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Peculiar AttunementsHow Affect Theory Turned Musical$
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Roger Mathew Grant

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823288069

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823288069.001.0001

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Comic Opera: Mimesis Exploded

Comic Opera: Mimesis Exploded

(p.61) 2 Comic Opera: Mimesis Exploded
Peculiar Attunements

Roger Mathew Grant

Fordham University Press

This chapter concerns eighteenth-century comic opera, which emerged as a metatheatrical commentary on the conventions of aristocratic, serious opera. In its mockery of neo-classical mimesis, comic opera forced critics to articulate what was new about its musical style. It therefore precipitated a huge pamphlet debate known as the querelle des bouffons, in which certain theorists began to understand music’s aesthetic appeal differently. These thinkers cleaved music’s affective power away from the operation of mimesis, offering instead a materialist account of vibrational attunement predicated on sympathetic resonance. The chapter concludes with a reading of Diderot’s contribution to the debate in his celebratedtext Rameau’s Nephew.

Keywords:   affect, attunement, comic opera, Diderot, querelle des bouffons, Rameau’s Nephew

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