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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From Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to modernism and beyond, classical music expresses the values and presuppositions of a cultural world now irrevocably lost. The loss of the ability to concentrate over longer durations is widely supposed to be one reason for the decline of classical music. Classical music is a sensitive measure of the kinds of attention that are culturally paramount, and epitomizes narrative time. Whether long or short, it is designed to be listened to as if it were long; it is music composed to be traced along winding courses, and like all music, is highly expressive, else we would not listen to it. But unlike most other music, classical music works with expressiveness even more than it works toward expressiveness. We would be even better off if we did what classical music really asks, which is not to hear some hypothetical “everything” but precisely to hear something: some process or event that invites pleasure, participation, recognition, and interpretation.

Keywords: classical music; attention; narrative time; expressiveness; interpretation; pleasure

Chapter.  7812 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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