Introduction: Sounding Out

Lawrence Kramer

in Musical Meaning

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780520228245
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928329 | DOI:
Introduction: Sounding Out

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This book celebrates meaning as a basic force in music history and an indispensable factor in how, where, and when music is heard. The underlying point of this book is that the apparent dilemma of musical meaning is actually its own solution. Musical meaning consists of a specific, mutual interplay between musical experience and its contexts; the form taken by this process is the production of modes or models of subjectivity carried by the music into the listener's sense of self; and the dynamics of this production consist of a renegotiation of the subject's position(s) between the historically contingent forms of experience and the experience of a transcendental perspective that claims to subsume them. Posing the question of musical meaning has given music of many kinds a substantial share in the diverse, conflicted formation of subjectivity in the modern era. Musical affect, expression, and association become pure forms of self-apprehension; music is known by and valued for its “transcendence” of any specific meanings ascribed to it; identity seeks to become substance in music, even though music, being more event than substance, continually eludes this desire in the act of granting it.

Keywords: musical meaning; subjectivity; identity; remainder; music; musical experience

Chapter.  4058 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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