Music and the Politics of Negation

Music and the Politics of Negation

Music and the Politics of Negation

Music and the Politics of Negation

Synopsis

Over the past quarter century, music studies in the academy have their postmodern credentials by insisting that our scholarly engagements start and end by placing music firmly within its various historical and social contexts. In Music and the Politics of Negation, James R. Currie sets out to disturb the validity of this now quite orthodox claim. Alternating dialectically between analytic and historical investigations into the late 18th century and the present, he poses a set of uncomfortable questions regarding the limits and complicities of the values that the academy keeps in circulation by means of its musical encounters. His overriding thesis is that the forces that have formed us are not our fate.

Excerpt

Music says yes – to its historical and cultural participation in the worldliness of social life and its meanings. the past twenty years and more of politically oriented musicological thinking in the academy has been adamant on this point. It has claimed to bring music back from banishment within formalist abstractions; it has striven to make it autonomous of aesthetic autonomy. Music can now benefit once more from the warmth and wisdom of belonging to the already existent human worlds that have both engendered it and continued to offer it a place to stay when it finds itself abroad. As a result, music study in the academy today enjoys many intellectual liberties that would not have been possible had certain scholars not been prepared to fight for them for us, sometimes at considerable professional cost – a point this book neither forgets nor takes lightly.

However, the implications of “once more” in the penultimate sentence above should give us pause. On the one hand, what we might broadly label as this postmodern turn of contemporary academic music studies has often perceived itself historically as the manifestation of something particular to its own moment; and so, on one level, as something new. (Hence its most obvious symptom, the “New Musicology.”) Yet, on the other hand, it has also validated itself by means of a sometimes transhistorical set of assumptions. For this new turn has simultaneously also been considered as a re-turn, in which musical discourse reasserts (once more) music’s fundamentally located and determined status within and by culture and so wakes up (at last) from the nightmare of what postmodern musicologists often consider to have . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.