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Small, C. (1998). Musicking: The meanings of performing and listening. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press.   
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard   Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard 11/22/23, 5:15 PM
Music conceived as an object, a thing, came about through "the trap of reification." An abstraction, through language use, of the action of music.
Music, through western academia and music criticism, has become equated with the western tradition, 'classical' music, which, through this equation, becomes privileged, and all other musics (including western popular musics) are relegated to the field of ethnomusicology. As Small points out (writing in 1998), even in the West, classical music sales of records account for only 3%.
The performance of a work of music:
  1. is merely a presentation, performers play "no part in the creative process" and merely provide "an imperfect and approximate representation of the work itself" and thus "music's inner meanings can never be yielded up in performance. They can be discovered only by those who can read and study the score" (5)
  2. has only one line of communication "from composer to individual listener through the medium of the performer" and so the "listener's task is simply to contemplate the work" (6), meaning is "the composer's business" (6) and cannot be added to by the listener.
  3. "suggests also that music is an individual matter, that composing, performing and listening take part in a social vacuum" (6). Small maintains that communication also flows from listeners to performer(s) and between listeners.
In traditional musicology, "each musical work is autonomous," it has qualities that are inherent and without reference to "any occasion, any ritual, or any particular set of religious, political, or social beliefs."
"music's primary meanings are not individual at all but social. . . . The fundamental nature and meaning of music lie not in musical works at all, but in action, in what people do."
Studying the meaning or nature of a work of music is a pointless task where there is (as often is the case in many cultures) no concrete musical work to study (10). Indeed, many musical cultures do not have a thing such as a musical work (11).