The Elusive Elementary Atom of Music

Published inĀ Qui Parle, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring/Summer 2004, pp. 117-143.

In diagnosing the current state of music, composer Tristan Murail argues that “sound has been confused with its representations.” What would a music without representation sound like? Is it even possible to separate sound from representation? In what way is representation necessary in experiencing music? In this paper, I investigate this claim, and other claims by figures such as philosopher Roger Scruton, and composer Elliott Carter about the relationship between sound and representation, and evaluate the results from a materialist perspective.

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