Narratives and Values

Mitchell Morris

in The Oxford Handbook of The American Musical

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385946
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Narratives and Values

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This article deals with different aspects of the history of the musical. The histories construct narratives of one sort or another and the events or series of events are linked in speech or writing to form a chain of causal relationships that may be roughly simultaneous (synchronic) and/or spread out over time (diachronic). The fundamentals involved in the construction of a specifically historical narrative are dependent on forms of documentation that include oral histories and folk tales or myths, eyewitness accounts of events, artifacts, and written documents of many types. Such documents may be cited without question, especially in earlier historical accounts, but more often a historian spends considerable time reading the documents critically. Historians characteristically aspire to factual accuracy, and critical assessment is a crucial part of a historian's task. The different approaches defining history include the formist approach that takes on the task of crafting explanations by cataloging the specificities creating the unique characteristics of a particular historical field. Another approach is the organicist approach that also works with such specificities but attempts to interrelate them as parts of an overarching whole. The third approach is the mechanistic strategy that seeks to understand the specificities of a given historical field as the results of some overarching set of causal laws. Lastly, the contextualist strategy that sees the same particulars as best explained by the set of contingent relationships obtained between the very particulars.

Keywords: formist approach; contextualist strategy; philosophical theory; organicist approach; western music traditions; history

Article.  4994 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Musicology and Music History

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