Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Bicknell, Jeanette. “The Problem of Reference in Musical Quotation: A Phenomenological Approach.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 59 (Spring 2001): 185-91.

Musical quotation is an intentional act of re-use by the composer who intends for it to be heard as reference to other music. Hence, part of musical quotation’s success lies in listeners’ recognition of the borrowed material. Nelson Goodman posited that there are two prerequisites for direct or indirect quotations: containment and reference. While containment is explicit, reference poses musical challenges since there is no system of reference in performed music. Therefore, context, emphasis, and pause serve as auditory devices for reference in music. In listening to Schnittke’s String Quartet No. 3, one finds it easy to recognize the initial fragment from Lassus, as each time it appears, the Lassus fragment stands in contrast to the music that came before and after. However, the reference to Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge in less obvious, as there is no clear stylistic contrast between the quotation and Schnittke’s own compositional idiom. As a result, one is less likely to be able to recognize the quotation. The recognition of Shostakovich’s “D–E-flat–C–B” signature is dependent on listeners’ familiarity with the aural projection of the motive. While familiarity plays a key role in the identification of the quotation, a keen awareness of the practice of musical quotation and musical literacy is more crucial. The identification of musical references also relies on memory and a shared cultural context between the composer and his listeners. While musical reference can be exclusionary by forging a bond between the composer and his musically literate audience, it can also be seen as an invitation to others to discover the original context of the quoted work and join the group of enlightened listeners.

Works: Schnittke: String Quartet No. 3 (186).

Sources: Lassus: Stabat Mater (186); Beethoven: Grosse Fuge, Op. 133 (186).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Jingyi Zhang

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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