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Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (Music Culture)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  228 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Extending the inquiry of his early groundbreaking books, Christopher Small strikes at the heart of traditional studies of Western music by asserting that music is not a thing, but rather an activity. This new work outlines a theory of what Small terms "musicking, " a verb that encompasses all musical activity from composing to performing to listening to a Walkman to singin ...more
Kindle Edition, 241 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Wesleyan (first published June 15th 1998)
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Nov 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like talking about music
Shelves: musicology
The reason why I decided to become a musicologist back when I didn't even know what musicology was. ...more
Γιώργος Γεωργόπουλος
Ένα σύγγραμμα που σίγουρα μπορεί να αποτελέσει εργαλείο (σε κάθε άνθρωπο, και ιδιαίτερα σε αυτούς που έχουν συνειδητοποιήσει την σημαντικότητα της μουσικής στη ζωή τους) ανάλυσης, εις βάθος κατανόησης και επανεκτίμησης του φαινομένου που ονομάζουμε μουσικοτροπία. Η μουσικοτροπία είναι μια δραστηριότητα μέσω της οποίας δημιουργούμε κάποιες σχέσεις οι οποίες αναπαριστούν τις σχέσεις του κόσμου μας-όχι όπως είναι, αλλα όπως θα ευχόμασταν να είναι. Η μουσικη πράξη κατα τον Σμολ φέρνει τους ανθρώπους ...more
Stephen Jenkins
Dec 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have spent my professional music life (such as it is) telling myself and others that music is something you do. That's what this book is about. Not only the performer does music, but Small insists that any human who comes into contact with music (from the composer to the person who sets up chairs for people to sit in while they listen or play) is doing the music. ...more
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
probably the only work of musicology that everyone should read (ie not just musicologists).
Makiko Hirata
"The convenience of having nouns that enables us to name and talk about things inclines us to think of every idea, every relationship, as if it were a thing. We take from the action of loving, for example, or hating, or performing good and evil acts, or telling the truth, or worshiping, or musicking, the abstractions we call love, hate, good and evil, truth, God and music, and if we are not careful we find ourselves coming to treat the abstractions as if they were more real than the actions." I ...more
Stefan Szczelkun
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Musicking is music as activity rather than music as an object.

The interesting thing for me about Small’s book is that it is a analysis of classical music in terms of its class operation. The first bourgeois literary idea about music is that music’s essential spirit is captured by a written score. The next step is that this score is printed and published to claim the originality of its singular authorship. The second idea is that when this score is performed it is a one-way communication from com
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible perspective and scholarly discussion on the politics that informs the very nature and format of the western classical music and its live performances. Though, is extremely subjective, and author himself admits the dichotomy of him enjoying the pleasure of classical music, while being annoyed by the racial superiority and discriminative politics the very act of the performance of the piece represents. As a frequent concert goer, I will definitely read this book many times in the fut ...more
Jxy Breez
Mar 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un livre assez ambitieux qui tentent de saisir l’essence du pouvoir de la musique. Un essai de musicologie certes mais un livre de sociologie et de politique également.
kit fearney
Jun 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a brilliant mindbending mixture of left wing politics and musical analysis. required reading for every serious musician in every musical domain!
May 31, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
"When we perform, we bring into existence, for the duration of the performance, a set of relationships, between the sounds and between the participants, that model ideal relationships as we imagine them to be and allow us to learn about them by experiencing them. The modeling is reciprocal, as is implied by the three words I have used persistently through this book: in exploring we learn, from the sounds and from one another, the nature of the relationships; in affirming we teach one another abo ...more
Sarah Beaudoin
Sep 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Small uses Musicking to deconstruct a symphony orchestra and as a result is able to create an inclusive definition of music that includes virtually everyone who may have any influence on the outcome of a performance, reaching far beyond the composer, musicians, and audience to also include building workers, popcorn vendors, and more. I appreciate what he is trying to do but think that his ideas begin to falter once they are applied beyond the narrow range in which Small applies them. He privileg ...more
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when I took a philosophy of music education course in graduate school. I agreed with Small's thinking a lot in those days, and I think I still fall into that direction but I want to re-read this book to see if any of my views have changed. I guess I should re-read some Bennett Reimer after this one. ...more
Oct 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: internet, music
while this book isn't about internet music per se, it's all about the active creation and listening experiences that are a part of the modern music experience even more than ever.

a must-read for anyone responsible for the features and user experience of a digital music product.
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably the most important book about music that you will ever read.
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“In a word, a concert hall is a place where middle-class white people can feel safe together.” 2 likes
“The reverence accorded to the composer’s score suggests that it is a sacred object, which is not to be tampered with, whose authority over the actions of all the musicians playing here tonight is absolute, which commands absolute stillness and silence from those devotees who have assembled to hear it performed.” 2 likes
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