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Behind the Beyond: Mr.

Cone Replies
Source: Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Spring - Summer, 1969), pp. 70-72
Published by: Perspectives of New Music
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/832294
Accessed: 28-08-2017 17:25 UTC

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No DOUBT many readers will consider it ungrateful of me to t

issue with one who so thoughtfully explains what I meant to
better than I could myself; nevertheless, I must risk laying myse
open to the charge of thanklessness. In the first place, I cannot ac
cept one onus that Mr. Lewin apparently wishes to lay on me, name
the responsibility for the uses to which my article, "carelessly re
might be put. I believe that my record is clear. In the pages of PE
SPECTIVES OF NEW MUSIC and elsewhere, both by precept and by e
ample, I have argued the usefulness of analysis and, at least indirec
of theory. But one cannot say everything all over again on each o
casion (unless one is the New York Times). I hope, and I believe I h
the right to expect, that the reader of PERSPECTIVES realizes tha
have no sympathy with the know-nothings, and that I have no de
to "discourage rational critical thought." If, in this context, he insi
on finding in the article under discussion the recommendation "th
a young composer should beware, somehow, of theory," the sugge
tion of an "opposition between theory/analysis and criticism/comp
tion," and a view of "theory or analysis as 'ultimately' irrelevant
composition," then I can only conclude that he is either reading in
attentively or else deliberately perverting my sense.
Mr. Lewin raises a more substantive issue when he accuses me of im-
plying "that theory and analysis are the same thing." I realize that
they are not, and if I have indeed implied that they are, then I am in
error. But I think Mr. Lewin is equally in error in trying to make a
hard and fast distinction between them. Certainly it is the analyst's
job "to point out things in the piece that strike him as characteristic
and important," but why can these not include the "generic attributes"
of key, formal pattern, Urlinie, or tone row? Don't these contribute
equally to the goal of analysis, which "is simply to hear the piece better"?
And if a theorist analyzes a piece "in order to focus his readers' ears
on what he is interested in," how can one insist (in capitals), that "HE
IS NOT ANALYZING IT!"? Mr. Lewin's immediate modification,
that "he is making a partial and selective analysis," won't do either, for
every analysis is partial and selective.
Proper theory feeds on analysis; proper analysis feeds on theory.
The analysis of examples A, B, C, and D suggests a theory; the de-
veloped theory can then be applied as a short cut (and checked in the
process) to the analysis of examples E, F, G, and H. This is one of the
important uses of theory: its generalizations obviate repeating the
. 70.

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same kind of analysis for every representative of

to say that a piece is in A minor is indeed a theore
is also a short-cut analytic statement. Schenker's m
Mr. Lewin points out, mixes analysis and theory,
and forth," seems to me exemplary from this poin
the articles on twelve-tone subjects that Mr. Lewi
quite theoretical" are, insofar as they deal with
(which all of them do), "analytical."
One more point here. For Mr. Lewin, theory exa
referred to as "not . . actual compositions, b
derived from compositions." I don't agree. I bel
theory examines actual compositions and tries t
tions therefrom. In so doing it may use the proces
this is quite different from "primarily" examining
larly, analysis may legitimately use the process of
as it does not confuse the product of the abstractio
tion itself. My point about the young composers w
afraid to base any aspect of their analyses on their
to actual musical events, they often seem to think
compositions when they are in fact discussing abs
Another hard and fast distinction of Mr. Lewin's that I cannot ac-
cept is the one between artist and observer. True, the observer is not
always an artist, but the artist is always an observer. Mr. Lewin admits
as much in his excellent discussion of the relevance of criticism to
composition. How, then, can he insist that "the artist does not 'de-
cide,' he knows," e.g., the orientation of an abstraction? Perhaps
painter-as-creator "knows," but painter-as-critic must question, just
as composer-as-critic "says to himself 'this isn't working.'" Mahler
"decided" to reverse the order of movements in his Sixth Symphony;
Beethoven "decided" to replace movements in the Waldstein Sonata
and in Op. 130. Should it surprise us if a painter "decides" to invert an
abstraction-as I have known at least one competent painter to do?
I am grateful for Mr. Lewin's attempt to formulate theoretical
postulates to explain the effect of up/down in twelve-tone - and, in-
deed, in all- music. By his insistence on the concept of "energy," he
reinforces the point I made with reference to tonal music: that orien-
tation "rests, not on the internal consistency of the system, but on
some connection between the axioms and rules of inference on the
one hand, and the external world on the other - whether that world is
represented by acoustics, psychology, physiology, or history." Mr.
Lewin here offers just such a reference-a psychoacoustical one-to
the external world.

. 71.

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Finally, Mr. Lewin's discussion of the relations

and criticism is unexceptionable. I wish he would ex
quite right when he says that "the important word
artist must be a critic. The observer must be a critic. And the hidden
message of my paper (hidden, at least, from Mr. Lewin, no doubt b
cause of my "discursive style") is not, as he would have it, that w
should "analyze music more, and engage less in theoretical specul
tion," but that we should recognize the limitations of both theory an
analysis, and that we should call upon all modes of knowledge, i
cluding the theoretical, the analytical, and the intuitive, to help us
achieve a proper critical response to a piece of music.


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