Collected Musicology Readings

An open book

Collected Musicology Readings for Sixth-Form Students and Teachers

These readings in musicology (viewed broadly as encompassing performance research, music composition, technology, analysis, psychology, pedagogy, ethnomusicology and jazz, as well as historical musicology) comprise open-access article, book and web resources. RMA members have found these materials to be interesting and engaging both for students and staff, and they would like to recommend them to others. Each alphabetical entry consists of the resource and a brief supporting statement. It is hoped that this collection of texts (begun in 2020) will develop and expand over time.

This blogging venture set up by Steven Berryman (Curriculum Lead for the Music Teachers’ Association) aims to discuss a wide range of topics and texts with music teaching colleagues (and students) and is proving very popular. (Recommended by Deborah Mawer, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.)

Philip Ewell’s ‘Music Theory and the White Racial Frame’ feels to be a timely and important article to include in this collection of open-access texts. It has stimulated a lot of valuable discussion when talked through with students. (Recommended by Russell Millard, Head of Academic Music, Charterhouse.)

  • Open Music Theory ( is an open-source, interactive, online “text”book for college-level music theory courses. OMT was built on resources authored by Kris Shaffer, Bryn Hughes, and Brian Moseley. Earlier sections review harmony and counterpoint; later sections summarise approaches to formal analysis and sonata theory, set theory, serial music and rock/pop. (Recommended by Esther Cavett, Society for Music Analysis.)

Golden section has become a well-known concept in the study and practice of music. However, no study has examined why it seems to have become so popular in both

music practice and analysis. Research in psychology has shown a new scepticism toward the concept as an artifice of preference and as a naturally occurring proportion. Perhaps music scholarship could benefit from similar reflection when considering the role of the golden section, particularly when assuming any perceptual salience. This paper suggests that mathematical relationships in music are probably not heard by the listener as the music unfolds in time. (Recommended by Deborah Mawer, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.)

An article by a wonderful researcher, Tal-Chen Rabinowitch, who undertakes empirical research on whether humans doing things together in synchrony helps us to bond and to be empathetic. This growing field of research within music psychology looks at whether making music together may have social benefits for us as humans. It is a fascinating topic, as it can help us to learn about why music is important in our lives, and why every culture in the world has music. The article summarises an experiment undertaken with 74 pairs of 8-year-old children. The study aimed to investigate whether people behave differently towards one another if they do things in time with each other.

Discussion prompts: 1) What other activities do humans do which require them to work in synchrony with each other? Are these important to human survival and / or social bonding? 2) What are the implications of these results? Could this study be used as evidence for the value of music in schools, or is more research needed before this argument can be made? (Recommended by Michelle Phillips, MusicHE.)

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