4 posts from August 2015

August 31, 2015

Adapting Flutes: Authenticity, Ingenuity, and Accessibility

Andrew Dell’Antonio (University of Texas at Austin)

In a genius-composer-centric tradition, a lot of ink is spilt over finding performance approaches that are "faithful" to the composer's intentions. One of the crucial components of this concern, beyond identifying the most accurate score (the "urtext") is the choice of instrumentation: timbre is such a defining quality of music that we might rightly consider that a composer was thinking of a particular instrumental sound when setting a work to paper, and thus if we want to recreate that sound "faithfully" we should turn to that instrument. This is the premise behind the "historically informed performance" approach; for more than a century musicians have argued that reproductions of instruments from the past should be used to play the music composed for those instruments.

Continue reading "Adapting Flutes: Authenticity, Ingenuity, and Accessibility" »

August 24, 2015

How Musicology Became That Town in Footloose

Sara Haefeli (Ithaca College)

The eleventh century music theorist Guido d’Arezzo is best known for his innovations in musical notation. But he also made a clear distinction between those who could contemplate music’s theoretical complexities and those who actually sang or performed. Guido called those in the first category musicus (musicians), and those in the second cantor (singers and instrumentalists).1 There is an unequivocal hierarchy here: real music is speculative and theoretical—it lives in the mind—and the practice of making music is not just a different kind of activity, but an inferior one, comparatively insignificant and morally suspect. This bias against the physical world is not unique to the field of music: the body is either absent or actually dismissed in our Western intellectual tradition. This worldview is as old as Plato, who felt that the body—all the physical world in fact—was garbage, and that only the immaterial world of ideas was worthy of consideration. The thinking individual is disembodied, able to function without the body (or at least in spite of the body). Descartes did not write “I dance, therefore I am.”

Continue reading "How Musicology Became That Town in Footloose" »

August 17, 2015

The Avid Listener, Year Two

Welcome to The Avid Listener, your weekly resource for thoughtful commentary and discussion about music.

Launched in the fall of 2014, The Avid Listener now includes nearly 50 essays on a wide variety of subjects, including modes of listening (avid, structural, spiritual, and distracted); Hip-hop and cultural diplomacy (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4); gender and music; film music; musical notation; authenticity and interpretation; protest music; music and place; songwriting and recording; and music and disability. Forthcoming topics include music and literature and video game music. For a complete list of current and upcoming essays, download The Avid Listener Digest August/September 2015. New posts will appear every Monday beginning August 24.

For those teaching a music history or music appreciation course, we invite you to consider some suggestions for integrating The Avid Listener into the classroom. Guidelines for college instructors can be found here; guidelines for high school instructors, linked to the Common Core English Language Arts Standards, can be found here. Teachers looking for material to start the semester off right should check out Sara Haefeli's essays "If History Is Written by the Victors," "The Problem with Geniuses," and "Does Music Evolve?"

And for those who want to submit their work to be considered for publication on The Avid Listener, please download our editorial guidelines and let us know if you have any questions.

We hope you enjoy reading The Avid Listener, and good luck with the coming school year!


Andrew Dell'Antonio and Felicia Miyakawa, co-editors

August 12, 2015

The Avid Listener Editorial Guidelines

Are you a music scholar with an interest in blogging? Is there a music-related subject you'd like to explore in 500 to 1,500 words? Do you wish music criticism were more accessible, pitched to today's undergraduate students?

If so, please consider submitting your work to The Avid Listener. See our editorial guidelines below, and let us know if you have any questions!

Download The Avid Listener Editorial Guidelines


The Society Pages Community Blogs


For media inquiries and information about how to submit work to The Avid Listener, please contact Julie Kocsis, managing editor.

Norton Music

A History of Western Music

J. Peter Burkholder, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca

The Enjoyment of Music

Kristine Forney, Andrew Dell’Antonio, and Joseph Machlis

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