Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rinderle, Peter. Review of Peter Kivy's ANTITHETICAL ARTS. NDPR (September 2009).

Kivy, Peter. Antithetical Arts: on the Ancient Quarrel between Literature and Music. Oxford: OUP, 2009. How are we to understand those beautiful noises made by a symphony orchestra, a string quartet or a piano player? And why do we value them so highly? It is the quarrel between two opposing traditions about how to understand music to which the title alludes. The narrativists, as Kivy calls them, use a literary analogy. They attribute meaning to a piece of instrumental music as they attribute meaning to a novel or a theatre play. For them, in music as in novels we are mainly interested in the representation and arousal of certain emotions. The formalists, on the other hand -- and Kivy is the leading musical formalist of our times -- are strongly opposed to this way of "reading" absolute music. It is the formal composition in which the meaning of music resides and it is an ecstatic or even mystical experience to which music, if attended to appropriately, might lead that is the true source of its value. Read the rest here:

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