Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Beaudoin, Richard. “You’re There and You’re Not There: Musical Borrowing and Cavell’s ‘Way.’” Journal of Music Theory 54 (Spring 2010): 91-105.

Stanley Cavell’s style of philosophical writing, which incorporates numerous borrowings of other philosophical texts, can be likened to musical borrowings by Ignaz Friedman, Luciano Berio, and Richard Beaudoin. Borrowing strategies in both music and philosophical texts exist along a continuum of borrowing procedures, with points such as “works without explicit borrowing,” “local borrowing,” and “critical borrowing.” Within this continuum, Cavell mostly employs “local,” “structural,” and “critical” borrowing procedures. There is a long tradition of philosophers who have engaged with “writing about the writings of other writers,” though Cavell takes this stylistic trait to an extreme; in fact, his writings involve using the words of others to such a high degree that some might consider there to be little of his own “self” remaining. The borrowing procedures of Cavell’s Philosophy the Day After Tomorrow can be likened to Ignaz Friedman’s Gavotte from the Sixth Sonata for Violin by J. S. Bach Arranged for Piano. Both of these works employ lengthy quotations to play a sophisticated game of meaning with their sources, with the composer serving as a sort of “intellectual guide” along the way. Cavell’s procedures of borrowings in Philosophical Passages are similar to those of Berio’s Sinfonia. Both borrow from one main literary document, ignoring major parts of the original source, and include material of their own making alongside the borrowed material. Finally, borrowing procedures in Cavell’s Philosophical Passages can also be likened to the author’s own Etude d’un prelude IV—Black Wires. Both approaches to borrowing involve nested histories and commentaries, which act like a dialog between authors who never coexisted. Borrowings—both musical and literary—are important because they reveal essential aspects of their transcribers.

Works: Ignaz Friedman: Gavotte from the Sixth Sonata for Violin by J. S. Bach Arranged for Piano (95-97); Luciano Berio: Sinfonia (98-99); Richard Beaudoin: Etude d’un prelude IV—Black Wires (99-102).

Sources: Johann Sebastian Bach: Partita in E, BWV 1006 (95-97); Chopin (composer) and Martha Argerich (performer): Prelude in E Minor, Op. 28, No. 4 (100-102).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Chelsea Hamm

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