Aesthetics, Ideology and Musical Value

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Do American musicologists and critics make ideology-free judgments? To what extent is such a thing possible or desirable? It is evident that art and music which clearly demonstrate social or political intent may be evaluated to advantage in those terms. But what of music which has traditionally been thought of as independent from those concerns, or ideologies of any type? Is it possible to judge musical works such as these as autonomous objects, severing them from other social contexts for the purpose of making an aesthetic judgment? There would appear to be a consensus of opinion among American musicologists to that effect, judging by the mass of published material on the subject. When it comes to assigning relative value to musical works, the typical American musicologist generally claims to find the criteria within the work itself rather than its relationship to the outside world. (The writings of Leonard B. Meyer and Charles Rosen provide two of the most eminent examples of this approach.)

This position is not exclusively an American one, of course. For example, the German scholar Carl Dahlhaus, in his recent books Analysis and Value Judgments and Foundations of Music History,1 demonstrates one of the most eloquent justifications for it. Dahlhaus contends that the social context and even the morality of a work are perfectly proper subjects for investigation, but this does not mean that aesthetic judgments which regard the work as an autonomous object cannot or should not be made: "It is quite defensible in methodological terms for us to isolate an object so long as we do not question the reality of the connections from which it has been extracted." And further: "We can always leave the social context of musical works out of consideration without belittling its importance; doing so only means that we consider social context irrelevant to the particular end we have in view, i.e. understanding those inner workings of a piece of music that make it art."2

Dahlhaus goes on to state that it is the "immanent" or "indwelling" interpretation which is indispensable given the aesthetic nature of art. While taking very seriously the issues raised by social context and the role of ideology, Dahlhaus nevertheless holds that aesthetic judgments can and should be made by treating the work as an autonomous object. This is possible, he assumes, because the "immanent" or "indwelling" aspects of a work can ultimately be separated from the social or ideological context of the work through methodological rigor.3 But there remains some question as to whether this separation can be made so neatly. Is there in fact any specific set of qualities or characteristics which can with absolute confidence be labelled as the most significant immanent or indwelling one? Are any qualities authentically indwelling, or do we find them because we search for them and we search for them because it serves our predisposed interests (i.e., ideology) to do so? These questions and others related to them have been raised in a most compelling fashion by a number of American, Canadian and British scholars recently, and this paper will attempt to deal with some of their views and the nature of their challenge.

In her essay, "The Role of Ideology in the Study of Western Music," Rose Rosengard Subotnik has suggested that the "Anglo-American" (empirical) scholar labors under the false (and naive) assumption that in assessing music—its historical significance or its "intrinsic" aesthetic value—it is possible to filter out "all ways of thinking that do not lend themselves to scientific proof, including any ideological biases of his own, and thereby getting to something, however, narrowly defined, that can be called true."4

This, she contends, is never the case since the Anglo-American scholar is operating with a very definite collection of socially derived biases and assumptions even if they are seldom exhibited openly. She contrasts this position to that of the "Continentalist" scholars (for whom Adorno is her model) who are "basically Post-Kantians, who doubt the possibility of stripping away all ideological distortions and penetrating into the object itself." Although there are advantages, the disadvantages of the Anglo-American or empirical position are, according to Subotnik, substantial. They include: viewing works of art as "autonomous objects" even when the cultures from which they emanate have a different view of them; an inability to take obviously ideological positions seriously (since no ideology is admitted, even when clearly present); a lack of sympathy with music that does not fit into the canon of western art music for musical or ideological reasons (including most ethnic and non-western music); a reluctance to deal at all with questions of value; and most importantly, a failure to deal with the human truth of an artistic context. In connection with this last point, Subotnik declares that most Anglo-American scholars would hesitate to support a composer who was a racist, but would probably focus the criticism on his structures, rather than be accused of challenging freedom of speech. However, she states that the typical Anglo-American scholar would be less forthcoming than Adorno in announcing the role that his or her ideologies played in the definition of those structures.5

But while the importance of ideology must be admitted, it should not necessarily be allowed to dominate the evaluative processes: "Mind you, I am not arguing for the justice of rejecting all utterance on purely ideological grounds. Far from it. Any argument that serves even plausibly moral ends should be judged, as far as possible, on its internal merit."6

Before attempting to deal in some detail with Subotnik's charges, we must briefly examine three complementary perspectives on the role of ideology in traditional western aesthetics.

In his essay "Music and the Mass Culture Debate," Graham Vulliamy asserts that the traditional comparisons between art music and popular music are invalid for reasons which are in large part ideological: "An intellectual field exists to differentiate the good high culture music from the poorer variety, while popular music, because it is popular music, is automatically assumed to be of inferior quality as music."7

Vulliamy claims that this assumption is in error. While popular music may at one time have consisted of "watered down" elements of musical techniques from the European art music traditions, there are more recent forms of popular music which cannot be thought of in the same way. Unfortunately this new music has not been taken seriously because of the "culturally biased" conception of music prevalent in intellectual circles. These new musical developments, derived from the Afro-American tradition (including jazz, rock music, soul etc.), "ushered in a new musical language with both musical and aesthetic criteria which markedly differentiate it from music in the European 'serious' tradition."8 The differences stem, according to Vulliamy, from the partial retention of black African characteristics such as the use of improvisation, variation in vocal timbre, the emphasis on polyrhythms etc. Even critics of popular music, he argues, have sometimes failed to recognize that this new music demands largely new criteria for making reasonable value judgments. When the standards of a classical style that is preoccupied with harmonic development and elaborate formal structures are imposed on a musical style concerned more with improvisation, melodic inflections and subtle rhythmic manipulation, the results are bound to be misleading. In this connection, Vulliamy cites Meyer's well known essay, "Some Remarks on Value and Greatness in Music," as demonstrating a "basic misunderstanding of styles of music which are not located in the European 'serious' tradition."9

Why do the traditional criteria used for establishing value in music work well for "serious" music and so poorly for the more recent music in the Afro-American tradition? Serious music, he explains has been provided with a well developed framework of legitimation simply because it is the music of the higher status groups. The same classes (and professions) which collaborate in the legitimation of serious music have generally had no particular interest in legitimating the music of the working classes. When such interest develops, e.g., the embracing of jazz by French intellectuals beginning in the 1930's, and the increasing enthusiasm for rock music by intellectuals and academics in the mid and late 1960's, legitimation is not far behind since "members of the upper status groups must satisfy their likes in terms of the criteria of excellence used by other members of their status group." This legitimation by the "upper status groups" is not always predictable, but it tends to be applied to popular music whose style is more susceptible to a traditional analysis employing terms and approaches associated with serious music. In this regard, Vulliamy points out, groups such as the Beatles in the 1960's tended to be perceived more favorably by the upper status groups than figures such as Jimi Hendrix whose emphasis was more on the manipulation of Afro-American characteristics than on harmonic structure or lyrical melodic development. Furthermore, the process of legitimation is not necessarily useful in coming to grips with any popular music. A traditional, "classical" analysis of the Beatles might well over-emphasize those qualities susceptible to analysis while under estimating the importance of other, less susceptible qualities.10 Finally, Vulliamy claims that, as the result of elitist ideology, there is confusion between differences in quality and differences in genre. Music of the Afro-American popular tradition will continue to be seen as relatively poor in quality as long as it is measured by the elitist criteria of serious music. But in fact, it is a genre unto itself, representing different class interests and approachable only through recognition of its own special qualities.

In their essay, "Some Observations on the Social Stratification of Twentieth Century Music," Phil Virden and Trevor Wishart provide a perspective on the role of ideology in making value judgments that is even more intimately tied to the differing realities of the class structure. Artworks, they argue, are best understood ''as prescriptions for perception, conception and hence, ultimately, the organization of our moral and political activity."11 And, since the moral and political activities of the working class are in large part different from those of the elite, the music of the working class necessarily serves a different purpose and cannot be judged according to the same standards. One major difference is that in the music of the elite, the emphasis is on "explicitness" (that which conveniently translates into notation, i.e., the score) whereas in the music of the working class (e.g., rock and other Afro-American music), the emphasis is on "implicitness" (that which cannot be conveniently translated into notation). A second major difference involves the contrast between extensional and intensional qualities. In this connection, they quote Chester:

Western classical music is the apodigm of the "extensional" form of musical construction. Theme and variations, counterpoint (as used in classical compositions), are all devices that build diachronically and synchronically outwards from basic musical atons. The complex is created by the combination of the simple, which remains discrete and unchanged in the complex unity. . . . Rock, however, follows, like many non-European musics, the path of "intensional" development. In this mode of construction the basic musical units (played/sung notes) are not combined through space and time as simple elements into a complex structure. The simple entity is that constituted by the parameters of melody, harmony, and beat, while the complex is built by the modulation of the basic notes, and by inflexion of the basic beat.12

The fact that the stylistic conventions of Afro-American music (i.e., rhythm and blues) spread in the 1950's and 1960's to the music of the white working class and then to a large segment of the entire youth audience demonstrated, according to the authors, a growing mass consciousness of "alienation from mainstream culture":

The predominant "chant-like" nature of the music . . . and the focus upon immediate extemporising variation and/or the stress upon idiosyncratic creation of intensional elaboration, makes Afro-American musics expressions of opposition to the bourgeois view of the social order.

It is not, therefore, realistic to talk about the differences between elite music and working class music in terms of good and bad since "there are different rules for generating (both good and bad) music for the ruling and working classes because what the musics have to say is quite different."13

In his book, Art, An Enemy of the People, Taylor goes further in denying any superiority for the culture of the elite. For Taylor, it is not a question of establishing that working class culture is different from, rather than inferior, to elite culture, since there are in fact no special qualities indigenous to elite culture at all; it exists merely as an ideological artifice to abet the ruling classes' domination of the working classes. He claims that history has shown that the canon of accepted artworks is not the result of a universal manifestation of creativity that is consciously sifted and rationally deliberated, but rather the product of social processes within upper-middle class or bourgeois society. Furthermore, "art" (so-called) is by no means universal. What is universal is interest in the mass or popular arts, e.g., film, novels, television, popular music etc. That which is given the title of art by the upper classes is actually no more than a subcategory of the more general category which includes making music, painting, drama, and dancing. It is this general category of activities that is universal while the subcategory of "art" is "kept alive, as a distinctive form of social existence, by those who believe its activities are superior to other activities within the general category."14

Taylor clearly does not believe this. He rejects any argument that the mass audience prefers the popular arts to "art" because it is unable to differentiate between the good and the bad due to its "socially induced frame of mind." It is more likely that the frame of mind of the bourgeois prevents it from seeing what is of real value. And although there have historically been many attempts to show that elite art is somehow superior to popular art, these have regularly been flawed by "producing a definition of art which, of itself, would mean that art was superior." Furthermore, Taylor asserts, all of this theorizing has come up with a maze of contradictory theories:

For everything proposed there have been developments within art which have produced counter-examples, and there have subsequently been counter-theories and new theories proposed. The net outcome of all this activity has not been a gradual approach towards the truth of the matter, but rather a source of employment for critics, aestheticians, philosophers and the literary establishment.

It is therefore clear to Taylor that the only real criterion for something being accepted as art is that it be designated by the upper classes as art, since the "reasons for and explanations of acceptance have, over the centuries, been so diverse that acceptance cannot be anything but arbitrary."

This, for Taylor, is the ultimate proof that "art" is a concept that has real meaning only in a social context. And this social context arose, he suggests, when the aristocracy found it necessary to elevate art to an artificial status in response to increasing encroachment on its prerogatives by the bourgeoisie. Art became one of the last means by which the aristocracy could claim superiority over the bourgeoisie:

A whole set of "word games," a whole vocabulary to talk about something called "art," was developed, whereby what was distinctive of the aristocratic life was held up as being of objectively superior status. To enter into this form of life was to be concerned with elevated and superior activity. In fact this was not the case, but was the ideological point.

Taylor concludes from all of this that there is no reason for anyone to hold art in esteem or to envy those who do: "There is no high ideal, there is only the life style of those social groups having the greatest financial resources within the society."15 For Taylor, ideology does not merely color our value judgments, it sometimes substitutes for them.

The writings of Subotnik, Vulliamy, Virden and Wishart, and Taylor are rich with arguments which cannot be discussed further here, but the brief summaries provided above nevertheless point to some significant questions about the relationship of ideology and value judgment which will be examined. One of the major issues addressed is the significant role played by ideology in the value judgments made by musicologists and critics (among others), despite disclaimers to the contrary. Stated most forcefully by Subotnik and Taylor, this ideology involves the assumption that only the products of the western art music tradition are worth taking seriously. The result of this is what Subotnik refers to as a "highly exclusionary system" that is no less ideological than the type employed with more candor by Continentalist scholars such as Adorno. There is much to be said for Subotnik's contention that any claim of an ideology-free perspective is itself the product of an ideology. But to what extent does this anti-ideology put into jeopardy either the methodology or value judgments of the Anglo-American scholar? It may blind him to the insights gained by an ideology-minded Continentalist, but the claim that it excludes music (e.g., ethnic or non-western music) which does not fit into the canon of western music on the basis of ideology does not seem to be a completely reasonable one. Since most traditional Anglo-American musicologists without special training have only the faintest notion of the ideology of, say, Carnatic or Balinese music, they are less likely to condemn a work for ideologically unappealing constructs than to simply ignore it because it is unfamiliar in its aesthetic tenets and therefore out of their area of expertise. Ethnomusicologists, on the other hand, are generally open to and familiar with a great many non-Western musics both as aesthetic constructs and ideologies. Subotnik is, at least in part, criticizing Anglo-American musicologists for not being Anglo-American ethnomusicologists. She is bemoaning a specialization of expertise which is in many respects unfortunate, but which exists for obvious professional reasons.

Subotnik's charge that Anglo-American anti-ideology prevents musicologists from dealing with the morality or truth of an artistic context should also be examined. She suggests that the Anglo-American scholar has no means to "expose for serious examination any instincts we may have about the human truth of art." This is certainly an interesting point, but it is difficult to see how discussions about the human truth of art will be of much assistance in coming to terms with specific pieces, since only the most general of categories are likely to emerge from a comparative study of the values of human truth. In fact it is difficult to see how much differentiation between even the most general types of music will be possible since Subotnik urges us to judge any work that serves "even plausibly moral ends" on its internal merits. We are not likely to run into much art which does not serve plausibly moral ends. Certainly the vast preponderance of musical literature traditionally examined by Anglo-American musicologists would fit into this category, at least by the definition of the musicologists themselves. While Subotnik makes a strong argument for considering morality and truth, we are unlikely to have many opportunities to do so.

Subotnik's most convincing points deal with the Anglo-American musicologist's hesitancy to deal with value at all:

The system of norms that is involved . . . is on the whole rigid and open to little exercise of individual discretion. Adorno may be criticized as a biased judge, but questions of value, being non-scientific and ideological, rarely come up at all in the current empiricist study of western music. Minor composers are taught alongside major ones as part of a common art tradition, but there are today few rigorous attempts to account for differences in value and still fewer to revise received judgrnents.16

It may be that scholars are less at risk dating manuscripts than making evaluative comparisons or revising received judgments, but there is considerable risk in the former activity, even when done on a more "scientific" basis. Still, while there are more attempts to discuss value in contemporary musicological literature than Subotnik would seem to suggest, such things are sometimes avoided in the name of anti-ideological neutrality and scientific objectivity.

Subotnik's viewpoint is finally a moderate one which urges a compromise or equilibrium between the Anglo-American and Continentalist approaches to scholarship and an awareness of the role of ideology on both sides. A far more radical approach is taken by Taylor who views the whole idea of art as no more than an ideological tool of the upper classes, a weapon with which they may assert themselves against the working classes. Taylor shares with Subotnik a belief in the great importance of ideology in evaluating art, and with Vulliamy, Trevor and Wishart, a belief in the equality or even superiority of the popular arts to the art of the elite.

Taylor's arguments are compelling in many respects, and his suggestion that the canon of accepted masterpieces in western art was developed not from rational deliberation but from social processes is an intriguing one. His charge that it is not "art" in any elite sense that is universal, and that elite art is a fairly recent (17th-Century) invention of the ruling classes is reasonably convincing, but ultimately irrelevant to questions of value. Here, as elsewhere, Taylor identifies the significance of art and even the meaning of art exclusively with the uses to which it is put. He denies the "objectively superior status" of art because he sees it as no more than an ideological ploy with no intrinsic worth at all. Things arbitrarily become art (and remain so perpetually) when the ruling classes designate them as art. While this perhaps unfortunate fact has become increasingly evident in the Post-Modern era, it is nevertheless beside the point. The value of all art cannot be reduced simply to its ideological significance even if that is its most consistent feature. In the 17th and 18th Centuries (and earlier) elite art was in fact very valuable to certain members of the aristocracy and increasingly to certain members of the bourgeoisie. This value may well have had a social dimension, e.g., it helped to symbolize the intellectual superiority and sensitivity of the upper classes. But it would be absurd to limit the value of elite art to its social uses and deny completely the possibility that it provided an opportunity for pleasurable contemplation and stimulation. If elite art was and is completely devoid of intrinsic value, why is it some examples are more highly prized than others which are equally pedigreed from a social point of view? This would hardly be necessary if the whole concept of elite art is merely a confidence trick played on the masses.17 The fact that rankings of value do take place within the realm of elite art suggests that (assuming that the whole business is more than an incredible charade) at least some judgments are aesthetic rather than social in nature.

Ultimately, in spite of the foregoing, Taylor's case is overstated and unreasonable. He consistently disregards the possibility of intrinsic aesthetic value in elite art primarily because of his preoccupation with how it has been used in a social context and, secondarily, because no single explanation of its aesthetic significance seems universally applicable. Neither of these points logically justifies his summary dismissal of a tradition which has been meaningful to a great number of people in various social classes for reasons which have nothing to do with social context. Nevertheless, Taylor does succeed in clearly demonstrating that the elite art tradition has in fact been used ideologically to increase the status of some classes and to diminish the status of others.

The role of ideology in making even specific value judgments is seen most clearly in the comparisons between elite music and Afro-American influenced popular music provided by Vulliamy and Trevor and Wishart. They argue convincingly that it is only because the (extensional) criteria of art music are incorrectly applied to Afro-American influenced popular music that it is automatically thought of as inferior. The assumption is that if we were to apply the correct (intensional) criteria, this music would be perceived as having as much aesthetic value as art music. The difficulty here lies in determining whether those criteria correctly applicable to the Afro-American influenced popular music are equal in sophistication or importance to those applicable to the art music tradition. Such a determination is beyond the scope of this paper, but it should be pointed out that popular music (as opposed to jazz) is seldom presented in the sort of context which encourages (or allows) the sort of analytical introspection ideally associated with the art music tradition. It may be unrealistic to claim for any popular music an aesthetic value similar to that commonly associated with art music when the contexts for experiencing them are so different.

Vulliamy also makes the case that, when legitimation of popular music by the upper classes does occur, it tends to be applied to groups and styles more susceptible to a traditional analysis rather than those which emphasize Afro-American qualities. It is certainly true that groups such as the Beatles which stressed traditional qualities, e.g., melody and harmony, were more frequently singled out in this period and since.18 And it is also true that such qualities tend to be emphasized because they are most easily discussed and quantified. On the other hand, it is not necessarily for reasons of convenience or ideology that Afro-American qualities are given less emphasis.19 Many of the qualities associated with Afro-American influence, e.g., variation in vocal timbre and inflection, are so commonly and similarly exhibited within a given style that they are of little use in differentiating one example from another. A study of the Beatles that focused on variation in vocal timbre and inflection would probably be less revealing of their outstanding qualities than those which focus on melody and harmony for that reason. Nevertheless, Vulliamy is correct in stating that figures and groups which focus almost exclusively on Afro-American qualities tend not to be discussed in the same terms which emphasize qualities shared with the art tradition.

* * * * *



It is clear that ideology plays a significant role in a wide variety of value judgments which would appear on the surface to be purely aesthetic in nature. Meaningful comparisons (in terms of value) between entire genres or contrasting styles associated with different audiences (whether consisting of different classes or not) are often difficult if not impossible because the inherent ideologies dictate the qualities that are to be valued for each and there may be very few that are shared between them. Obvious examples of such ideological conflict occur between the elite art music tradition and the Afro-American influenced popular music tradition. A critic steeped in the ideology of one may well be incapable of seriously assessing the other, not merely because of class sympathies (although these may play a large part) but because of an inability to value the things that are valued in the other tradition. And even when there is some agreement as to important qualities, as in the elite art music tradition, there is still room for disagreement on purely ideological grounds (e.g., the purpose of the music or even the audience to which it is directed). No scholar is immune to the sort of ideological perspective which Adorno demonstrates with regard to Schoenberg and Stravinsky. And it would be unreasonable to suggest that ideology never plays a part in the assessment of works by composers as diverse as Eisner, Glass, Del Tredici and Babbitt. Critic John Rockwell provides an excellent example of ideology-tinged evaluation in his recent book All American Music. In his essay on Milton Babbitt, Rockwell speaks admiringly of his music while labeling him the epitome of the "entire Northeastern academic serial establishment."20 It soon becomes clear that this establishment is not one for which Rockwell has much sympathy. And Babbitt himself, we are told, "did more than his share to propagate a whole generation of dry-as-dust, unthinking clones." The greatest shortcoming of the northeastern academic establishment is, however, not its dryness but its apparent inability to command a larger audience: "The ritual of the contemporary-music concert attended by a paltry crowd of professors and students, the students often compelled to attend as a course requirement, is a familiar one to any working reviewer."

This failure to muster a larger public becomes, to Rockwell, an almost willful act, the unattractiveness of which is somehow blended into the aesthetic deficiencies of the music itself:

By rejecting any debt to the public, a composer cuts himself off from his own culture, and tacitly accepts the patronage of the academy. For American intellectuals who fear their country and cling to a European or cosmopolitan ideal of pure art, that may seem no bad thing. But if our culture has something to offer in return—a vitality and energy and an exciting blend of disparate styles—then perhaps the composers are losing more than they imagine.21

Among the profoundly ideological positions asserted here is that the academy is not part of the American culture because it is not "of the people," and also that art which does not partake of indigenously American qualities will lack vitality and energy.

It gradually becomes apparent what musical factions Rockwell finds admirable in light of these theses:

For good or ill . . . we seem now to be in the midst of a vehement reaction against the dominance of new-music programs, journals and theory by the Northeastern axis. . . . The experimentalists are ever more active, and winning greater governmental and foundation support. The pop and jazz fusionists constitute a real school of their own. And some of the older symphonists like William Schuman and Ned Rorem are reentering the polemical lists, joined by such composers as George Rochberg and David Del Tredici, who have abandoned serialism and turned, out of conviction or opportunism, to writing music audiences like.22

While Rockwell tries to maintain a modicum of objectivity, his ideological sympathy with the new, non-academic composers and their new audiences shines through brightly. In connection with a 1973 concert by Philip Glass in the Soho district of New York City, Rockwell states:

Glass's music epitomized a rather wonderful movement in New York avant-garde history, and it still breathes that spirit today. The early seventies was a time of individual accomplishment after social upheaval, tempering the optimism of the sixties with a new, craftsman like care. Innovations still seemed possible, and the barriers between "serious" and popular art looked like they were crumbling. For all its conceptual ingenuity and technical skills, Glass's music had won an audience because people liked it. "People," in this case, meant anyone with an openness to the arts of the day, and a feeling for the vitality of the city and of the country's best popular music.23

It is clear here and elsewhere in All American Music that Rockwell much prefers "downtown" new music ("Bohemian experimentation") to "uptown" new music ("academic sobriety")24 for reasons that are not altogether musical. At times he is straight-forward in describing his positions as sociologically based, but often we find ideological judgments masquerading as aesthetic ones. And this is by no means unusual in new music criticism, most of which is carried on by journalists on a day-by-day basis. This is not to suggest that this sort of ideologically-coated criticism is without value; it may be the only feasible approach given the nature of the audience and the limitations of the medium. It is certainly true that in the hands of the best critics (such as Rockwell), criticism of this sort is seldom dull. But it nevertheless seems only proper that criticism that is heavily ideological in nature clearly advertise itself as such (insofar as the critic is aware of it himself or herself).

In this regard, Subotnik's claim for the Continentalist position as fundamentally more honest than the Anglo-American position seems undeniable, just as Dahlhaus' call for the separation of indwelling or immanent characteristics from socially derived ones seems overly optimistic, since all characteristics are at least potentially tied to ideology on one level or another. And yet the compromise for which Subotnik calls seems itself to be problematic. An awareness of his or her ideologies will make the Anglo-American scholar approach comparative judgments across stylistic boundaries with some trepidation, and this is probably to the good. But the increased application of an ideological perspective will not be of much assistance in making aesthetic judgments about individual works or repertoires and could conceivably discourage them as much as the pretense of scientific objectivity. And when ideology is allowed to play a major role in specific value judgments, there will always be difficulties. For ferreting out the singular value of a musical work, ideology has never been more than a blunt instrument when what is needed is the precision of a surgical knife.


1Dahlhaus, Analysis and Value Judgments, trans. Siegmund Levarie (New York: Pendragon, 1983) and Foundations of Music History, trans. J.B. Robinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

2Dahlhaus, Foundations, p. 27.

3Ibid., pp. 32, 87.

4Rose Rosengard Subotnik, "The Role of Ideology in the Study of Western Music," The Journal of Musicology 2 (1983), 2.

5Ibid., pp. 5, 6.

6Ibid., p. 8.

7Graham Vulliamy, "Music and the Mass Culture Debate," in John Shepherd, Phil Virden, Graham Vulliamy and Trevor Wishart, Whose Music?: A Sociology of Musical Languages (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1977), p. 182.

8Ibid., p. 183.

9Ibid. Meyer's essay is reprinted in his Music, the Arts, and Ideas (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), pp. 22-41.

10Ibid., pp. 193, 194.

11Phil Virden and Trevor Wishart, "Some Observations on the Social Stratification of Twentieth Century Music," in Shepherd, et al., Whose Music?, p. 160.

12Quoted in Ibid., pp. 161-62.

13Ibid., p. 163.

14Roger L. Taylor, Art, An Enemy of the People (Atlantic Highlands, N.J., 1978), pp. 31, 36.

15Ibid., pp. 32, 36-37, 49, 44, 51.

16Subnotnik, "The Role of Ideology in the Study of Western Music," pp. 6-8.

17My colleague Irwin Sonenfield has pointed out in this connection that the upper classes have generally considered their superiority in matters such as art and morals to be self-evident, thus requiring no evidence.

18See, for example, Wilfrid Mellers, Twilight of the Gods: The Music of the Beatles (New York: Viking Press, 1973) and Terence J. O'Grady, The Beatles: A Musical Evolution (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1983).

19It is not even clear that Afro-American musicians such as Jimi Hendrix were particularly neglected in critical or journalistic circles. Hendrix in particular was rather quickly deified by the most sophisticated organs of popular music criticism even if book length studies came somewhat later for him than for the Beatles.

20John Rockwell, All American Music (New York: Knopf, 1983), p. 25.

21Ibid., pp. 32-34.

22Ibid., p. 35.

23Ibid., p. 109.

24Ibid., p. 123.

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