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The "music psychology and acoustics" stream in the Musikologie program
BA/MA Musikologie is organised into five streams (Schwerpunkte):
- jazz and popular music
- music aesthetics
- music in history
- music psychology and acoustics
In the first three semesters of teh BA program, all students get a grounding in all five streams. After that, you choose two. In the MA, the curriculum requires that you focus on one; but at the final oral examination there are two examiners, usually representing two of the streams, so in effect students still choose two.
How can music psychology and acoustics be combined with the other streams? In the following I will focus on my main field of expertise, which is music psychology.
- The field that combines music psychology with ethnomusicology is sometimes called cognitive ethnomusicology. Most research in psychology, and hence music psychology, is oriented or biased toward Western culture. Overcoming that bias is a very important and interesting project, which is why one of the research-active members of the Centre for Systematic Musicology represents the discipline of ethnomusicology. In my research on the origin of music I have done my best to avoid a Western bias, although strictly speaking my stronger familiarity with Western music means that I can never overcome that bias.
- The combination of music psychology and jazz/popular music involves such topics on the perception of musical structures (e.g., bebop harmony, for which my research on the perception of harmony is relevant), the psychology of musical preferences, the psychological character of musical styles, and the everyday lives of musicians, not to mention the musicologically central overlaps betwen music sociology and jazz/pop.
- When you combine music psychology with music aesthetics you get something called empirical music aesthetics, which is commonly regarded as a central aspect of both music psychology and music aesthetics. The empirical methods of music psychology are combined with the complexity of humanities thinking in philosophical aesthetics. Each enriches the other.
- The combination of music psychology and music history is one of my areas of research. At the Centre we created a database of notated music from seven centuries. Computer analyses of these databases provided the data for studies on the evolution of Western polyphony and major-minor tonality. Students in these two areas might try applying ideas from modern psychological research on psychology and emotion to describing historical musical styles from different periods in terms of their emotion and personality, treating the music as a virtual person.
If you would like to talk about any of these possibilities, or something similar, please contact me.
Richard ParncuttCentre for Systematic Musicology
8010 Graz, Austria