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Good MusicWhat It Is and Who Gets to Decide$
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John J. Sheinbaum

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226593241

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226593418.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 08 April 2020

Serious: The Cultural Work of Classical Music and the Trap of Musical Sound

Serious: The Cultural Work of Classical Music and the Trap of Musical Sound

Chapter:
(p.20) 1 Serious: The Cultural Work of Classical Music and the Trap of Musical Sound
Source:
Good Music
Author(s):

John J. Sheinbaum

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226593418.003.0002

Notable writings by Theodor W. Adorno (“On Popular Music”), Allan Bloom (The Closing of the American Mind), and Lawrence Kramer (Why Classical Music Still Matters) seek to valorize classical music both through its own inner workings and through pointed comparisons to popular genres. The overall verdicts, however, are more directly related to the sensuous surface of the music rather than judgments grounded in objective musical structures. With against-the-grain readings of musical examples by Beethoven (Symphony No. 5), Duke Ellington (“Concerto for Cootie”), and Bruce Springsteen (“Lonesome Day”), this chapter surveys critically the philosophical and cultural roots of treating the conventional classical music value system as a universal truth. Popular music often indeed can perform the sorts of cultural work thought to be limited to classical music, and classical music can be approached in compelling ways from perspectives usually applied to popular genres.

Keywords:   Theodor W. Adorno, Ludwig van Beethoven, Allan Bloom, classical music, Duke Ellington, Lawrence Kramer, musical structures, popular music, sensuous surface, Bruce Springsteen

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