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Music, media and the law: the musical work and the establishing of an idealistic copyright
Örebro University, School of Music, Theatre and Art. (Musikvetenskap)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5809-3575
2012 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

According to the philosopher and music historian Lydia Goehr, a widespread view of the musical work as an object whose existence transcends both time and space was established at the turn from the 18th to the 19th century, a view Goehr claims is still valid today:

“most of us tend … to see works as objectified expressions of composers that prior to compositional activity did not exist. We do not treat works as objects just made or put together, like tables or chairs, but as original, unique products of a special, creative activity. We assume, further, that the tonal, rhythmic, and instrumental properties of works are constitutive of structurally integrated wholes that are symbolically represented by composers in scores. Once created, we treat works as existing after their creators have died, and whether or not they are performed or listened to at any given time” (Goehr, 1992, 2).

Goehr claims further that this view of musical works gained support from the emerging copyright laws of the time. In contrast to Goehr’s thesis, I claim that this view of music—which I choose to call an idealist view of music—which equates the musical work with a reified immaterial form, did not emanate until the second half of the 19th century. Whereas the abstract form of the individual work is conceptualized by writers such as Hanslick and A. B. Marx (rather than by Hoffmann, as Goehr claims), it is not until the emergence of the elementary communication model—sender (composer), message (work), receiver (listener)—that this abstract work becomes fully reified. This happens at the turn of the 20th century, as a result of telecommunication and the phonogram, i.e. approximately a hundred years later than Goehr would have us believe. Moreover, the final strokes of this reificational process, which involves a substitution of a basically Aristotelian view of form for a modernized Platonism, is provided by jurisprudence rather than by aesthetics. In consequence, this means that the modern Western work concept, if not the modern Western view of music, to an important extent is a result of copyright legislation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
Keywords [en]
History of ideas, aesthetics, history of law, copyright
Keywords [sv]
Idéhistoria, estetik, rättshistoria, upphovsrätt
National Category
Humanities Musicology
Research subject
Musicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-25807OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-25807DiVA, id: diva2:551695
Conference
Sixteenth Nordic Musicological Congress, 7-10 August 2012 Stockholm University
Projects
MUSIKVERKET OCH DESS PUBLIK — ESTETISKA FÖRUTSÄTTNINGAR FÖR DEN SVENSKA UPPHOVSRÄTTEN
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2009-1187Available from: 2012-09-12 Created: 2012-09-12 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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Volgsten, Ulrik

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