Ecomusicology [ecocritical musicology]
- Aaron S. Allen
Ecomusicology, or ecocritical musicology, is the study of music, culture, and nature in all the complexities of those terms. Ecomusicology considers musical and sonic issues, both textual and performative, related to ecology and the natural environment.
Interest in ecomusicology has paralleled increasing environmental concern in North America since 1970, a period of greening in academia when environmental studies developed in the physical, natural, and social sciences as well as the humanities. The term “ecomusicology” gained currency in the decades around 2000 in North American and Scandinavian academic circles. Early uses of it (e.g., Troup) reflected scientific ecology, i.e. interrelationships among organisms and their physical environments. More recently, however, it is “ecocriticism” that combines with Charles Seeger’s holistic sense of “musicology” to form “ecomusicology.”
Literary ecocriticism (“ecological criticism”) studies cultural products that imagine and portray human-environment relationships. Ecocritical scholars describe such connections and offer interpretive, political, and/or critical approaches: ecocritics read into the subtexts of various media from literature to film to advertising, encourage awareness of and concern for environmental crises, and self-critically subject such interpretive and political positions to scrutiny (Garrard). Music scholarship has a history of drawing on literary methodologies (e.g., gender and sexuality studies), and ecomusicology continues this trend....