[Smt-talk] the impossibility of listening

Dave Headlam dheadlam at esm.rochester.edu
Wed Oct 31 17:27:16 PDT 2012

Rick et al:   Certainly a sign of the times . . . let's see . . .

A History of Dance . . . no description of body motions
A History of Painting . . . no mention of color / shape relationships
A History of the Theater . . . no discussion of language
A History of the Movies . . . no analysis of scene direction
A History of X . . . no mention of technique of any kind

It's "relatively easy" -- even without training -- to find such books -- 
our local Barnes and Noble has a discount room full of them -- at great 

Dave Headlam

On 10/31/12 4:04 PM, Richard Cohn wrote:
> I just received a copy of A History of Opera, a new book co-authored 
> by Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker. In their preface, they write that 
> "at a very early stage... we we decided that this history would 
> contain no musical examples...we wanted to write a book without 
> reference to musical scores." After the usual justification about not 
> wanting to swamp readers with anything that might be challenging to 
> their technical facility, they write the following: "Readers will look 
> in vain for abstract structural analyses of music, or extended 
> descriptions of notes interacting with each other: that kind of 
> information, although relatively easy --- with training --- to extract 
> from a score, is virtually impossible to extract from listening to or 
> attending an opera."
> Without further comment on my part, I thought this was a sufficiently 
> provocative set of claims that I would just pass it on to the 
> community for savoring, in advance our congregation in New Orleans.
> --Rick Cohn
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Dave Headlam
Professor of Music Theory
Eastman School of Music 585-274-1568
Joint Professor of Electrical and Computer
  Engineering    University of Rochester
david.headlam at rochester.edu

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