14. Mai 2014
Brandhofgasse 21, 8010 Graz, Raum E.27
Gastvortrag von Danielle Sofer (KUG)
“Structural Listening”: The Ideal Type Revisited
After various attempts to silence “new music” in the post-World War II climate, composers experimenting with both serial and electronic compositional techniques embarked on a search for the “ideal listener,” to comprise a supportive audience who would understand and appreciate their music. Linked historically with a focus on formal relations in music, this “ideal listener” has been traced repeatedly as an extension of “structural listening.”
Milton Babbitt’s formulation of the “Composer as Specialist” was sculpted in relationship to the “advanced” listener, and Max Paddison later instituted Theodor W. Adorno’s “expert listener”—loosely inspired by Felix Salzer's “structural listener”—as sovereign of a supposed listening hierarchy. Building upon this chain of command, Rose Subotnik imposed further structure onto what she recognized as the inherent “ideological assumptions” of a hierarchical relationship between listeners.
Characterized inaccurately by postmodern musicologists as a sort of “dissociated formalism,” critics of “structural listening” have mistakenly substituted real listeners for the ideal (Scherzinger 2004, 94). Contriving a supposed hierarchy of listening, some musicological circles have pushed the blame onto music theory as an institution, insisting that the composer-theorist’s primacy as an “expert listener” originated from the serial domination of post-war music. Returning to Babbitt and Adorno’s respective writings, two alleged proponents of the listening hierarchy, this paper reveals the ideological grounds for “structural listening” not as a conquest of post-war music intellectuals but rather as a rigid construct reflexively imposed through “corrective” inquiry.