By Ruth Katz

The Western musical culture has produced not just tune, but additionally numerous writings approximately tune that stay in continuous—and vastly influential—dialogue with their topic. With sweeping scope and philosophical intensity, A Language of Its Own strains the prior millennium of this ongoing exchange.

Ruth Katz argues that the indispensible courting among highbrow construction and musical construction gave upward thrust to the Western belief of song. This evolving and infrequently conflicted technique, in flip, formed the paintings shape itself. As rules entered song from the contexts during which it existed, its inner language constructed in tandem with shifts in highbrow and social heritage. Katz explores how this infrastructure allowed tune to give an explanation for itself from inside of, making a self-referential and rational origin that has all started to erode in contemporary years.

A magisterial exploration of a regularly ignored intersection of Western paintings and philosophy, A Language of Its Own restores song to its rightful position within the background of principles.  

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Extra resources for A Language of Its Own: Sense and Meaning in the Making of Western Art Music

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Example 6. An example of melismatic notation. (From Willi Apel, The Notation of Polyphonic Music 900–1600 [Cambridge: Mediaeval Academy of America, 1953], facsimile 46, p. ) The Making of Musical Building Blocks 33 example 7. The different combinations of ligatures for the six rhythmic modes. (From Willi Apel, The Notation of Polyphonic Music 900–1600 [Cambridge: Mediaeval Academy of America, 1953], p. ) of binary ligatures, but with a ternary ligature at the end of the sequence. The third mode begins with a single note followed by ternaries to indicate the rhythmic sequence that consists of a so-called perfect long, that is, a long equaling three shorts, followed by a short and then a prolonged short equaling two.

The development in theory and thought that led to a distinction between ‘sense’ and ‘meaning,’ granting “absolute music” a significant position among the arts; 4. The “probing of the limits” of music’s achieved coherence; 5. The cultural and social climate that induced a paradigmatic shift in music theory and composition (including its aftermath); 6. Speculations concerning the future, based on present-day trends. These chapters are hardly arbitrary, for each one addresses an issue whose clarification time corresponded, more or less, to a specific “timespan” in the historical development of music in the West.

Such procedures rest on the belief that there is something to be gained from looking back that might be of relevance to the present and, possibly, to the future as well. It seems obvious that such a belief extends to a much wider range of activities, all of which relate, in one form or another, to appraisals guided by spelled-out objectives. This, needless to say, holds equally true for individuals, as it does for groups, as they attempt to assess each other’s or their own achievements. Historical research also entails a kind of looking back that yields assessments with implications for subsequent developments, yet it must itself often explain the very objectives that guide the assessments.

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