Journal Article

Structure as Process: Rereading Hauptmann's Use of Dialectical Form

Maryam A. Moshaver

in Music Theory Spectrum

Published on behalf of Society for Music Theory

Volume 31, issue 2, pages 262-283
Published in print January 2009 | ISSN: 0195-6167
Published online January 2009 | e-ISSN: 1533-8339 | DOI:
Structure as Process: Rereading Hauptmann's Use of Dialectical Form

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Moritz Hauptmann's reliance on dialectical form as the mode of music-theoretical presentation in The Nature of Harmony and Meter remains strangely resistant to interpretation. The most influential reading of Hauptmann's work follows Riemann's assessment of it from the standpoint of harmonic dualism—an interpretive approach that, with its heavy reliance on the spatial and symmetrical representation of the harmonic field, loses sight of the temporality and the discursive unfolding of fleeting harmonic forms to which Hauptmann's text constantly draws attention. Taking this conflict of interpretations as its starting point, the present article recontextualizes Hauptmann's work by reading it in the continuity of Hegel's discussion of the emergence of sound in the Naturphilosophie; a text which, as I argue, provides Hauptmann not just with his conceptual framework and idiom, but also, through dialectical form, sets in motion a genetic mode of explanation and production of content that enables Hauptmann to present the theory of music as a perpetually nascent process.

Keywords: German music theory; Harmonic dualism; Nineteenth-century history; Hauptmann; Dialectical form; Idealism; Hegel; Naturphilosophie

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