FOM: a question of vocabulary
amathias at rasputin.uniandes.edu.co
Mon Jul 27 10:19:50 EDT 1998
Suppose I wish to increase my understanding of a great piece of music,
e.g. the Hammerklavier Sonata of Beethoven.
I see two different approaches.
1) I can analyse the text: in the first movement mark the first group,
second group, development, recapitulation, and so
on; in the last movement, identify all the fugal devices.
This activity is extremely useful to a pianist who wishes to perform
the piece in public. His is a problem of rhetoric: he wants to convey
the work to the audience and he has to decide where to place his
tensions, climaces and resolutions.
2) I can ask "how did Beethoven do it ?", and seek to answer that by
going to his sketchbooks, reading the reminiscences of his
contemporaries and pupils, making guesses about the psychological
processes by which the work grew inside Beethoven's mind, and so on.
This activity is perhaps more important to another composer than to a
performer, but it may also shed light on doubtful passages in the
published text, such as the notorious A-natural/A-sharp controversy
just before the recapitulation in the first movement.
MY QUESTION: is either of the above two activities what Derrida and
friends call deconstruction ?
A. R. D. Mathias
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