Themes in the Philosophy of Music
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Representing Stephen Davies's best shorter writings, these essays outline developments within the philosophy of music over the last two decades, and summarize the state of play at the beginning of a new century. Including two new and previously unpublished pieces, they address both perennial questions and contemporary controversies, such as that over the 'authentic performance' movement, and the impact of modern technology on the presentation and reception of musical works. Rather than attempting to reduce musical works to a single type, Davies recognizes a great variety of kinds, and a complementary range of possibilities for their rendition.
all around us,' even in the concert hall. In the same year, 1952, Cage arranged an event which deliberately moved out beyond 'pure' music into what was unmistakably theatre. This was the so-called happening at Black Mountain College, the first post-war mixed-media event. (Nyman 1974: 60) 'As he moved towards no-control, Cage also moved towards theatre... Cage's theatrical inclinations really took wing that summer when he was invited down to Black Mountain College' (Tomkins 1968: 113). 4' 33"
political, humorous, or meta-artistic effect.4 Nevertheless, the audience may have difficulty in appreciating the music because of their sensitivity to the instruments' treatment. Their unease might be like that sometimes caused by little girls' beauty pageants. The viewer can be distracted by the thought that a kind of mistreatment of or disrespect for the children is involved, even if they are not permanently harmed by what happens. What underpins the respect we accord to musical instruments?
hearing expressiveness in music and seeing bearings, carriages, and gaits as presenting appearances of expressiveness (that pay no regard to what is felt).3 Of course, the view advocated above must be argued in detail. In particular, it will be crucial to explain how it is that music can be experienced as presenting the appearance of emotions; that is, how the dynamic character of music is appreciated as analogous to actions rather than to mere movements. In Davies 1980 I have tried to
for regarding the noise of the everyday as music only because the standard notion of music is undermined and rejected. There is an invitation to conceptual revision. It is this last proposal that is most clearly advocated by Cage. If Cage doubts, as he seems to, that the world of sound conforms to our projection of it, then the radical revision of our concepts can be properly invited by the suggestion that music is incarnate in all sounds. Michael Nyman (1974: 22) captures Cage's project in these
relevant gesture or phrase (Cooke 1959). Or, music of certain kinds is linked with rites or events that otherwise are emotionally charged, and these ties persist, becoming commonplaces of musical expressiveness. In this theory, expressiveness involves techniques like those followed by Wagner in his use of leitmotiv, except that the relevant conventions are available to many composers and occur in many works, so widespread and entrenched are the associations that underpin them. There is no denying