Music as Narrative and Music as Drama

Author: Levinson, Jerrold

Source: Mind & Language, Volume 19, Number 4, September 2004 , pp. 428-441(14)

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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Abstract:

Abstract: 

In this paper I address the issue of narrativity in music. The central question is the extent to which pure instrumental music in the classical tradition can or should be understood as narrative, that is, as narrating a story of some kind. I am interested in the varying potential and aptness for narrative construal of different sorts of instrumental music, and in what the content of such narratives might plausibly be thought to be. But ultimately I explore, at greater length, an alternative way of construing musical process, namely, as dramatic rather than narrative in nature, following the lead of two musicologists, Anthony Newcomb and Fred Maus. After a comparison of the respective merits of narrative and dramatic construals of music, the paper concludes with an illustrative reading, in dramatic mode, of part of the opening movement of Schubert's Piano Sonata in A minor, D. 845.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0268-1064.2004.00267.x

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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