Introduction: What Is Empirical Musicology?

Nicholas Cook and Eric Clarke

in Empirical Musicology

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780195167498
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199867707 | DOI:
Introduction: What Is Empirical Musicology?

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This introductory chapter argues that all musicology is in some sense empirical, but that it does not always make the most of the facts available to it. Musicologists frequently work with very small amounts of data even where large data sets are available, resulting in findings that are less firmly grounded than they might be. What defines “empirical musicology” is not so much objectivity — in the positivist sense of reducing interpretations to facts — as an understanding of the relationship between facts and interpretations, and an awareness of the many different available ways in which potentially relevant facts may be gathered. The purpose of the book is accordingly not to advance a unified theoretical or methodological approach, but to set out a wide range of different approaches to musical research, focusing particularly on those that offer potential for further development. The chapter concludes with an overview of the chapters that follow.

Keywords: data; facts; interpretations; objectivity; positivist; musicologists

Chapter.  6718 words. 

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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