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He takes stock of technology's impact on classical music, addressing the questions at the heart of the issue. This erudite yet concise study reveals how mechanical reproduction has transformed classical musical culture and the very act of listening, breaking down aesthetic and generational barriers and mixing classical music into the soundtrack of everyday life. This book is a major contribution to the burgeoning body of critical musicological literature on recordings; anybody interested in that field, or in the question of the 'artwork' in the contemporary world, needs to read this book—which fortunately, is a great pleasure to do.

Absolute Music - Mechanical Reproduction by Arved Ashby - 97805202648

Ashby's book offers a penetrating analysis of these cultural conflicts, showing how technological developments from the phonogram to the mp3 have changed our basic sense of what music is as well as the ways in which we consume it. What emerges from this sustained study of the relationship between technology and values is a view of classical musical culture that is both richer and truer to life. Ashby has the enviable, rare ability to lead the reader comfortably through highly complex material without oversimplifying.

This is a must-read for composers, music theorists, performers, musicologists, critics, and anyone with an interest in classical music beyond the elementary level. He is the editor of The Pleasure of Modernist Music, and has published articles on twelve-tone composition, film music, minimalism, and Frank Zappa. Convert currency.

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Absolute Music, Mechanical Reproduction by Arved Ashby

Items related to Absolute Music, Mechanical Reproduction. Ashby is less interested in investigating the validity of such a category indeed that work was already started by Wagner and more interested in how such ideas of musical abstraction persist, inform and are informed by recording practices. According to Ashby, the idea that recording is one of these extramusical activities, simply appended to absolute music and without any influence on it, rather than a process that alters the very nature of musical aesthetics, is a blind-spot in cultural criticism.

In part, this oversight is due to the way the practice of recording becomes embedded in musicological values that are genre dependent: for popular music it is well established that the Mp3 and its ubiquitous player, the ipod, provoked a kind of musical revolution; yet when considering canons of instrumental art music, digital formats are more often dismissed as merely delivery revolutions or pedagogical tools. The vernacular reading of music through recording, so prominent in pop, has also influenced the likes of Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler.

It might seem bold to tackle the implications of the ipod only ten years after its launch. Yet technological revolutions seem to recede so quickly now, one is concerned less with an edentulous author and more with missing something altogether.

Absolute music, mechanical reproduction

In this regard Ashby is in tireless pursuit. This pursuit includes a rigorous account of what has come before on this topic.


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In music, the the network distributed Mp3 results in the culmination of this technological liquidation. The studio becomes a confluence where clear divisions between composition and performance are blurred; performance enlists a kind of authorship and composers now readily use recorded sketches that can be moved around like the cuttings of a collage.

Finally Gould envisioned this distribution of creativity extending to the listener who might make aesthetic decisions with the parameters of playback. Recording practices might, as Gould would hope, make the creative process more distributed. Yet recorded music has also entrenched certain traditional distinctions that seem to work in the opposing direction. Ashby notes, for example, that the notion of the absolute text is alive and well in the vigorous debates over which recorded version is the definitive one.

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Thus he also recognizes that recording can have the effect of fixing authorship and text as well as standardizing performance trends i. Recording is apparently absorbed into music practices with very divergent outcomes. Ashby chooses to navigate this complexity by establishing dialectics; in this case, the contrast between idealism and pragmatism. What is not to be found here are oversimplified descriptions of new modes simply supplanting old ones. Another useful dialectic established early in the book is the one between innovation and necessity.

Unconstrained by any chronology of ideas, Ashby finds a synthesis in the works of Martin Heidegger. In general Ashby gravitates to thinkers who see factors as having multidirectional influences, rather than the singular nexus of this due to that. Like a philosopher of science, he looks for clues in the details of historical controversies that inevitably arise when new empirical instruments arrive on the scene.

As you may have gleaned, this book is not for the reader who likes to follow a single thread.

Walter Benjamin - The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Part II)

Content that one might expect relegated to the notes is often developed at length, and intertextual digressions are pursued wholeheartedly. At times, it reads like a book of lists of books that one should read, with quotations that seem lengthy in proportion to their corresponding purpose. As far as thickets go, the curious foliage is well worth the disorientation.


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