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Music, musical theory

Musicology, composers, analysis, form, harmony

Music is a larger field of study and activity than may be apparent at first. At the theoretical level -- usually called musicology -- music embraces a wide variety of subjects: the study and analysis of musical forms, harmony and counterpoint, composition, orchestration, arranging, the history of music, biographies of composers, acoustics, physics, electronics, psychology, the philosophy of music, ethnology, the sociology of music, linguistics, source studies, cultural studies, media studies, and music criticism. It is often interdisciplinary, as that list of subjects shows.

At the applied or practical level, the study of music includes performance in a range of media (solo instruments, voice, choir, chamber ensemble, orchestra, concert band, and so on), performance technique and historical performance styles, conducting, the construction of instruments, musical production, composing soundtracks and music for video games, recording techniques, and so on.

Contemporary areas of interest include the growth and elaboration of electronic forms of music, from the 200-ton dynamophone that Thaddeus Cahill built around 1895, through the electric organs, pianos and guitars of the mid-twentieth century, to digital computer-based technologies such as MIDI.

Another area of interest in music in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is the crumbling of definitions of musical forms and styles that were thought to be mutually exclusive. The growth of postmodern thought has meant that “classical” music (sometimes called art music or serious music) can no longer be as clearly distinguished from other categories like jazz, pop, or world music. Contemporary composers like Philip Glass (USA) and Nigel Westlake (Australia) write music in a variety of genres, often using instruments and/or styles from a range of cultural contexts; and it is often in film and television soundtracks that the boundaries are most audibly crossed.

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