Revising Revision

Richard Taruskin

in The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249776
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942790 | DOI:
Revising Revision

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This chapter examines the process of revisionism, as it is found in music. Strong composers have been defined musicologically as the protagonists of technical innovation. However, other people have influenced even the best composers. According to Harold Bloom if similarity is evidence of influence, dissimilarity can be evidence of a stronger influence. If a poet's direct allusion can be evidence of his susceptibility, the absence of an allusion and his denial can be evidence of a stronger susceptibility. Proving this theory involves connoisseurship, “a purely personal activity”. A “map of misprision” was first sketched out in The Anxiety of Influence and given fullest form in the more lucid, less lyrical sequel, A Map of Misreading. This handy tabular summary of complex deductions has been widely appropriated as a tool to guide application. The focus of study becomes the revisionary relationship between works and their precursors rather than the autonomy of individual compositions.

Keywords: Harold Bloom; compositional technique; Bloom's theory; map of misprision; A Map of Misreading

Chapter.  13302 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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