Musical Practice as a Form of Life

How Making Music Can be Meaningful and Real

How is musical practice connected with everyday life? Eva-Maria Houben shows that performing music as an activity – indeed, as playing – is a meaningful shift from an approach based on structural analysis. Musical practice, Eva-Maria Houben contends, can be understood as open and never finished. Such an emphasis on repetition offers freedom from perfection, productivity, and purpose, thus allowing meaning to unfold in specific situations, places, and relationships. Musical practice can become a form of life and a reality in its own right. The study includes musical examples from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries as well as contemporary music.

€44.99 * $55.00 *

4 September 2019, 240 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-4573-6

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Eva-Maria Houben

Eva-Maria Houben, TU Dortmund, Deutschland

1. Why did You chose this topic?

Structural analysis often forgets the performers who bring into being that what we call music. The book shows a meaningful shift to the performers' activity. The performers' situation, their relationships to each other, and their activities are coming more and more into the field of view. The book presents musical performance as a meaningful playing that we can describe by metaphors.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

Musical practice as it is observed here does not aim at a certain purpose. It is free from perfection and productivity, but calls for repetition. Therefore, musical practice opens a wide space for associations, for visions, and for hopes of change. In this sense, musical practice can gain political energy.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

Musical practice touches the threshold between the world of music and the everyday life-world. Thus, musical practice becomes a reality in its own right, and nearly every subject in current research debates–such as gender discussions, questions concerning the structure of music and arts, or debates about phenomenology and perception–are brought into focus. Meaning arises in specific situations, places, and relationship; we can gain speech for descriptions by means of the metaphor.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

I would like to discuss with Nicholas Cook, who speaks of ›Music as Performance‹ and aims at an appropriate translation of meaning.

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

Musical Practice as a Form of Life is also a Form of Survival: Try out!

Besprochen in:
The Wire, 430 (2019), Tim Rutherford-Johnson
Eva-Maria Houben
Book title
Musical Practice as a Form of Life How Making Music Can be Meaningful and Real
transcript Verlag
kart., Dispersionsbindung, 84 SW-Abbildungen
Commodity Group
Release date
4 September 2019
Kultur, Musik
Musicology, Music Theory, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Philosophy as well as Performers, Ensembles, or musically interested laymen
Performativity, Music Performance, Corporeality, Metaphor, Musical Analysis, Music, Culture, Musicology, Cultural Studies

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