Music and the Politics of Negation

Music and the Politics of Negation

Currie, James R.
Distribution: World
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.


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?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.

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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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