[Smt-talk] the impossibility of listening

Deborah Burton burtond at bu.edu
Wed Oct 31 19:27:31 PDT 2012

Abbate and Parker (and others) have been heading in this direction for a long 
time. This latest step out the analytic door, though, leaves more room for the 
rest of us.

Their logical flaw, however—-even if it were true that it was "impossible" to 
extract analytic information from listening without a score-—is that one would 
also not be able extract the sorts of abstruse criticism they serve up under 
the same conditions.

Deborah Burton
Boston University
burtond at bu.edu

On Wed, 31 Oct 2012, Richard Cohn <richard.cohn at yale.edu> 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."

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