Adorno on Music (International Library of Sociology)

Adorno on Music (International Library of Sociology)

Robert W. Witkin

Language: English

Pages: 220

ISBN: 0415162920

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Adorno is one of the leading cultural thinkers of the twentieth century. This is the first detailed account of Adorno's texts on music from a sociological perspective. In clear, non-technical language, Robert Witkin guides the reader through the complexities of Adorno's argument about the link between music and morality and between musical works and social structure. It was largely through these works Adorno established the right of the arts to be acknowledged as a moral and critical force in the development of a modern society. By recovering them for non-musicologists, Witkin adds immeasurably to our appreciation of this giant of twentieth-century thought.

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ignore the past , either in respect of the examples and models provided by other artists in the past or in respect of events themselves that happen to have taken place in the past . This was merely the culmination of a long-run tendency in modern art . Linda Nochlin has observed, in respect of nineteenth-century realism and history painting, that depictions of the past increasingly came to centre on capturing the presentness of past events (1. Nochlin 1971). In modernist art, a present-centred

Renaissance and again was not fully realised until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth 43 SOCIETY IN SONATA-FORM centuries. Tonal music is organised by the distinctive intervalic progressions of major and minor scales. The character of a scale depends upon the distribution of semi-tones and tones . The first two intervals of a major scale, for example, are whole tones . The next interval is a semi tone and it is followed by three whole tones . The final interval of the scale is a semi

bourgeois idealism. Adorno claims that the popularity of 62 BEETHOVEN LATE AND SOON Beethoven's second-period compositions with audiences in his own day was probably due to the extent to which they embodied, in music, the structural dynamics of just such an identity between individual and society - to the extent, that is, that they inscribed bourgeois ideology (T. Adorno 1994c) . The music of Beethoven's second-period compositions celebrates the development of the bourgeois subject as secure

capitalism, the commodification of life and the domination of exchange values and markets. The instrumental individualism of bourgeois life undermined both the cohesiveness of community and of the sensuous subject. It became increasingly difficult to sustain the solidary in the face of an ever encroaching and corrupting instrumentalism. The more that attention shifts to the intra-personal constitution of the subject, the more is it the case that the subject's responses in disparate systems are

relations at the level of praxis - that is, in the production of the music - and structural relations among the elements of the art work itself. The role of the enthusiast and amateur is perceived by Adorno to be an important one in early jazz. He is careful to distance himself from what he calls 'the mythology of jazz' which sees invention as originating with the uncompromised and unsullied person, the authentic 'soul' of the black man, or whatever. He dismisses all such claims as ideology and

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