Adorno on Music (International Library of Sociology)

Adorno on Music (International Library of Sociology)

Robert W. Witkin

Language: English

Pages: 220

ISBN: 0415162920

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Adorno is one of the leading cultural thinkers of the twentieth century. This is the first detailed account of Adorno's texts on music from a sociological perspective. In clear, non-technical language, Robert Witkin guides the reader through the complexities of Adorno's argument about the link between music and morality and between musical works and social structure. It was largely through these works Adorno established the right of the arts to be acknowledged as a moral and critical force in the development of a modern society. By recovering them for non-musicologists, Witkin adds immeasurably to our appreciation of this giant of twentieth-century thought.


















theme, or the part for the concert instrument, is able to develop from within itself and to organise the totality of the musical work from the inner dynamics of the participating elements' (quoting Adorno) .. . the principle of form through which Beethoven's second period subject asserts its freedom is that of 'developing variation' as embodied in the development and recapirulation sections of the sonata allegro in which the musical subject demonstrates its autochthony by going out from itself

it . The artist engages with the material, seeking to bring our of the inherent dialectic of subject and object, of spirit and form, a positive synthesis, a reconciliation of part and whole of spirit and matter. The more that the artist pursues this reconciliation the greater is the degree of resistance he meets with in the material, and the greater is the corresponding constructive force or violence that is required from him to formulate such a reconciliation. The artist is thus brought, through

function, the characteristica universalis of Mahler's music. The rule of clarity to which he rigorously subjected the instrumentation in particular resulted from his reflection as a composer: the less the music is articulated by tonal language, the more strictly it must ensure its own articulation. For this reason it calls its forms, as it were, by their names, composes their types as Schoenberg's wind quartets did paradigmatically, later. . . . What characterises is, for that very reason, no

unclassical. As soon as traditional great music ceased 'working out' through a development, it was content with a conserved architectonic identity; if an element recurred identically, it was, aside from the key, identical and nothing else. Mahler's symphonic writing, however, sabotages these alternatives. Nothing in them is ever entirely consumed by the dynamic bur nothing ever remains what it was. Time passes into the characters and changes them as empirical time alters faces. (T. Adorno 1992:

subject sets it off sharply from communication. This latter concept properly belongs to the culture industry, which calculates questions of artistic effects, as well as in applied market research , which tells us what intellectual products must be like if they are to find purchasers. To this informal music is intransigently opposed. It is concerned instead with the representation of a truth content and with a true consciousness, not with adapting to a false one. Within the all-embracing blindness

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