Musicology is an interdisciplinary core subject for every degree program offered at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln. The subject covers historical musicology, systematic musicology, and the history and theory of popular music.
Historical musicology focuses on the history of music in general. The main emphasis is traditionally on European music cultures from antiquity until the present. Although initially oriented primarily toward philology and biography, the course’s range of methods has been significantly expanded recently and now includes cultural-academic issues, among others. New perspectives from gender research, the history of thought, intercultural research, postcolonial studies, and media studies contribute to a global concept of the past and question the historical awareness of present times. Historical musicology draws both on core music subjects such as harmony instruction, morphology, and composition, and on notation, source analysis, performance and other historical ancillary sciences.
Systematic musicology is an interdisciplinary research field that combines psychological, sociological, biological, physical, aesthetic, and communications academic topics and working methods. It views music as a specific form of human expression and experience that ties into aspects in each of these fields. As an empirical science, systematic musicology uses empirical methods (experiments, surveys, observations) and conducts research and theory proposals based on universal processes. This field is based on practice – the goal is to understand several key characteristics of musical activity and to create a model of understanding with which recurring questions and problems of musical activities can be meaningfully structured and the students’ positions reinforced with arguments.
The goal of the course is learn to understand the history and theory of popular music: its techniques and technologies, its virtuosity, and aesthetic differences and its impact when used in society. The description and analysis of concrete phenomena are generally the starting point for theoretical discussions. Such analysis is not limited to the level of evaluating musical material. Rather, it goes beyond to explore media-specific aspects such as audiovisuality, orchestration, and performance, as well as different (meta) discourses about popular music in newspaper culture sections and in literature. It is also given further context using approaches to cultural analysis developed in English and American cultural studies.