Uses and Abuses

Julian Johnson

in Who Needs Classical Music?

Published in print June 2002 | ISBN: 9780195146813
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849246 | DOI:
Uses and Abuses

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This chapter is divided into a number of parts. The first part deals what is called “a unity of affect”. Classical music is likened to a film which should be viewed until the end, wherein its distinctive sense and meaning are gleaned by hearing a piece in its entirety. Classical music can be and often is used in other ways, but then the music is valued not for itself but as a sign for something else. The second part of the chapter deals with the central idea of aesthetics that art has no immediate function. However, an important distinction between the everyday uses of music is to fulfill its functions. The last part claims that classical music exceeds the social functions to which it has been reduced. The capacity of classical music—what it might do for us—is paradoxically concentrated on the musical rather than other objects. Ascribing to music the capacity for self-expression is often a sleight-of-hand for the listener's self-projection.

Keywords: baroque theory; distinctive sense; aesthetics; instrumental music; social functions

Chapter.  8489 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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