By Daniel Chua

This e-book examines the highbrow historical past of instrumental song, specifically the belief of absolute tune. It attempts to teach how convinced rules in philosophy, theology and the sciences impact the that means and, certainly, the lifestyles of instrumental song, and the way, in flip, instrumental song is used to solve or exemplify yes difficulties in smooth tradition. rather than latest in a natural and self sufficient shape, tune is woven again into the epistemological cloth and entangled with a number of discourses, hence demonstrating the centrality of song within the building of that means.

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Additional resources for Absolute Music and the Construction of Meaning (New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism)

Example text

Why does music reflect upon itself in the guise of opera in the early years of the seventeenth century? Why does it need to define its identity – ‘I am music’ – and explain its own practice? Why does it have to demonstrate in reality the magic it recounts as ancient history? Perhaps it was because modernity finally realised that its disenchantment of the world was the unsinging of music. After all, the group who allegedly created opera, the so called ‘Florentine Camerata’ of Giovanni Bardi, which included Vincenzo Galilei and Giulio Caccini, were driven by a sense of loss and the need to regain an ancient magic.

19 As with the organ pipes that were melted into tin to make pewter utensils,20 sound was desensualised and reduced to a tool. 21 Thus music, as a sonic funnel, had to have its ornamental protuberances removed to facilitate the flow of the text. In a Protestant anthem such as Tallis’ ‘O Lord in Thee is all my trust’, the music is pared down with a homophonic asceticism and sealed syllabically in case its magic should seep out and overcome the senses (see example 2). The music is instrumentalised as a means for words; it conveys rather than connects; it rationalises ritual instead of ritualising religion.

Thus instrumental music no longer means anything in the modern era of Christ, the Word made flesh, because the system of resemblances no longer stands as truth. In the new dispensation, sound and text, instrument and voice, polyphony and melody, become binary oppositions where logos dominates over harmonia. A music that had enchanted the world by weaving its mixture as an invisible bond between heaven and earth is now cordoned off to harmonise with itself beneath the articulation of words as a sign without signification.

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