Difference is among the twentieth century’s most volatile legacies to the twenty-first. Over this period it has increasingly lodged itself in our cultural consciousness, as both theoretical concept and lived experience. Its workings are refracted through culture (through phenomena such as music) and the way we contemplate and study it (through a journal such as this). A Brief History of Difference, at least the chapter relevant to the present story, might start in the early part of the last century with Ferdinand de Saussure’s courses on linguistics. Not only language, but potentially all signifying phenomena, Saussure argued, articulate the world for us by cutting it into units (e.g. phonemes, concepts, words, signs) that carry meaning precisely through being differentiated from one another: reality is rendered as a system of mutually conditioning differences. By mid-century these ideas had become decisive for literary and cultural theory under the banner of structuralism and semiotics, in which even a cultural practice such as fashion could be seen to signify as a system of difference. With the rise of poststructuralism and deconstruction, difference (or différance) was again seminal in debates about the very nature of meaning, which in turn informed later twentieth-century cultural politics of class and society, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity. (As we know, all these movements would also in the end, and no less contentiously, make their mark on musicology.) Most recently – in terms far from academic – cultural difference has moved into the foreground of global consciousness with the literally shattering and explosive events of our new century.