safe place to go and socialize with others that share the same musical interest.  Not only does music provide an escape for these kids but also a skill to be proud of.  Playing an instrument can also be an activity that allows students to feel their value in society (society being their school and how important their role is to the group).  The hope is that they focus on their good qualities/talents (example: I am a great trumpet player) that way they can be strong enough (high self-esteem) to ignore a bullying situation.anti_bullyin_posters

Below are some of the articles I found regarding sociomusicology and education.

Elliott, David J., and Marissa Silverman. Music matters: a philosophy of music education. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Keil, Charles. “Applied Sociomusicology and Performance Studies.” Ethnomusicology 42, no. 2 (1998): 303-12. doi:10.2307/3113893.

Lundquist, Barbara Reeder. “Sociomusicology : A Status Report.” College Music Symposium 22, no. 1 (1982): 104-11.

McCarthy, Marie. “Music Matters: A Philosophical Foundation for a Sociology of Music Education.” Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, no. 144 (2000): 3-9.

-Laura Aguirre