Music as Thought: Listening to the Symphony in the Age of by Mark Evan Bonds

By Mark Evan Bonds

Before the 19th century, instrumental track used to be thought of not so good as vocal track. Kant defined wordless song as "more excitement than culture," and Rousseau brushed off it for its lack of ability to show thoughts. yet by means of the early 1800s, a dramatic shift was once less than manner. in basic terms instrumental tune was once now being hailed as a way to wisdom and embraced accurately due to its independence from the boundaries of language. What had as soon as been perceived as leisure used to be heard more and more as a motor vehicle of inspiration. Listening had develop into a manner of knowing.

Music as Thought strains the roots of this primary shift in attitudes towards listening within the overdue eighteenth and early 19th centuries. concentrating on responses to the symphony within the age of Beethoven, Mark Evan Bonds attracts on modern debts and quite a number sources--philosophical, literary, political, and musical--to show how this song was once skilled through those that heard it first.

Music as Thought is an interesting reinterpretation of the factors and results of a revolution in listening.

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Additional resources for Music as Thought: Listening to the Symphony in the Age of Beethoven

Sample text

With or without listeners, the string quartet and similarly intimate genres could sustain themselves quite nicely. The symphony, on the other hand, was never performed without an audience, and certainly not for the pleasure of the musicians (as any orchestral musician will be quick to attest). Even when performed within the confines of a court or aristocratic dwelling, even before it emerged into the public concert house in the nineteenth century, the symphony demanded a listening audience. The geographical focus of my study on German-speaking lands derives from the intensity with which the symphony was cultivated there in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

The goal of this book is to trace the process by which purely instrumental music—music without a text and without any suggestion of an external program—came to be perceived as a vehicle of ideas in the decades around 1800, of just how and why the act of listening came to be equated with the act of thinking. Chapter 1 (“Listening with Imagination”) outlines the emergence of a philosophical and conceptual framework in which instrumental music could be heard as an expression of thought. Chapter 2 (“Listening as Thinking”) explores the process by which listening to untexted music came to perceived as a mode of thought, opening up avenues of insight not available through the medium of language by narrowing the gulf between subject and object, the particular and the universal, the phenomenal and the noumenal.

To complicate matters still further, the same individual can listen to the same work differently on different occasions, or even differently within the course of the same occasion, perceiving its beginning in one way, its middle in another, and its ending in yet another. Listening is a fundamentally inward activity that resists analysis. One way out of this dilemma is to study the external indicators of listening. When, for example, did concert audiences become still and silent while listening?

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