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Imaginary Musical Radicalism and the Entanglement of Music and Emancipatory Politics

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Publication details

JournalContemporary Music Review
DateE-pub ahead of print - 16 Nov 2015
DatePublished (current) - Dec 2015
Issue number2-3
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)232-246
Early online date16/11/15
Original languageEnglish


The relationship between music and politics in the discourse of creative practitioners is often reduced to assertions of causality between specific musical works or aesthetic traits and particular political actions or ideologies. The association between the musical avant-garde and emancipatory politics (and their perceived common failure to fulfil a historical destiny) is evidence that a unidimensional understanding of the interconnections between these two practices can have a saturating effect on musical reception and creation. A direct result of this reductive approach is the emergence of an artistic category that could be labelled, imaginary musical radicalism—a creative approach in which artists replicate musical strategies of the avant-garde movements, detached from their original modernist vision (Rancière). This article proposes a heuristic and multidimensional approach, based on a radical historicist analysis (Rockhill) of musical and political practices as an alternative model for the creative practitioner working at the intersection of music and politics.

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    Research areas

  • Music, Politics, Aesthetics, Avant-garde, Jacques Rancière, Gabriel Rockhill

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