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FROM THE EROTIC TO THE DEMONICOn Critical Musicology$
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Derek B. Scott

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195151961

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195151961.001.0001

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EROTIC REPRESENTATION FROM MONTEVERDI TO MAE WEST

EROTIC REPRESENTATION FROM MONTEVERDI TO MAE WEST

Chapter:
(p.17) 1 EROTIC REPRESENTATION FROM MONTEVERDI TO MAE WEST
Source:
FROM THE EROTIC TO THE DEMONIC
Author(s):

Derek B. Scott

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195151961.003.0002

This chapter examines some of the conventions involved in representing the erotic in music, and reveals the ideological character of these conventions. The disparity and mutability uncovered by a comparison of representations of sexual desire in three differing musical styles (Baroque opera, the Victorian drawing-room ballad, and Tin Pan Alley in the 1920s and 1930s) show that a genealogy of sexuality in music needs to address disjunctions rather than developments, historical contingencies rather than evolutionary questions. There is certainly no progress to be discovered in the way eroticism has been depicted in music: representations of eroticism in contemporary music are not more real now than they were in the 17th century. The fact that the latter can seem cool or alien to us today points to the way sexuality has been constructed in relation to particular stylistic codes in particular historical contexts, and is therefore cultural rather than natural.

Keywords:   ballad, erotic, feminine, gender, masculine, opera, sexuality, Tin Pan Alley, Baroque opera, drawing-room ballad

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