Music and the Politics of Negation

Music and the Politics of Negation

James R. Currie
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 08/23/2012
Format: Hardback 21 music exx.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35703-8
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Over the past quarter century, music studies in the academy have their postmodern credentials by insisting that our scholarly engagements start and end by placing music firmly within its various historical and social contexts. In Music and the Politics of Negation, James R. Currie sets out to disturb the validity of this now quite orthodox claim. Alternating dialectically between analytic and historical investigations into the late 18th century and the present, he poses a set of uncomfortable questions regarding the limits and complicities of the values that the academy keeps in circulation by means of its musical encounters. His overriding thesis is that the forces that have formed us are not our fate.

Author Bio

James Currie is Associate Professor of Music at the University at Buffalo (State University of New York). In addition to his academic work he is also active as a performance artist and poet.


“Music studies in the postmodern academy is challenged in this brave work. The questions raised explore the limits and complicities of the values that the academy purports and suggests that the forces that have formed us are not our fate. ”

“In prose as mobile as it is exacting, Music and the Politics of Negation upends the disenchantment of music within postmodernity. The book is part memoir, part history; part formal analysis, part hermeneutic excursion; part philosophical argument, part political manifesto. The author’s “holographic” ear for 18th-century musical details (Mozart’s twisted topoi, Haydn’s syntactical infelicities) proffers surprising insights, whose meanings remain relevant today. Where else in the academic literature will we find Haydn’s Op.33 effectively recruited for a Kantian ethical argument against Žižek?”
 — Martin Scherzinger, NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

“Currie represents the next generation of musicologist. He seeks to push against the intellectual barriers of music studies to engage how music works as a powerful social agent. Ultimately, Music and the Politics of Negation makes it abundantly clear why music matters.”
 — Richard Leppert, University of Minnesota

“Although many authors have sought to bring together critical studies and music, Currie's book is original in both style and substance. Erudite and loquacious, Currie is a gifted storyteller whose work merits study by advanced scholars. His individual approach to the impasse created by the new musicology establishes a model by which that gulf might be bridged without returning to the status quo.”
 — Choice

“Music and the Politics of Negation is an important spur for post-new-musicological discussion of the political in/as music. . . . This book is also a benchmark for meaning-rich, close music analysis. ”
 — Notes

“[This] book’s great strength is the way in which it binds together eighteenth-century and contemporary issues, and in doing so, both probes and perpetuates the prestige of the Viennese classics.94.3 2013”
 — Music & Letters

“[J]ames Currie's book . . . organizes a series of close readings of compositions by Mozart and Haydn . . . .67.3 Fall 2014”
 — Jrnl American Musicological Soc JAMS

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Table of Contents

Preface: A No-Music
1. Veils (Mozart, Piano Concerto K. 459, Finale)
2. Dreams (Fugal Counterpoint)
3. Exile (Haydn, String Quartet Op. 33, No. 5)
4. Enchantment (Mozart, La clemenza di Tito)
5. Forgetting (Edward Said)

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