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Deep RefrainsMusic, Philosophy, and the Ineffable$
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Michael Gallope

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226483559

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226483726.001.0001

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Bloch’s Tone

Bloch’s Tone

(p.63) Chapter I Bloch’s Tone
Deep Refrains

Michael Gallope

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 1 turns to the first of the philosophers—Ernst Bloch—and argues that he adopts Schopenhauer’s conception of the unmediated copy and transforms it into a dialectical theory of the tone, in a way that is substantially indebted to the influence of Hegel. Bloch in turn develops a range of motifs around this concept of the tone: a speculative theory and history of music, a dialectical conception of the tone that foregrounds unresolved contradictions, and a nonsynchronous method of immanent critique whereby uncanny uses of past technical procedures give us the glimpse of something unforeseen, something utopian. For Bloch, the ineffability of the tone is based in its “delicate translucent body,” one that is “a metaphysical word”—both formally precise and semantically vague. Nested within the chapter are an account of Bloch’s inheritance of the concept of the tone in the climate of nineteenth-century German thought, a discussion of the importance of Hegel’s distinction between Klang and Ton for Bloch, and an account of the ways in which elements of Bloch’s social thought were foundational for Adorno’s dialectic. The chapter concludes by discussing several aspects of compositions by Mozart, Beethoven, and Mahler that exemplify the ethical and utopian compositions Bloch calls event-forms.

Keywords:   Bloch, Ernst, Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, The Tone

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