A theory for all music : problems and solutions in the analysis of non-Western forms

University of Toronto Press (1983)
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Professor Rahn takes the approach to the analysis of Western art music developed recently by theorists such as Benjamin Boretz and extends it to address non-Western forms. In the process, he rejects recent ethnomusicological formulations based on mentalism, cultural determinism, and the psychology of perception as potentially fruitful bases for analysing music in general. Instead he stresses the desirability of formulating a theory to deal with all music, rather than merely Western forms, and emphasizes the need to evaluate an analysis and compare it with other interpretations, and demonstrates how this may be done. The theoretical concepts which form the basis of Rahn's approach are discussed and applied: first to individual pieces of non-Western music which have enjoyed a fairly high profile in ethnomusicological literature, and second to repertoires or groups of pieces. The author also discusses the fields of anthropology and psychology, showing how his approach serves as a starting point for studies of perception and the concepts, norms, and values found in specific music cultures. In conclusion, he lists what he considers to be musical universals and takes up the more controversial issues implicit in his discussion
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