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Contents

Music in the Late Twentieth Century

MUSIC AND POLITICS REVISTED

Chapter:
CHAPTER 2 Indeterminacy
Source:
MUSIC IN THE LATE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Author(s):
Richard Taruskin

Artists who justified their personal freedom by citing Cage's example managed to forget just what it was that Cage had liberated, and from whom. Not that this mattered in the long run. Messages sent are not always the ones received, and the history of art is full of examples of would-be followers who became innovators by misreading their predecessors’ intentions. A celebrated theory of literary history advanced in the 1970s by the critic Harold Bloom (b. 1930) elevated creative misreading of this kind to the status of main determinant, or driving force, behind all creative evolution.39 Nor does the fact that an artist misreads the example he claims to follow necessarily reflect in any way on the authenticity or value of his own work or that of his ostensible “guru.” Nevertheless it is curious that the musician most interested in reining in the impulses of human beings so as to keep them out of the way of sounds, and who never gave performers (or listeners) any real freedom of choice, should have been regarded as a human liberator. It testifies to the power of suggestion, to the allure of liberation as concept for artists brought up with the rhetoric of American democracy ringing in their ears, and to the paradoxical need most artists share with the rest of humanity to justify their freedom on the basis of authority. By merely using the word liberation at a time when systems ruled, Cage gave those lacking his fantastic assurance permission to follow their own inclinations. It is a paradox that went all the way back to Rousseau's Social Contract, with its troubling call to liberate mankind, if necessary, against its will, forcing freedom on the comfortably enslaved.

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 2 Indeterminacy." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2017. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume5/actrade-9780195384857-div1-002006.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 2 Indeterminacy. In Oxford University Press, Music in the Late Twentieth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2017, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume5/actrade-9780195384857-div1-002006.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 2 Indeterminacy." In Music in the Late Twentieth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 23 Oct. 2017, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume5/actrade-9780195384857-div1-002006.xml
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