Advocates of "new musicology" claim that technical methods of music analysis are conservative, elitist, positivist, and emotionally arid. Pieter C. van den Toorn challenges those claims, asking why cultural, sociopolitical, or gender-studies approaches to music should be deemed more democratic or expressive of music's content or impact. Why should music analysis be thought incapable of serving larger aesthetic ends?
Van den Toorn confronts Susan McClary, Leo Treitler, and Joseph Kerman in particular, arguing that hands-on music analysis can penetrate the complexity of music and speak to our experience of it. He criticizes new musicologists for retreating from issues of musical immediacy by focusing on cultural issues. In later chapters van den Toorn defends Schenkerian methods and demonstrates the usefulness of technical analysis in the appreciation of Beethoven, Debussy, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky.
Pieter C. van den Toorn is Associate Professor of Music at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is the author of Stravinsky and the Rite of Spring (California, 1987) and The Music of Igor Stravinsky (1983).
"I value this book for its idealism, its positive vote for autonomy and technical analysis, its courageous answer to feminist musicology, its exposure of the contradictions of academic politics. Its importance lies not in settling the debates but in construing the issues in new and provocative ways."—Kofi Agawu, author of Playing with Signs
"We need books like this. It deals with major topics, raises critical issues, and develops numerous interesting ideas; and it is written in an engaging manner. The book should attract attention and will provide at least one articulate countervoice to the discussion of important issues currently affecting the field, that have been raised by those professing to the "New Musicology."—Robert Morgan, author of Twentieth-Century Music