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Musical understanding has evolved dramatically in recent years, principally through a heightened appreciation of musical meaning in its social, cultural, and philosophical dimensions. This collection of essays by leading scholars addresses an aspect of meaning that has not yet received its due: the relation of meaning in this broad humanistic sense to the shaping of fundamental values. The volume examines the open and active circle between the values and valuations placed on music by both individuals and societies, and the discovery, through music, of what and how to value.

With a combination of cultural criticism and close readings of musical works, the contributors demonstrate repeatedly that to make music is also to make value, in every sense. They give particular attention to values that have historically enabled music to assume a formative role in human societies: to foster practices of contemplation, fantasy, and irony; to explore sexuality, subjectivity, and the uncanny; and to articulate longings for unity with nature and for moral certainty. Each essay in the collection shows, in its own way, how music may provoke transformative reflection in its listeners and thus help guide humanity to its own essential embodiment in the world.

The range of topics is broad and developed with an eye both to the historical specificity of values and to the variety of their possible incarnations. The music is both canonical and noncanonical, old and new. Although all of it is “classical,” the contributors’ treatment of it yields conclusions that apply well beyond the classical sphere. The composers discussed include Gabrieli, Marenzio, Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Wagner, Puccini, Hindemith, Schreker, and Henze.

Anyone interested in music as it is studied today will find this volume essential reading.

Paris, the City of Light, is one of the most romantic cities in the world. The millions of visitors which flock to the French capital every year follow in the footsteps of countless artists, writers and composers who for centuries have been drawn to this magnificent city. Some composers, Chopin and Rossini among them, found success and contentment, and remained in Paris for the rest of their lives. But for others, Paris brought nothing but disappointment and disillusionment. Mozart, who came to Paris as a 22-year-old seeking a permanent position, was so bitter about the cavalier manner in which he was treated that he professed an aversion to all things French until the end of his days. Wagner was so upset by his treatment here that he once described Paris as "a pit into which the spirit of the nation has subsided." And yet he was drawn back to the city time and again.

This book charts the musical history of Paris. It discusses the composer and musicians, both French and foreign, who were drawn here and the impact they made on the world of music, on this great city, and vice versa. It includes a wealth of biographical details, including where the artists lived and, where relevant, where they died and are buried. It also draws from and points to suitable scholarly literature, making it an accessible introduction to students of the musical history of Paris.

The book also describes another feature which, if it did not enrich, most certainly enlivened Parisian musical life: The full-scale musical riot. The most notorious of these took place at the Theatre des Champs Elysées in 1913 at the premiere of Stravinsky’s ballet Le sacre du printemps. Less physical, but no less vociferous, was the reception accorded to Wagner’s Tannhäuser at the Opéra in 1860. Other composers who incurred the displeasure of Parisian audiences included Satie, Varese and Xenakis. These riots were not half-hearted affairs; police involvement was required and hospital casualty departments were kept busy.

There are also chapters which discuss the musical history of the many theatres of Paris and the churches which played such an important part in the city’s musical past. The text is clear and accessible in order to appeal to both students and the general reader.

From Music to Sound

is an examination of the six musical histories whose convergence produces the emergence of sound, offering a plural, original history of new music and showing how music had begun a change of paradigm, moving from a culture centred on the note to a culture of sound. Each chapter follows a chronological progression and is illustrated with numerous musical examples. The chapters are composed of six parallel histories: timbre, which became a central category for musical composition; noise and the exploration of its musical potential; listening, the awareness of which opens to the generality of sound; deeper and deeper immersion in sound; the substitution of composing the sound for composing with sounds; and space, which is progressively viewed as composable.

The book proposes a global overview, one of the first of its kind, since its ambition is to systematically delimit the emergence of sound. Both well-known and lesser-known works and composers are analysed in detail; from Debussy to contemporary music in the early twenty-first century; from rock to electronica; from the sound objects of the earliest musique concrète to current electroacoustic music; from the Poème électronique of Le Corbusier-Varèse-Xenakis to the most recent inter-arts attempts.

Covering theory, analysis and aesthetics, From Music to Sound will be of great interest to scholars, professionals and students of Music, Musicology, Sound Studies and Sonic Arts.

Supporting musical examples can be accessed via the online Routledge Music Research Portal.

"The scholarship of Michael Spitzer's new book is impressive and thorough. The writing is impeccable and the coverage extensive. The book treats the history of the use of metaphor in the field of classical music. It also covers a substantial part of the philosophical literature. The book treats the topic of metaphor in a new and extremely convincing manner."-Lydia Goehr, Columbia University

The experience of music is an abstract and elusive one, enough so that we're often forced to describe it using analogies to other forms and sensations: we say that music moves or rises like a physical form; that it contains the imagery of paintings or the grammar of language. In these and countless other ways, our discussions of music take the form of metaphor, attempting to describe music's abstractions by referencing more concrete and familiar experiences.

Michael Spitzer's Metaphor and Musical Thought uses this process to create a unique and insightful history of our relationship with music—the first ever book-length study of musical metaphor in any language. Treating issues of language, aesthetics, semiotics, and cognition, Spitzer offers an evaluation, a comprehensive history, and an original theory of the ways our cultural values have informed the metaphors we use to address music. And as he brings these discussions to bear on specific works of music and follows them through current debates on how music's meaning might be considered, what emerges is a clear and engaging guide to both the philosophy of musical thought and the history of musical analysis, from the seventeenth century to the present day. Spitzer writes engagingly for students of philosophy and aesthetics, as well as for music theorists and historians.
This book examines the functional place of music in contemporary European philosophy of the 20th and 21st centuries. The chapters explore the musical dimensions of lesser known figures as well as well-known philosophical figures in relation to their lesser-known musical dimensions. Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou, for example, are central figures in debates concerning phenomenology, postmodernism and political philosophy. Their musical writings, however, have been largely overlooked. Of those discussed here whose musical writings have gained some currency – Ernst Bloch, Theodor W. Adorno, Jean-Luc Nancy, Edward Said, and Slavoj Žižek – music mostly constitutes but a partial aspect of their overall philosophical output. These chapters attempt to supplement the gap, raising more prominently than hitherto the question concerning music in this philosophical milieu.

The collection represents some of the distinctive recent work of an emerging generation of American-based music scholars tackling the relationship between philosophy and music in a qualitatively new way. While this intellectual output cannot be easily summarized, one detects certain features. If what was once called "New Musicology" in the 1990s can be characterized by a turn to literary theory and philosophy – treated as sources of (mostly nonjudgmental) inspiration – we find here, instead, a new body of work that turns the tables on the relation between music and philosophy. Instead of bringing philosophy to musicology, this work critically analyzes how music inhabits philosophy itself, and then assesses the ethical and political dimensions of these philosophical positions and their relation to lived history.

This book was originally published as a special issue of Contemporary Music Review.


What is a musical work? What are its identity-conditions and the standards (if any) that they set for a competent, intelligent, and musically perceptive act of performance or audition? Should the work-concept henceforth be dissolved as some New Musicologists would have it into the various, ever-changing socio-cultural or ideological contexts that make up its reception-history to date? Can music be thought of as possessing certain attributes, structural features, or intrinsically valuable qualities that are response-transcendent, i.e., that might always elude or surpass the best state of (current or future) informed opinion?

These are some of the questions that Christopher Norris addresses by way of a sustained critical engagement with the New Musicology and other debates in recent philosophy of music. His book puts the case for a qualified Platonist approach that would respect the relative autonomy of musical works as objects of more or less adequate understanding, appreciation, and evaluative judgement. At the same time this approach would leave room for listeners share the phenomenology of musical experience in so far as those works necessarily depend for their repeated realisation from one performance or audition to the next upon certain subjectively salient modalities of human perceptual and cognitive response.


Norris argues for a more philosophically and musically informed treatment of these issues that combines the best insights of the analytic and the continental traditions. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Norris's book, true to this dual orientation, is its way of raising such issues through a constant appeal to the vivid actuality of music as a challenge to philosophic thought. This is a fascinating study of musical understanding from one of the worlds leading contemporary theorists.
Unfinished Music draws its inspiration from the riddling aphorism by Walter Benjamin that serves as its epigraph: "the work is the death mask of its conception." The work in its finished, perfected state conceals the enlivening process engaged in its creation. An opening chapter of this book examines some explosive ideas from the mind of J. G. Hamann, eccentric figure of the anti-rationalist Enlightenment, on the place of language at the seat of thought. These ideas are pursued as an entry into the no less radical mind of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, whose bold idiosyncrasies, like Hamann's, disrupted the discourse of Enlightenment aesthetics. Bach is a central player here, his late music the subject of fresh inquiry. In several chapters on the late music of Beethoven, Bach reappears, now something of a spiritual alter ego in the search for a new voice. The improvisatory as a mode of thought figures prominently here, and then inspires a new hearing of the envisioning of Chaos at the outset of Haydn's Creation, aligned with Herder's efforts to come to an understanding of logos at the origin of thought. The improvisatory is at the heart of a chapter on Beethoven's brazen cadenzas for the Concerto in D minor by Mozart, another ghost in Beethoven's machine. Music seductively unfinished is the topic of other chapters: on some unstudied late sketches, finally rejected, for a famous quartet movement by Beethoven; on the enigmas set loose in several remarkable Mozart fragments; and on the romanticizing of fragment and its bearing on two important sonatas that Schubert left incomplete. In a final coming to terms with the imponderables of musical intuition, the author returns to Benjamin's epigraph, drawing together his foundational essay on Goethe's Elective Affinities with Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, and with a draft for a famous passage in the andantino of Schubert's Sonata in A (1828). Unfinished Music explores with subtle insight the uneasy relationship between the finished work and the elusive, provocative traces of the profound labors buried in its past. The book will have broad appeal to the community of music scholars, theorists and performers, and to all those for whom music is integral to the history of ideas.
1964-1974 was a tumultuous decade. In the first two books of his ‘Music and Politics’ trilogy, Steve Millward traced how the optimism and adventure of 1964 had, by 1970, soured into frustration and uncertainty. Fast Forward: Music and Politics in 1974 brings the story to a climax by showing that while the year was riddled with soul-searching and looking backwards, the future was, in fact, approaching rapidly. As in the previous volumes, Millward links major political developments such as the energy crisis, Watergate, the troubles in Northern Ireland and the rise of the National Front to trends in rock, jazz, folk and classical music. He also explains the part played by music in the revolutions across Africa and in the struggle for civil rights in the USA. James Brown, Neil Young, David Bowie and Bob Marley are among the major names featured, but there is also discussion of the multitude of artists who made crucial but less celebrated contributions, including Millie Jackson, Steve Reich, Billy Cobham and even the poet laureate John Betjeman. Precursors of punk such as Patti Smith, The Ramones, Dr Feelgood and Kilburn and The High Roads are also examined in detail. Finally, Millward weaves into the plot sporting events like the World Cup and the Rumble in the Jungle and the host of excellent films released during the year. Fast Forward: Music and Politics in 1974 offers a multidimensional interpretation of a momentous year – analytical yet accessible, weighty yet witty – and is the perfect addition to any music-lover’s bookcase. It merits the accolade given by Record Collector magazine to its predecessor, Different Tracks (Matador, 2014) – ‘an incisive, all-inclusive discourse...a sharply-delineated time-capsule’.
Does it make sense to refer to bird song—a complex vocalization, full of repetitive and transformative patterns that are carefully calculated to woo a mate—as art? What about a pack of wolves howling in unison or the cacophony made by an entire rain forest?

Redefining music as “the art of possibly animate things,” Musical Vitalities charts a new path for music studies that blends musicological methods with perspectives drawn from the life sciences. In opposition to humanist approaches that insist on a separation between culture and nature—approaches that appear increasingly untenable in an era defined by human-generated climate change—Musical Vitalities treats music as one example of the cultural practices and biotic arts of the animal kingdom rather than as a phenomenon categorically distinct from nonhuman forms of sonic expression. The book challenges the human exceptionalism that has allowed musicologists to overlook music’s structural resemblances to the songs of nonhuman species, the intricacies of music’s physiological impact on listeners, and the many analogues between music’s formal processes and those of the dynamic natural world. Through close readings of Austro-German music and aesthetic writings that suggest wide-ranging analogies between music and nature, Musical Vitalities seeks to both rekindle the critical potential of nineteenth-century music and rejoin the humans at the center of the humanities with the nonhumans whose evolutionary endowments and planetary fates they share.
Immersion is the new orthodoxy. Within the production, curation and critique of sound art, as well as within the broader fields of sound studies and auditory culture, the immersive is routinely celebrated as an experiential quality of sound, the value of which is inherent yet strengthened through dubious metaphysical oppositions to the visual. Yet even within the visual arts an acoustic condition grounded in Marshall McLuhan's metaphorical notion of acoustic space underwrites predispositions towards immersion. This broad conception of an acoustic condition in contemporary art identifies the envelopment of audiences and spectators who no longer perceive from a distance but immanently experience immersive artworks and environments.

Immanence and Immersion takes a critical approach to the figures of immersion and interiority describing an acoustic condition in contemporary art. It is argued that a price paid for this predisposition towards immersion is often the conceptual potency and efficacy of the work undertaken, resulting in arguments that compound the marginalisation and disempowerment of practices and discourses concerned with the sonic. The variously phenomenological, correlational and mystical positions that support the predominance of the immersive are subject to critique before suggesting that a stronger distinction between the often confused concepts of immersion and the immanence might serve as a means of breaking with the figure of immersion and the circle of interiority towards attaining greater conceptual potency and epistemological efficacy within the sonic arts.
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