Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu

Aesthetics of Music

Dr Keith Chapin and Dr Kenneth Gloag have both contributed chapters to a new edited volume, Aesthetics of Music: Musicological Perspectives.

Edited by Professor Stephen Downes, Royal Holloway, the essays collected in the volume each address a single key concept of pair of terms in the aesthetics of music, collectively serving as an authoritative work on musical aesthetics.

In his chapter on ‘classicism/neoclassicism’, Keith Chapin looks beyond the traditional way of thinking of classicism in terms of a style period (the classical period) or genre (classical music). Rather he focuses on classicism as a principle that informs a field of practices, styles, and attitudes. In each case, there is a tension between normal and ideal classicism. In one case, musicians aim to establish norms and ostensibly universal standards, an aim essential to pedagogy. In the other, musicians draw upon but also subtly subvert these very norms. This subversion is essential to the classicist’s ideal of sublime simplicity, a form of transport that achieves much with little.

Kenneth Gloag’s chapter (‘Jazz – avant-garde – tradition’) outlines some key ideas about how in general the term avant-garde may be positioned as a concept through an engagement with some key texts and ideas, with Peter Bürger’s Theory of the Avant-Garde providing a productive starting point. Three specific jazz musics that have all been identified as avant-garde – Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, and Anthony Braxton – are used as case studies to illustrate some of the critical issues in the debate about jazz as an avant-garde art form.

Aesthetics of Music: Musicological Perspectives is published by Routledge and is currently available in hardback.