Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Hallowell, Sean Russell. “Towards a Phenomenology of Musical Borrowing.” Organised Sound 24 (August 2019): 174-83.

A phenomenology of musical borrowing as an intentional compositional act can be used to trace the tradition through Western art music history and uncover what musical borrowing is in itself. Borrowing (and related terms) generally implies a sense of ownership, which in turn invokes normative concepts of musical materiality, aesthetic idea, and compositional originality. Two repertories in Western art music stand out for their borrowing practices and different approaches to composition: medieval polyphony and musique concrète. Medieval polyphony lacks the commitment to the aesthetic notion of compositional originality found in modern music. Instead, the Medieval concept of auctoritas, or relying on existing authority to legitimate one’s work, holds that no music originates from one person alone. The relationship between Binchois’s chanson De plus en plus and derivative works such as Leonel Power’s motet Anima mea liquefacta est and Ockeghem’s Missa De plus en plus demonstrates this concept. The different understanding of musical materiality in the Medieval worldview also precludes ownership in the modern sense. Half a millennium later, musique concrète held a similar approach to musical materiality, where the work of a composer is to elaborate on pre-existing material. Pieces like Pierre Schaeffer’s Ètude aux chemins de fer can be construed as “musical borrowing” if the aesthetic potentiality of sound objects is considered. By comparing acts of musical borrowing across history, a more fundamental understanding of the aesthetic and ethical considerations of the phenomenon can be reached. Instead of being seen as a compositional anomaly, musical borrowing should be promoted as a cultivation of a musical community.

Works: Leonel Power: Anima mea liquefacta est (178-79); Johannes Ockeghem: Missa De plus en plus (178-79); Pierre Schaeffer: Ètude aux chemins de fer (180-81).

Sources: Gilles Binchois: De plus en plus (178-79).

Index Classifications: 1400s, 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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