Music and Belonging Between Revolution and Restoration

ISBN : 9780190662004

Naomi Waltham-Smith
280 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Aug 2017
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In what ways is music implicated in the politics of belonging? How is the proper at stake in listening? What role does the ear play in forming a sense of community? Music and Belonging argues that music, at the level of style and form, produces certain modes of listening that in turn reveal the conditions of belonging. Specifically, listening shows the intimacy between two senses of belonging: belonging to a community is predicated on the possession of a particular property or capacity.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, Waltham-Smith suggests that this relation between belonging-as-membership and belonging-as-ownership manifests itself with particular clarity and rigor at the very heart of the Austro-German canon, in the instrumental music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Music and Belonging provocatively brings recent European philosophy into contact with the renewed music-theoretical interest in Formenlehre, presenting close analyses to show how we might return to this much-discussed repertoire to mine it for fresh insights.

The book's theoretical landscape offers a radical update to Adornian-inspired scholarship, working through debates over relationality, community, and friendship between Derrida, Nancy, Agamben, Badiou, and Malabou. Borrowing the deconstructive strategies of closely reading canonical texts to the point of their unraveling, the book teases out a new politics of listening from processes of repetition and liquidation, from harmonic suppressions and even from trills. What emerges is the enduring political significance of listening to this music in an era of heightened social exclusion under neoliberalism.


Chapter One: The Sound of Belonging
Chapter Two: Haydn's Revolution
Chapter Three: Mozart's Uselessness
Chapter Four: Beethoven's Blush
Chapter Five: The Form of Community
Chapter Six: The Time it Takes to Listen
Epilogue: Tornada

About the author: 

Naomi Waltham-Smith is Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests lie at the intersection of recent European philosophy, music theory, and sound studies. She is working on a creative project on Listening under Trumpism and is writing a speculative book entitled The Sound of Biopolitics.

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