Why are Theory and Analysis Polarities?


1) I interpret phrases such as "the polarities of theory vs. analysis" and, simply, "theory vs. analysis" to mean that theory and analysis are themselves polar opposites (as opposed to, for example, the polarities of theory vs. the polarities of analysis). If my interpretation is correct than I cannot help but feel a bit confused as to why theory and analysis are polarities.

2) Other examples of polarities we discussed in class such as abstract vs. concrete, intuitive vs. intellect, static vs. dynamic etc. appeared to me as truly opposite. However, after referral to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and some thought of my own, I feel that "Analysis" and "Theory" have too many similarities to be polarities in the true sense of the word.

3) For example, C. Palisca (in New Grove Dictionary, 1980) says that theory is "the study of the structure of music." Doesn't analysis also study the structure of music? I. Ben describes analysis as "The resolution of a musical structure into relatively simpler constituent elements, and the investigation of the functions of those elements within that structure." Can this also sound suspiciously like theory? Ben goes on to say that analysis takes its starting point as the music itself rather than external factors. Here is another example of how theory functions in the same (not opposite) manner as analysis.

4) I did, however, notice one distinct difference between analysis and theory. Theory studies the structure of music, that is, all music or music as a whole, while analysis resolves a musical structure, namely, a particular musical structure, into its basic elements. From this angle, all vs. a particular, I can see how one might call theory and analysis polarities.

5) Are there other major differences between analysis and theory that I am missing? Or are other polarities only to be found within theory and within analysis in which theory and analysis are not themselves polarities but just simply different?

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