Music theory is a “systematic” discipline in that music theorists systematically apply analytical methods to uncover structural patterns within musical works and understand listener subjectivity.
Systematic Musicology is a collection of sub-disciplines concerned with the how and the why of music -how it works from different perspectives, and why. Within this field, scholars utilize empirical methods to further comprehend the musical experience. Although the specific methods vary between music theorists and systematic musicologists, the future of the music-theoretical discourse will be shaped by implication of scientific methodologies and interdisciplinary epistemological inclusion. Recognizing the values and benefits of interdisciplinary approaches to modern questions in musicology is key for the future development of music theory.
Systematic musicology has always been relevant for music theory and analysis, and productive interactions are frequent. For example, music psychologists may employ empirical methods to understand the experience of physically realized musical structures, whereas music theorists may apply their music experience to the systematic investigation of musical structures based on musical scores. Additionally, a substantial amount of literature from which music-theoretical ideas have emerged is rooted in “systematic” disciplines, such as physics, computer science, or neuroscience.
For this poster, we survey the subdisciplines of systematic musicology, focusing on their music-theoretical relevance and consider recent specific applications of each subdiscipline to music theory as well as possible future applications. On this basis, we ask how a potential shift towards a more “systematic” or “scientific” approach could influence the development of music theory as a discipline.