Twelve musicologists talk about the field’s past, present, and future

Posted on: October 8, 2020

“Ever since the 1980s, and the 1985 release of Joseph Kerman’s hallmark Contemplating Music, the traditionally separate fields of musicology and ethnomusicology have been undergoing a reinvention,” writes Heather O’Donovan last Wednesday (9/30) at New York classical radio station WQXR. “Today, music scholars … are grappling with the field’s complex, colonial history, its purpose and articulation…. Carol Hess of University of California, Davis, urges a similar consideration of the ways in which representation should serve as the foundation to contemporary study and practice of music…. ‘The first edition of Grout’s A History of Western Music in 1960 … devotes all of one paragraph to Latin America…. There is a strong Latinx community in this country,’ says Hess. Hess wants to see programming that’s more representative of this presence…. Issues of race and representation are not the complex, deeply ingrained purview of studies in America alone. Stephanus Muller of South Africa’s Stellenbosch University says such topics [as race and representation] are the foundation upon which the field is being reimagined there…. The University of Michigan’s Naomi André, author of Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement and leading member of the Black Opera Research Network, discusses an appropriate term for this renaissance: ‘engaged musicology.’ ”