By Mark Evan Bonds
What's tune, and why does it circulation 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 influence. In Absolute tune: The background of an idea, Mark Evan Bonds lines the historical past of those efforts throughout greater than millennia, paying precise awareness to the connection among music's essence and its features of shape, expression, attractiveness, autonomy, in addition to its perceived potential to reveal philosophical truths.
The middle of this ebook makes a speciality of the interval among 1850 and 1945. even though the belief of natural song is as previous as antiquity, the time period "absolute music" is itself quite contemporary. It used to be Richard Wagner who coined the time period, in 1846, and he used it as a pejorative in his efforts to reveal the constraints of simply instrumental song. For Wagner, track that used to be "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. in basic terms natural, absolute tune, he argued, may detect the top capability of the art.
Bonds unearths how and why perceptions of absolute song replaced so greatly among the 1850s and Nineteen Twenties. whilst it first seemed, "absolute music" used to be a brand new time period utilized to previous tune, yet by means of the early many years of the 20 th century, it had become-paradoxically--an outdated time period linked to the hot song of modernists like Schoenberg and Stravinsky. Bonds argues that the foremost advancements during this shift lay no longer in discourse approximately track yet relatively the visible arts. The starting to be status of abstraction and shape in portray on the flip of the 20th century-line and colour, in preference to object-helped circulation the assumption of basically summary, absolute tune to the leading edge 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 complete heritage of this pivotal notion but additionally provokes new suggestions at the essence of tune and the way essence has been used to provide an explanation for music's influence. an extended awaited ebook from the most revered senior students within the box, Absolute tune could be crucial analyzing for someone attracted to the historical past, conception, and aesthetics of song.
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Extra info for Absolute Music: The History of an Idea
Heninger, Touches of Sweet Harmony, 201; the frontispiece is reproduced on page 249 of Heninger’s book. 23. For an accessible summary of these parallels, see Edward Rothstein, Emblems of the Mind: Te Inner Life of Music and Mathematics (New York: Random House, 1995). Te legacy of Pythagoreanism is summarized in Catherine Nolan, “Music Teory and Mathematics,” in Te Cambridge History of Western Music Teory, ed. Tomas Christensen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 272–84. 2 Isomorphic Resonance Ancient retellings of the feats of Orpheus never identify the source of music’s power for the simple reason that no such explanation was necessary: music’s effect was understood to emanate from its very essence.
Te danger here is a loss of control, a surrendering of the self (willingly or unwillingly) to the physical power of sound. Plato, sensing this danger, had limited music’s proper use to a form of therapy, as a means of restoring order to a disordered soul: And harmony, whose movements are akin to the orbits within our souls, is a gif of the Muses, if our dealings with them are guided by understanding, not for irrational pleasure, for which people nowadays seem to make use of it, but to serve as an ally in the fght to bring order to any orbit in our souls that has become unharmonized, and make it concordant with itself.
If in Boethian terminology Orpheus was the cantor and Pythagoras the musicus, both acted with equal efect in a universe governed by harmony. As Boethius observed: From all these accounts it appears beyond doubt that music is so naturally united with us that we cannot be free from it even if we so desired. For this reason the power of the intellect ought to be summoned, so that this art, innate through nature, may also be mastered, comprehended through knowledge. 16 Once again, however, pleasure is the sticking point.