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Morphology of the musical work based on the notion of rules in Wittgenstein

Grant number: 13/12937-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2013
Effective date (End): January 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - Metaphysics
Principal Investigator:Vladimir Pinheiro Safatle
Grantee:Jean-Pierre Cardoso Caron
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


One of the most difficult issues faced by those who propose themselves to think philosophically about music is the question of the ontological status of musical works. Some difficulties faced by the ontological point of view are : the temporality of the musical work, the ephemeral nature of performance, the dependence between scores and performances, the multiplication of instances that could be called "the work" and, not least, the musical practice itself as a constant proponent of new relationships between documents and events, artist and audience, composer and performer. This last point is so important that it doesn´t allow separating the ontological point of view from a certain commitment to an aesthetic point of view. In his effort to define, once and for all, the minimum required from a piece to be coined a musical work, the ontologist cannot ultimately divorce himself from a vision inherited from the current musical practice. Investigating the minimum conditions for the conceptualization of work, the ontologist, unknowingly, comes up with the historical components of singular works. What is at stake here is the very possibility of generalization of properties of particular objects to entire classes. We propose a distinction between ontology and morphology of the musical work. The ontological approach deals with the conditions that must be satisfied for the existence of the work. On its most basic form: what is a musical work? Or, considering the chain of difficulties mentioned above: where is the musical work? The question formulated in the area of morphology is somewhat different. It deals with the perceptual aspects of music, the transformations undergone by a performance and how these transformations occur. It is a matter of capturing similarities and differences as well as their relation to the contexts in which such similarities and differences are produced. At first sight a circularity makes itself visible between the two notions: the morphological question appears as a possible preamble to the ontological question, and the latter can be seen as containing to a certain extent the morphological question. We assume this circularity. It is indeed true that the ontological question could actually be rigorously answered if we found in this chain of performances the constituent elements of the work, separating them from the contingent. It is however unlikely that this will ever be achieved. Once the clearly distinctive profile of the musical work as a finished object is abandoned in favor of situations in which the performers are supposed to act, generating, to some extent, certain results, the relational character of the musical process is stressed. The network character of the total musical process can be explained better through a comparison with the thought and work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. (AU)

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