Musical Meaning and Human Values

Fordham Univ Press
Free sample

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.

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About the author

Keith Chapin is Lecturer in Music at Cardiff University. He has taught at Fordham University (New York) and at the New Zealand School of Music (Wellington). He specializes in issues of critical theory, music aesthetics, and music theory in the seventeenth through twentieth centuries and in particular on issues of counterpoint. He has been Coeditor of Eighteenth- Century Music and Associate Editor of 19th-Century Music and sits on the editorial boards of these journals. He was coeditor (with Lawrence Kramer) of Musical Meaning and Human Values (2009). Recent articles have appeared in Music & Letters, 19th-Century Music, and the International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music

Lawrence Kramer is Distinguished Professor of English and Music at Fordham University, the editor of 19th-Century Music, and a prize- winning composer whose works have been performed internationally. He is the author
of eleven books on music, most recently including Why Classical Music Still Matters (2007), Interpreting Music (2010), and Expression and Truth: On the Music of Knowledge (2012). His string quartet movement “Clouds, Wind, Stars” won the 2103 Composers Concordance “Generations” Prize. Recent and forthcoming performances include Words on the Wind for voice and chamber ensemble (New York City, 2013), Pulsation for piano quartet (Ghent, Belgium, 2013), Songs and Silences to Poems by Wallace Stevens (London, 2013), and two string quartets, nos. 2 and 6 (New York City,
2013).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Fordham Univ Press
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Published on
Aug 25, 2009
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Pages
226
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ISBN
9780823230112
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Language
English
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Genres
Music / History & Criticism
Philosophy / Aesthetics
Philosophy / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Lawrence Kramer has been a pivotal figure in the development of the controversial new musicology, integrating the study of music with social and cultural issues. This accessible and eloquently written book continues and deepens the trajectory of Kramer's thinking as it boldly argues that humanistic, not just technical, meaning is a basic force in music history and an indispensable factor in how, where, and when music is heard. Kramer draws on a broad range of music and theory to show that the problem of musical meaning is not just an intellectual puzzle, but a musical phenomenon in its own right.

How have romantic narratives involving Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata affected how we hear this famous piece, and what do they reveal about its music? How does John Coltrane's African American identity affect the way we hear him perform a relatively "white" pop standard like "My Favorite Things"? Why does music requiring great virtuosity have different cultural meanings than music that is not particularly virtuosic? Focusing on the classical repertoire from Beethoven to Shostakovich and also discussing jazz, popular music, and film and television music, Musical Meaning uncovers the historical importance of asking about meaning in the lived experience of musical works, styles, and performances. Kramer's writing, clear and full of memorable formulations, demonstrates that thinking about music can become a vital means of thinking about general questions of meaning, subjectivity, and value. In addition to providing theoretical advances and insights on particular pieces and repertoires, Musical Meaning will be provocative reading for those interested in issues of identity, gender, and cultural theory. This book includes a CD of Kramer's own composition, Revenants: 32 Variations in C Minor, which he discusses in his final chapter.
'Place in garden, lawn, to beautify landscape.'

When Don Featherstone's plastic pink flamingos were first advertised in the 1957 Sears catalogue, these were the instructions. The flamingos are placed on the cover of this book for another reason: to start us asking questions. That's where philosophy always begins.

Introducing Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art is written to introduce students to a broad array of questions that have occupied philosophers since antiquity, and which continue to bother us today-questions like:
- Is there something special about something's being art? Can a mass-produced plastic bird have that special something?
- If someone likes plastic pink flamingos, does that mean they have bad taste? Is bad taste a bad thing?
- Do Featherstone's pink flamingos mean anything? If so, does that depend on what Featherstone meant in designing them?

Each chapter opens using a real world example - such as Marcel Duchamp's signed urinal, The Exorcist, and the ugliest animal in the world - to introduce and illustrate the issues under discussion. These case studies serve as touchstones throughout the chapter, keeping the concepts grounded and relatable.

With its trademark conversational style, clear explanations, and wealth of supporting features, Introducing Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art is the ideal introduction to the major problems, issues, and debates in the field. Now expanded and revised for its second edition, Introducing Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art is designed to give readers the background and the tools necessary to begin asking and answering the most intriguing questions about art and beauty, even when those questions are about pink plastic flamingos.
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