[Smt-talk] Predominant Hyperbole

Michael Morse mwmorse at bell.net
Tue May 8 17:51:58 PDT 2012

  Nicolas certainly has a point that Schenker and "Schenker" are different people, in this discussion as elsewhere. And he is correct again to cite the role of translation in both the sanctification and vilification of Schenker in North America. References to divine principle and symptoms of Schenker's Goethean pantheism were quietly excised, I'm told. The positivistic rigour that ostensibly emerged was imposing and influential, but evidently not the thought of the author.
  In any case, it seems the the single greatest bone of contention remains what it always has been, the fundamental aims and claims of this author and his ideas. His detractors regularly seem to take elements of his analytic model out of context, and so offer a refutation based in part in caricature. The very need to do this in this case appears to arise in abreaction to the virtually cult-like status of schenkerianism in North American music departments.
  I suppose it's no good saying that if Schenker hadn't been treated like an infallible God in the first place, the distorting denunciations would not have been called forth. Such a statement merely affects historical detachment, however; just as the incendiarism of the New Musicology proved irresistible on all sides, and the music of Wagner polarized Europe, so the provocation of Schenker, to this day, regularly inspires us to leave our reason at the threshold. 
  I make bold to offer these mournful, plainly extra-theoretical observations both because I wish I could decipher what it is about Schenker's thought that unleashes such fanaticism all around--and because, whatever the reasons, our inability to control it continues to mark the music theory community at large.
MW MorseTrent UniversityPeterborough, Oshawa 		 	   		  
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