What Is Music In Terms Of Science?

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When we hear the word music, we think about its artistic or entertaining side. But in fact, music is a scientific field that is evaluated philosophically and mathematically.

Though it is individual, it also has sociological roots. Every culture has its own music style. When we examine the living conditions, economical, political, psychological and sociological conditions of a society, we can have information about its music culture as well.

Description of music when taken as art.


When music is taken as art, there are different descriptions for it. These descriptions do have common points. The most fundamental point is that it's a whole that tells the emotions, thoughts, design and impressions with harmonical sounds in an aesthetical way, and it's a process that puts together the sounds intentionally in an aesthetical way.

Some of the descriptions made for music.


Famous thinkers, philosophers, people who were busy with music made different descriptions to it. Music, which has been a tradition in Europe since the middle ages, actually was thought next to arithmetic, geometry and astronomy.

The work music derives from the Greek word mousike and has different pronunciations in different languages. Here are some descriptions that were made about music.

The famous Cassiodorus, who wrote about music in 6th century said:

''Music is science that works with numbers.''

Pythagoras: “__Harmony that is made up of a few sounds that are not in harmony with each other.”

J. J. Rousseau: '' Music is the art of making sounds likeable to the ear.''

E. Kant: ''It's the art of expressing an order of nice feelings with sounds.'' 

Confucius: ''All the sounds come out of the mind. Music is a gate between these sounds' differences and harmony. Music helps bring tranquility.''

Plato: ''Music is an art that calms and relaxes the soul of a person.''

Goethe: ''Music takes people to rituals as church music, and takes people to dance as folk music.''

A. Schopenhauer: ''Music talks about essence.''

Examining music


Examining music is no different than examining something else. We try to explain the things we examine by asking questions like ''what,'' ''why,'' and ''how.'' Examination in music asks the same question whether it's a piece of music, a song, an instrument or a musical phenomenon.

There 2 main academical disciplines that examine music. One is musicology and the other is ethnomusicology.



Musicology is the scholarly analysis of and research of music. Musicology is part of the humanities. Traditionally, historical musicology (commonly termed "music history") has been the most prominent sub-discipline of musicology. In the 2010s, historical musicology is one of several large musicology sub-disciplines. Ethnomusicology is the study of music in its cultural context. Systematic musicology includes music acoustics, the science and technology of acoustical musical instruments, and the musical implications of physiology, psychology, sociology, philosophy and computing.

The relationship between the field of history and musicology.


The field of history help us examine humanity since its beginning. It helps many other fields as well as musicology.

History is irreplaceable, not for late history, but for ancient music history. A field that has no information about its past can't do many things about the future. That's why musicology is in a good relationship with history and it should be.

History of musicology


Musicology is so broad that it’s difficult to define without restricting it. Although many musicologists are also trained in performance, it isn’t a performance-oriented field. Instead, musicology focuses on the history and cultural contexts of music.

“Musicology is a very open and inclusive field of academic inquiry,” says Dr. Ryan Bañagale. “It’s no longer just about considering the notes on the page, but rather about how the music affects the world around us.”

Extent of musicology


All the information about music is under the field of musicology. All this information can be accessed by scientific research and examination. How the art of music came to being and its evolution, the approach of humans to this art are the main research fields of musicology, regardless of the genre of the music.



Ethnomusicology is the study of music from the cultural and social aspects of the people who make it. It encompasses distinct theoretical and methodical approaches that emphasize cultural, social, material, cognitive, biological, and other dimensions or contexts of musical behavior, instead of only its isolated sound component. During its early development from comparative musicology in the 1950s, ethnomusicology was primarily oriented toward non-Western music, but for several decades has included the study of all and any musics of the world (including Western art music and popular music) from anthropological, sociological and intercultural perspectives. Bruno Nettl once characterized ethnomusicology as a product of Western thinking, proclaiming that "ethnomusicology as western culture knows it is actually a western phenomenon."

The difference between musicology and ethnomusicology


“They are not different fields. That division is a legacy of the 20th century,” says Dr. Eduardo Herrera at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. “’Musicology’ today encompasses the study of all music in all times and places using all different methods.”

However, the principle distinction between the terms is that musicology studies the development of music through time, while ethnomusicology looks at music in any given culture.

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