Works of Music: An Essay in Ontology

By Julian Dodd | Go to book overview

9

Sonicism II: Against
Contextualism

9.1 Introduction: Formulating Contextualism

Timbral sonicism, to recap, consists of the following claim concerning the individuation of works of music: work W and work W* are numerically identical if and only if they have exactly the same acoustic properties normative within them (where these acoustic properties include timbral properties). In other words, the condition that a sound sequence must meet to be a properly formed token of W is purely acoustic. One source of dissatisfaction with this thesis was disposed of in the previous chapter. The arguments for thinking that the set of properties normative within a work includes performance means-properties in addition to acoustic properties, are unsound: the sonicist need not give up her pre-theoretically intuitive position in favour of instrumentalism. But what of the contextualist's response to sonicism? Like instrumentalists, contextualists claim that acoustic indistinguishability is only necessary for work-identity, not sufficient, though for a different reason. According to the contextualist, for composer A and composer B, to compose the same work of music independently, it must not merely be true that their compositions sound exactly alike; it must also be the case that A and B occupy the same musico-historical context.

Needless to say, such a response provokes two questions. First, what considerations could push one towards contextualism? Second, what exactly counts as 'the same musico-historical context'? On the first question, much of the following chapter will be given over to considering numerous instances of the contextualist's style of argument; but, for now, suffice it to say that the main weapon in the contextualist's arsenal is the kind of sonic

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Works of Music: An Essay in Ontology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Type/Token Theory Introduced 8
  • 2: Types I 37
  • 3: Types Ii: Platonism 58
  • 4: Defending the Type/Token Theory I 82
  • 5: Defending the Type/Token Theory Ii 99
  • 6: Musical Works as Continuants 143
  • 7: Musical Works as Compositional Actions 167
  • 8: Sonicism I 201
  • 9: Sonicism Ii 240
  • Bibliography 277
  • Index 283
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