Analysis, Descriptive, and What Really Happens?
Although there is a clear distinction between musical analysis and musical description in the present theoretical discourses, Dubiel’s talk seems to narrow this distinction, and make an alternative, or to extend the scope, of musical analysis. Dubiel uses two examples to demonstrate that a new conception of the piece can change the evaluation and the way of listening to and understanding of the piece. Different in sound is the result of a different in conception. This is why Dubiel suggests that a new conception of what the music is doing is to some degree a new conception of what music can do. The power of thought about music can determine what music is. For Dubiel, to analyze a piece of music means “to explain how it should be heard, and to explain how a given musical event should be heard on must show why it occurs: what preceding events have made it necessary or appropriate, toward what later events its function is to lead”. This explanation has to be teleological, empirical, and audible. Any meta-analytical framework should be avoided in musical analysis.
In most cases, I believe that what Dubiel suggests is the true musical experience in many listeners. However, to me, the so-called “conception” that Dubiel suggests is a “perspective” of listening. It works something like lenses. All theories just works similar to various lenses – anthropological, philosophical, linguistic, ethical, social, queer, aesthetical, political, formal, and so forth – through which a musical work may appropriately be listened, and by appropriately I mean to limit the range of lenses to those for which some good justification based in the work itself may be found. Applying various lenses to musical work is for analyzing purpose, in order to uncover the values of that analyzed piece.
Therefore, Dubiel’s teleological theory of music is a kind of reception theory. Since music theory covers a large variety of different kinds, what is a successful theory will very depend on how far this theory can successfully offer listeners a new perspective and understanding of the musical work. If the theory can lead us go “beyond” our understanding of the work, no matter it helps in audible aspect, or compositional aspect, or even the structural aspect, I believe, this is a good and successful music theory, since it uncover the intrinsic and hidden values of that musical art-work.
David Leung (theorydavid)