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The Meanings of Performing and Listening
Christopher Small


1998 • 238 pp. 6 x 9"
Music / Cultural Studies

$22.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-2257-3
$17.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7224-0

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Small is] a perfect outsider critic, the kind of wise, generalizing mind who sees the whole picture; he is the opposite of a striving, circumspect... [continued in Reviews below]”—Lingua Franca

Acclaimed scholar rethinks the nature and meaning of music.

Extending the inquiry of his early groundbreaking books, Christopher Small strikes at the heart of traditional studies of Western music by asserting that music is not a thing, but rather an activity. In this new book, Small outlines a theory of what he terms "musicking," a verb that encompasses all musical activity from composing to performing to listening to a Walkman to singing in the shower.

Using Gregory Bateson's philosophy of mind and a Geertzian thick description of a typical concert in a typical symphony hall, Small demonstrates how musicking forms a ritual through which all the participants explore and celebrate the relationships that constitute their social identity. This engaging and deftly written trip through the concert hall will have readers rethinking every aspect of their musical worlds.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“[Small is] a perfect outsider critic, the kind of wise, generalizing mind who sees the whole picture; he is the opposite of a striving, circumspect academic who has followed the trail of specialization toward the goal of tenure. Though educated in the classical tradition and thoroughly at home with its canon, Small has shown a rare catholicity of interests . . . like all gurus, Small teaches more about how to live in relation to the subject matter than he does about the subject matter itself . . . Small’s strength is openness. He fiercely believes in the universality of musical experience and seeks to make understanding of it accessible to the general reader . . . His most personal book, Musicking can be seen as a bold divestment of his own cultural training, ending in the man standing naked before his peers.”—Lingua Franca

“[Small] forces the reader to grasp the reality that different audiences and social factors obligate variant approaches, and he concludes with an aesthetic orientation of universal validity . . . He unites the musicological and the ethnomusicological in a manner which neither of these disciplines has managed thus far, and in the process provides a penetrating, sophisticated, multicultural challenge to traditional concepts of ‘musicking’.”—Choice

“With every passing year Christopher Small’s profound and endlessly subtle understanding of musicking becomes a more useful foundation for future work. His clear prose, patiently and carefully explaining what should have been obvious, is a model for us all in this era of so much deliberately ambiguous or unintentionally obscure writing . . . The great clarity of worldview, wisdom and indispensible insights they contain will move every reader toward a better understanding of musicking as a pleasurable path to a sustainable future.”—Ethnomusicology

“Christopher Small has something of the guru’s gift of saying wise things in the simplest but also most engaging way. The book is instructive and enlightening, interesting to think about, and even to differ with . . . stimulating and rewarding.”—Ross Chambers

CHRISTOPHER SMALL is author of Music, Society, Education (Wesleyan, 1996), Music of the Common Tongue (1987; Wesleyan, 1998), and Schoenberg (1978). Senior Lecturer at Ealing College of Higher Education in London until 1986, he lives in Sitges, Spain.

Thu, 6 Oct 2016 14:00:42 -0500