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Studies in Music with Text$
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David Lewin

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182088.001.0001

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Some Problems and Resources of Music Theory

Some Problems and Resources of Music Theory

Chapter:
(p.384) (p.385) Chapter Nineteen Some Problems and Resources of Music Theory
Source:
Studies in Music with Text
Author(s):

David Lewin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182088.003.0019

This chapter explores music theory as a source for analytic metaphors. Overworked terms create problems for us in describing conceptual sound-structures, and the pursuit of these problems can be enlightening. When we describe the ways in which musical sound seems conceptually structured, categorically prior to any one specific piece, we nevertheless intend our conceptual sound-worlds to be rich in potential metaphors for analyzing specific pieces. Marion Guck and others have been drawing our attention for some time now to metaphorical discourse for music analysis. But it is not generally appreciated how deeply and necessarily metaphorical a music theory becomes when it is used as the basis for an analysis. It is not a question of our intending metaphorical discourse or not when we bring a theory to an analysis. A spectacular example is afforded by the opening of Milton Babbitt's Philomel. John Hollander's text for Babbitt's piece depicts only Philomel's transformation, but he writes that he had earlier had a particular interest in the weaving scenes for a possible opera.

Keywords:   Milton Babbitt, Philomel, music theory, sound-structures, metaphors, music analysis, John Hollander, text, opera, weaving

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