9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN07 Sociology of Culture

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Music Culture Building II, C4.06

Making Music Together - Performance and Aesthetic Dimensions of Social Action in Alfred Schutz

In 1956 Alfred Schutz was invited to present the paper ?Mozart and the Philosophers? at the renowned Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore. In the run-up to this lecture, a Baltimore newspaper published a short article that contains perhaps the most concise précis of Alfred Schutz? self-defined intentions: ?His principal fields of endeavor are philosophical interpretations of the social world through language and the arts, especially music.?

A reconstruction of Alfred Schutz? way into sociology through music has to follow two analytical directions: the exploration of correlations between Schutz?s own musical practice and his theoretical positions, complemented by tracing back the influences, the controversy between Nietzsche and Wagner and the debate between Bergson and Einstein have left in Schutz? thought.

Schutz? essay ?Making Music Together? is taken as the starting point for the discussion presented in this paper. Following the two analytical directions mentioned above, we will explore the essay?s theoretical context by analyzing the two topics below from the perspective of performance:

(1) polyphony and counterpoint, taken as performed and embodied musical structures
(2) musical tempo and rhythm, discussed from the viewpoint of ensemble performance

As will be shown, the performance related aspects of polyphony, tempo and rhythm have provided the basis for one of Schutz? key contributions to social theory: the explication of the principal relevance of temporal structures for the genesis and understanding of social relationships. The discussion thus reveals the aesthetic background of what may be called the ?cantus firmus? present throughout the work of Alfred Schutz: the nexus of time, action and plurality of rationality.