The Mediations of Music. Critical Approaches after Adorno

By Music

Mediation is a key concept in Theodor W. Adorno’s philosophy of music and in the current musicological debate. It defines the relationship between music and society, i.e. how music absorbs and processes social content even before entering the communicative flow. Moreover, compositions in the Western tradition require an external form of mediation: the transformation of text into sound. Lastly, technological reproduction in various media (record, radio, film and the Internet) constitute a further level of mediation. In these media, music undergoes changes that affect the attribution of meaning.

This book grew out of an event held by the Accademia Musicale Chigiana to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Adorno’s death (2019). The authors discuss problematic transitions in the philosopher’s thought and show its potential. In many chapters, the opposite pole of mediation, the pole of immediacy, is brought into play with its often important function in mediation processes. The prime reference sources are Adorno’s texts on old and new media (writing, radio and film): Music for Film (co-authored with Hanns Eisler) and two unfinished books, Current of Music and Towards a Theory of Musical Reproduction. Critical readings of these texts are supplemented by reflections aimed at redefining the dialectic of mediation and immediacy, taking into account performance studies, media theories, the sociology of listening and post-structuralism.