In music history and musicology courses, students have the opportunity to look beyond their own instrument—and beyond their comfort zone—to gain perspective on the bigger picture. Where did your instrument come from? How does it relate to other instruments? How does your repertoire respond to your instrument, and how does it relate to other repertoires? How has your instrument or repertoire been understood in the past? How does that inform the way you play now? How have musical genres and styles changed over time, and how does that affect our execution of music today? How does music reflect ideas and the intellectual climate of its time? How does it intersect with cultural and political attitudes? How does it relate to other arts? What impact does recording technology have on the way you play, and on the meanings of music? What does it mean that most classical musicians play the same music again and again? Has it always been that way? What have the institutions of the concert hall and opera theater and recording studio done to the creation and re-creation of an artwork? How can you find new pieces of music to play? How can you find new old pieces of music to play?
These are the kinds of questions that we ask in our courses. We will never present you with a single, definitive answer to any of them. What we do is help you develop the tools to find a range of answers of your own.
In the Department of Music History and Musicology we believe that NEC students are the caretakers of a rich artistic tradition. We are here to help you understand that tradition, and contribute to it.