Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 22

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music Author(s): Alan C. Turley Source: Sociological Forum, Vol. 16, No.

4 (Dec., 2001), pp. 633-653 Published by: Springer Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/684827 . Accessed: 05/06/2013 21:15
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Springer is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Sociological Forum.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Sociological Forum, Vol. 16, No. 4, December 2001 (? 2001)

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music1


Alan C. Turley2

The sociology of music has been an area largely left to European sociologists. In an effort to generate greater domestic interest in the field, an examination of Max Weber'smethodology and an update to his study of music is proposed. Fewer occupations or cultural projects are more social than making music, and the domestic sociological community's absence from the debate is deplorable given the dominant position our country possesses regarding musical production. Weber'sSociology of Music, which combines urban theory, class/labor theory, rationalization theory, and even climatic changes, is an excellent place to begin a thorough discussion of the social components of music. Our present understanding of cultural theories, urban theories, and Habermas's Communicative Action Theory can be employed to improve on Weber'stheory;toward a new approach for the study of the sociology of music.
KEY WORDS: sociology of music; Max Weber; Jurgen Habermas; urban music; rationalization theory.

INTRODUCTION In developing his theory of the rationalization process, which led to the rise of capitalism in the West, Max Weber analyzed the standardization and growth of Western music in Europe as one of his illustrative examples. This section in Economy and Society (Weber, 1921) was going to be the basis for a book on the sociology of music that Weber planned to write. While sociological research on music has declined in significance within the discipline of sociology, the methodological, theoretical, and historical research tools
1An earlier draft of this paper was presented at the Southwestern Social Science Association meeting of March 1995. 2Department of Sociology, State University of New York, College at Brockport, 350 New Campus Drive, Brockport, New York 14420. 633
0884-8971/01/1200-0633/0 ? 2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

634

Turley

Weber employed are significant to contemporary historical and comparative researchers. The flaws and contributions of this seminal piece will be examined in this paper in an effort to rekindle the sociological debate about music. Weber saw the rationalization of the Western cultures as the unique element that led to capitalism's rise in the West. Part of this rationalization process was the growth of bureaucracies, as the increasing capitalistic division of labor compartmentalized and structured traditional organizations, like education and government, into bureaucracies (Weber, 1921). Nowhere was this more apparent than in the historic rise of the Roman Catholic Church. Bureaucratization in the Church had a rationalizing/bureaucratizing effect on the music the Church produced, and was eventually responsible for the music "conventions" (accepted musical practices and rules for music writing and musicianship) associated with European classical music. Example of this would be notational systems, structured harmony, organized choirs, ensembles, orchestras, and the standardized construction of instruments. A combination of processes led to the standardization of music notation, standardized music instrument construction, and standardized performance that produced the unique European music style we recognize. Weber's theory rested on a unique vision of the West, and the assumption that deeprooted structures, unknown to the human actors, were shaping historical events (Eisenstadt, 1992). Weber applied a methodology of researching music notation in the Roman Catholic Church (the only institution to hold any substantive, ancient records of music) to uncover the evidence of rationalization. The data he found proved his theory that it was indeed the church monks who standardized notation to teach and pass on liturgical music. Similarly, musical instruments began to be constructed in a standardized form to fit the requirements of the church music and various court orchestras, which wished to employ this music notation.3 It must be added, however, that Weber's method was designed to find this evidence at the possible exclusion of other evidence. The exclusive use of religious documentation as his only data source would fit his theory of standardization and rationalization in a bureaucratic organization, which then would produce rational music forms. He then applied a Eurocentric, cross-cultural comparison, and was unable to find music notation in other cultures. Weber thus concluded that the rationalization process had produced these rational elements in music. There is a strong fit between Weber's theory-method-data, but this is because the researcher designed it this way. Weber's role as researcher is
3A standardized instrument construction process would lead to instruments with the same pitch, sound, and similar timbre. This would be necessary for standardized notation to be effective. Folk instruments constructed locally would not have this standardization, making them difficult to write for, particularly in an ensemble.

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music

635

imprinted indelibly on the theory. This does not negate his findings; but it does, however, require a careful reading by the researcher who wishes to evaluate Weber's theory. In this paper, a review of contemporary literature concerning Weber's theories and his sociology of music will be followed by a more detailed examination of Weber's theory of music development. This examination will include his methodological practice, the historical data he employed, his role as researcher, and his research assumptions. A varied critique structure will begin with Weber's Eurocentric viewpoint, proceeding to competing explanations for a standardized music form in Europe by using first Habermas's Communicative Action Theory (Habermas, 1988) to demonstrate the rising influence of commerce and currency on music and the musician. The second will be an urban culture approach by J. Blau (1989), and the third an analysis of the musical community to bring the social study of music back to the unit of production-the musician. A final, countersystem critique of Weber's thesis will be used to examine music production and standardization in India. The final section will include an analysis of Weber's many contributions to the sociology of music. Of special note is the inclusion of social, economic, environmental, and spatial variables in his theory, as well as Weber's identification of the structural and hierarchical institutions that effect the social production of music. WEBER'S IMPACT ON MODERN MUSICAL ANALYSIS Max Weber was analyzing music in two ways. On one level, music was an artifact of the historical rationalization process that brought on the development of capitalism in the West. On another level, music was a deeply meaningful part of a society's culture that touched Weber personally. The importance of including the period and life of Max Weber, in any evaluation of his theory is emphasized in David Chalcraft's article "Weber, Wagner and Thoughts of Death" (Chalcraft, 1993). While much of this article attempts to uncover Weber's personal feelings about eroticism, death, the impact of music, and the German composer Richard Wagner (all in a Freudian manner), the inclusion of Weber's inner motivations are extremely illuminating to the reader of his works on cultural sociology. It is obvious that Weber's passion for music led him to write about the sociology of music, and music's importance to his personal life led him to incorporate music into his grand theory of rationalization. In a later edition of the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber (1904) included references to Wagner's operas in an effort to illustrate certain passages of the text. The combination and allusion to artistic and musical works was not uncommon for Weber's day, though it may seem odd for us now; to many it was a sign of a well-rounded, educated scholar.

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

636

Turley

Weber's writings on cultural nationalism (Beetham, 1985; Gerth and Mills, 1948) tie in nicely to Theodor Adorno's views concerning the impact of society on culture and the impact of culture on society. While music's effect on culture may be overstated by Adorno's earlier work on National Socialism in Germany (Adorno, 1945a,b), both Weber and Adorno have in their analysis the reciprocal model of society influencing music and music influencing society. Adorno states his thesis even more clearly in Introduction to the Sociology of Music (Adorno, 1962), "a musical sociology should take its bearings from the social structures that leave their imprint on music and musical life." Adorno's commentary seems to be directed at those readers of Weber's work on cultural nationalism that might view a certain amount of nationalism within cultural forms as benign or positive. This style of musical analysis, examining society's imprint on music, is clearly different than those studies done to access music's impact on the individual or group (Schweder, 1991). An even more dramatic separation between "High" and "Low" art has occurred in the Western world than Adorno could have predicted. Society's imprint on this separation becomes obvious as "dangerous" music like rap and heavy metal become targets for the state and upper classes. What Adorno would not have predicted was the diffusion of popular culture and world cultures into what is considered "high" art forms. For instance, African tribal masks displayed in art galleries and jazz compositions (the music Adorno found to be most base) performed by orchestras. A type of analysis that can illuminate the intersection of class, culture, and structure is needed. Identifying cultural and structural influences on the production of music through an examination of macrosocietal forces led Simon Frith (1989) to focus on the educational system in England. While not attempting to explain rationalization or Fascism, Frith was trying to discover why England had produced so many pop musicians in the 1960s and 1970s. His conclusion is that the educational system of art schools, which existed as an alternative to university or vocational programs, provided an insulated community of artistic young adults. These young artists experimented with music, fashion, and identity. This system of art schools gave rise to the Beatles, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols, and Pink Floyd to name a few (Frith, 1989). Key to Frith's method was an exploration of the culture and institutions of the music and musicians he studied, which is very reminiscent of Weber's methodology. Several other English sociologists have looked into the large processes effecting music production, Wicke (1990) and Straw (1991) examined the modern music industry as a global set of transnational interests held by a small number of companies, while Shepherd (1993) has examined the value and power of music within a culture. Other English researchers who were influenced by the Centre for Contemporary Culture Study at the University

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music

637

of Birmingham chose to look more closely at the musician, who actually makes the music. Finnegan (1989) chose an in-depth ethnography to study all styles of live music performance in Milton Keynes, England, while Robinson et al. (1991) chose to do an international survey of musicians. The incorporation of the musician as principle actor and producer is an important methodological consideration and will be addressed later in this work. Peter Martin (1995) of the University of Manchester addressed the sociology of music in the most complete manner of current researchers by discussing Max Weber and Theodor Adorno at length in the construction of his theory. While exploring meaning, structure, and social action in the social world of music making, Martin points to the rational harmonic system as a "unique element to Western art-music" and credits Weber as the discoverer of this Western musical development (Martin, 1995:58). It is clear from the numerous pages that Martin devotes to Weber and his methodology that Weber's sociology of music is crucial to understanding Western music. Martin also feels that Adorno's work was in a constant dialogue with Weber's writings, and that Adorno's work was influenced by Weber's work. After spending a chapter on Adorno's examination of music's representation of a culture and that cultural objects, like music, need to be examined as social products, one cannot escape the conclusion that Adorno's work is the continuation of Weber's work on rationalization in the late capitalist period (Jameson, 1990:229; Martin, 1995:112). Martin's theoretical perspective on music begins with the Weberian concept of rationalization in harmonic structure, and continued through an examination of modern economic climate of music making. Max Weber's influence on these authors and the cultural/historical paradigm is obvious in their topic selection, methodology, and theory. The sociology of music has not been a large part of the broader paradigm of cultural sociology, but as the paradigm grows, so will this branch of sociology. Much of the scholarly discussion within the sociology of music was started 70 years ago by Max Weber. MAX WEBER'S SOCIOLOGY OF MUSIC Marianne Weber reported that her husband intended to write a sociology encompassing all of the arts (Kasler, 1988:168). He only got as far as the preliminary work to The Rational and Social Foundations of Music, which was printed as an appendix to Economy and Society (published in 1921, after Weber's death). Rationalization is the universal historical process that is central to Weber's work. He was intrigued at the possibility of detecting this process at work in the "irrational" arena of culture. This was the template he used to investigate the rise of Western music.

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

638

Turley

The theory states that the move from ancient to modern music gradually eliminated the mystical and "irrational" qualities of art and replaced them with rational qualities. Weber approached music in a historical fashion, examining music from the primitive period to his contemporary period, focusing particularly on the unique development of chordal harmony in the West. The simple principle of a distance between tones in the music that a musician might make or a singer might sing was replaced by the organized, standardized, "rational" principle of chordal harmony. To support his argument of rationalization's effect on music, Weber linked many seemingly disparate social developments: Western Roman Catholic monasticism; feudal structures in the Middle Ages; choral singing; music notation; the construction of modern-style music instruments by guilds; and the influence of spoken language on the construction of melody (Kasler, 1988:169). Two key moments in music's rationalization, according to Weber, were the development of modern instruments and modern music notation. Weber traces advancements in music instruments to the formation of professional guilds of first artisans, and then performers. A symbiotic relationship developed between artisans, who standardized and improved the construction of the instruments, and the instrumentalists, who provided a fixed market for instruments. Written notation and standardization of musical instruments are rational outcomes and developments in an organized society. Musicians and composers inspired advancements among separate feudal courts as early as the thirteenth century for better and more complex music, which fueled demand for instruments. Instruments that were manufactured by the guilds became increasingly popular in these courts, and this led to an increasing demand for skilled musicians. Orchestras and the rise of stringed instruments followed during the Middle Ages. This combined Weber's economic and historical methodologies, and the historical progress of instrument construction became increasingly rationalized, because of its commercial viability. Weber linked economic, cultural, social, technical, and climatic factors together in his analysis of a key instrument's "rational" history-the piano (Kasler, 1988). This analysis is a working model of Weber's diverse methodology. Invented in Southern Europe, the piano did not diffuse as quickly there as it did in Northern Europe because of the climate. The Northern European population was climatically housebound and housecentered. The piano quickly became part of the middle-class culture, and no cultivated home was without one (as entertainment and a status level piece of furniture) (Weber, 1921/1968:118). As rational capitalism fueled the consumption and production of music, music publishers and mass-produced machine-made pianos rushed to fill the demand made by the hammer piano (Kasler, 1988). All of the Western countries, and their colonies, sought this cultural figure piece throughout the nineteenth and into the early twentieth century. Iron frames

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music

639

were pioneered in America's first industrial piano manufacturer Steinway because of the climatic requirements of tropical clients. Apparently, wood frames would warp in the humid environment of the tropics, so technical innovations were required to compensate for this and became part of today's standard manufactured piano design. Weber identifies the historical and economic advances of the piano as symptomatic of the rationalization process at work in capitalist societies, because this was the goal of his design. The influence of climate might have escaped a researcher who was narrowly focused on only one or two dimensions to measure, and might have been overlooked as significant. This is Weber's methodological gift to the sociology of music; identify a process with many dimensions and try to incorporate these dimensions into the explanation. Staying open to competition and far afield explanations is difficult for any researcher. Weber fell short of this goal himself. In Weber's case his goal was to examine music as an example of irrational culture production being organized and made rational by the rationalization process. As a society becomes increasingly organized in a rational manner, rather than a society organized by strict kin or clan groupings, rationalized production of goods will become so prevalent that culture itself will be produced according to rational rules. Weber's method could have been expanded to actually study music, instead of using music as just an example of the rationalization process. In tangential relation to the development and standardization of music, instrumentation was the key creation of music notation. Weber identifies and focuses on the Catholic monasteries in Europe as the crucible for this creation. Monastic choirs were the first organized entities to experiment with primitive chordal harmony in the music referred to as Gregorian Chant. Pitch, meter, and note length were ascribed a written symbol that was then composed for the different vocal ranges of the choir. The written notes were forged into the beginnings of harmonic and music theory. Subdued and monotonistic, this harmony only rarely reached three different notes between voices, but it required a notational system for teaching and transmission between monasteries and dioceses. The monks created early music notation at approximately the same time as musician and manufacturing guilds began to organize. Slowly, by modern standards, music notation diffused into feudal courts by popular composers who transmitted ideas via notation. Musical notation in the Church was certainly a rational process of standardizing music performance and practice. This formalized method of transmission eventually led to the ease of commodifying music in the form of music publication. Culture and art were the last of society's components to be thought of as affected by the rationalization process in Western capitalism. Weber

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

640

Turley

hypothesized that the symptoms of this process would be even more evident in the "irrational"and mystical arena of music production. It is obvious that Weber had strong feelings about music and culture, and their importance to society and its individuals. He brought his central theme of rationalism to bear on music, to uncover its effects through his historical, socioeconomic methodology. His methodological assumptions seem to be an important step in evaluating his work. The most prominent assumption in Weber's work on the sociology of music is that the rationalization process exists. Weber centered a great deal of his research on looking for evidence of rationalization in a number of historical and cross-cultural sources. While producing a fascinating and innovative theory, there seems to be a single mindedness in his methodological approach to finding this process. This narrow approach calls into question whether there may be other explanations of the events he described. Critiques and countersystem proposals to Weber's theory will be discussed later in the paper; however, a consequence of this unicausal focus was the absence of the role of musicians in notational or musical development in his theory. Weber's theory does not address the role of musicians or the different classes of musicians (church choir directors, court players, orchestra composers, traveling minstrels, local-folk musicians) in the diverse musical environment of Europe. The role of musicians in developing techniques of innovation in musical composition and instrumentation is unmentioned in Weber's sociology of music, yet it had to be musicians and their knowledge of music that spawned these developments. Different classes of musicians from minstrels to orchestra conductors may have made the appropriation of innovations from the lower classes of musicians invisible to Weber's theory. An explanation of notational development that may challenge some of the rationalization theory is the personal initiative of the musicians to appropriate a useful technology for improving their art. Traveling musicians could have easily been the agents of transmission for music notation in Europe. Unfortunately, they possessed no lasting written records to uncover, unlike Catholic monks. It is also contrary to Weber's theoretical predictions that musicians and music would have become more bureaucratized because of the effect of rationalization. In fact, music has become less bureaucratized from Weber's time period to the present, rather than more. Only classical music and opera possess the highly formalized, standardized, and bureaucratized structures Weber's theory describes and predicts (Blau, 1989). The second methodological assumption that runs through much of Weber's work, and especially Economy and Society (Weber, 1921), is his socioeconomic approach. His study of the mutual and developmental relations between society, law, religion, culture, economy, class, music, and domination was based ultimately on the analysis of socioeconomic variables within

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music

641

an overall economic structure. Examples of this in his work on music are his focus on the economic relations between the guilds of music instrument manufacturers and the demand for instruments, which was enhanced by music notation. Cultural/psychological factors in music such as the rise of pianistic culture in Northern Europe and the eventual displacement of the organist as principal orchestra leader by the ascension of the violinist are also analyzed within the confines of an economic paradigm. The aristocratic court's demand for the music being composed by this technology of notation led to a demand for competent stringed instrumentalists, particularly violinists (the instrument that carried the melody). The economic demand of the courts rewarded musicians for composing music in this style, and punished musicians and composers that did not conform to this mode of composition by ignoring their music. These models are all based on economic factors for the production of cultural goods. In fact, while Weber's investigation of the rationalization process (a macrosocial psychological phenomenon) examines a variety of variables, including music, his "evidence" of this process is still a set of primarily economic variables. The reliance on this type of reasoning places cultural phenomena into economic categories that it often does not belong. Economics may not be the best paradigm for many cultural and social phenomena. For instance, musicians perform and compose music primarily for personal expression and to signify the complex values that they have internalized (Blau, 1989; Shank, 1991). Musicians are certainly influenced by their social, spatial, economic, and cultural environment, but these are not the primary issues for a musician's production of music (even historical data shows that musicians have been exploited and ostracized for their art, regardless of period; so, economic gain cannot be seen as a primary drive for musical expression) (Finnegan, 1989;Frith, 1989; Salmen, 1983). Yet, if one were to rely on Weber's theory alone, economic rationale would have to be at the basis for musical production and consumption. His theory and the rationalization process should not be discarded with the "bathwater;"however, a more in-depth, "hands-on" approach to music, musicians, and music production would have tempered these oversights. By incorporating more of Weber's broad methodological net, rather than less of it, his theory might have been able to uncover more connections between music and society by including the main actor-the musician. The archival data Weber analyzes for his theory of music are Roman Catholic Church documents, musical scores, and local archival documents concerning guilds in the Middle Ages of Europe. It appears as if he accepts these documents without questioning their validity or how they survived to his day. The Church documents concerning the use of musical scoring in the development of Gregorian Chant are an excellent example of an

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

642

Turley

instance when a prudent use of scholarly suspicion would be warranted. On first inspection, these are the notated scores of protomusic theory and the standardization of choral voicing (i.e. bass, tenor, alto, and soprano voices). But were these scores original inventions or a monastic adaptation of scoring practices already in use by contemporary musicians? Why did these monastic scores survive when other documents in the same region and period did not? The answers to these questions may lay partly in the power relationships of this period and the development of bureaucracies. First, the Church was a major part of the power schema in Europe; so, their documents would be stored, preserved, and valued by the aristocratic structures they built. Institutions less powerful or in direct opposition to the Church would not have the infrastructure for their documents to survive. Often hounded by the church, and certainly held in deep suspicion, artists, musicians, and actors who were not employed/controlled directly by the Church were viewed to be in opposition to the Church. Second, the bureaucracies that the Church incubated during this time standardized music literacy among its membership; this promoted and encouraged writing by the monks that would of course lead to large archives, including musical scores. Applying a similar suspicion to musical scores, one would find that only those scores that were used in pedagogy for students outside the Church or stored by the Church would survive. So, innovative, challenging, or less popular musical works written by individuals outside the Church might not have been retained by archivists. Archival processes are inherently elitist. The data about musical guilds must also be evaluated critically.Guild records would only survive and be worthy of recording if they were somehow tied to the power structure. The guilds were connected to the courts and cardinals of Europe, because their musicians played for the courts. The problem is that only those musicians and activities that were in agreement with or noncritical of the courts would be worthy of record and survival. Musicians who broke convention and innovated beyond these boundaries had no structure to archive their accomplishments. Weber, rather than allowing a more objective collection and analysis of data guide his theory construction, allows his role as the main researcher and theoretician to influence the text of his theory strongly. Max Weber's passions and points of view are an elemental part of evaluating a work that is as subjective as the sociology of music. The subjective nature of Weber's sociology of music rests in his use of data elements that only he can validate and that are clearly shaped by Weber's personal, subjective selection process. His primary cultural passion was opera, and specifically Wagner's operas (Chalcroft, 1993). This would at first seem harmless enough; however, there may be buried influences in Weber's writings from this operatic choice. The production of classical music by an orchestra, particularlywhen coupled with

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music

643

the staging of an opera, is a highly hierarchized, specialized, and bureaucratized task. Weber's belief that orchestral music was the epitome of musical evolution caused him to fixate on this mode of music production and chronicle its rational processes. Obviously, his own taste and the Western music he was exposed to shaped Weber's focus on classical music. This does not stain Weber's analysis of the rise of classical music's bureaucratic form. In fact, the conductor-led orchestra is the most bureaucratized form of musical performance; each instrument is hierarchized from first chair (or principle) to last, and all instruments are organized into sections for musical arrangements. The trouble is that other types of music on the rise during Weber's time were not bureaucratically driven (popular syncopated orchestras were downsizing, as well as chamber ensembles, vaudeville acts, and ragtime), but they were not analyzed by Weber. Current research suggests that aside from major orchestras, ballets, and operas, music production is becoming less bureaucratized; and as cultural institutions (art galleries, music clubs, popular theatres, etc.) grow larger they actually become less bureaucratic (Blau, 1989:179). Weber's passion for Wagner's operas, and other German composers' works, is an indication of where his cultural nationalism may have originated. It may seem strange that Weber advocated nationalism, but it is definitely an odd nationalism he envisioned. Weber felt that Germany in the 1890s should preserve its cultural identity, increase its share of the world's economic resources (like England and France had done), and engage in imperialism as part of this plan to leave Germany's mark on history for its future generations (Beetham, 1985:135). Weber emphasizes the responsibility of a "power state" to maintain world culture and to the preservation of cultural autonomy for smaller nations that may be under imperial rule (Beetham, 1985:136-138). Obviously, he felt a certain allegiance to German culture and felt that German culture was superior to other cultures, a belief that probably stemmed from his identification and passion for Germany's classical composers. Yet, it is odd for a nationalist to extend a universal reverence for culture to smaller nations and to recommend that their culture be preserved. So, it would seem that Weber's interest in German operas and culture was relatively benign and of little consequence to his writing. Theodor Adorno would take a more critical view of Weber's nationalistic tendencies and directly identify his affection for Wagnerian opera as its cause. In "The Climate for Fascism in Germany,"Adorno (1945b) implicates the authoritarian images and anti-Semitic themes of Wagner's operas as a direct cause of the decultivation of Germany's middle and lower classes. This decultivation laid the ground work for the rise of fascism, a groundwork of noncritical, knee-jerk patriots willing to lay blame on a convenient scapegoat. Adorno would say that the themes and images in Wagner's operas influenced

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

644

Turley

Germans, German culture, German politics, and thus Weber. Nationalism, and its consequent authoritarianism, was repellent to Adorno in any form, regardless of well-intentioned "cultural"motives. CRITIQUE AND COMPETING THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES The initial critique of Weber's sociology of music is his goal of explaining the ascendancy of capitalism in the West through his Eurocentric viewpoint; Eurocentric due to his singular focus on European events and history. Beyond the assumptions in his methods is a goal that places Weber's findings into serious teleological contention. By focusing on bureaucratic and musical developments in Europe (harmony and notation) to explain rationalization, there is a predetermined air about the theory. Weber misses the bureaucratic production of music in Egypt, India, China, and Japan's royal courts because of his European focus (Salmen, 1983:7). These musics do not have the sound or similar notational devices of European music so they have been overlooked by many scholars (Nettl, 1985:67). This is a mistake; these musics perform important functions in their societies (i.e. connections to the power structures within the society), much as Western classical music did during its evolution. Extremely formalized and standardized, these musics were supervised by a special bureaucracy that was responsible for important court ceremonies; these ceremonies were part of the transfer of power and legitimization process. Even in Japan today, aspiring middle-class families pay for Japanese music instruction for their daughters because this music is tied to the Shinto religion, culture, and caste system. The Japanese families feel that having a daughter versed in this ancient musical tradition brings more prestige, honor, and respect to their family. It is the Eurocentrism of Weber's analysis that is responsible for these oversights. His concentration on written notation blinds him to the bureaucratic and formalized institutions of music instruction in India, China, and Japan. The goal of explaining rationalization/capitalization excludes these countries from Weber's analysis because they did not develop according to the Western capitalist model. Jurgen Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action (Habermas, 1988) can be used as a competing theoretical explanation of the standardization of music in Europe. Habermas constructs a theory and critique of late capitalism and functionalist thought where the colonization of the life world by media-steered subsystems actually fragments and pacifies class conflict. An example of media-steered subsystems is the rise of symbolic exchange (e.g. money). This symbol actually attains a quintessence that dehumanizes the activity of those involved in the exchange to the point that their actions are just a service of the currency. In music, the usefulness of a symbol such

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music

645

as music notation would actually reach supremacy, beyond simple capitalistic rationality. The symbol becomes more important than the human actors who produce it, a musician is only as good as the music he/she writes. Notational prevalence in Western music in the 1600s was not immediately used for capitalist gain, but may have been a developing symptom of servicing the steering media/symbolism (i.e. music notation). Habermas (1988) devotes many pages of his theory to discuss how human actors would become "servicers" of a steering media (in Habermas' example it was money that was the steering media). In this discussion of music it would be first the notational structure and then the publishing system that notation led to that is the steering media that musicians service. It was a relatively short time in the development of notation before a musician's worth was gauged primarily on how well he or she read or wrote musical notation. For a musician, the most desirable job would be appointment to an aristocratic court or Catholic bishop's court orchestra, and the competition was often based on being able to compose written music for the court orchestra (a type of media subsystem, in which the orchestral competition for the job was held by the court) or at the least being able to read the written part for your instrument. Music theory and pedagogy arose out of this notational system and these institutional devices actually promoted Western music more than capitalistic endeavors. The symbol notation, not bureaucracies and rationalization, directed and fueled the growth of Western music, which directed and focused music production in Europe. Eventually, the media-steered subsystem (music notation) in the contemporary period become more important than the musician who composed the music; music publishing and its exchange into the other media-steered subsystem of monetary currency becomes infinitely more important to the capitalist system than the musician who wrote it. A salient example would be the songs written by the great rock and roll composer Chuck Berry (like "Maybelline," "Johnny B. Goode," "Roll Over Beethoven," and "Sweet Little Sixteen," which were all Top Ten Hits) for which he was paid only a few hundred dollars, despite the millions of dollars they have generated and continue to generate in music publishing. The artist/musician was disposable once the record company and music publisher owned the notation, which was traded for currency and exchanged like currency. The growth of Western music production may not be connected with the rational factors of notation, monasticism, and guilds at all. The second critique and competing explanation is an urban culture production critique. Judith Blau (1989) performed a contemporary study of the impact of urbanization on culture production in the 125 largest Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas (SMSA) in the United States. She found that once a critical mass was attained in an area, the urbanization affected culture

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

646

Turley

production positively (cultural production grew in relation to the city's growth). While bearing in mind the problems of ecological comparison, especially between different countries and time periods (the United States and Medieval Europe), this finding seems to make logical sense. As a community grows its appetite for culture increases, which would result in the demand for more competent culture producers. During the period of Weber's analysis, cities in Europe grew astronomically, especially along trade routes. Community, currency, and culture could have been a phenomenon of urbanization, rather than rationalization. Weber's analysis of rational symptoms, such as notation and instrument construction, may only be an aspect of increased urban culture consumption or at least they may be affecting culture in concert. Weber's multidimensional approach could easily be expanded to include this dimension and it might still support his rationalization thesis, since urban growth and urban institutions bear the fingerprints of the rationalization process. Expanding on the idea of urban culture production, the different communities within a city have been where music has been created. A city is socially divided into racial, ethnic, and class communities from which musicians come; musicians then create their own community of music performance, composition, and identity. In Weber's period of analysis, class background was particularly important to access the courts of Europe. Strong divisions of class and national affiliation often kept musicians apart or together during this period; trade routes that were responsible for the growth of European cities, began to introduce new musicians and musical elements to court music. As these new musicians broke into the elite musical communities of the royal courts, music production was influenced and infused with new ideas. Vienna is an outstanding example of a musical community growing within the aristocratic court system and benefiting from new musical ideas. Bach, followed by the "Viennese Classics" group of composers Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart, are some of the most notable examples of this musical community (Apel and Daniel, 1960). The unique urban structure of Vienna with court musicians and court intrigue nurtured a community of musicians, who benefited from this creative association of peers. Today's music is also influenced by musical communities that are centered in modern, urban areas. Going back just 15 years, a unique rock and roll sound came from the Athens, Georgia, and its music community. Bands like the B-52's and R.E.M. climbed the charts and influenced popular music composition, while maintaining their links to Athens music scene by continuing to live and perform in the city. All of this activity from a small college town can be linked to the community of musicians and venues in Athens, and without these bands and their subsequent commercial success this music community would not have grown. This was followed by funk bands from

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music

647

Minneapolis, Minnesota, roots/blues rock from Austin, Texas, glamour rock groups from Los Angeles, California, and recently from Seattle, Washington "grunge" rock. The key is the community of musicians, venues, and music businesses; a profile of either economic, ecological, or cultural variables have been traditionally used to study social phenomena in a city, but such single profiles are inadequate to capture the community nature of music production. A city is the spatial location of these musical communities, but the specific elements of a musical community are smaller than the traditional urban/city level of analysis. A combination of variables and methods would be necessary to adequately study music at this level, variables that explore the musical communities of musicians within the city. What might be found is a city with multiple communities of musicians existing in social worlds of ethnicity, class, space, and musical genre (Becker, 1971; Gilmore, 1990; Turley, 1999). When musical communities come together across these lines, a complex musical world or "music scene" can develop, in which new styles of music are made and new music businesses and innovations are created. Weber's macrohistorical approach illustrates why music has left the sacred roles and spaces within a community to migrate "rationally" to venues of commodification and rational exchange, i.e. clubs, bars, and radio. The mechanism, which can control and meld production across the nation's urban centers, is a hybrid of currency's media-steered subsystem with the mythical power of the national label record contract. From the chaotic and multicultural world of urban music scenes, music production moves into the highly structured and rational world of national label record companies. Today four companies (Time Warner, BMG, EMI, and Polygram) hold the monopoly on 70% of the music produced in the world (Wicke, 1990). The medium that they control is the national label record contract, which means money, fame, exposure, distribution, tours, etc. With this medium, they direct music into a form that services the radio, television, advertising, and publishing businesses for even larger profits. All kinds of music are produced locally, only those willing to accept the control and direction of the national label masters are allowed on the radio and on the shelf. While there are some exceptions to this model (rap that is too offensive for the radio still sells numerous CDs), the exceptions still have other media outlets (movies and videos for rap) and distribution is still controlled by a national label record contract. As a critique of Weber's theory, the smaller musical communities in Europe are overlooked, and Weber concentrates too myopically on the elite structures of medieval music. When I first began to learn the saxophone, my fellow students and I would teach ourselves new music by representing musical tones with a rough scale diagram of a saxophone's finger positions. One might assume that early musicians would come up with a similar system that

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

648

Turley

may have been standardized into a symbol notation that monastic musicians altered and appropriated for their purposes. It is equally plausible that local communities of musicians in the Middle Ages were using a primitive notation system that the monks adopted and wrote down, not the reverse. We know that primitive music scale models were based on the hand (the Guidonian hand) as early as A.D. 900-1000 (Apel and Daniel, 1960:124). The troubling aspect of metatheories like Weber's, Habermas', or even the macrofocus of Blau, is that the musician and the musician's environment are not present in any of the analysis. How society, economics, technology, urbanization, race relations, spatial organization, or community structure affects the musicians and their production of art would seem central to a sociology of music. Yet, rationalization is so removed from the mundane performance or composition of music that it can only describe elements that "may" lead to the production of music. There needs to be a sociology that addresses the production of music by musicians in a theory of the middle range. The musician is the real "producer" of music. Our social theory needs to be able to be linked down to the human actor. Indian music production provides a perfect counter-system analysis (Sjoberg and Cain, 1971) to Western music production/notation, because this music predates European music by almost 2000 years. Highly standardized and formalized, it possesses many parallel elements to Western music like rhythm, melody, scales, and structured sections. Indian music also has its own unique elements. Indian music is based on the Rag and Tal; Rag is the melody line and Tal is the rhythmic form. There is no harmony in the Western sense, but there is an important interplay of instruments. The three basic instruments are the Tambura (whose function is the drone), the Tabla (a pair of drums, which actually perform an expressive function more often than a strict rhythmic one), and the Sitar (a truly unique instrument of three to four main strings with three to four drone strings, plus a dozen sympathetic strings that vibrate when the other strings are struck; its function is melody, rhythm, and drone combined). In Western music, a song may be based upon 1 of the 12 chromatic scale tones (whole to half-tone distance) of which there are the major, minor, and diminished families. Indian ragas are based upon more tones than the Western 12-note scale (e.g. a quarter-tone scale distance and the family of scales numbers up to 20, depending upon the region of India) (Nettl, 1985:37). The rhythmic meter of Indian music is also very different. Western music is either 4/4 (simple straight beats), 3/4 (waltz tempo) or odd meter (e.g. 7/8, 9/8, or 5/4 best exemplified by Dave Brubeck's jazz classic "Take Five"). Indian music is based on cycles of 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, or 16 beats, which are further subdivided to achieve an extremely complex musical form (Courtney, Chandrakantha, Indian Classical Music. Unpublished circulated paper).

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music

649

The Indian music form is as highly structured as any Western idiom. The instruments and ensemble function both as the means of transmission of knowledge and the means of performance. The apprentice musician must learn his or her craft on the neck of the Sitar or the drum of the Tabla directly from the master. One could say that the music isn't reducible to notation systems and that the standardized ragas are regional constructs. Thus, they are unable to be translated effectively without a qualified instructor. In fact, an extremely formal set of transmission institutions has developed around master musicians who teach these important "ragas," so they would not be lost. Indian tone symbols, similar to the Western do-re-me vocal scale (actually sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-dha-ni-sa for Indian music), and the name of the raga give the musicians an indication of pitch, intonation, and ornamentation (Nettl, 1985:66). The masters and the tone symbols of Indian music are the system of notation. This is not much different than the rise of Western music because instructors had to lead/train musicians before there was notation and then train them how to use notation. This training was very important, otherwise, the novice musician would be unable to effectively translate the symbols on the page into music. The instructor acted as interpreter and medium between musician-notation-performance; Indian music eliminates the importance of the middle step. When one considers the hundreds of years that Indian music has functioned without the "irrational"necessity of written notation, one has to doubt whether Western music is truly the most "advanced" music or simply the most commodified musical art. Using India's traditional music as a counter-system to Western classical music, we can see that it is a highly advanced art form. While formalized and highly structured, it has not produced the rationalized and bureaucratized outcomes Weber prescribed for Western classical music. The importance of the master, and thus his trained students, has kept the musician an important component to Indian music. Weber's method coupled with an urban/regional component would illuminate much concerning India's music production, despite Weber's initial oversight concerning India's music. MAX WEBER'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SOCIOLOGY OF MUSIC Max Weber's passion and interest in music motivated him to include this important aspect of society into his work. That inclusion alone is a major contribution to the sociology of music, because it brings a major theorist into the debate about the social components of music production. Weber was also crucial to social music theory because of his inclusion of economic, social, spatial, cultural, and even climatic variables in his analysis. These

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

650

Turley

are essential steps in a more complete understanding of music production. Music should not be left to anthropologists and ethnomusicologists alone, simply because their disciplines are not equipped to recognize the complex effects of late-capitalistic, urban society. With billions in revenue from music performance and recordings circulating around the world's markets, and billions of people engaged in bands, choirs, and music education at some point in life, this social phenomena surely deserves the attention Weber brought to it. As much time as sociology has devoted to diversions far less social and far less frequent (prostitution, juvenile delinquency, etc.) than music, one would expect more modern sociological work on music. While the discipline has benefited immensely from the few extremely gifted sociologists who have devoted time to music, it is music's multidimensionality that must be frustrating American Sociology from contributing to the social understanding of music. Despite the United States' virtual monopoly of popular music idioms in the past 30 years, American sociology has been relatively quiet on the sociological economic structure of it's own music industry, as well as the local production of music. Weber's theory will be most useful initially by examining the social and economic structure of the transnational music business based in the United States and how these and other forces have shaped today's music. It is through the use of historical trends and texts to illustrate current social phenomena that Weber's theoretical and methodological approach will be valuable. Which brings us to the large structural elements of music that Weber seemed most interested in (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church). These elements, while not fully explained by Weber's theory, are often the most difficult to detect and understand because of their size and scope. The difficulty arises from the macrolevel processes and secrecy systems embedded in large, powerful structures that do not want their actions detected or understood (Sjoberg and Kuhn, 1989:317-318). Weber attempted to analyze these large structural fixtures in the development of Western music and made the study of music richer from his efforts. For those more interested in the sociology of music, the fact that Weber was planning an entire book on music is probably the most significant contribution for sociologists trying to reintroduce music analysis into the discipline. Some may ask why go back to Weber at all. That is a fair question and it deserves a more complex answer than to say he should be included in the literature review as the first major figure in sociology to write about music. While there are obvious flaws in the application of his theory (European elitism concerning music development, lack of initial examination of the church documents available for research and a top-down approach), Weber's theory provides the researcher a way to acknowledge the rational, capitalistic, historical, and structural elements of the modern music age. Without this check on the researcher's perspective it will

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music

651

be easier for modern sociologists to make the same errors that Weber made (i.e. concentrate too much on the uniqueness of European music). Clearly, a social phenomena of commodifying musical expression and influence has grown to encompass most of the world's markets; any examination of modern music must account for this phenomena (ila Weber, though one need not label it rationalization). American sociologists, in particular, should be engaging in this debate over music because of the United States' changing role in the world economy. America will be less involved with direct industrial production and manufacturing and more involved with communication, information, administration, and culture exports/services. Since popular music in the United States is one of its most influential exports, and this is predicted to increase, it would be advantageous for American sociologists to understand this cultural production. As general interest and commerce increases in music, inside and out of academia, social researchers will be asked about this social phenomenon. Presently, small groups of researchers are doing outstanding work on the social components of music production, in particular Simon Frith's work on popular music in England (Frith, 1989) and Ruth Finnegan's work on how music is produced at the local/urban level (Finnegan, 1989). In relation to the scope of music's impact on society, many more scholars' will be conducting research on music as a social study. Weber's writings on European music history and production should serve as an outstanding beginning and guide to a sociology of music. CONCLUSION Weber's two main interests, the rationalization process in Western capitalist development and his love of music, came together in his study of the sociology of music. A fine piece of analysis, though clouded at times by his desire to prove the rationalization effect and his Eurocentric viewpoint, it should be used to further the social study of music. Weber's inclusion of a wide variety of variables and his cross-cultural, historical comparisons are a model for new work on music production. A similar model for a city-bycity case study approach could be constructed by combining Weber (1921), Blau (1989), and a music community approach to discover large cultural patterns in a culturally defined region; while endeavoring to include the musician as human agent. The musician comprises the actual "nuts and bolts" of music production, and efforts should be made to understand this artist as laborer, artisan, and creator. Attention should also be paid to a critical approach to culture/music production by checking theoretical models against a "communicative action" metatheory approach or a Bourdieu class approach

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

652

Turley

(Bourdieu, 1984). Weber remains an outstanding starting point for music researchers and my intention is to demonstrate that by broadening Weber's methodology it is possible to learn from his work and his mistakes to continue the important work of the sociology of music. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author thanks Gideon Sjoberg and Parker Frisbie of the University of Texas at Austin for their supportive remarks on this article as well as the reviewers, for their helpful comments on earlier drafts. REFERENCES
Adorno, Theodor 1945a What National Socialism has Done to the Arts. Frankfurt, Germany: University of Frankfurt. 1945b The Climate for Fascism in Germany. Frankfurt, Germany: University of Frankfurt. 1962 Introduction to the Sociology of Music. New York: Seabury Press. Apel, William, and Ralph Daniel 1960 The Harvard Brief Dictionary of Music. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Becker, Howard 1971 Culture and Civility in San Francisco. San Francisco, CA: Transaction Press. Beetham, David 1985 Max Weber and the Theory of Modern Politics. New York: Polity Press. Blau, Judith 1989 The Shape of Culture. New York: Cambridge University Press. Bourdieu, Pierre 1984 Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (R. Nice, Trans.). Cambridge, NY: Harvard University Press. Chalcraft, David 1993 "Weber, Wagner and thoughts of death." Sociology 27(August):443449. Eisenstadt, Schmuel 1992 "Culture, Religions and development in North American and Latin American civilizations." International Social Science Journal 44:593. Finnegan, Ruth 1989 The Hidden Musicians. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Frith, Simon 1989 Art Into Pop. London: Routledge Press. Gerth, Hans, and C. Wright Mills 1948 From Max Weber-Essays in Sociology. Gerth and Mills London: Oxford Press. Gilmore, Samuel 1990 Art Worlds: Developing the Interactionist Approach to Social Organization. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL. Habermas, Jurgen 1988 Theory of Communicative Action: Vol. 2. Life World and System (T. McCarthy, Trans.). Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Hasse, John 1985 Ragtime. New York: MacMillan Press. Jameson, Frederick 1990 Late Marxism: Adorno or the Persistence of the Dialectic. London: Verso Press. Kasler, Dirk 1988 Max Weber: An Introduction To His Life And Work (Philippa Hurd, Trans.). New York: Polity Press. Martin, Peter 1995 Sounds and Society: Themes in the Sociology of Music. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press.

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Max Weber and the Sociology of Music Nettl, Bruno 1985 The Western Impact on World Music. New York: Schirmer Books. Robinson, Deanna, Elizabeth Buck, and Marlene Cuthbert 1991 Music at the Margins: Popular Music and Global Diversity. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Salmen, Walter 1983 The Social Status of the Professional Musician from the Middle Ages to the 19th Century. New York: Pendragon. Schweder, Richard 1991 Thinking Through Cultures Expeditions in Cultural Psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Shank, Barry 1991 Identity, Community and PostModernity: The Rock-N-Roll Scene in Austin, TX. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation Services. Shepherd, John 1993 "Value and power in music: An english canadian perspective." In V. Blundell, J. Shepherd, and I Taylor (eds.), Relocating Cultural Studies. London: Routledge. Sjoberg, Gideon, and Leonard Cain 1971 "Negative values, counter-system models and the analysis of social

653 systems" In H. Turk and R. Simpson (eds.), Institution and Social Exchange: 212-229. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merril. Sjoberg, Gideon, and Kathryn Kuhn 1989 "Autobiography and organizations: Theoretical and methodological issues." Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 25(4):309-326. Straw, William 1991 "Systems of articulation, logics of change: Communities and scenes in popular music." In W. Straw and J. Shepherd (eds.), The Music Industry in a Changing World. Special edition of Cultural Studies, 5(3): 368-388. Turley, Alan 2000 Music in the City: A History of Austin Music. Austin, TX: Duckling Publishing. Weber, Max 1904 The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Scribner and Sons. 1921 Economy and Society. New York: Scribner and Sons. Wicke, Peter 1990 Rock Music. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

This content downloaded from 202.92.128.28 on Wed, 5 Jun 2013 21:15:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions