The Language of Music

The Language of Music

4 (42 ratings by Goodreads)
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4 (42 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

This important and controversial book has come to be regarded as a modern classic. Originally published in 1959, it has exerted a profound influence on all subsequent discussion in the field of musical aesthetics. The author's thesis is that the main characteristic of music is to express and evoke emotion, and that all composers whose music has a tonal basis have used the same, or closely similar, melodic phrases, harmonies, and rhythms to express and evoke the same
emotions. He supports this view with numerous musical examples, varying from plainsong to Stravinsky. Based on this evidence he argues that music is a language in the quite specific sense that idioms can be identified and a list of meanings compiled. While acknowledging that a 'dictionary' of the
language of music cannot easily be provided, he attempts to supply what could at least be regarded as a 'phrase book'. The enlightening analysis of two complete symphonies by Mozart and Vaughan Williams demonstrates the expressive function of musical form, the latter being an element which the author considers inseparable from musical content.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 138 x 216 x 19mm | 413g
  • Clarendon Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • music examples
  • 0198161808
  • 9780198161806
  • 579,641

Back cover copy

This important book has come to be regarded as a modern classic. Originally published in 1959, it has exerted a profound influence on all subsequent discussion in the field of musical aesthetics. Deryck Cooke's thesis is that the fundamental characteristic of music is the expression and evocation of emotion. He argues that all composers whose music has a tonal basis have used the same, or closely similar, melodic phrases, harmonies, and rhythms to express and evoke the same emotions. He supports this view with numerous musical examples, ranging from plainsong to Stravinsky, and he argues that music is a language in the quite specific sense that idiom can be identified and a list of meanings compiled. While acknowledging that a 'dictionary' of the language of music cannot easily be provided, he here attempts to supply at least a 'phrase-book'.
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Table of contents

What kind of an art is music?; the elements of musical expression; some basic terms of musical vocabulary; the process of musical communication; the large-scale functioning of musical language.
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Review quote

One of the most important publications of post-war English musicography...its honesty, its individualism, and its empiricism reflect the best intellectual traditions of English literature. * Music and Letters *
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Rating details

42 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 38% (16)
4 31% (13)
3 24% (10)
2 7% (3)
1 0% (0)
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