Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Study Questions for Cook, "Music: A Very Short Introduction"

1. In what regard does music function as an agent of meaning?

Chapter 1
1. What are some defining characteristics of musical authenticity in rock? In its construct, who is privileged and who is disparaged? What cultural work do such distinctions do?
2. What are our some of our transparent assumptions about music?
3. How do they reflect the structure of a classic industrial economy?

Chapter 2
1. What role does music play in the early nineteenth century’s construction of bourgeois subjectivity?
2. How does Beethoven differ from his predecessors?
3. What is the Beethoven cult?
4. Which two aspects of the Beethoven cult does Cook discuss? What is their significance beyond Beethoven?
5. What components of music’s mystical qualities does the Beethoven cult celebrate? How?
6. How does such spiritualization affect the historic relationship between words and music?
7. What irony ensued?

Chapter 3
1. How have 21st-century realities inverted the basic assumptions of 19th-century musical culture?
2. By what process did modern music become “modern music”?
3. In Cook’s view, what are some signs of vitality in classical music? Which aspects are “beyond resuscitation”?

Chapter 4
1. What is the abiding paradox of musical notation?
2. Discuss the following statement: “[N]otations…transmit a whole way of thinking about music.” (59)
3. What does Cook see as the “basic paradox” of music?
4. How does Cook apply Dakwins’s “river of genes” image to music?

Chapter 5
1. How do our perceptions of “Nikosi Sikelel iAfrica” differ from our perceptions of the “Hammerklavier”?
2. What hierarchy ensues from the traditional understanding of classical music?
3. How does a reception-based approach alter our perception of music?

Chapter 6
1. Why is the concept of a definitive edition problematic?
2. Why can there be no certifiably “authentic” performance?
3. Conversely, how do “authentic” performances mirror our own time?
4. How did musicologists and theorists come to realize the necessity for engagement that had previously been the exclusive province of ethnomusicologists?

Chapter 7
1. What is a transparent system of beliefs? Examples?
2. What applications does critical theory find in music?
3. What is Cook’s antidote to Tomlinson’s extreme pessimism?

1. Comment on the following quote from Philip Brett: “[Music is] an enclave in our society—a sisterhood or brotherhood of lovers, music lovers, united by an unmediated form of communication that is only by imperfect analogy called a language, ‘the’ language of feeling.” (116)
2. In what regards does music have “unique powers as an agent of ideology”?

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