cover of book

Music's Monisms: Disarticulating Modernism
by Daniel Albright
foreword by Alexander Rehding
University of Chicago Press, 2021
eISBN: 978-0-226-79136-4 | Cloth: 978-0-226-79122-7
Library of Congress Classification ML3845.A42 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 781.1

Daniel Albright investigates musical phenomena through the lens of monism, the philosophical belief that things that appear to be two are actually one.
Daniel Albright was one of the preeminent scholars of musical and literary modernism, leaving behind a rich body of work before his untimely passing. In Music’s Monisms, he shows how musical and literary phenomena alike can be fruitfully investigated through the lens of monism, a philosophical conviction that does away with the binary structures we use to make sense of reality. Albright shows that despite music’s many binaries—diatonic vs. chromatic, major vs. minor, tonal vs. atonal—there is always a larger system at work that aims to reconcile tension and resolve conflict.
Albright identifies a “radical monism” in the work of modernist poets such as T. S. Eliot and musical works by Wagner, Debussy, Britten, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky. Radical monism insists on the interchangeability, even the sameness, of the basic dichotomies that govern our thinking and modes of organizing the universe. Through a series of close readings of musical and literary works, Albright advances powerful philosophical arguments that not only shed light on these specific figures but also on aesthetic experience in general. Music’s Monisms is a revelatory work by one of modernist studies’ most distinguished figures.
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