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" track in ways in which additionally account for its profound impact. In Absolute track: The heritage of an concept, Mark Evan Bonds strains the heritage of those efforts throughout greater than millennia, paying targeted realization to the connection among music's essence and its characteristics of shape, expression, attractiveness, autonomy, in addition to its perceived potential to reveal philosophical truths.

The middle of this ebook specializes in the interval among 1850 and 1945. even supposing the assumption of natural tune is as outdated as antiquity, the time period "absolute music" is itself quite contemporary. It was once Richard Wagner who coined the time period, in 1846, and he used it as a pejorative in his efforts to reveal the constraints of basically instrumental track. For Wagner, track that used to be "absolute" used to be remoted, indifferent from the area, sterile. His modern, the Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick, embraced this caliber of isolation as a guarantor of purity. in basic terms natural, absolute song, he argued, may possibly become aware of the top power of the art.

Bonds finds how and why perceptions of absolute tune replaced so significantly among the 1850s and Twenties. while it first seemed, "absolute music" used to be a brand new time period utilized to previous tune, yet by means of the early a long time of the 20 th century, it had become-paradoxically--an outdated time period linked to the recent song of modernists like Schoenberg and Stravinsky. Bonds argues that the major advancements during this shift lay no longer in discourse approximately song yet really the visible arts. The turning out to be status of abstraction and shape in portray on the flip of the 20 th century-line and colour, rather than object-helped movement the belief of only summary, absolute tune to the innovative of musical modernism.

By rigorously tracing the evolution of absolute track from historical Greece throughout the heart a long time to the twentieth-century, Bonds not just offers the 1st complete historical past of this pivotal idea but in addition provokes new innovations at the essence of song and the way essence has been used to provide an explanation for music's impact. a protracted awaited booklet from probably the most revered senior students within the box, Absolute song should be crucial interpreting for an individual attracted to the heritage, concept, and aesthetics of tune.

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Bower, 8. 17. Plato, Timaeus 47d–e, trans.  Zeyl, in Plato, Complete Works, ed. Cooper, 1250. Isomorphic Resonance n 37 Music used for “irrational pleasure,” by implication, decenters the soul and takes it to places it otherwise cannot—and should not—go. Tis was literally true in the case of Orpheus, who in descending to the underworld to retrieve his dead bride used music to serve his own personal pleasure and in ways that go beyond the laws of nature. Tat it all ends so badly suggests that this is (among other things) a cautionary tale about the uses of music.

Oppenheim: de Bry, 1617–19), 1:90.  Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. 27 28 n Essence as Effect: To 1550 Figure 4. Te Microcosm Te “Harmonic Monochord of the Microcosm” is the string that extends down the length of the human body. As in the cosmic monochord, proportions are represented through musical intervals. Source: Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica, physica atque technica historia, 2 vols. (Oppenheim: de Bry, 1617–19), 1:275.  Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

9 Even the two fgures’ paternal origins became confated at one point: although Orpheus was ofen identifed as the son of Apollo, the Neoplatonist Iamblichus, writing in the late third or early fourth century, felt it necessary to deny the report, apparently current at the time, that 8. Guido of Arezzo, Regule rithmice 2:8–10, as transcribed and translated by Calvin M. Bower, “Te Transmission of Ancient Music Teory into the Middle Ages,” in Te Cambridge History of Western Music Teory, ed. Tomas Christensen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 163.

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