From the Erotic to the Demonic: On Critical Musicology

By Al-Taee, Nasser | Notes, September 2004 | Go to article overview

From the Erotic to the Demonic: On Critical Musicology


Al-Taee, Nasser, Notes


From the Erotic to the Demonic: On Critical Musicology. By Derck B. Scott, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. [258 p. ISBN 0-19-515195-X. $65 (hbk.); 0-19-515196-8. $35 (pbk.).] Music examples, illustrations, index.

It does not seem all that long ago that Susan McClary said "when cultural-studies methods first appeared in musicology fifteen years ago, they triggered a storm of polemics that sometimes overshadowed the important issues being raised. As the canon wars recede, however, scholars are finding it possible to focus on the concerns that led them to cultural criticism in the first place: the study of music and its political meanings" (Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music, ed. Georgina Born and David Hesmondhalgh [Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000], back cover). In her forward to the volumes in the Roulledge series Critical and Cultural Musicology, Martha Feldman claimed that "Musicology has undergone a sea change in recent years." Indeed, Derek Scott's book can be seen as a continuation of a growing body of critical musicology dedicated to examining issues that have been marginalized by musicologists such as ideology, identity, gender, and racial representation in Western music. To this end, Scott asserts that musicology is no longer an autonomous field of academic inquiry, but has entered a phase of "postdisciplinarity" (p. 4), and a vibrant intellectual movement in the interdisciplinary field of the arts, sciences, and humanities.

Scott embraces the notion that the rise of critical musicology was advanced by the collapse of the binary divide between classical and popular, which broadened the scope of musicological inquiry to topics such as gender, race, identity, sexuality, and narrative. In doing so, Scott is committed to social semiotics advanced by Richard Leppert, Susan McClary, and Lawrence Kramer and puts forth a series of exemplary essays articulated in a rich, engaging, and provocative interdisciplinary style.

The book is divided into four parts, each with two chapters. Part 1 concerns gender, sexuality, and musical style rooted in social practices. The first chapter deals with erotic representation from Monteverdi to Mae West. Building on McClary's work on seventeenth-century narrative, Scott analyzes "Pur ti miro" from Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Popea (1642) as a representation of the mutual arousal thought necessary for sexual reproduction in the seventeenth century, to the stereotypes dominating American erotic songs of the 1920s and 1930s in what he refers to as the "predator," Mae West, the "innocent," Helen Kane, and the "prim and proper" Ann Suter (pp. 27-29). The second chapter examines eroticism in the Victorian era. Scott argues for disjunctions in representation rather than universals or constants that can be traced through "evolution" or "progress." The author contends that music can be negotiated, building on conventions rooted in style codes and social practices.

Part 2 concerns the working of ideology in relation to popular music. Scott examines representation of the American Indian in popular styles of Western music from the eighteenth century to the present. He thus moves from sexuality to ethnicity in order to show how cultural difference is represented and how shifting perceptions of the Native American can be related to changes in attitude to the "civilized" and the natural world. Scott traces the appropriation of the Native American from Rameau's harpsichord piece Les sauvages (1725) to J. P. Richardson's pop song "Running Bear" (1960). Here we are confronted with a host of signifiers delineating the "enemy" as alien and whisky drinking or courageous and wise, reflecting shifting political and cultural changes. Scott claims that even films that attempt to depict Native Americans in a more positive image, such as Dances with Wolves (1990), are no less dehumanizing and have a tendency to imply that Native Americans are unable to cope with the grim practicalities of modern life. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

From the Erotic to the Demonic: On Critical Musicology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    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.