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Thresholds of ListeningSound, Technics, Space$
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Sander van Maas

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264377

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264377.001.0001

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“Dear Listener …”

“Dear Listener …”

Music and the Invention of Subjectivity

(p.30) Chapter 2 “Dear Listener …”
Thresholds of Listening

Lawrence Kramer

Fordham University Press

This chapter discusses the importance of address in the constitution of listening subjectivity in Western classical music. It argues that in contrast to hearing, listening is concerned not only with the event of sonority but also with its cultural appropriation in the so-called theater of human agency. It shows how this appropriation is mediated by the tropes and structures of call, echo, and response that emerge at the threshold of subjective or “asubjective” forces. It suggests that these “asubjective” forces arise both from within subjectivity and from music as an impersonal, prosthetic, ghostly—but no less compelling—source of address. Such musical address, the chapter insists, will not elicit listening subjectivity; listening subjectivity is never given but results from an oblique and inventive response to address which may be determined by the possibility of asubjective cancellation.

Keywords:   listening, subjectivity, classical music, hearing, sonority, theater of human agency, call, echo, musical address

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