Reference Entry

Women in music

Judith Tick, Margaret Ericson and Ellen Koskoff

in Oxford Music Online

Published in print January 2001 |
Published online January 2001 | e-ISBN: 9781561592630 | DOI:

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Historical surveys of women in music have traditionally focussed on accounts of exceptional women as performers and composers. They are associated with the sizable literature on music as a traditional component of women's socialization and education. As a contemporary category of enquiry, the study of women in music is directly related to women's history, itself one of several scholarly research areas associated with the systematic study of gender. In this context, gender is treated as a socially constructed concept based on perceived differences between the sexes and a primary way of signifying relationships of power.

This article focusses on the collective experience of women within Western and non-Western musical traditions. For details of the lives and works of women musicians, see the articles on individual women.

See also Feminism; Gay and lesbian music; Gender and Music; Musicology §II 11. ; and Sex, sexuality .

Judith Tick

Western classical music is an art that has unfolded within the hierarchies of gender that mark our civilization as a whole. On the social structure of patriarchy rests the premise of the woman musician as a category in itself. The category has served as a way of both denigrating women, and valuing them and highlighting their accomplishments. The benefit of focussing on gender as the primary historical variable is to produce a history where little existed before. The danger is that women's achievements are compared primarily with those of other women and unduly segregated from mainstream narratives....

Reference Entry.  25478 words. 

Subjects: Musical Structures, Styles, and Techniques

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