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Bedeutung, Struktur, Gegenfigur: Zur Theorie des musikalischen "Meinens"

Tibor Kneif
International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music
Vol. 2, No. 2 (Dec., 1971), pp. 213-229
DOI: 10.2307/836836
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/836836
Page Count: 17
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Bedeutung, Struktur, Gegenfigur: Zur Theorie des musikalischen "Meinens"
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Abstract

Summary: Meaning, Structure and Counter-Figure - The Theory of Musical Thinking. The understanding of music does not orientate itself only towards the characteristics of a composition which can be analytically described: it should be an all-embracing understanding of everything that the composition concretely means, i. e. the "musical thinking". This thinking expresses itself in three intentional ways: as "meaning" that shows a language-like character, then as a "structure" for which an organization inherent in music is proper, and finally as a "counter-figure" which represents, under an aesthetic aspect, a deviation from the usual expressive manners of a time, a deviation undertaken for instance in the field of melody or harmony. The subsequent understanding of musical structures is not difficult for they are set off in the process of music history and are founded on mutual mathematical relations which can be recognized at any time (symmetries, turnings, imitations etc.). But this is not so with regard to meaning and "counter-figure". Musical meaning arises on the basis of a transient consensus which is nowhere registered in writing and quickly forgotten afterwards. In order to measure the range of a counter-figure - and its degree of originality - it is necessary to know the composing practice concerning the idioms which are proper to its time, and to which the counter-figure refers in a polemic way; that is to say, from which it thus consciously differs. The musical thinking on which the meaning and the counter-figure are based cannot be understood when past styles are concerned. Musical understanding is practicaly impossible here, though its theoretical possibility can be proved. "Meaning" and "counter-figure" must be understood from a situation which is unrepeatable in a historic-compositional sense. Accordingly, it follows that only contemporary music can really be understood, but this does not happen because of the audience's bewilderment. Music consists of signs to the extent that, like language, it means something; it is without either symbols or signs if it represents solely structure or counter-figure. The understanding of music is made additionally more difficult by the fact that it is a "mixtum compositum," constituted partly of the characteristics of language, and partly of the world of objects anterior to the spoken language.

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