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Abbate, C. (2004). Music: Drastic or gnostic. Critical Inquiry, 30(3), 505–536. 
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard (4/11/16, 8:55 AM)   
Resource type: Journal Article
Peer reviewed
BibTeX citation key: Abbate2004
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Categories: General
Keywords: Music, Sound studies
Creators: Abbate
Publisher: University of Chicago Press (Chicago)
Collection: Critical Inquiry
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p.505   "More than forty years ago, Vladimir Jankélévitch made what is still one of the most passionate philosophical arguments for performance, insisting that real music is music that exists in time, the material acoustic phenomenon. Metaphysical mania encourages us to retreat from real music to the abstraction of the work . . . it is in the irreversible experience of playing, singing, or listening that any meanings summoned by music come into being. Retreating to the work displaces that experience, and dissecting the work’s technical features or saying what it represents reflects the wish not to be transported by the state that the performance has engendered in us."

See Vladimir Jankélévitch, Music and the Ineffable, trans. Carolyn Abbate (Princeton, N.J., 2003), p. 77; hereafter abbreviated MI. A similar emphasis on doing characterizes Christopher Small’s ethnography of music making, Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Hanover, N.H., 1998).

  Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Sound studies
"[why is] the academic discourse devoted to music ... comfortable with the metaphysical and abstract and uninterested in the systems that bring music into ephemeral phenomenal being."
  Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Sound studies
p.521   "What seems important and worth noting, what does matter, and what characterizes devils and angels alike, is the paradox at work in the system. Hermeneutics argues for music’s efficacy in a particular way, seeing musical configurations either as sonic media for embedded signification or, more subtly, as points of departure wherein cultural or poetic associations are released in listeners during their contemplation of the work, upending their sense of self in the process. And yet hermeneutics relies upon music’s aura and strangeness, its great multiplicity of potential meanings, the fact that music is not a discursive language, that musical sounds are very bad at contradicting or resisting what is ascribed to them, that they shed associations and hence connotations so very easily, and absorb them, too. Hermeneutics fundamentally relies on music as mysterium, for mystery is the very thing that makes the cultural facts and processes that music is said to inscribe or release (therein becoming a nonmystery) seem so savory and interesting. Music’s ineffability—its broad shoulder—is relied upon so thoroughly and yet denied any value and even denied existence. This is the mysticism that will demonize mystery at every turn."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Sound studies
pp.527–528   "Adorno described Schubert's music as a seismograph .. a suave metaphor ... Seismographs measure earthquakes, yet also record the earth’s murmured groans and imperceptible shifts below the threshold of perception with acuity that far outdoes the human senses. But more than this, their product—the trace they leave on paper, the product perceptible to our senses—is no amplification or direct transportation, not simply motion for motion. The product is motion translated into another medium: graphic inscriptions on paper that will remain abstract or illegible as long as they are taken as themselves."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Sound studies
p.530   Abbate interprets Jankélévitch's work as "emphasizing an engagement with music as tantamount to an engagement with the phenomenal world and its inhabitants."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Sound studies

"Real music is a temporal event with material presence that can be held by no hand. So why assume that musical sound made in time by the labor of performance is well served by recourse to a philosophical tradition that indeed deconstructs presence, but does so easily because it traffics exclusively in metaphysical objects? [paraphrasing and quoting Gumbrecht:] a critical discourse accounting for the “movement, immediacy, and violence” in events being “born to presence” prove more fertile. What Gumbrecht calls meaning culture and presence culture do not gain legitimacy by excluding each other. One of them is perpetually in danger of appearing illegitimate in the academy—presence culture. Yet meaning culture—scholarship’s privileged culture—is inadequate to deal with certain aesthetic phenomena, events like performed music in particular."

See Gumbrecht, “Form without Matter vs. Form as Event,” pp. 586–87. Here too, as in Jankélévitch, a hint of medieval theology makes an appearance.

See also for more on meaning culture and presence culture (Gumbrecht 2004).

Gumbrecht, H. U. (2004). Production of presence: What meaning cannot convey. Stanford: Stanford University Press.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Heterotopic space Presence Sound studies
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