• Music Analysis and Music Criticism

    Arthur Maisel (see profile)
    Musical analysis
    Item Type:
    Philosophy of music, Beethoven analysis
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    This amateur exercise in the philosophy of music—my second, after “Musical Ambiguity and Musical Analysis” (or third, if you count the excursus on Ives and Emerson in the update of my article on The Fourth of July)—was written mostly to clarify for myself, and for anyone else interested, what I think. In writings where the focus is on doing music analysis or music criticism, assumptions, such as we all make, have for the most part to be left tacit and unexamined so as to keep from losing that focus. Thinking and writing about music is hard enough to do—and to read—without adding a layer of difficulty by thinking and writing about thinking and writing about music. Here I was able to manage a blend by minimizing the discussion of specific music, letting it exemplify what I was mostly concerned to explore and to say. One doesn’t write without a wish for others to read, understand, and appreciate what one has written, but realistically, I know that in this case, there is much to recommend avoidance of engagement (its amateur status, its struggle with difficult philosophical issues that may forever remain unsettled). My first effort found a model, or a mode, in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. This essay was occasioned by my mood on completion of a book about Porgy and Bess and gained impetus from a continuing reading of Stanley Cavell—in particular Must We Mean What We Say?—and inspiration from Pursuits of Happiness, and was written (how coincidentally I am not the one to ask) in the week following Independence Day, 2022.
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago


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