Lawrence Kramer

in Interpreting Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267053
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947368 | DOI:

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This chapter describes a hermeneutically robust musicology that has never denied the existence of past interest in the contexts of music or in what were formerly called “extramusical” relations. Nor has it shown any lack of interest in, indeed fascination with, the internal dynamics of musical works or genres. But it breaks with earlier approaches, including the ethnomusicological approaches to which it is sometimes compared, by regarding music as a form of human agency that shapes and intervenes in such conditions, and does so, not exceptionally, but as an ordinary consequence of musical practice. Ludwig Wittgenstein's thinking about aesthetics returned continually to the question of expression, especially in music. The chapter offers a rationale for this way of thinking; a summary of its perspectives on music, signs, meaning, and subjectivity; and a transition to hermeneutic practice via an element of language not traditionally reckoned with in discussions of words and music: the performative speech act. It also discusses hermeneutic activity in language, with special emphasis on the speech act and illocution.

Keywords: music; language; Ludwig Wittgenstein; aesthetics; expression; signs; meaning; subjectivity; speech act; illocution

Chapter.  12707 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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