The disciplines represented at CIM

CIM attempts to bring together all disciplines that can be relevant to musical questions. Any serious, musically relevant academic discipline with its own international community, societies, conferences, and respected journals could be included in the conference. The structure of the conference program will be determined by the specific combinations of disciplines represented among the contributions of conference participants.

The following table classifies musically relevant disciplines into sciences, humanities, mixtures, and practically oriented disciplines. This classification is as arbitrary as any other, and is driven primarily by the typical backgrounds and ways of thinking of the researchers in each disciplinary category. We would be grateful for suggestions on how to improve the table.



Definition, explanation, or examples

Art history and theory

(visual) aesthetics, art criticism, iconography and iconology, structural analysis, form and symbol, art reception, media, visual culture, psychology and sociology of art

Cultural studies

subjectivity, mentality, ideology, gender, sexuality, "race", class, politics, economics, popular culture, postmodernism, poststructuralism, intermediality, intertextuality

Semiotics (of music)
approaches to the understanding of musical signification (sense and meaning) and communication

History (of music)

the (western) musical repertory, its sources and analysis and its historical and social context, including the history of perception, reception, composition and performance

Literary studies
literary critical methodology, composition and rhetoric, comparative literature, literary aesthetics, classicism, romanticism, modernism, postmodernism
Philosophy and aesthetics (of music)
meaning, definition, reality, purpose, underlying principles, ideas, "isms", aesthetics, beauty, taste, experience, questions not addressed in other (musical and musicological) disciplines, context and wider implications of other disciplines
Natural sciences
Acoustics (of music)
physical acoustics of music, music instrument design, electroacoustics, physiological acoustics of hearing and singing, room acoustics

Computing, mathematics and statistics (in musicology)

mathematical and statistical theory, modelling and algorithms, statistical analysis of databases (of musical scores or sound files), data mining, pattern recognition, digital signal processing, computer music, music information retrieval, digital electronic technology and media

Psychoacoustics and auditory (music) perception
empirical study of quantitative relationships between physical properties (frequency, SPL...) and perceptual properties (pitch, loudness...) of (musical) sounds; perceptual thresholds; pattern recognition; auditory scene analysis

Psychology (of music)

cognition, motor control, expression, development, motivation, ability, skill acquisition, personality

Physiology and biology (of music); music medicine
neuroscience of music perception and performance, physiology of motor control in music performance, biomusicology, genetics, evolution
Mixtures of humanities and sciences

Ethnomusicology and anthopology (of music)

the (historical and systematic) study of (non-western, folk, and multiethnic, popular, jazz) musics in their social, cultural, historical and anthropological context

the nature and structure of human languages; language as a cultural, social, and cognitive-psychological phenomenon; music as language
Prehistory and archeology (of music)
the study of prehistoric musical cultures by excavation and description of their remains; chronology; role and function of ancient music instruments
Sociology (of music)
the role of music in: the identity of individuals and groups; relationships and family; gender stereotypes; institutions, national states, politics, war and peace; the origin, development, organisation and functions of human society

Music theory, analysis and composition

approaches to the understanding of musical structure, including compositional theory

Practically oriented disciplines

(Music) education

individual and classroom teaching and learning in schools, informal learning outside schools, and the training of teachers: theory, approaches, and systematic investigations of their validity and effectiveness

(Music) medicine and therapy
performance injuries, physiology, music therapy, performance anxiety, stress
Music performance
history of performance practice; advanced performance techniques and pedagogy

While CIM avoids evaluating disciplines relative to each other, the table suggests that two of the listed disciplines do have a special status. Music theory/analysis/composition and music performance are the only disciplines in the list that have no "mother disciplines" outside music or musicology. In that sense, they may be regarded as core disciplines of musicology.

Another criterion that has been applied in an attempt to nail down the boundaries of musicology is the degree to which a (sub-) discipline directly addresses music or musical phenomena. The problem with that criterion is the lack of a widely accepted definition of music. If music is tentatively regarded as an acoustic signal that evokes recognizable pitch-time patterns, implies physical movement, influences (emotion or mood) states, is intended to evoke such patterns, movements and emotions, is socially acceptable and deeply embedded within a cultural tradition, and is an important feature of all known cultures, the disciplines relevant to this attempt at a definition – acoustics, psychology, sociology, cultural studies, history, anthropology – may all be regarded as central to musicology.

These considerations suggest the following alternative structure:
• core disciplines (theory/analysis/composition, performance – across cultures, periods and styles)
• central disciplines (ethnology/anthropology, history, sociology, cultural studies, semiotics, psychology, acoustics)
• peripheral disciplines (computing, psychoacoustics, philosophy, physiology, prehistory – topics peripheral to the central disciplines)
• neighboring disciplines (art, literature, linguistics – disciplines addressing other forms of human communication and culture)
• practical disciplines (education, therapy, medicine – specific applications of the above disciplines)
This classification is just as arbitrary as the one presented in the previous table. Neither of the two classifications is intended to find its way into the bureaucratic structures of musicology, or to supplant the tripartite model - which could merely create new barriers to interdisciplinary research.

Caveat: While a discussion of the detailed internal structure of musicology is necessary for the purpose of organizing and comparing the various contributions to CIM, CIM is not primarily about this structure. The main focus of the conference is the constructive interdisciplinary engagement between musically oriented scholars with contrasting academic backgrounds. A prerequisite for such engagement is the interdisciplinary recognition of and respect for each individual discipline, regardless of the category in which it may be placed or perceived. All the disciplines listed above – and presumably several others besides – can play an important role in interdisciplinary studies of musical phenomena. So all qualify for inclusion in the academic catchment area of "interdisciplinary musicology".

Submissions to CIM can involve ANY discipline that is relevant to music and musicology. All submissions will be considered in the same way and against the same criteria, regardless of whether the disciplines addressed were included in the above table and regardless of the size of the corresponding international scholarly community.

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