As the world progresses and India becomes global, non-conventional careers are increasingly becoming the norm. The music or entertainment industry is no longer looked down upon and with digitalization and globalization, offbeat careers have emerged from the background and people are choosing to follow their passions rather than opt for conventional careers.
As per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, musicology is defined as “the study of music as a branch of knowledge or field of research as distinct from composition or performance”. It is the study of music as a system of organized sound and as a cultural force within society. It is a broad term and no definition can completely concise it into one sentence without restricting it. Many musicologists are trained in performance but it focuses more on the history and cultural contexts of music.
What do Musicologists do?
A musicologists role is quite unique-they study and research how music is made, whether it is original or improvised and they study the making underlying it.
They study how music is heard, and what context it holds. Musicology goes in depths into what place music has had throughout history and how various pieces of music have been understood and performed in context to different periods in history. They study the cultural impact of music, how it is constructed and used by different cultures and in different places across the globe.
Musicologists are essentially scholars of music who study the relationship of music with regards to other subjects such as geography, history, politics, race, gender theory, and psychology amongst others. They view music as a social science.
Career Options in Musicology
Musicology has a lot of scope both in India and abroad. Most musicologists work as music professors at universities or colleges-conducting research, teaching, presenting research papers, and writing books and articles as per their specialization.
Other careers include preservation work at libraries, museums or archives. Another interesting job prospect is acting as experts to lawyers and law firms in copyright infringement cases or other legal matters pertaining to the music industry. They might also work for music publishing and licensing companies on copyright valuation and original music verification.
Some musicologists also work in digital companies which make music recognition software or music recommendations. Another career option is to work as consultants to film/television directors, music directors and advertisers on the historical styling and accuracy of music and instruments in different eras for film, television, theatre or advertisements. Jobs are also available at music libraries, music technology groups, archives and other music related organizations.
Even though primarily, musicologists work as research scholars, there is no dearth of opportunities in other fields for them. Musicology can be interpreted as a liberal arts degree and hence proves one’s caliber in research methodology and writing as well.
Editing and publishing houses, often acquire help from musicologists for literary work. Music technology and recording is another sphere of work wherein the expertise of a musicologist is required in radio stations, recording studios and even in digital music companies.
Musicology in India
A number of universities both in India and abroad offer Musicology as a major. Banaras Hindu University, Rabindra Bharati University and Shivaji University amongst others offer an MA in Musicology where over the course of two years, extensive study and research will give you the expertise of a master’s degree in music.
The Royal College of Music in London, The Juilliard School in New York and even Harvard University-they all have classes on music theory and analysis for the keen learner.
Music as a career option is evolving and the deeper you study a subject, the more you realize the further scope of it. One doesn’t have to study musicology to be a music lover, but it is a stream available to all who yearn to learn more about music and its history.