Lawrence M. Zbikowski

in Conceptualizing Music

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195140231
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199871278 | DOI:

Series: AMS Studies in Music


Show Summary Details


This chapter addresses the problem of what counts as a work of music. This problem, usually called the problem of musical ontology, is viewed as one of cultural knowledge. It is shown that as opposed to being hopelessly recondite, the problem is of immediate importance for understanding music. By approaching the entire work of music as a category — a category that includes all the scores, performances, representations, and such that are said to be “of” the piece — a model is developed for the cultural knowledge upon which judgments about musical ontology are made. Determinations of what counts as an instance of a particular musical work are thus one of the ways members of a musical community construct and negotiate their identity. Two songs taken from the traditions of popular music and jazz are used as examples: “I Got Rhythm” and “Bye Bye Blackbird”.

Keywords: categorization; music; I Got Rhythm; Bye Bye Blackbird; cultural knowledge; musical community construct

Chapter.  18693 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.