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"Musicology? What's musicology?" If I had a nickel for every time I heard that question, I'd have quite a bit of money by now.
It is unfortunate that many people don't know about musicology. Whenever it comes up in conversation, if at all, people think it's cool, but they really don't know what you're talking about.
Musicology is the scholarly study of music and its history. The job is so important to the field of music, but hardly anyone knows that it exists. Studying musicology often leads to jobs in research, professorships and even museums. It might not sound like musicologists are all that important, but without them, much of what we currently know and understand about music would be lost.
Here are five reasons why musicologists are important:
1) Musicologists Teach Music History
This is a big one. If you or anyone you know plans on going into the music field, you're going to have to learn quite a bit of music history. Without musicologists, there wouldn't be anyone around to teach music history at colleges and/or universities. How else would one learn everything there is to know about Mozart and Beethoven?
2) They Write Killer Recommendation Letters
More often than not, a musicologist will be the chair of the music department at your school. If not, musicologists are still important figures to look to for recommendations and guidance as you apply for graduate programs and look for jobs. Musicology is a highly respected specialization in the field of music, so if an admissions office or employer in the field sees that a musicologist recommended you to their program, you may have an advantage over other applicants.
3) You Will Probably Cite Their Dissertation
Most musicologists go on to receive their doctorate degrees at their respective universities. To receive a PhD, doctoral candidates in Musicology must write a lengthy and substantive dissertation on their specialization. So, if you find yourself writing a research paper on anything from Gregorian Chants to the Mozart Effect to Ariana Grande's pop music, you may find yourself citing the work of a musicologist that specializes in that field.
4) They Never Stop Writing
... Literally. Musicologists have collectively written thousands upon thousands of books about different musical subjects, composers, genres -- you name it, they've written about it. If you take a walk down to your college library and check out the Fine Arts reference collection, you will never run out of information to read about music. Want to read about Beethoven? You're in luck because seven shelves are probably dedicated just to him.
5) There's a Prince Album Called Musicology
Isn't that reason enough to love musicologists? Musicology is Prince's twenty-eighth studio album and it was released in 2004. Although it was released so late in his career, it proved to be one of his most successful albums. The point of this album was Prince's desire to bring musical education to people, and that is exactly why Musicology was the perfect name for this album. The song "Musicology," which is featured on the album, uses a concept called quotation. Prince quotes pieces of his earlier music, such as "Little Red Corvette," "Sign O' the Times" and "Kiss," and puts them at the end of the song as a reference to his own musical history.
Musicology is such an important field, especially for music students. Musicologists are often overlooked, but that doesn't stop them from doing what they love. So, if you ever get the chance to meet a musicologist, let them know that you appreciate them for what they do. They don't get to hear that enough.