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‘For whom the bell tolls’: Listening and its Implications: Response to John Butt

  • David R. M. Irving

Abstract

This response highlights the cultural specificity of the ‘work-concept’ and questions the tripartite scheme of listening proposed by John Butt. It offers an alternative set of listening categories, and makes reference to the issues of early-modern class structures and the role of music in religious devotions. The argument is supported by critiques of historical vignettes that include the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's transcription of Gregorio Allegri's Miserere and Jean Joseph Marie Amiot's demonstration of French music to a Chinese audience in the mid-eighteenth century.

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1 John Donne, ‘Meditation XVII’, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, and Several Steps in my Sicknes [sic] (London, 1624), 416. (A portion of this Meditation's text was popularized in the poem ‘No man is an island’; and the phrase ‘For whom the bell tolls’ provided the title of a novel by Ernest Hemingway, published in 1940.)

2 John Donne, ‘Meditation XVII’, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, and Several Steps in my Sicknes [sic] (London, 1624), 416. (A portion of this Meditation's text was popularized in the poem ‘No man is an island’; and the phrase ‘For whom the bell tolls’ provided the title of a novel by Ernest Hemingway, published in 1940.) 415.

3 See Reinhard Strohm, The Rise of European Music 1380–1500 (Cambridge, 2005), esp. Part IV, chapter 2: ‘France and the Low Countries: The Invention of the Masterwork’, pp. 412–88.

4 On the paradigm shift in appreciation of musical works during the Renaissance, see Rob C. Wegman, ‘Musical Offerings in the Renaissance’, Early Music, 33 (2005), 425–38, esp. p. 426.

5 See Lydia Goehr, The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (Oxford, 1992), esp. chapter 4: ‘The Central Claim’, pp. 89–119.

6 There were, however, some exceptions to this rule, for which papal dispensation was given. See Charles Burney, The Present State of Music in France and Italy: or, The Journal of a Tour through those Countries, Undertaken to Collect Materials for a General History of Music (London, 1771), 275–81.

7 See Leopold Mozart's letter to his wife dated Rome, 14 April 1770; The Letters of Mozart and his Family, ed. Emily Anderson (London, 1985), 127.

8 Jerome Roche and Noel O'Regan, ‘Allegri, Gregorio’, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie (2nd edn, London, 2001), i, 382–3 (p. 383).

9 See Wegman, ‘Musical Offerings in the Renaissance’, 426.

10 See discussion of this genre in Devotional Music in the Iberian World, 1450–1800: The Villancico and Related Genres, ed. Tess Knighton and Álvaro Torrente (Aldershot, 2007).

11 See Enrique Alberto Arias, ‘Cerone and his Enigmas’, Anuario musical, 44 (1989), 85–114. These examples come from Pietro Cerone's treatise El melopeo y maestro: Tractado de música theorica y pratica; en que se pone por extenso; lo que uno para hazerse perfecto musico ha menester saber (Naples, 1613).

12 English translation by Charles Burney in ‘Chinese Music’, Cyclopædia, ed. Abraham Rees (London, 1802–19), vol. vii (unpaginated); original French text in Jean Joseph Marie Amiot, SJ, Mémoire sur la musique des Chinois (Paris, 1779; repr. Geneva, 1973), 2–3.

‘For whom the bell tolls’: Listening and its Implications: Response to John Butt

  • David R. M. Irving

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