Cover image for The language of music
The language of music
Cooke, Deryck.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1989.
Physical Description:
xiv, 289 pages : music ; 22 cm
General Note:
Originally published: 1959.

"Clarendon paperbacks"--Cover.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3845 .C68 1959 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This important and controversial book has come to be regarded as a modern classic. Originally published in 1959, it has exerted a profound influence on all subsequent discussion in the field of musical aesthetics. The author's thesis is that the main characteristic of music is to express andevoke emotion, and that all composers whose music has a tonal basis have used the same, or closely similar, melodic phrases, harmonies, and rhythms to express and evoke the same emotions. He supports this view with numerous musical examples, varying from plainsong to Stravinsky. Based on thisevidence he argues that music is a language in the quite specific sense that idioms can be identified and a list of meanings compiled. While acknowledging that a 'dictionary' of the language of music cannot easily be provided, he attempts to supply what could at least be regarded as a 'phrase book'.The enlightening analysis of two complete symphonies by Mozart and Vaughan Williams demonstrates the expressive function of musical form, the latter being an element which the author considers inseparable from musical content.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. viii
Prefacep. ix
1 What Kind of an Art is Music?p. 1
2 The Elements of Musical Expressionp. 34
3 Some Basic Terms of Musical Vocabularyp. 113
4 The Process of Musical Communicationp. 168
5 The Large-Scale Functioning of Musical Languagep. 211
Index of Subjectsp. 275
Index Of Names And Works Referred To In The Text Without Adjacent Quotationp. 279
Index Of Music Examplesp. 283