Some Final Thoughts


[1]Much of what we have discussed this term has concerned the nature of analysis: the polarity of subjectivity and objectivity. Is analysis free from subjectivity? I think the answer is a big NO!! Like Alex, I find Kerman's separation of analysis, theory, and criticism to be problematic. To analyse I must make critical decisions, decisions based on my own experience which is unique. In my final paper I had high hopes for two distinct methodologies, neither of which reflected what I was hearing in the work. To use these tools blindly would be pointless; I would simply produce data without any relevance to my own experience.

[2]To expect analysis to offer Kerman's complete view of a work is also problematic. No single approach will reveal more than a single side of work. A "complete" view of a work must consider issues of history and reception. Where does a work stand in relation to other works by the same composer or in the same genre? If autonomy is dead, then it's really dead: including the autonomy of the "scientific method" in the discussion of art. The idea that we would want to settle a question with a definite answer, for all time, strikes me as sterile and deadly dull!! Perhaps that is the value of polarities. I don't know that I agree with Irene's idea of "truth in unity." It seems to me that in unity lurks only stagnation; growth only occurs if one challenges the limitations of one's self and environment. Musical unity is (I would suspect) found in some great transcendental middle c, but how much fun would that be?

[3] I have also to contribute to the Pearl vs. Forte debate. Why does Pearl feel "shut out" by the theory of Forte? To return to what I said earlier, no single theory of music will account for everything. Each methodology (each tool) will have its job to do, and will have applications in which it can't be beat!! Jen's comment at the end of her discussion of the "debate" has a particular resonance for me: All I want is "a clearer understanding of the inner workings of the piece." My listening experience is still the most important aspect of working with music and analysis must speak to that experience. Melissa's summation of Agawu also speaks to this point: the musical object is central to what we do and analysis can help us to understand what it is we experience. Perhaps this is the polarity of analysis: the constant flux of analytical method uncovering one aspect of a work after another. Rather than worrying about his corner of the sandbox, Pearl should relax and dive into the analysis pool!!

Final thought: It don't mean a thing if the volume is off........


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