Subject‐Position in Music

Eric F. Clarke

in Ways of Listening

Published in print August 2005 | ISBN: 9780195151947
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199870400 | DOI:
Subject‐Position in Music

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This chapter discusses the idea of subject-position in music — a term first developed in film theory. The complementarity of perceiver and environment in Gibson's ecological theory is extended to argue that musical materials have the capacity to place a perceiver in a certain relationship with music — ironic, humorous, accepting, critical, alienated. The ideas are first illustrated with extended analyses of two texted pop songs (by Polly Harvey and by Frank Zappa), and subsequently with shorter analyses of instrumental music: a guitar solo by Frank Zappa, a section from Stravinsky's ballet music Apollon Musagète, and the slow movement of the Haydn String Quartet Op. 54 no. 2 — all three of which feature the use of parody.

Keywords: subject matter; parody; irony; Gibson; pop songs; Frank Zappa

Chapter.  10360 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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