Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Friendly Remainders

Friendly Remainders: Essays in Music Criticism after Adorno

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 264
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Friendly Remainders
    Book Description:

    Friendly Remainders draws on Adorno's concept of the negative dialectic, examining its importance in Adorno's thought and its critical application to musical forms. Moving beyond a positivist view where musical object and appreciation operate as a synthesis, the negative dialectic method focuses on divergence and dissonance in musical forms and in society. Contradictions and divergent details and concepts become "remainders," friendly because of the fresh perspective they offer on musical forms. Dineen examines these contradictory remainders in subjects such as the fascist element in Wagner's character, the torpor of Schoenberg's twelve-tone method, the self-contradiction implicit in Beethoven's Late Style, Frank Zappa's attempt to define himself as a "serious" composer, the reactionary stasis in Marilyn Manson's DVD "Guns, God and Government World Tour," and the death motive in John Coltrane. Friendly Remainders takes seriously the project of making Adorno accessible, asking the same questions of classical and popular music - taking the measure of Mahler as much as Manson - for the value of the critical insights they provoke.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8576-8
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 Ashton’s Remainder
    (pp. 3-28)

    In the 1980s gay men in Vancouver took up an advertising phrase coined by the British Columbia Ferry Corporation: “B.C. Ferries: Cruising the Straits.” In one sense, it means British Columbia ferry boats plying the Georgia Strait between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Obviously a “straight” person – unenlightened heterosexual – would have no interpretive problem with the phrase: a strait is a body of water between two land masses, while ferries are boats that transport passengers over stretches of water. Closed loop.

    Gay Vancouverites, however, saw the slogan quite differently, in accordance with what we shall call a syntheticnegatingappreciation. By...

  5. 2 Just for Nice
    (pp. 29-57)

    The phrase “just for nice” is found in the popular culture associated with German-speaking North American Mennonites, presumably a transatlantic carryover from an earlier counterpart in the Central and Eastern European homeland of the Mennonite peoples.¹ The phrase is associated with arts and crafts, the distinct sense of pleasure a work of craft can give as a simple aesthetic whole, devoid of intellectualization. The phrase also implies a crossover between work and leisure: “nice” is joined to the otherwise menial life experiences of this largely agrarian cultural group. Magnus Einarsson, inJust for Nice: German-Canadian Folk Art, recounts the following...

  6. 3 The Work of Music
    (pp. 58-72)

    When I was a small child, I had a recording of Burl Ives singing “Froggy went a courtin’” in his inimitable style. I grew attached to that recording, claimed it as entirely mine (not to be shared with siblings), and demanded to hear it with a frequency that tempted parental censure. One day, I was taken to a playmate’s house. There, spinning on the tiny turntable in his bedroom was my record, with Burl Ives holding forth in just as genuine a manner as he had in my own bedroom on my own tiny turntable. Disconsolate, I could be persuaded...

  7. 4 Technique
    (pp. 73-101)

    A basic knowledge of musical notation is necessary to observe an important pattern in the first eight measures of Beethoven’s F Minor Piano Sonata, op. 2, no. 1, reproduced in example 1, below. The first two complete measures (including the upbeat) are what Schoenberg called a “tonic form” – built rhythmically of rising quarter notes, a dotted quarter, a triplet, and two detached quarter notes. The same rhythmic pattern (minus the upbeat) returns in mm. 3–4 but shifted to new pitches: Schoenberg called this a “dominant form,” and said of the technique of variation involved here, “This kind of repetition,...

  8. 5 Wagner, Terrorist
    (pp. 102-119)

    The ultimate object of Adorno’s Wagnerian study in social character would appear to be pathology.¹ Adorno gravitates to the dark side: the psyche split, Wagner is denied the normal psychological correctives that produce integrity in most humans.² Whatever he accomplished for the good of humankind is negated by the service it rendered Wagner himself. Wagner’s “ego”-centricity blankets his altruism like smog.

    Adorno uses the termterroristsparingly in the Wagner essay and yet it encapsulates what I take to be essential to his diagnosis of a Wagnerian pathology. One of the central undertakings of the Frankfurt school in the 1930s...

  9. 6 Spätstil Zappas
    (pp. 120-138)

    The two epigraphs delineate the extremes of Frank Zappa’s world. The first calls to mind the pop-art canvases of Andy Warhol and the photographs of Dianne Arbus, where the bathos of middle-America is transformed into a critical subject matter. The second evokes the struggle of recalcitrant, self-designated “serious” artists against this very same bathos. The serious composer knows that by his death his music will attain a respectability denied him while living. The subrosa text to Zappa’s citation lies in the thought that the rock composer shares precisely the same aspiration.

    Subrosa aside, the two epigraphs delineate what are customarily...

  10. 7 Stars down from Heaven
    (pp. 139-171)

    The digital video disc recording of Marilyn Manson’s world tour,Guns, God, and Government, has about it a certain air of melancholia and gloom. By evokingmelancholy, I am not necessarily referring to the patina of death that Manson calls forth on stage – blood, war, torture – nor the evocations of suicide discerned rightly or wrongly in Manson’s work in connection with the Columbine murder suicides. Instead, I mean the perception of death as a textual issue – the melancholic aura of death that lends a stasis to the text of Manson’s work, its sounds and images, as if we were watching...

  11. 8 Moses und Adorno
    (pp. 172-185)

    The consistency with which Adorno’s critical voice engages its object across the great breadth of his writing is nothing short of remarkable.¹ The perennial element in his work lies in his capacity to attack new conundrums with a voice freshly supplied by dialectics, as if the latter were elixir. The acerbic wit seems to pour forth, a veritable flood of negation goaded on by the waxing and waning tides of reason and commodification.

    The critical voice, however, is made all the more remarkable by the extent to which a necessarily uncritical Adorno is hidden behind it, the negative remainder left...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 186-192)

    I set forth in the introductory chapters a critical method based on negative dialectics after Adorno, a method applied in the remainder of this book. The central core of this method is a musical subjectivity given objective form in the shape of an unexpected remainder – a discrepancy produced when bringing together two apparently congruent ideas. I hold this objective result to be the equivalent of the results produced by positivist music criticism, not least because both are forms of musical labour.

    I began the introduction by rehearsing several meanings of a term taken from my title –after, as inafter...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 193-224)
  14. Works Cited
    (pp. 225-238)
  15. Index
    (pp. 239-248)