Absolute Music: The History of an Idea by Mark Evan Bonds

By Mark Evan Bonds

What's track, and why does it flow us? From Pythagoras to the current, writers have struggled to isolate the essence of "pure" or "absolute" tune in ways in which additionally account for its profound impression. In Absolute track: The background of an concept, Mark Evan Bonds strains the background of those efforts throughout greater than millennia, paying distinct realization to the connection among music's essence and its traits of shape, expression, attractiveness, autonomy, in addition to its perceived ability to reveal philosophical truths.

The middle of this ebook specializes in the interval among 1850 and 1945. even though the belief of natural tune is as outdated as antiquity, the time period "absolute music" is itself rather fresh. It used to be Richard Wagner who coined the time period, in 1846, and he used it as a pejorative in his efforts to show the restrictions of simply instrumental song. For Wagner, tune that was once "absolute" was once remoted, indifferent from the area, sterile. His modern, the Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick, embraced this caliber of isolation as a guarantor of purity. purely natural, absolute tune, he argued, may perhaps discover the top strength of the art.

Bonds finds how and why perceptions of absolute tune replaced so extensively among the 1850s and Nineteen Twenties. while it first seemed, "absolute music" was once a brand new time period utilized to outdated song, yet via the early many years of the 20th century, it had become-paradoxically--an outdated time period linked to the recent track of modernists like Schoenberg and Stravinsky. Bonds argues that the foremost advancements during this shift lay no longer in discourse approximately tune yet quite the visible arts. The starting to be status of abstraction and shape in portray on the flip of the 20 th century-line and colour, in place of object-helped flow the belief of in basic terms summary, absolute song to the innovative of musical modernism.

By conscientiously tracing the evolution of absolute tune from historical Greece throughout the heart a long time to the twentieth-century, Bonds not just offers the 1st finished background of this pivotal inspiration but in addition provokes new recommendations at the essence of tune and the way essence has been used to provide an explanation for music's impression. a protracted awaited publication from essentially the most revered senior students within the box, Absolute song could be crucial analyzing for a person drawn to the historical past, concept, and aesthetics of tune.

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Moyer, Musica Scientia: Musical Scholarship in the Italian Renaissance (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992); and Penelope Gouk, “Te Role of Harmonics in the Scientifc Revolution,” in Te Cambridge History of Western Music Teory, ed. Tomas Christensen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 223–45. 16. See Tomas J. Mathiesen, “Problems of Terminology in Ancient Greek Teory: ‘APMONÍA,’ ” in Festival Essays for Pauline Alderman: A Musicological Tribute, ed. Burton L. Karson (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1976); and Lippman, Musical Tought in Ancient Greece, 1–44.

In commanding his crew to plug their ears with wax and lash him to the mast of his ship, Odysseus was wiser: he knew that he could endure the song of the sirens only if he suppressed his spontaneous, natural, and bodily responses to it. Tis, too, is a cautionary tale, albeit one with a happier outcome. Tere is, in the end, something both delightful and disturbing about music’s power to sway us. As the critic and theologian Jeremy Collier (1650–1726) put it in his essay “On Musick” from 1694: Tough the Entertainments of Musick are very Engaging; though they make a great Discovery of the Soul; and shew it capable of strange Diversities of Pleasure: Yet to have our Passions lye at the Mercy of a litle Minstrelsy; to be Fiddled out of our Reason and Sobriety; to have our Courage depend upon a Drum, or our Devotions on an Organ, is a Sign we are not so great as we might be.

11 In practice, however, such simple dichotomies between thought and emotion or between body and spirit have proved difcult to sustain,12 and from antiquity to the present many of those who have atempted to describe the nature of music have felt obligated to reconcile the rational and emotional elements of the art. While the myths of Orpheus tell of music’s power, they do not explain its source. For that, the ancient Greeks turned to the teachings of Pythagoras, that shadowy personage of the sixth century BCE about whom so litle is known and to whom so much is ascribed.

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