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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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“Sonate, que me veux-tu?” and Other Dilemmas of Instrumental Music

“Sonate, que me veux-tu?” and Other Dilemmas of Instrumental Music

(p.86) 3 “Sonate, que me veux-tu?” and Other Dilemmas of Instrumental Music
Peculiar Attunements

Roger Mathew Grant

Fordham University Press

This chapter explains the dilemmas that instrumental music created for eighteenth-century aesthetics. Since period critics already questioned the ability of music to function as a sign and to move listeners within the multimedia spectacle of opera, they were even more dubious about instrumental music. Lacking any clear mimetic capacity, instrumental music seemed to make its appeal directly to and only to the body of the listener, providing a mere corporeal tickle. Even worse, composers of instrumental music were slowly adopting techniques from comic opera, showcasing their ability to hybridize styles. Most critics found the result disorderly, confusing, and lacking in content, equating instrumental music to a performing body without a soul. Nevertheless, a small group of thinkers began to propose an alternative, cryptodualist solution: they posited that it was specifically music’s special material relationship with the body that made it so effective at moving the souls of its auditors to the affects.

Keywords:   affect, aesthetics, corporeality, cryptodualism, instrumental music, mimesis, soul

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