Jairo Moreno adapts the methodologies and nomenclature of Foucault’s “archaeology of knowledge” and applies it through individual case studies to the theoretical writings of Zarlino, Descartes, Rameau, and Weber. His conclusion summarizes the conditions―musical, philosophical, and historical―that “make a certain form of thought about music necessary and possible at the time it emerges.”
Musical Meaning and Interpretation―Robert S. Hatten, editor
In this provocative book, Moreno seeks to flesh out the history of this musical imagination and the transcendental subject in whom it is situated….But it is also. and most crucially.a story of music theory, or if the emergence of a rational subject in music (distinct from the acoustical ‘object’ perceived by the subject) becomes an emblem of early modern self-consciousness, it is music theory that offers the ‘historically contingent organizing principles and semiotic protocols’ by which the object of musical experience may be ‘re-presented’ in the imagination of the subject-agent…I know of few other examples of such musicological literature that deal so competently.and even elegantly.with such a difficult yet critically important topic of musical epistemology. And if the story we learn is of the conflicted emergence of the general musical imagination in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, we also find in this book the emergence of a more recent moment of musical imagination that equally deserves our notice and celebration: the acute mind and lively pen of Jairo Moreno. Thomas Christensen, U. of Chicago, Music and Letters.
Moreno begins to reveal to us how involved music may have been in the historical construction of the subject and, he also suggests, in the emergence of modernity Over the course of his four “close readings,” he convincingly demonstrates how musical knowledge has been intertwined in significant ways with the emergence of the subject (through the concepts of intellectual self-regulation, objective knowledge, and transcendental subjectivity) and modernity (through substantive reason and instrumental rationality)… I find Moreno’s book to be particularly successful and rewarding. In my highest hopes, it will encourage us to rethink our basic notions of listening, our understanding of the roles of the subject in the dialectical theorizing of musical objects, our interpretive strategies for reading and analyzing, and our arbitrary disciplinary boundaries. At the very least, Moreno has enlightened us about the role music has played in the emergence of modernity in Western culture, and he has given us an opportunity to read with a new understanding some of our most treasured historical texts, in his words, “in the splendor of their cognitive and historical complexity.” Karl Braunschweig, Wayne State U. Music Theory Spectrum.
About the Author
Jairo Moreno is Associate Professor of Music Theory at Duke University. His research and publications focus on the history and philosophy of music theory.