For the Enlightenment mind, from Moses Mendelssohn’s focus on the moment of surprise at the heart of the work of art to Herder’s imagining of the seismic moment at which language was discovered, it is the flash of recognition that nails the essence of the work, the blink of an eye in which one’s world changes.
In Cherubino’s Leap, Richard Kramer unmasks such prismatic moments in iconic music from the Enlightenment, from the “chromatic” moment—the single tone that disturbs the thrust of a diatonic musical discourse—and its deployment in seminal instrumental works by Emanuel Bach, Haydn, and Mozart; on to the poetic moment, taking the odes of Klopstock, in their finely wrought prosody, as a challenge to the problem of strophic song; and finally to the grand stage of opera, to the intense moment of recognition in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride and the exquisitely introverted phrase that complicates Cherubino’s daring moment of escape in Mozart’s Figaro. Finally, the tears of the disconsolate Konstanze in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail provoke a reflection on the tragic aspect of Mozart’s operatic women. Throughout, other players from literature and the arts—Diderot, Goethe, Lessing among them—enrich the landscape of this bold journey through the Enlightenment imagination.
Boldly contesting recent scholarship, Sallis argues that The Birth of Tragedy is a rethinking of art at the
limit of metaphysics. His close reading focuses on the
complexity of the Apollinian/Dionysian dyad and on the
crossing of these basic art impulses in tragedy.
"Sallis effectively calls into question some commonly
accepted and simplistic ideas about Nietzsche's early
thinking and its debt to Schopenhauer, and proposes
alternatives that are worth considering."—Richard
Schacht, Times Literary Supplement
Deconstructive Variations was first published in 1995. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Unique in its focus and its interdisciplinary reach, Rose Rosengard Subotnik's work is among the most original and challenging being done in American musicology. Her concerns are both formal and sociological, firmly linking music to social and cultural context and breaking down the barriers between music and life.
Deconstructive Variations is a sequel to Subotnik's previous collection, Developing Variations. It expands and continues her achievement-the promotion of humanistic criticism as a significant activity in music scholarship and the portrayal of Western art music in relation to the social structures and cultural values of the society that created it.
Bringing to her subject a vast range of philosophical, artistic, and historical knowledge, Subotnik applies the insights of Kant, Adorno, Bakhtin, and Derrida to major works of Mozart and Chopin. Each of these essays functions as an argument between two views: for and against the ideal of structural listening; Enlightenment and Romantic readings of The Magic Flute; high-modernist and postmodernist readings of Chopin's A-Major Prelude; and conceptions of reason put forward by Allan Bloom and Spike Lee.
Rose Rosengard Subotnik is professor emerita in the department of music at Brown University, and is the author of Developing Variations: Style and Ideology in Western Music (Minnesota, 1991).
We often say that music is ineffable, that it does not refer to anything outside of itself. But if music, in all its sensuous flux, does not mean anything in particular, might it still have a special kind of philosophical significance?
In Deep Refrains, Michael Gallope draws together the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno, Vladimir Jankélévitch, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari in order to revisit the age-old question of music’s ineffability from a modern perspective. For these nineteenth- and twentieth-century European philosophers, music’s ineffability is a complex phenomenon that engenders an intellectually productive sense of perplexity. Through careful examination of their historical contexts and philosophical orientations, close attention to their use of language, and new interpretations of musical compositions that proved influential for their work, Deep Refrains forges the first panoptic view of their writings on music. Gallope concludes that music’s ineffability is neither a conservative phenomenon nor a pious call to silence. Instead, these philosophers ask us to think through the ways in which music’s stunning force might address, in an ethical fashion, intricate philosophical questions specific to the modern world.
One is a science, the other an art; one useful, the other seemingly decorative, but mathematics and music share common origins in cult and mystery and have been linked throughout history. Emblems of Mind is Edward Rothstein’s classic exploration of their profound similarities, a journey into their “inner life.” Along the way, Rothstein explains how mathematics makes sense of space, how music tells a story, how theories are constructed, how melody is shaped. He invokes the poetry of Wordsworth, the anthropology of Lévi-Strauss, the imagery of Plato, and the philosophy of Kant. Math and music, Rothstein shows, apply comparable methods as they create their abstractions, display similar concerns with ratio and proportion, and depend on metaphors and analogies to create their meanings. Ultimately, Rothstein argues, they reveal the ways in which we come to understand the world. They are images of the mind at work and play; indeed, they are emblems of Mind itself.
Jacques Barzun called this book “splendid.” Martin Gardner said it was “beautifully written, marvelous and entertaining.” It will provoke all serious readers to think in new ways about the grand patterns in art and life.
“Lovely, wistful. . . . Rothstein is a wonderful guide to the architecture of musical space, its tensions and relations, its resonances and proportions. . . . His account of what is going on in the music is unfailingly felicitous.”—New Yorker
“Provocative and exciting. . . . Rothstein writes this book as a foreign correspondent, sending dispatches from a remote and mysterious locale as a guide for the intellectually adventurous. The remarkable fact about his work is not that it is profound, as much of the writing is, but that it is so accessible.”—Christian Science Monitor
"J.J. was born for music," Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote of himself, "not to be consumed in its execution, but to speed its progress and make discoveries about it. His ideas on the art and about the art are fertile, inexhaustible." Rousseau was a practicing musician and theorist for years before publication of his first Discourse, but until now scholars have neglected these ideas. This graceful translation remedies both those failings by bringing together the Essay, which John T. Scott says "most clearly displays the juncture between Rousseau's musical theory and his major philosophical works," with a comprehensive selection of the musical writings. Many of the latter are responses to authors like Rameau, Grimm, and Raynal, and a unique feature of this edition is the inclusion of writings by these authors to help establish the historical and ideological contexts of Rousseau's writings and the intellectual exchanges of which they are a part. With an introduction that provides historical background, traces the development of Rousseau's musical theory, and shows that these writings are not an isolated part of his oeuvre but instead are animated by the same "system," this volume fashions a much-needed portal through which literary scholars, musicologists, historians, and political theorists can enter into an important but hitherto overlooked chamber of Rousseau's vast intellectual palace.
Over the past two centuries Western culture has largely valorized a particular kind of “good” music—highly serious, wondrously deep, stylistically authentic, heroically created, and strikingly original—and, at the same time, has marginalized music that does not live up to those ideals.
In Good Music, John J. Sheinbaum explores these traditional models for valuing music. By engaging examples such as Handel oratorios, Beethoven and Mahler symphonies, jazz improvisations, Bruce Springsteen, and prog rock, he argues that metaphors of perfection do justice to neither the perceived strengths nor the assumed weaknesses of the music in question. Instead, he proposes an alternative model of appreciation where abstract notions of virtue need not dictate our understanding. Good music can, with pride, be playful rather than serious, diverse rather than unified, engaging to both body and mind, in dialogue with manifold styles and genres, and collaborative to the core. We can widen the scope of what music we value and reconsider the conventional rituals surrounding it, while retaining the joys of making music, listening closely, and caring passionately.
In its open improvisations, lapidary lyrics, errant melodies, and relentless pursuit of spontaneity, the British experimental band Henry Cow pushed rock music to its limits. Its rotating personnel, sprung from rock, free jazz, and orchestral worlds, synthesized a distinct sound that troubled genre lines, and with this musical diversity came a mixed politics, including Maoism, communism, feminism, and Italian Marxism. In Henry Cow: The World Is a Problem Benjamin Piekut tells the band’s story—from its founding in Cambridge in 1968 and later affiliation with Virgin Records to its demise ten years later—and analyzes its varied efforts to link aesthetics with politics. Drawing on ninety interviews with Henry Cow musicians and crew, letters, notebooks, scores, journals, and meeting notes, Piekut traces the group’s pursuit of a political and musical collectivism, offering up its history as but one example of the vernacular avant-garde that emerged in the decades after World War II. Henry Cow’s story resonates far beyond its inimitable music; it speaks to the avant-garde’s unpredictable potential to transform the world.
The Idea of Absolute Music
Carl Dahlhaus University of Chicago Press, 1989 Library of Congress ML3854.D3413 1989 | Dewey Decimal 781.17
With a characteristically broad and provocative treatment, Dahlhaus examines a single music-aesthetical idea from various historical and philosophical viewpoints.
"Essential reading for anyone interested in the larger intellectual framework in which Romantic music found its place, a framework that to a remarkable degree has continued to shape our image of music."—Robert P. Morgan, Yale University
Carl Dahlhaus (1928-1989) is the author of a highly influential body of works on the foundations of music history and aesthetics.
How do we define improvised music? What is the relationship of highly improvised performances to the work they are performances of? How do we decide what are the important parts of an improvised musical work? In Intents and Purposes, Eric Lewis uses a series of case studies to challenge assumptions about what defines a musical work and musical performance, seeking to go beyond philosophical and aesthetic templates from Western classical music to foreground the distinctive practices and aesthetics of jazz. Pushing aside the assumption that composition and improvisation are different (or even opposed) musical practices, Lewis’s philosophically informed approach revisits key topics in musical ontology, such as how to define the triangle of composer-performer-listener, and the status of live performances in relation to scores and recordings. Drawing on critical race theory, feminist theory, new musicology, sociology, cognitive science, and genre theory, Lewis opens up new questions about agency in performance, as well as new ways of considering the historical relationships between improvisational practices with roots in different cultural frameworks. By showing how jazz can be both art, idea, and action all at the same time, Lewis offers a new way of seeing any improvised musical performance in a new culturally and aesthetically rich context.
John Cage: Composed in America
Edited by Marjorie Perloff and Charles Junkerman University of Chicago Press, 1994 Library of Congress ML410.C24J55 1994 | Dewey Decimal 780.92
When the great avant-gardist John Cage died, just short of his eightieth birthday in 1992, he was already the subject of dozens of interviews, memoirs, and discussions of his contribution to music, music theory, and performance practice. But Cage never thought of himself as only (or even primarily) a composer; he was a poet, a visual artist, a philosophical thinker, and an important cultural critic.
John Cage: Composed in America is the first book-length work to address the "other" John Cage, a revisionist treatment of the way Cage himself has composed and been "composed" in America. Cage, as these original essays testify, is a contradictory figure. A disciple of Duchamp and Schoenberg, Satie and Joyce, he created compositions that undercut some of these artists' central principles and then attributed his own compositional theories to their "tradition." An American in the Emerson-Thoreau mold, he paradoxically won his biggest audience in Europe. A freewheeling, Californian artist, Cage was committed to a severe work ethic and a firm discipline, especially the discipline of Zen Buddhism.
Following the text of Cage's lecture-poem "Overpopulation and Art," delivered at Stanford shortly before his death and published here for the first time, ten critics respond to the challenge of the complexity and contradiction exhibited in his varied work. In keeping with Cage's own interdisciplinarity, the critics approach that work from a variety of disciplines: philosophy (Daniel Herwitz, Gerald L. Bruns), biography and cultural history (Thomas S. Hines), game and chaos theory (N. Katherine Hayles), music culture (Jann Pasler), opera history (Herbert Lindenberger), literary and art criticism (Marjorie Perloff), cultural poetics (Gordana P. Crnkovic, Charles Junkerman), and poetic practice (Joan Retallack). But such labels are themselves confining: each of the essays sets up boundaries only to cross them at key points. The book thus represents, to use Cage's own phrase, a much needed "beginning with ideas."
In mid-1990s South Africa, apartheid ended, Nelson Mandela was elected president, and the country’s urban black youth developed kwaito—a form of electronic music (redolent of North American house) that came to represent the post-struggle generation. In this book, Gavin Steingo examines kwaito as it has developed alongside the democratization of South Africa over the past two decades. Tracking the fall of South African hope into the disenchantment that often characterizes the outlook of its youth today—who face high unemployment, extreme inequality, and widespread crime—Steingo looks to kwaito as a powerful tool that paradoxically engages South Africa’s crucial social and political problems by, in fact, seeming to ignore them.
Politicians and cultural critics have long criticized kwaito for failing to provide any meaningful contribution to a society that desperately needs direction. As Steingo shows, however, these criticisms are built on problematic assumptions about the political function of music. Interacting with kwaito artists and fans, he shows that youth aren’t escaping their social condition through kwaito but rather using it to expand their sensory realities and generate new possibilities. Resisting the truism that “music is always political,” Steingo elucidates a music that thrives on its radically ambiguous relationship with politics, power, and the state.
The Western musical tradition has produced not only music, but also countless writings about music that remain in continuous—and enormously influential—dialogue with their subject. With sweeping scope and philosophical depth, A Language of Its Own traces the past millennium of this ongoing exchange.
Ruth Katz argues that the indispensible relationship between intellectual production and musical creation gave rise to the Western conception of music. This evolving and sometimes conflicted process, in turn, shaped the art form itself. As ideas entered music from the contexts in which it existed, its internal language developed in tandem with shifts in intellectual and social history. Katz explores how this infrastructure allowed music to explain itself from within, creating a self-referential and rational foundation that has begun to erode in recent years.
A magisterial exploration of a frequently overlooked intersection of Western art and philosophy, A Language of Its Own restores music to its rightful place in the history of ideas.
In his first book, Listening Subjects, David Schwarz succeeded in fusing post-Lacanian psychoanalytic, musical-theoretical, and musical-historical perspectives. In Listening Awry, he expands his project to “tell a story of historical modernism writ large”—how German music spanning two centuries refracts changes in society and culture, as well as the impacts of concepts introduced by psychoanalysis.Schwarz shows how post-Lacanian psychoanalysis can be applied to ideological interpellation that connects psychoanalysis to culture and how music theory can ground these considerations in precise details of musical textuality. He “listens awry” in several ways: by understanding musical meaning in both objective and socially structured ways, by embracing historical and also aesthetic approaches, by addressing high art as well as popular music, and by listening “around” conventional forms of musical meaning to reach toward that which evades signification.Structured around four themes—trauma, the other/Other, the look/gaze binary, and Judaism—Listening Awry explores five key moments in post-Enlightenment music: the rise of the singular orchestral conductor and the emergence of a new form of alterity, the Art Song and “the sublime of the delicate” (a correlate of the Kantian mathematical and dynamical sublime), the birth of psychoanalysis and the twentieth-century turn toward atonality, German war songs and the subversion of German music by the Nazis, and two different versions of Wagner’s Parsifal that were performed one hundred years apart and in radically different contexts.This highly original work, filled with imaginative readings and disquieting observations, links trauma with the culture and history of modernity and German music, deftly tying the experience of the body to the sounds it hears: how it reaches us slowly, penetrates the skin, and resonates.David Schwarz is assistant professor of music at the University of North Texas. He is the author of Listening Subjects: Music, Psychoanalysis, Culture.
In Listening Subjects, David Schwarz uses psychoanalytic techniques to probe the visceral experiences of music listeners. Using classical, popular, and avant-garde music as texts, Schwarz addresses intriguing questions: why do bodies develop goose bumps when listening to music and why does music sound so good when heard "all around?" By concentrating on music as cultural artifact, Listening Subjects shows how the historical conditions under which music is created affect the listening experience. Schwarz applies the ideas of post-Lacanian psychoanalytic theorists Slavoj Zizek, Julia Kristeva, and Kaja Silverman to an analysis of diverse works. In a discussion of John Adams’s opera Nixon in China, he presents music listening as a fantasy of being enclosed in a second skin of enveloping sound. He looks at the song cycles of Franz Schubert as an examination and expression of epistemological doubts at the advent of modernism, and traverses fantasy "space" in his exploration of the white noise at the end of the Beatles’ "I Want You (She’s So Heavy)." Schwarz also considers the psychosexual undercurrent in Peter Gabriel’s "Intruder" and the textual and ideological structures of German Oi Musik. Concluding with a reading of two compositions by Diamanda Galás, he reveals how some performances can simultaneously produce terror and awe, abjection and rage, pleasure and displeasure. This multilayered study transcends other interventions in the field of musicology, particularly in its groundbreaking application of literary theory to popular and classical music.
It has long been assumed that people who prefer Led Zeppelin to Mozart live aesthetically impoverished lives. But why? In Listening to Popular Music, award-winning popular music scholar Theodore Gracyk argues that aesthetic value is just as important in popular listening as it is with “serious” music. And we don’t have to treat popular music as art in order to recognize its worth. Aesthetic values are realized differently in different musical styles, and each requires listening skills that people must learn.
Boldly merging insights from popular music studies, aesthetic theory, cognitive science, psychology, identity theory, and cultural studies, Gracyk crafts an innovative study that argues that understanding aesthetic value is crucial to the enjoyment of all forms of music. Listening to Popular Music thusoffers a new, general framework for understanding what it means to appreciate music, showing that an informed preference for popular music is a response to real values of the music, including aesthetic values.
"Finally, a book on aesthetics that's philosophically grounded, anti-elitist, and tailored to popular music. Much needed and deftly achieved."
—William Echard, Department of Music, and Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art, and Culture, Carleton University
"A sophisticated account of aesthetic value in popular music that revealingly challenges orthodoxies of cultural studies and traditional aesthetics."
—Stephen Davies, Department of Philosophy, University of Auckland, and author of The Philosophy of Art
"Gracyk's arguments are thoughtful, clear, and persuasive, and it's refreshing to see him expose the flaws in commonly repeated critiques of popular music. This book will challenge open-minded doubters to take popular music seriously."
—Mark Katz, Assistant Professor of Music, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music
Theodore Gracyk is Department Chair and Professor of Philosophy at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He is the author of Rhythm and Noise: An Aesthetics of Rock and I Wanna Be Me: Rock Music and the Politics of Identity, which won the 2002 IASPM-US Woody Guthrie Book Award.
In Making Light Raymond Knapp traces the musical legacy of German Idealism as it led to the declining prestige of composers such as Haydn while influencing the development of American popular music in the nineteenth century. Knapp identifies in Haydn and in early popular American musical cultures such as minstrelsy and operetta a strain of high camp—a mode of engagement that relishes both the superficial and serious aspects of an aesthetic experience—that runs antithetical to German Idealism's musical paradigms. By considering the disservice done to Haydn by German Idealism alongside the emergence of musical camp in American popular music, Knapp outlines a common ground: a humanistically based aesthetic of shared pleasure that points to ways in which camp receptive modes might rejuvenate the original appeal of Haydn's music that has mostly eluded audiences. In so doing, Knapp remaps the historiographical modes and systems of critical evaluation that dominate musicology while troubling the divide between serious and popular music.
"The scholarship of Michael Spitzer's new book is impressive and thorough. The writing is impeccable and the coverage extensive. The book treats the history of the use of metaphor in the field of classical music. It also covers a substantial part of the philosophical literature. The book treats the topic of metaphor in a new and extremely convincing manner."-Lydia Goehr, Columbia University
The experience of music is an abstract and elusive one, enough so that we're often forced to describe it using analogies to other forms and sensations: we say that music moves or rises like a physical form; that it contains the imagery of paintings or the grammar of language. In these and countless other ways, our discussions of music take the form of metaphor, attempting to describe music's abstractions by referencing more concrete and familiar experiences.
Michael Spitzer's Metaphor and Musical Thought uses this process to create a unique and insightful history of our relationship with music—the first ever book-length study of musical metaphor in any language. Treating issues of language, aesthetics, semiotics, and cognition, Spitzer offers an evaluation, a comprehensive history, and an original theory of the ways our cultural values have informed the metaphors we use to address music. And as he brings these discussions to bear on specific works of music and follows them through current debates on how music's meaning might be considered, what emerges is a clear and engaging guide to both the philosophy of musical thought and the history of musical analysis, from the seventeenth century to the present day. Spitzer writes engagingly for students of philosophy and aesthetics, as well as for music theorists and historians.
From our first social bonding as infants to the funeral rites that mark our passing, music plays an important role in our lives, bringing us closer to one another. In The Music between Us, philosopher Kathleen Marie Higgins investigates this role, examining the features of human perception that enable music’s uncanny ability to provoke, despite its myriad forms across continents and throughout centuries, the sense of a shared human experience.
Drawing on disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, musicology, linguistics, and anthropology, Higgins’s richly researched study showcases the ways music is used in rituals, education, work, healing, and as a source of security and—perhaps most importantly—joy. By participating so integrally in such meaningful facets of society, Higgins argues, music situates itself as one of the most fundamental bridges between people, a truly cross-cultural form of communication that can create solidarity across political divides. Moving beyond the well-worn takes on music’s universality, The Music between Us provides a new understanding of what it means to be musical and, in turn, human.
A collaboration between two of the most interesting voices in ethnomusicology, this volume explores two powerful themes: the "groove" of firsthand experience and participation in music and the "groove" of musical mediation and commodification through recordings. A number of the authors' most important essays, all revised and updated, are introduced and framed by dialogues that supply additional context, introduce retrospective concerns, and reveal connections. This format signals the authors' desire for a more reflexive, experimental discourse on music and society and invites readers to join their conversations.
Music Grooves ranges from jazz, blues, polka, soul, rock, world beat, rap, karaoke, and other familiar genres to major scholarly debates in music theory, ethnomusicology, and popular culture studies. The authors develop and create links between the fields of ethnomusicology and popular culture studies and relate the contents of musics from America, Greece, Cuba, Africa, and Papua New Guinea to artists as diverse as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, L'il Wally Jagiello, Bo Diddley, Walt Solek, Madonna, Paul Simon, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Billie Holiday.
Keil and Feld offer a fascinating view of the shaping of central ideas and terms in ethnomusicology such as "engendered feeling," "interpretive moves," "participatory discrepancies," "iconicity of style," "people's music," "schizophonia," and "lift-up-over sounding." From Keil's critique of Leonard Meyer's musicological approach to Feld's recent work on world beat, this volume covers an array of vital issues in media studies, musicology and ethnomusicology, popular culture, anthropology, and sociology. It will interest anyone concerned with the nature and meaning of music in the modern world.
Though many well-known German philosophers have devoted considerable attention to music and its aesthetics, surprisingly few of their writings on the subject have been translated into English. Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, a philosopher, and Oliver Fürbeth, a musicologist, here fill this important gap for musical scholars and students alike with this compelling guide to the musical discourse of ten of the most important German philosophers, from Kant to Adorno.
Music in German Philosophy includes contributions from a renowned group of ten scholars, including some of today’s most prominent German thinkers, all of whom are specialists in the writers they treat. Each chapter consists of a short biographical sketch of the philosopher concerned, a summary of his writings on aesthetics, and finally a detailed exploration of his thoughts on music. The book is prefaced by the editors’ original introduction, presenting music philosophy in Germany before and after Kant, as well as a new introduction and foreword to this English-language addition, which places contemplations on music by these German philosophers within a broader intellectual climate.
Music Lessons marks the first publication in English of a groundbreaking group of writings by French composer Pierre Boulez, his yearly lectures prepared for the Collège de France between 1976 and 1995. The lectures presented here offer a sustained intellectual engagement with themes of creativity in music by a widely influential cultural figure, who has long been central to the conversation around contemporary music. In his essays Boulez explores, among other topics, the process through which a musical idea is realized in a full-fledged composition, the complementary roles of craft and inspiration, and the degree to which the memory of other musical works can influence and change the act of creation. Boulez also gives a penetrating account of problems in classical music that are still present today, such as the often crippling conservatism of established musical institutions. Woven into the discussion are stories of his own compositions and those of fellow composers whose work he championed, as both a critic and conductor: from Stravinsky to Stockhausen and Varèse, from Bartók to Berg, Debussy to Mahler and Wagner, and all the way back to Bach.
Including a foreword by famed semiologist Jean-Jacques Nattiez, who was for years a close collaborator and friend of the composer, this edition is also enriched by an illuminating preface by Jonathan Goldman. With a masterful translation retaining Boulez’s fierce convictions, cutting opinions, and signature wit, Music Lessons will be an essential and entertaining volume.
Meyer makes a valuable statement on aesthetics, criteria for assessing great works of music, compositional practices and theories of the present day, and predictions of the future of Western culture. His postlude, written for the book's twenty-fifth anniversary, looks back at his thoughts on the direction of music in 1967.
Does it make sense to refer to bird song—a complex vocalization, full of repetitive and transformative patterns that are carefully calculated to woo a mate—as art? What about a pack of wolves howling in unison or the cacophony made by an entire rain forest?
Redefining music as “the art of possibly animate things,” Musical Vitalities charts a new path for music studies that blends musicological methods with perspectives drawn from the life sciences. In opposition to humanist approaches that insist on a separation between culture and nature—approaches that appear increasingly untenable in an era defined by human-generated climate change—Musical Vitalities treats music as one example of the cultural practices and biotic arts of the animal kingdom rather than as a phenomenon categorically distinct from nonhuman forms of sonic expression. The book challenges the human exceptionalism that has allowed musicologists to overlook music’s structural resemblances to the songs of nonhuman species, the intricacies of music’s physiological impact on listeners, and the many analogues between music’s formal processes and those of the dynamic natural world. Through close readings of Austro-German music and aesthetic writings that suggest wide-ranging analogies between music and nature, Musical Vitalities seeks to both rekindle the critical potential of nineteenth-century music and rejoin the humans at the center of the humanities with the nonhumans whose evolutionary endowments and planetary fates they share.
Nietzsche and Music
Georges Liébert University of Chicago Press, 2003 Library of Congress ML423.N56L5413 2004 | Dewey Decimal 780.92
"Without music, life would be an error."—Friedrich Nietzsche
In his youth, Friedrich Nietzsche yearned to become a great composer and wrote many pieces of music. He later claimed to be "the most musical of all philosophers." Yet most books on Nietzsche fail to explore the importance of music for his thought.
Nietzsche and Music provides the first in-depth examination of the fundamental significance of music for Nietzsche's life and work. Nietzsche's views on music are essential for understanding his philosophy as a whole. Part biography and part critical examination, Georges Liébert brilliantly demonstrates that despite failed attempts at a professional career as composer, Nietzsche never fully removed himself from the world of music, but instead, became a composer of philosophy, utilizing the musical form as a template for his own writings and creative thought. Liébert's study surveys Nietzsche's opinions about particular composers and compositions, as well as his more theoretical writings on music and its relation to the other arts. He also explores Nietzsche's listening habits, his playing and style of composition, and his many contacts in the musical world, including his controversial and contentious relationship with Richard Wagner. For Nietzsche, music gave access to a realm of wisdom that transcended thought. Music was Nietzsche's great solace; in his last years, it was his refuge from madness.
A virtuoso exploration of this little-known but crucial aspect of Nietzsche's life and work, this volume will be of enormous value to scholars of philosophy, music, aesthetics, and literature.
A celebrated figure in myth, song, and story, the nightingale has captivated the imagination for millennia, its complex song evoking a prism of human emotions,—from melancholy to joy, from the fear of death to the immortality of art.
But have you ever listened closely to a nightingale’s song? It’s a strange and unsettling sort of composition—an eclectic assortment of chirps, whirs, trills, clicks, whistles, twitters, and gurgles. At times it is mellifluous, at others downright guttural. It is a rhythmic assault, always eluding capture. What happens if you decide to join in?
As philosopher and musician David Rothenberg shows in this searching and personal new book, the nightingale’s song is so peculiar in part because it reflects our own cacophony back at us. As vocal learners, nightingales acquire their music through the world around them, singing amidst the sounds of humanity in all its contradictions of noise and beauty, hard machinery and soft melody. Rather than try to capture a sound not made for us to understand, Rothenberg seeks these musical creatures out, clarinet in tow, and makes a new sound with them. He takes us to the urban landscape of Berlin—longtime home to nightingale colonies where the birds sing ever louder in order to be heard—and invites us to listen in on their remarkable collaboration as birds and instruments riff off of each other’s sounds. Through dialogue, travel records, sonograms, tours of Berlin’s city parks, and musings on the place animal music occupies in our collective imagination, Rothenberg takes us on a quest for a new sonic alchemy, a music impossible for any one species to make alone. In the tradition of The Hidden Life of Trees and The Invention of Nature, Rothenberg has written a provocative and accessible book to attune us ever closer to the natural environment around us.
Percussion is an attempt—in the author’s words—to make sense of "senseless beating," to grasp how rhythm makes sense in music and society. Both a scholar and a former professional drummer, John Mowitt forges a striking encounter between cultural studies and new musicology that seeks to lay out the "percussive field" through which beating—specifically the backbeat that defines early rock-and-roll—comes to matter for raced, urban subjects. For Mowitt, percussion is both an experience of embodiment—making contact in and on the skin—and a provocation for critical theory itself. In delimiting the percussive field, he plays drumming off against the musicological account of the beat, the sociological account of shock and the psychoanalytical account of fantasy. In the process he touches on such topics as the separation of slaves and drums in the era of the slave trade, the migration of rural blacks to urban centers of the North, the practice and politics of "rough music," the links between interpellation and possession, the general strike, beating fantasies, and the concept of the "skin ego." Percussion makes a fresh and provocative contribution to cultural studies, new musicology, the history of the body and critical race theory. It will be of interest to students of cultural studies and critical theory as well as readers with a serious interest in the history of music, rock-and-roll and drumming.
An influential writer on popular music asks what we talk about when we talk about music. Instead of dismissing emotional response and personal taste as inaccessible to academic critics, Frith takes these forms of engagement as his subject—and discloses their place at the center of the aesthetics that structure our culture and color our lives.
Allen S. Weiss Duke University Press, 1995 Library of Congress ML3877.W45 1995 | Dewey Decimal 791.44
The alienation of the self, the annihilation of the body, the fracturing, dispersal, and reconstruction of the disembodied voice: the themes of modernism, even of modern consciousness, occur as a matter of course in the phantasmic realm of radio. In this original work of cultural criticism, Allen S. Weiss explores the meaning of radio to the modern imagination. Weaving together cultural and technological history, aesthetic analysis, and epistemological reflection, his investigation reveals how radiophony transforms expression and, in doing so, calls into question assumptions about language and being, body and voice. Phantasmic Radio presents a new perspective on the avant-garde radio experiments of Antonin Artaud and John Cage, and brings to light fascinating, lesser-known work by, among others, Valère Novarina, Gregory Whitehead, and Christof Migone. Weiss shows how Artaud’s "body without organs" establishes the closure of the flesh after the death of God; how Cage’s "imaginary landscapes" proffer the indissociability of techne and psyche; how Novarina reinvents the body through the word in his "theater of the ears." Going beyond the art historical context of these experiments, Weiss describes how, with their emphasis on montage and networks of transmission, they marked out the coordinates of modernism and prefigured what we now recognize as the postmodern.
Improvisation is usually either lionized as an ecstatic experience of being in the moment or disparaged as the thoughtless recycling of clichés. Eschewing both of these orthodoxies, The Philosophy of Improvisation ranges across the arts—from music to theater, dance to comedy—and considers the improvised dimension of philosophy itself in order to elaborate an innovative concept of improvisation.
Gary Peters turns to many of the major thinkers within continental philosophy—including Heidegger, Nietzsche, Adorno, Kant, Benjamin, and Deleuze—offering readings of their reflections on improvisation and exploring improvisational elements within their thinking. Peters’s wry, humorous style offers an antidote to the frequently overheated celebration of freedom and community that characterizes most writing on the subject. Expanding the field of what counts as improvisation, The Philosophy of Improvisation will be welcomed by anyone striving to comprehend the creative process.
Remapping Sound Studies
Gavin Steingo and Jim Sykes, editors Duke University Press, 2019 Library of Congress B105.S59R46 2019
The contributors to Remapping Sound Studies intervene in current trends and practices in sound studies by reorienting the field toward the global South. Attending to disparate aspects of sound in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Micronesia, and a Southern outpost in the global North, this volume broadens the scope of sound studies and challenges some of the field's central presuppositions. The contributors show how approaches to and uses of technology across the global South complicate narratives of technological modernity and how sound-making and listening in diverse global settings unsettle familiar binaries of sacred/secular, private/public, human/nonhuman, male/female, and nature/culture. Exploring a wide range of sonic phenomena and practices, from birdsong in the Marshall Islands to Zulu ululation, the contributors offer diverse ways to remap and decolonize modes of thinking about and listening to sound.
Contributors Tripta Chandola, Michele Friedner, Louise Meintjes, Jairo Moreno, Ana María Ochoa Gautier, Michael Birenbaum Quintero, Jeff Roy, Jessica Schwartz, Shayna Silverstein, Gavin Steingo, Jim Sykes, Benjamin Tausig, Hervé Tchumkam
From Edison’s invention of the phonograph through contemporary field recording and sound installation, artists have become attracted to those domains against which music has always defined itself: noise, silence, and environmental sound. Christoph Cox argues that these developments in the sonic arts are not only aesthetically but also philosophically significant, revealing sound to be a continuous material flow to which human expressions contribute but which precedes and exceeds those expressions. Cox shows how, over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, philosophers and sonic artists have explored this “sonic flux.”
Through the philosophical analysis of works by John Cage, Maryanne Amacher, Max Neuhaus, Christian Marclay, and many others, Sonic Flux contributes to the development of a materialist metaphysics and poses a challenge to the prevailing positions in cultural theory, proposing a realist and materialist aesthetics able to account not only for sonic art but for artistic production in general.
Our studies of aesthetics and knowledge have long tended to privilege the visual - at the expense, Wolfgang Ernst argues, of the aural. Sonic Time Machines aims to correct that, presenting a striking new approach to theorising sound that investigates its split existence: as a temporal effect in a techno-cultural context and as a source of knowledge and information. Ernst creates a new term for the concept at the heart of the book, "sonicity," a flexible and powerful term that allows him to consider sound with all its many physical, philosophical, and cultural valences.
The rich conceptual and experiential relays between music and philosophy—echoes of what Theodor W. Adorno once called Klangfiguren, or "sound figures"—resonate with heightened intensity during the period of modernity that extends from early German Idealism to the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. This volume traces the political, historical, and philosophical trajectories of a specifically German tradition in which thinkers take recourse to music, both as an aesthetic practice and as the object of their speculative work.
The contributors examine the texts of such highly influential writers and thinkers as Schelling, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Bloch, Mann, Adorno, and Lukács in relation to individual composers including Beethoven, Wagner, Schönberg, and Eisler. Their explorations of the complexities that arise in conceptualizing music as a mode of representation and philosophy as a mode of aesthetic practice thematize the ways in which the fields of music and philosophy are altered when either attempts to express itself in terms defined by the other.
Contributors: Albrecht Betz, Lydia Goehr, Beatrice Hanssen, Jost Hermand, David Farrell Krell, Ludger Lütkehaus, Margaret Moore, Rebekah Pryor Paré, Gerhard Richter, Hans Rudolf Vaget, Samuel Weber
As people from record collectors to file swappers know, the experience of music - making it, marketing it, listening to it - relies heavily on technology. From the viola that amplifies the vibrations of a string to the CD player that turns digital bits into varying voltage, music and technology are deeply intertwined. What was gained - or lost - when compact discs replaced vinyl as the mass-market medium? What unique creative input does the musician bring to the music, and what contribution is made by the instrument? Do digital synthesizers offer unlimited range of sonic potential, or do their push-button interfaces and acoustical models lead to cookie-cutter productions? Through this interrogation of sound and technology, Aden Evens provides an acute consideration of how music becomes sensible, advancing original variations on the themes of creativity and habit, analog and digital technologies, and improvisation and repetition. Evens elegantly and forcefully dissects the paradoxes of digital culture and reveals how technology has profound implications for the phenomenology of art. Sound Ideas reinvents the philosophy of music in a way that encompasses traditional aspects of musicology, avant-garde explorations of music's relation to noise and silence, and the consequences of digitization.
Peter Kivy Temple University Press, 1989 Library of Congress ML3845.K595 1989 | Dewey Decimal 780.1
The Corded Shell: Reflections on Musical Expression, published in 1980 and now out of print, was concerned with the question of how music comes to have the emotional properties that have been perceived in it and ascribed to it since antiquity. In that book, Peter Kivy argued that music possesses expressive properties, not as powers to arouse emotions in us but, rather, as perceived qualities of the music itself. In Sound Sentiment, he augments his previous work with four entirely new chapters. Incorporating the complete, corrected text of The Corded Shell, Kivy brings his earlier arguments up to date in light of recent work in the field, and discusses and answers various criticisms.
Leonard Meyer proposes a theory of style and style change that relates the choices made by composers to the constraints of psychology, cultural context, and musical traditions. He explores why, out of the abundance of compositional possibilities, composers choose to replicate some patterns and neglect others.
Meyer devotes the latter part of his book to a sketch-history of nineteenth-century music. He shows explicitly how the beliefs and attitudes of Romanticism influenced the choices of composers from Beethoven to Mahler and into our own time.
"A monumental work. . . . Most authors concede the relation of music to its cultural milieu, but few have probed so deeply in demonstrating this interaction."—Choice
"Probes the foundations of musical research precisely at the joints where theory and history fold into one another."—Kevin Korsyn, Journal of American Musicological Society
"A remarkably rich and multifaceted, yet unified argument. . . . No one else could have brought off this immense project with anything like Meyer's command."—Robert P. Morgan, Music Perception
"Anyone who attempts to deal with Romanticism in scholarly depth must bring to the task not only musical and historical expertise but unquenchable optimism. Because Leonard B. Meyer has those qualities in abundance, he has been able to offer fresh insight into the Romantic concept."—Donal Henahan, New York Times
Omi Osun Joni L. Jones provides the first full-length study of an artistic form, the theatrical jazz aesthetic, that draws on the jazz principles of ensemble—the break, the bridge, and the blue note. Theatrical Jazz: Performance, À??, and the Power of the Present Moment is a study of the use of jazz aesthetics in theatre as created by major practitioners of the form, giving particular attention to three innovative artists: Laurie Carlos, Daniel Alexander Jones, and Sharon Bridgforth.
Theatrical Jazz examines how artists are made and how artists make art. In charting their overlapping artistic genealogies, the book also discusses the work of veteran artists Aishah Rahman, Robbie McCauley, Sekou Sundiata, Ntozake Shange, and Erik Ehn, as well as the next generation of theatrical jazz innovators, Grisha Coleman, Walter Kitundu, Florinda Bryant, and Zell Miller III. Using autocritography as a primary methodology, the author draws on her role as performer, collaborator, audience/witness, and dramaturg in theatrical jazz, and her experiences with Yoruba spiritual traditions, to excavate the layers and nuances of this performance form. Jones’s use of performative writing, a blend of intellectual, artistic, and sensory experiences, allows scholars and students not only to read but also to “hear” the principles of theatrical jazz on the page.
From its dissonant musics to its surrealist spectacles (the urinal is a violin!), Modernist art often seems to give more frustration than pleasure to its audience. In Untwisting the Serpent, Daniel Albright shows that this perception arises partly because we usually consider each art form in isolation, even though many of the most important artistic experiments of the Modernists were collaborations involving several media—Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is a ballet, Gertrude Stein's Four Saints in Three Acts is an opera, and Pablo Picasso turned his cubist paintings into costumes for Parade.
Focusing on collaborations with a musical component, Albright views these works as either figures of dissonance that try to retain the distinctness of their various media (e.g. Guillaume Apollinaire's Les Mamelles de Tirésias) or figures of consonance that try to lose themselves in some total effect (e.g. Arnold Schoenberg's Erwartung). In so doing he offers a fresh picture of Modernism, and provides a compelling model for the analysis of all artistic collaborations.
Untwisting the Serpent is the recipient of the 2001 Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship of the Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M University.
In the contemporary world, voices are caught up in fundamentally different realms of discourse, practice, and culture: between sounding and nonsounding, material and nonmaterial, literal and metaphorical. In The Voice as Something More, Martha Feldman and Judith T. Zeitlin tackle these paradoxes with a bold and rigorous collection of essays that look at voice as both object of desire and material object.
Using Mladen Dolar’s influential A Voice and Nothing More as a reference point, The Voice as Something More reorients Dolar’s psychoanalytic analysis around the material dimensions of voices—their physicality and timbre, the fleshiness of their mechanisms, the veils that hide them, and the devices that enhance and distort them. Throughout, the essays put the body back in voice. Ending with a new essay by Dolar that offers reflections on these vocal aesthetics and paradoxes, this authoritative, multidisciplinary collection, ranging from Europe and the Americas to East Asia, from classics and music to film and literature, will serve as an essential entry point for scholars and students who are thinking toward materiality.