The Pleasure of Modernist Music: Listening, Meaning, Intention, Ideology

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $20.17
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 76%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (7) from $20.17   
  • New (4) from $89.52   
  • Used (3) from $20.17   


"The debate over modernist music has continued for almost a century. The composers discussed in these pages - including Bela Bartok, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Bernard Herrmann, Steve Reich, and many others - were modernists in that they shared a basic, individualist impulse to redeisgn music." "This is the first book to stake out a principled middle ground between two standard polemical positions about modernist music: the one attacking it as elitist, overly intellectual, and often incomprehensible; the other defending it as a music-evolutionary stage deemed "necessary" but also beyond the reach of words." With an emphasis on recent contexts and debates - including film music, sexuality, metaphor, and ideas of a listening grammar - the contributors trace the meanings that such works and composers hold for listeners of different kinds.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A superb compilation of essays that will provoke discussion and thought on all sides. The writers are first and foremost music-lovers, and that standpoint informs all of the essays. Urgently recommended. --David D. McIntire, composer, from a review at There are few recent books on serious musical matters which ask more pressing questions and provide more thought-provoking -- even pleasurable -- answers than this one; few other books in which so many facets of modern culture. . . are brought together so productively. (Ashby's) introduction and opening chapter alone contain enough material for several books. . . I expect to be referring to the arguments and examples given here for some time to come. THE GRAMOPHONE (Arnold Whittall) Excellent collection. . . anyone with even the slightest concern for the topic should take the time to chew on what is in this invaluable resource. AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE The Pleasure of Modernist Music presents the reader with a significant array of possible listening strategies for music otherwise dismissed as un-listenable. . . . Where these essays overlap is as fascinating as where they diverge in that the overlapping reveals the compositions, personalities, and ideologies most influential in a musical century that was conflicted at best. To the benefit of the present day listener, professional musician or otherwise, these essays represent a bold step forward in rescuing a body of music from that conflict, as well as from its own self-imposed alienation. MLA NOTES, 2006
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580461436
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
  • Publication date: 10/16/2004
  • Series: Eastman Studies in Music, #29
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 1.06 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Intention and meaning in modernist music 23
2 The end of the mannerist century 46
3 A fine analysis 54
4 In memory of a receding dialectic : the political relevance of autonomy and formalism in modernist musical aesthetics 68
5 Twentieth-century tonality, or, breaking up is hard to do 103
6 "Tone-color, movement, changing harmonic planes" : cognition, constraints and conceptual blends in modernist music 121
7 Sexual and musical categories 153
8 Listening to schizophrenia : the Wozzeck case 176
9 The musician writes : for the eyes of the deaf? 197
10 "Are you sure you can't hear it?" : some informal reflections on simple information and listening 223
11 A fine madness 253
12 "One man's signal is another man's noise" : personal encounters with post-tonal music 259
13 The "modernization" of rock & roll, 1965-75 277
14 Refiguring the modernist program for hearing : Steve Reich and George Rochberg 325
15 Modernism goes to the movies 345
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)