Alex's Music 701 Schenker Page...


Hi. Just a few brief thoughts on Schenker. It occurred to me, in the process of doing our analyses last week, that the importance of Schenker is the process. That may sound facile, but I think that even if one rejects, ultimately, the "goal" of Schenkerian analysis, there is still the benefit of the process. I'm reminded of its literary equivalent, which I think would be something like "close reading." Even though the post-moderns reject the possibility of finding ultimate meaning in a text, regardless of how "close" the reading is, this process of close reading is still fundamental to all of the major literary critical theories, including deconstruction. In the critical study of music, the process of preparing a piece for a final reduction into Schenker's fundamental structure reveals the many structural levels of a piece at work, and this is undeniably useful, regardless of whether one accepts the notion of all tonal music sharing the same structure or not. To dismiss Schenkerian analysis as simply "reductive," and therefore evil, or ill-conceived, seems to me to be tragic.

In an age where musicology is identifying and focusing on the discursive in music, with a post-modern sensibility that would seem antithetical to Schenkerian thought, it is still difficult for me to ignore the fact that, for instance, certain musicologist are interested in sexuality in music, which they identify in part through "tension" in the music. Or, that post-modern musicology is concerned with the way in which music functions on a multiplicity of "level," and how it signifies at these different levels...isn't this, at least to a large degree, something that Schenkerian analysis can help us do?

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