New Bibliographic Entry and Review

 For today’s post I had originally intended to review John Toy’s catalogue of liturgical material for English saints in medieval Scandinavian sources from the perspective of my own project on Scandinavian chant, but last week, after whimsically having come to the decision to read through Leo Treitler’s collection of essays, Reflections on Musical Meaning and its Representations, I felt compelled to review that instead and save the other entry for later. Treitler’s book is, of course, not entirely new; one chapter was first published in 1989, with others being published between 1993 and 2008; only two of the chapters are newly published (they comprise about a quarter of the total volume). However, all of the republished essays have also been revised, some extensively so, allowing a cohesive and integrated account of Treitler’s prepotent wrangling with our understanding of music literacy, cognition, memory, and meaning. The acount should be particularly interesting to scholars of medieval poetry and song as Treitler tackles both, especially in chapters 4 and 6 ('The Immanence of Performance in Medieval Song' and 'What King of Thing Is Musical Notation?').
 
Here is a brief with the opening lines of the entry review for Reflections on Musical Meaning and its Representations:
 
 Leo Treitler’s focus here is in creating a synthetic understanding between the language, performance, notation, and interpretation of music, and not necessarily in any particular order. The chapters are divided into four sections devoted to each of these topics, but this division is not categorical, as each chapter deals simultaneously with all of them. One sees in the work the goal to create a paradigm of understanding how the performance, language, and notation of music relate to and inform each other, ‘always with reference to specific local historical forces and circumstances’ (103). This programme is often carried out by drawing attention to flaws in the dichotomy of viewing symbols of musical reproduction as either ‘denotation’ or ‘exemplification’, arguing for a synthesis wherein both inform each other. These terms in many ways mirror the dichotomy between the linguistic terms ‘constantive’ and ‘performative’, but Treitler avoids using them. Continue Reading…