2 dic. 2011

Musical Criticism

Here is an excellent post by a wonderful composer and music critic--a post with rich implications for literary criticism.

8 comentarios:

Jordan dijo...

Yes. Especially this:

> an objective basis, not via the old-fashioned route of coming up with rules for how music supposedly works, but by beginning with our collective ability to identify with some pieces more than others, and explicating our perceptions of why the music elicits our sympathies so strongly.


That collective identification is much more contested in poetryland, but I don't think it has to be that way forever.

Jonathan dijo...

I'm not sure about the idea of an objective basis for criticism, although I like the project being proposed in that quote.

Jordan dijo...

Well yeah. And I note that this is basically Helen Vendler's critical project -- to account for the success of a given literary work.

Vance Maverick dijo...

There's another element to this piece towards which I have strongly ambivalent feelings -- the conception of a work as consisting of an idea, on the one hand, and its realization, on the other. I recognize this is useful for teaching. (I studied for a time with a composer who had heard the same conception from Respighi.) But it's not the only way to think of a work, and often I think it's not even applicable.

Jonathan dijo...

It seems to me that that conception of idea vs. utterance is useful because it allows for some leverage. If the work is identical to itself in all respects, then there is no way of saying "I intuit what you are trying to do, but this part of the work does not correspond to that." I'm sure there are situations where it's not applicable, but what would those be, exactly? Just curious to know your thinking here...

Vance Maverick dijo...

Just to be clear, I'm acknowledging its utility in teaching.

That said, if you're talking about a text for which we don't have much background (say, Herbert's "Virtue"), how do we distinguish between the idea and its realization? Especially if we consider how elements of realization often guide the idea -- rhyme words, for example, prompting trains of thought?

And if the distinction is weak for works like that, is it strong for works where idea and realization are clearly separable? (Say the novels of Henry James, where we have copious notebook entries tracing their germination?)

What I'm thinking is that works may seem to us to have sprung from an idea -- and this perception may be useful -- may even in rare cases be known to be shared by the author -- but it is not, in general, "true".

Vance Maverick dijo...

Not my most coherent contribution. I guess what I really want to say is that analysis in terms of idea and realization is always an interpretation, with the usual reservations about contingency. So for a teacher to say "I see what you're trying to do, but it isn't quite working, because of this problem," while mundane as pedagogy, amounts to asserting the truth of an interpretation, in stronger terms than most professors (today) would venture about, say, Keats.

Jonathan dijo...

I understand what you are saying. With a text like that of Herbert, you couldn't really "get behind" the text to see the distance between what the poet was trying to do and the end result. That's equivalent to saying that you couldn't teach Herbert to write a better 17th century poem.