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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Music is intangible but we cannot know it without treating it as a virtual something. We treat music as an entity, and to understand it we treat it as if it contained entities: chords, motives, tonalities, and other, more complex formations. Musical entities are not virtual objects. Objecthood is just a role they can play if required. Around the house, they are things. “Thing theory” is the name given (by Bill Brown, one of its framers) to recent attempts to rethink our relationship to the material forms amid which and through which we live. Treating musical entities as objects masks their behavior as things, obscuring their power to concentrate audibly the gathering that makes them what they are. Part of the creative and social enterprise of composition is to devise musical things that cannot be described as standard musical objects, even if they resemble them. Ludwig van Beethoven's split triads may form an allegory of the career of the musical thing.

Keywords: Ludwig van Beethoven; split triads; allegory; musical things; music; musical entities; thing theory; musical objects

Chapter.  8808 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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