Music Historian

Research and relate the history of music.
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Quick Stats

Salary Range
$26,000 – $96,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Music Historians do?

As a Music Historian, you approach each piece of music as if it were a mystery. Who played it? When was it written? What was going on in politics at the time? What did the instruments sound like? The answers to these questions can become the kernels of books, lectures, and reviews.

In your Music Historian work, you likely focus on one specific time period or one specific region. You may study music composed by Mozart in Vienna, for example, or you may examine how musical styles changed after World War II.

As a Music Historian you look at musical scores, determining how the music was written; at important pieces of music hand-generated by the Composer; or at research done on those valuable works. You may find places where the Composer altered the work over time, and you develop theories about why those alterations were made. You may also interview famous Musicians who have played the music, and ask about their experiences.

Additionally, you may study the politics and populations that surrounded the Composer at that time. You may also find blueprints of old instruments, and determine how different those instruments sounded from their modern counterparts.

Your results could end up in programs handed to concert listeners. By reading your research, the listeners will have a deeper understanding of the music they’re about to hear. You may write books about your research as well, so music lovers can immerse themselves in the hidden details of the music and impress their friends at parties. On top of all that, you may give lectures to orchestras or music students, helping them to understand the music they’re playing.

Should I be a Music Historian?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.

  • How to become a Music Historian

    Most Music Historians have a Doctorate or a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:axat9y&chl=|certificate+%2818%25%29||bachelor%27s+%2815%25%29|master%27s+%2848%25%29|doctorate+%2819%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,48
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