Decomposition: A Musical Manifesto

Andrew Durkin. Pantheon, $28.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-307-91175-9
In this tedious but also provocative study, performer and composer Durkin challenges readers to think beyond musical composition as the work of an individual genius and to probe instead the ways that various audiences receive the work, the ways that diverse technologies help create it, and the several channels of collaboration that help make it. Attempting to illustrate how culture relates to and defines music, he argues that “audience” is a broad “phenomenon that includes... the technicians who build instruments as well as the musicians themselves,” so that any performance of a musical composition is the result of a network extending far beyond its immediate listeners. Drawing on music as diverse as Duke Ellington’s, Beethoven’s, and Frank Zappa’s, Durkin demonstrates the challenges of locating the “authentic” performance or version of a piece of music, showing how each time the musical piece is heard, it contains different emotions and meanings for listeners. Durkin also explores the changing worlds of digital technologies and copyright as he examines how deeply the medium affects the reception of the music and its exposure to multiple re-compositions. Durkin presents a new way of thinking about how we receive music. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/22/2014
Release date: 11/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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