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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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CHAPTER ONE

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Musicology Without Musicians This research project is not about analyzing musical works. In spite of the obvious emphasis on music analysis in recent Anglo-American cultural musicology18 (e.g. Subotnik 1991; 1996, Goehr 1992; 1998, McClary 1991; Taruskin 1995; Tomlin- son 1993), I have drawn other inspiration from this scholarly paradigm. Taking root at the end of the 1980’s, cultural musicology – through the work of scholars such as Rose Rosengard Subotnik and Susan McClary – questioned many of the presuppositions previously taken for granted in musicology. For instance, the idea of an autonomous, absolute musical work had to give way to a more dynamic, ideological, and discursive conception of music prevalent in the New Musicology. Music has come more and more to be seen as social and cultural activity being “made” in various places: in listening, in interpretation, and even in research. Mu- sicology has become interested in the social, sexual,19 political, and ideological aspects involved in music, and musical works have more and more come to be seen as cultural texts carrying new kinds of meanings. In short, the autonomous conception of a musical work has become obsolete. Rather, music is seen as a cul- tural domain, within which people actively make music meaningful in their own individual ways. Classical music, in the current research, has been relocated in its sociocultural and ideological contexts.20 This shift, today a commonplace view, was something 18 Cultural musicology could be seen as a “national” project, in which American musicology, which had started to institutionalize...

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