Philosophies of Music History

By Warren Dwight Allen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
CONCLUSIONS

COMPARISON, CONTINUITY, AND CHANGE

IN THE Introduction, the problem of method was posed for the young science of musicology, and in conclusion it is raised once more as the central question for this study. Having pointed out the confusion of analogies in both scholarly and popular presentations, the question is, How can they be avoided?

In the first place, there are certain fundamental words and terms that can be used which need not suggest analogy at all: simple words such as change, comparison, contrasts, competition, revival, modification, combination, expansion, contraction, and embellishment. In the conclusion of the chapter previous, the inclusive word activity was suggested as a possible definition for language and music, in social terms. All of the words above describe activities.

In the second place, there are expressions and terms which suggest the lack of activity and opposition to the words above: the unchanging, or the stable, the similar, the static, the serene, the satisfied, the symmetrical, and the regular. These are some of the characteristics and preferences of people who do not like change, who find comparisons odious, contrasts offensive, odd or peculiar, competition distressing, and modification in bad taste, particularly if the familiar is made to appear to be different. These considerations are related to the matters discussed in Part II, where it is pointed out that the very important term continuity can be used, without any suggestion of analogy, to suggest habit, persistence, systematic procedure, custom, tradition, authority, and so on. Finally, there are ways in which the terms growth, development, and progress can be used without resorting to analogy at all. Evolution is not included, because its meaning is too confused.

In short, it is suggested that one way out of confusion is to be as straightforward as possible about one's terminology, and to use

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