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Dr. Vivian Luong (PhD) is a faculty member in the Department of Music.

Vivian Luong: Analysis as Ethics—Experimenting with Music Loving

A talk in the Fine Arts Research Lecture Series in Music (FARLS), hosted by the Department of Music


A talk in the Fine Arts Research Lecture Series in Music (FARLS), hosted by the Department of Music.

Wednesday, Nov. 4 (this event was previously scheduled for Oct. 28)
12:30 pm
Join Zoom meeting:

Meeting ID: 895 7933 9284

Passcode: 908281

Free and open to the public

This lecture by Dr. Vivian Luong is part of the Fine Arts Research Lecture Series in Music (FARLS), hosted by the Department of Music.

FARLS host: Dr. Amanda Lalonde (PhD)


Analysis as Ethics: Experimenting with Music Loving

In response to critiques of their work, music theorists often hail the virtues of analysis to defend our unique position in music studies. In addition to enriching musical experience and our sense of self, we say that music analysis matters because it involves inhabiting an “ethical attitude”—a concern with adequately caring for and understanding music on its own terms.

My talk explores this last argument for the merit of analysis. How is analysis ethical? How exactly does it do good? Elaborating on early feminist and queer music theory, I propose that we can locate this ethical attitude in the very relationships that often animate analysis: music loving. Taking seriously this pervasive yet under-theorized concept, I consider how we might rethink music loving to better articulate the good (or harmful) effects of music analysis.

To begin, I demonstrate that a specific type of love motivates current perspectives on music analysis—the relationship between an analyst and a work. Second, building on an alternate notion of ethics developed by philosopher Gilles Deleuze, I reconsider music loving as a practice involving a network of analysts, music, theoretical apparatuses, and spaces. In order to demonstrate this alternate form of music loving, I draw on work in affect theory and anthropology to illustrate how autoethnographic writing may serve as a valuable methodology. As an example, I discuss my Schenkerian analysis of J. S. Bach’s Prelude in B-flat Minor, BWV 891. This paper concludes by situating the ethics of analysis with recent conversations on the effects of academic practices. In particular, I argue that alongside other authors’ call for care in academic work, music theory’s examination of its analysis-oriented ethics might offer special insight into the value and sustainability of music scholarship.

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