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Antithetical ArtsOn the Ancient Quarrel Between Literature and Music$
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Peter Kivy

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199562800

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199562800.001.0001

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Action and Agency

Action and Agency

(p.119) 6 Action and Agency
Antithetical Arts

Peter Kivy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by stating the ‘problem’ of absolute music: what it is in or about absolute music that gives what appears, at least, to be the same kind of deep satisfaction that the other arts, the arts with content, give. The problem thus being stated, the unenlightened one would then be ready to hear that a proposed solution to the problem of absolute music, popular both in philosophical and music-theoretical circles, is to deny that absolute music does indeed want for literary content. But here the unenlightened one becomes puzzled. So how can the appeal of absolute music be explained by appeal to its narrative content? If it has narrative content, then it isn't absolute music? The simplicity of this disguises an insight worth pursuing, which the chapter does.

Keywords:   absolute music, musical formalism, narrative content, Maus, Newcomb

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