Absolute Music and Aesthetic Autonomy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


“Absolute music” names an idea, an aesthetic concept, a regulative construct, a repertoire, and an aspiration. The term also engages a range of broader claims about aesthetic autonomy, or the possibility of aesthetic experience more generally. This chapter investigates how and why the aspiration towards autonomy has seemed so necessary—and so powerfully subversive—for musical thinkers at certain times in history. It traces the entanglements and misalignments of the various meanings and uses of these ideas, and brings these insights into the remit of contemporary debates about music’s ineffability, and its capacity to facilitate resistance and political agency.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy
EditorsJerrold Levinson, Tomas McAuley, Nanette Nielsen
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199367313
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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