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 proposes that music, as music, is a source of historical knowledge. Music as music is music as historically mediated; music in its immediacy as a repository (archive, legacy, ruin, simulacrum) of historical experience. As such, music as music should be a means of understanding, not just an object of it, and should cease to be a silent (a silenced) partner in humanistic studies. Musicologists have come to read widely in critical and cultural theory and philosophy, but critics, theorists, and philosophers do not read musicology in any depth if they read it at all. The situation is a little embarrassing, and stems from the familiar, unreflective assumption that music has nothing to tell us about the historical and conceptual worlds it comes from. The question here is not whether music “has” meaning, but whether it contributes meaning. Autonomy, ineffability, and performance have learned to become dialogical terms.

Keywords: music; historical knowledge; musicology; meaning; autonomy; performance; cultural theory; philosophy

Chapter.  7159 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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