Empirical musicology grew out of a desire to ground theories on empirical observation and to construct theories on the basis of the analysis and interpretation of such observations. The arrival of new technologies, most notably that of MIDI and of the personal computer, were instrumental to the considerable increase in the number of empirically oriented investigations into music.
David Huron (1999; 2006) referred to this reorientation as “new empiricism” and considers it, along with “new musicology,” the most influential movement in recent music scholarship. However, the question remains in how far musicology as a whole has been influenced by this new empiricism.
One of the challenges of empirical musicology is still to discuss how systematic and empirical methods can contribute to a further and more precise understanding of musical phenomena, as well as showing how this understanding could have an effect on musicological discourse.
Below a tongue-in-cheek example of how a single score can give rise to an enormous variety of intriguing performances.
Huron, D. (2006). Review of Empirical Musicology: Aims, Methods, Prospects, and: Statistics in Musicology. Notes, 63 (1), 93-95 DOI: 10.1353/not.2006.0101
Honing, H. (2006). On the growing role of observation, formalization and experimental method in musicology. Empirical Musicology Review, 1(1), 2-5. EMR000002a.pdf