Paper Session
Nov 21, 2021 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211121T1500 20211121T1550 America/Chicago Scrutinizing the History of Music Studies AMS 2021
Deconstructing the West: André Schaeffner’s Origin
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 21:50:00 UTC

"The source of music is in the human body." With this claim, André Schaeffner sought a new narrative of musical origin. A lover of jazz, a student of Marcel Mauss, and a participant in the Mission Dakar-Djibouti, Schaeffner assembled a vast collection of non-European instruments for Paris's Musée de l'Homme. He listened to feet stomping on the African soil and the rustling clothes of dancers, claiming that these original sounds inspired the first drums; soon came rattles and bells; then strings made from the veins of plant leaves and horns made from shells. Attending to the materiality of these instruments, Schaeffner challenged Euro-grapho-centric narratives according to which music progressed from monophonic song to the symphony. Further, by describing the "phonetic nuances" of non-western speech, Schaeffner presaged the Derridean notion of the "archi-trace" by claiming that the voice, long positioned as the origin of musical utterance in the west, was far from a disembodied ideal: the voice is always already material. Instrumental and vocal sounds, for Schaeffner, derive not from metaphysical ideals, but from fundamental material forms-the bow, the pipe, the phonetic breath.

This paper will demonstrate that Schaeffner's writings of the 1930s prefigured the deconstruction of the category of "the West" that would feature in later works by major French intellectuals. James Clifford once suggested that ethnologists and surrealists of France's interwar years came to view western culture as an arbitrary assemblage of signs. This "ethnographic surrealist" attitude heralded the semiotic and deconstructive views of cultural order in vogue by Derrida's day. I suggest that music, and specifically Schaeffner's organology, was always a part of this French intellectual lineage, and I show that a central thread joins Schaeffner with Derrida: the critique of ontology. I contend that Schaeffner's beliefs about vocal and musical materiality foreshadowed Derrida's assertion that western "Being" is a white mythology, a myth bolstering the metaphysical authority of "the West." From our perspective, Schaeffner is therefore a crucial figure in the pre-history of musical ontology, and attending to him may bring our own deeply-held ontological convictions into question.

Edmund Mendelssohn
UC Berkeley
Guido Adler and the Eclectic Origins of Musicology
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 21:50:00 UTC

In "Umfang, Methode und Ziel der Musikwissenschaft" (1885), Guido Adler provides an early systematic framework for musical research that impacted upon German-language scholarship and beyond well into the twentieth century. Though most studies on the development of musicology view this text as an outright paradigm shift, I construe Adler's concept as an intriguing synthesis of contemporary methodologies and disciplinary approaches. While Adler's later works fall more in line with "historicist" scholarship, the 1885 essay paints a broader picture, integrating disciplines such as aesthetics, physiology, and ethnography into Adler's two-pronged concept.

Contrary to reading the two branches of Adler's (in)famous organigram as implying a "splitting" of musicology into historical and systematic approaches, I will take Adler's 1885 scheme as an inclusive concept, bridging the gap between Hanslick's objectivist formalism, "philological" musicology (Jahn, Spitta, Chrysander, etc.), and the natural sciences. The framework of this synthesis of subjects, which at times seem mutually exclusive, is afforded by the specific context of Adler's concept: the peculiarities of 19th-century Austria. In re-modelling Habsburg education, Austrian science politics fell back on positivism, which should mirror the objectivity of natural science, exemplified by Adler's teacher Brentano, who famously proposed the identity of methods in philosophy and natural science.

While positivism therefore promised a modernization of Habsburg education, its fostering was moreover informed by tangible political concerns. Positivism was perceived as a "nation-neutral" method of generating knowledge through sources and facts, free from cultural partiality. By implementing positivist methodology, policy-makers attempted to appease conflicts between Austria's diverse ethnic groups: focusing on "the object itself" thus also meant soothing cultural tensions by virtue of averting one's eyes, with positivism presenting a universal remedy for scholarly purposes. Adler's 1885 essay is hence by default rooted in political issues specific to its Austrian setting, which by way of Adler's reception history affected Western musical research for several decades.

Grasping the mix of cultural, political, and scientific issues from which musicology arose will thus also help in understanding the entrenchment of scientific methods in the broader context of society, culture, and identity politics today.

Alexander Wilfing
Max-Planck-Institute For Empirical Aesthetics
Music Theory in the Age of Biopolitics
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 21:50:00 UTC

What did it mean that Wilhelm Wackenroder, a young German law clerk in 1797, conjured an avatar who admonishes himself, "Your whole life must be a music performance"? Or that in 1815 E. T. A. Hoffmann, a lawyer and judge, fashioned a fictional double who "had resolved upon death and would stab himself in the nearby forest with an augmented fifth"? Or that a century later, Heinrich Schenker, also a trained lawyer, pinned his own "musical theories and fantasies" to both music's putative death and a racist hypernationalism? This paper takes such overlays of law, life, and death as signs of European music's entry into the age of biopolitics and proposes a "biohistory" of nineteenth-century music theory.

Biopolitics, in Foucault's influential formulation, marks a historical threshold across which the sovereign's right to kill was replaced by management of life as such and the law gave way to norms. Music theory's gradual replacement of compositional rules with analysis over the course of the nineteenth century replicated this twofold shift. By seizing listeners' bodies through novel practices and linking these bodies to bodies (_corpora_) of music, analysis facilitated music's mobilization along nationalist lines within Europe and with colonialist interests abroad. As theorists from Gottfried Weber to Arnold Schoenberg sought musico-empirical laws that would both ratify their own intuitions and distribute sovereign judgment among a population of educated listeners, analysis became, to borrow Ludwig Holtmeier's phrase, "the new royal discipline [_Königsdisziplin_]."

Novel music theories also generated forms of psychophysical excess that Eric Santner has theorized as "flesh." Though analytic practice, concepts such as Weber's "more-meaning-ness" (_Mehrdeutigkeit_), Riemann's dualist conceits, and Schoenberg's emancipatory organicism agitated this flesh, paradoxically intensifying analytic practitioners' need for a (more) disciplined music theory. Drawing together these examples, recent work by Naomi Waltham-Smith and Robin James on music's biopolitical entanglements, and post-colonial and critical-race-studies critiques of music theory by Kofi Agawu and Philip Ewell, respectively, this paper examines a history that continues to haunt present-day music theory and suggests a way to begin the work of exorcising the discipline's biopolitical imperatives.

August Sheehy
Stony Brook University
The Music-Theory Classroom as Product of a Bygone Class System
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 21:50:00 UTC

Linking problems in the music-theory classroom to racism tends to overlook the historical development of twentieth-century universities, where race was but one glaring component in a broader system of social class. Universities proactively recruited from the middle and upper classes, suppressing applicants from the lower ones. In the traditional areas of study--letters, science, mathematics--the loss of lower-class students was barely noticed. But in the performing arts, the exclusion of young artisans--by contemporary definition members of a lower class--led to the exclusion of the very students who had the greatest preparation and aptitude. Though it may seem impertinent to say it baldly, the twentieth-century music-theory curriculum thus had of necessity to be crafted for prosperous dilettantes, a project well under way by the 1940s.

Music academics of the 1920s and '30s had the best of intentions. Carl Seashore (1938), for instance, demonstrated that black and white races had equal raw talents for music, at least as measured by his standardized tests. But at Harvard, AMS pioneer Archibald T. Davison (1926) sought to maintain university standards by banishing performance and composition, arguing that artisanal crafts had no place in academia. Paul Fussell's book on the American class system (1983) notes the liminal class position and class defensiveness of academics. The career of a fine musician-scholar like Walter Piston, Davison's student, illustrates not only the social climb upwards from the level of his Italian working-class grandfather (Antonio Pistone) to a Harvard professorship, but also the descent downwards from elite prewar artisanal studies with Boulanger, Dukas, and Enescu in Paris to the postwar editions of his American-directed harmony textbooks.

If the two years that collegiate musicians spend seeking a thorough grounding in cloudy concepts of tonality and roman numerals are, at best, what Justin London (2021) has called a protracted exercise in "junk science," what should we do instead? More to the point, What if music theory really mattered? What if the artisanal, nonverbal musical knowledge of the past was, in fact, sophisticated, insightful, and something worthy of being passed on?

Robert Gjerdingen
Northwestern University
Max-Planck-Institute for Empirical Aesthetics
Stony Brook University
northwestern university
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