Sound Ideas: Music, Machine and Experience (review)


Music has long been a problematic topic in the field of aesthetics. Though at first it seems the most distinguishable art form, try as one might to discover music’s essence, the investigation will always depend on evidence of musicality that bleeds into related terms like harmony, rhythm, coherence and resonance. Under scrutiny, music dissolves into a net of distinctions. Neither silence nor noise nor mere sound, music is sound marked, qualified, stereotyped, somehow distinctive, and thus communicative. Music research presents practical challenges as well. While a scholar discussing a painting or sculpture might include a reproduction in the paper, aside from the conventional notation and staff of the musical score, music eludes this kind of mimetic capture, and for the foreseeable future conferences papers will be read and not sung. Beset by semantic dispersion and aniconicity, the “suchness” of music is everywhere in dispute.

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