MUSIC THEORISTS TO THE RESCUE!!!

 

1.Kofi Agawu's article: Analyzing music under the new musicological regime is a strong defence for analysis. I hope this posting is not only a reassertion of Agawu's ideas, but also an expansion of them

2. Firstly, Agawu states that, "analysis is indespensible to a discipline that takes the musical object as its point of departure." Unless I am mistaken, the point of departure in a study under the new musicological regime is still "the music" and therefore musiccology and analysis thill have that much in common. Both disciplines are studying music and we can't begin by ignoring that.

3. I believe that it is not analysis with which new musicology finds its fault but with its methodologies. Traditional forms of music theory should be leaving behind ideas of: codification of materials of composition, coherence, truth, structure, musical whole, unity, internal relationships, and connections.

4 The solutions that new musicology have offerd through postmodernism are, in my experience, relatively narrow. It seems to me, as Agawu states, that these new musicologists are primarily interested in the extra-musical: "To excape the delimma of formalism, you must attach the patternes yhou have observed to something else: a plot, a program, an emotional scenario, a context, an agenda, a fantasy, or a narrative." Musicologist such as McClary and Kramer have used analysis to support their narratives. I am suggesting not only that postmodern analysis could be used in other ways, but also suggesting that musicologists need analysts in order for their 'scratch the surface' type of analysis to become a rigorous application.

5. Whereas musicologists will use a brief analysis to explain the extra musical in music, it is the theorists such as Charles J. Smith who will provide a concrete demonstration of their claims.

6. Agawu points out another problem, "Rather than develop new methods for analysis, methods that are free of conventional biases, new musicology often fall back on conventional methods." Agawu states thast new musicology is 'eclectic and pluralistic.' Why not have eclectic and pluralistic analysis? Analysis could perhaps apply the theories and methodologies of such postmodernists as Barthes, Foucalt, Derrida, Lacan, etc. Analysis should move away from the search for truth, coherence, and structure towards deconstruction, jouissance, and rupture. (The question does remain however, whether these techniques can be applied to music that is based on organicism? .....any takers?)

7. As Agawu states, new musicology's insistence on recreating the boundaries of musical disciplines is a structuralist/formalist construct which formalism is trying to negate. It is centering new musicology and marginalizing analysis.

8. Which reminds me of deconstruction .... Let us subvert the centrality around new musicology and bring analysis out of marginalization to a free play where musicology and analysis intermingle in productive harmony.

9. Afterthought: A lot of what I have just stated seems now like a restatement of Agawu's article. I post it none the less because it is my reaction to the article. (I hope reactions to not always have to be critical and may be supportive.

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