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The Gould Variations

Technology, Philosophy and Criticism in Glenn Gould’s Musical Thought and Practice

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Juha Markus Mantere

This book focuses on three aspects in Glenn Gould’s (1932-1982) musical thought and practice: Gould’s embrace of music technology, his notions of the ontology of music and musical interpretation, and the place of his thought in Canadian intellectual history. Focusing not only on Gould’s writings on music technology but also on those of Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) and Jean Le Moyne (1913-1996), this book provides a fresh perspective on Gould’s thinking, which was embedded in and keenly alert to the intellectual world outside music. The book also touches on Gould’s public reception, his national iconicity, in Canadian literature and Hollywood movies. Gould’s stardom is discussed as a phenomenon more commonly associated with contemporary popular culture.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................................................................. 5 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS ............................................................................... 9 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................. 11 The Legacy of Gould ......................................................................................... 19 Musicology on Gould ........................................................................................ 24 Historical and Local Hermeneutics .................................................................... 31 Research Material .............................................................................................. 37 Research on Gould ............................................................................................. 39 Structure of the Book ......................................................................................... 43 CHAPTER ONE Musicology Without Musicians ......................................................................... 45 History Viewed Through Ethnography .............................................................. 48 Music That Does Not Speak .............................................................................. 55 Musicians Considered Musicologically ............................................................. 60 CHAPTER TWO Who Owns the Music? ....................................................................................... 63 Gould’s Rejection of Tradition........................................................................... 64 Authenticity in Gould’s Interpretation of Music ................................................ 67 The Priority of Structure in Music ..................................................................... 73 The Ahistorical Aesthetics of Works of Music .................................................. 80 Gould the Postmodern? ...................................................................................... 85 CHAPTER THREE High Fidelity – To What? ................................................................................... 91 Agency in Recordings ........................................................................................ 96 Gould’s Phonographic Ideal of Musical Interpretation .................................... 100 The Anonymity and Ahistoricity of Technology .............................................. 104 Re-creative Listener ......................................................................................... 107 Benjamin’s Technological Democracy ............................................................ 110 The Aura of a Musical Work ............................................................................ 112 Vattimo and “Homeless Artworks” .................................................................. 116 Gould and McLuhan ........................................................................................ 118 Gould’s Technological Ethics .......................................................................... 123 Gould’s Ideas in the Present ............................................................................. 127 8CHAPTER FOUR Musical Interpretation as Criticism: Philosophical Perspectives on Gould’s Music-Making .......................................................... 133 Four Adornian Windows .................................................................................. 139 The Culture Industry ........................................................................................ 142 Music as a Private Art Form ............................................................................ 155 The Challenge of the Modern .......................................................................... 160 Schoenberg and Stravinsky .............................................................................. 163 The Idea of Criticism ....................................................................................... 167 Gould’s Criticism at Work: Case Mozart ......................................................... 171 CHAPTER FIVE The Ethics of Isolation – The Idea of North as a Hermeneutic Window on Gould’s Musical Thinking ............................................................ 175 Meanings of North in Canada .......................................................................... 179 Gould’s Construction of the North ................................................................... 183 The North in Music .......................................................................................... 189 Arctic Resonances ............................................................................................ 194 The Shadow of Hanslick .................................................................................. 198 Gould’s North as an Aesthetic Category...

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