[Smt-talk] Narrative/analysis (was theory of film music)

MICHAEL KLEIN mklein01 at temple.edu
Thu Jul 10 11:51:21 PDT 2014

Dear Colleagues,

Replying to just a few ideas in this thread:

There has been mention that we cannot speak of musical narrative until we
define the word "narrative." Good luck with that. Ildar mentioned that he
could think of two kinds of definition for that term, but after spending
the last seven years, or so, reading about narrative (outside of music), I
can tell you that there are hundreds of definitions of narrative, and there
is no one universally accepted definition. To quote the literary critic J.
Hillis Miller: ". . . theories of narrative [are] so many and so diverse
that it makes the mind ache to think of them all" ("Narrative," p. 67
in *Critical
Terms for Literary* Study, 2nd edition). I know of at least two
English-language journals devoted to narrative, and every so often they
release whole editions devoted to the problem of how to define narrative,
and to date, there is no consensus on the term's meaning. I think of it in
terms of Wittgenstein's discussion of language games: if you think you've
defined "narrative" you're only playing with words.

Then. . . there has been some discussion of a few publications on music and
narrative (one by someone named "Kline"). I would like to point out that
Byron Almén has published an entire book on the topic: *A Theory of Musical
Narrative* (IU Press). Bryon nicely discusses many of the issues around
narrative in the first chapters. Also, as a shameless plug, my dear friend
and colleague, Nicholas Reyland, has written several articles on musical
narrative, and he has co-edited (with some guy named "Klein") a collection
of essays on narrative after 1900 with the catchy title, *Music and
Narrative since 1900* (IU Press).

Finally, I would echo Nicolas Meeùs in wondering what some of our
colleagues mean by the word "structuralism" (this is rather the same
problem that we have with the word "narrative"). Within an important stream
of continental thought, "structuralism" has its roots in semiotics, while
within America ("land that I love. . . ") I find that people often use the
term as a synonym for formalism. The two are not the same. Most music
analysis is not structuralist in the way that continental philosophy
understands that term.

Many thanks.


Michael Klein
Chair, Department of Music Studies
Professor of Music Studies
Temple University
Boyer College of Music and Dance
316 Presser Hall
michael.klein at temple.edu


*Intertextuality in Western Art Music*:

*Music and Narrative since 1900*:

"Denn alles Fleisch ist wie Gras. . ."
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.societymusictheory.org/pipermail/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org/attachments/20140710/54764e82/attachment-0001.htm>

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list