Cover Rethinking Rationalisation: Evolutionism and Imperialism in Max Weber's Discourse on Music

Ana Petrov: Rethinking Rationalisation: Evolutionism and Imperialism in Max Weber's Discourse on Music, Wien: Hollitzer Verlag, 2016, 196 pages, 17,5 x 24,5 cm, English, hardcover

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Ana Petrov

Rethinking Rationalisation: Evolutionism and Imperialism in Max Weber's Discourse on Music

Max Weber as a sociologist of music?
Scrutinising an array of nineteenth-century discourses on the concept of ‘development’ in music, Ana Petrov focuses on Max Weber’s theory of rationalisation in music, which led him to see ‘rationalised’ music as the most ‘developed’, the most ‘complex’ and the ‘best’ music that the whole of civilisation had ever achieved. Weber was convinced that his analysis could prove that the ‘peak’ of the rationalisation process was to be found in the ‘great’ masterpieces of German composers, starting with Johann Sebastian Bach and finishing with Richard Wagner.
Petrov argues that Weber’s allegedly ‘neutral’ concepts were far from ‘innocent’ and ‘ideology-free’, but rather outcomes of his social and intellectual background. She explores the implications of Weber’s concept of rationalisation in music, discussing correlations between the theories of evolution and rationalisation and the paradigm of cultural imperialism, which can be recognised in Weber’s promulgation of the superiority of Western music traditions.




Introduction: Max Weber as a Sociologist of Music?

The Study of Music and Weber’s Sociology of Culture

The Period Before 1910
The Period After 1910 and the First Meeting of the Deutsche Soziologische Gesellschaft (German Sociological Society)

Components of Weber’s Sociology of Music

The Concept of Geist (Spirit) of Modern Art
The Concept of the Rationalisation of Art

Theoretical Approaches to Weber’s Discourse on Music

Researching Weber’s Theory
Reading Evolutionism in Weber’s Theory


Evolutionism in Nineteenth-Century Scientific Discourse

Herbert Spencer’s Theory of Evolution

Evolution as Progress
Evolution as Racial Differentiation

Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

Selection and Evolution
Extermination as an Inevitable Consequence of Selection in the Evolutionary Process

Spencer’s and Darwin’s Discourse on the Evolution of Music

Spencer and Darwin on the Role of Music in Evolution
Spencer’s Theory on the Origin of Music: Music as ‘Natural Language of Emotion’
Spencer’s Theory on Development from Homogeneous Towards Heterogeneous Species: The Path from ‘Primitive’ to the ‘Civilised’ Music
Darwin’s Theory on the Origin of Music: Voice as a Means for Attraction in Sexual Selection
Darwin’s Thesis on Music as Emotional Expression


Evolutionism in Nineteenth-Century Discourses on Music

The Influence of Evolutionist Theories on Discourses on

The Construction of Scholarly Discourses on Music
The Incorporation of Evolutionism in Discourses on Music
Deconstructing Scholarly Discourses on Music

The Concepts of ‘Developed’ and ‘Undeveloped’ Musics

The Science of Music as the Investigation of Tone Species’ Evolution: The Case of Adler
The Science of Music as a Natural Science: Helmholtz and Riemann
The Concepts of Western and Non-Western Musics
Implications of the Musicological Discourse on Progress: Constructing the Field of ‘Primitive’ Music
Comparative Musicology as an Alternative Discourse on Music (Or a Discourse on Other Musics)


Evolutionism in Weber’s Discourse on Music

The Influence of Evolutionist Musicological Discourses on Weber’s Concept of Music Rationalisation
Dealing with Acoustics: Dialogue with Helmholtz’s Theory
The Inf luence of the Music Theory Discourse: Incorporation and Modifications of Deconstructing Scholarly Discourses on Music
Incorporation into the Discourse of the History of Music as a Positivist Science on Written Works of Art
Complete Incorporation into the Nineteenth-Century Musicological and Ethnomusicological Discourses: ‘Developed/Undeveloped’ and ‘Western/Non-Western’ Dichotomies

Rationalisation as an Imperialistic Evolutionist Model of Constructing Music History

The First Evolutionist Symptom: ‘Development’ of the Intervals from the ‘Simpler’ Forms to the Increasingly ‘Complex’ and Continuous ‘Progress’ of Tonal Species
The Second Evolutionist Symptom: Struggle and Selection in the Field of Professional Music
Rationalisation as Progress
Development, Progress, Evolution, Rationalisation
Concept of Style as the Final Answer in the Problematisation of Progress in Weber’s Theory of Rationalisation of Music


Conclusion: Implications of Weber’s Discourse on Rationalisation of Music

Decolonising Weber: Mapping Weber’s Theory in the Debate on Imperialism

Foundations for Problematisation of Imperialistic Discourse on Music Evolution: Musicological Readings of Weber


Curriculum Vitae