Mag Uidhir on performance

British Journal of Aesthetics 48 (3):338-345 (2008)
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Christy Mag Uidhir has recently argued (a) that there is no in principle aesthetic difference between a live performance and a recording of that performance, and (b) that the proper aesthetic object is a type which is instantiated by the performance and potentially repeatable when recordings are played back. This paper considers several objections to (a) and finds them lacking. I then consider improvised music, a subject that Mag Uidhir explicitly brackets in his discussion. Improvisation reveals problems with (b), because the performance-event and the performance-type are distinct but equally proper aesthetic objects.

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P. D. Magnus
State University of New York, Albany


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