Out of Time: Music and the Making of Modernity

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book explores the idea of modernity in western culture since the late sixteenth century, not as a chronological narrative of events but as a set of modalities of thought and feeling – enacted, realized and made sensible through music. In doing so, it argues both that modernity is revealed in specifically musical ways, and that music itself is better understood from this perspective than by the usual periodization of style history (baroque, classical, romantic, modernist). It thus argues that all music since 1600 is modern music and that the similarities between Monteverdi and Schoenberg, Bach and Stravinsky, or Beethoven and Boulez, are of more interest than their obvious differences. It elaborates an idea of musical modernity in relation to three interrelated areas of experience – temporality, history and memory; space, place and technology; language, the body, and sound. It does so by moving freely between close readings of diverse musical examples (from the Italian madrigal to electronic music) and drawing on the evidence of the history of science and technology, literature, art, philosophy, and geography. The result is a rehearing of modernity and a rethinking of music – an account that takes seriously the repudiation of the idea of historical progress and reconsiders the common concerns of music old and new.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages400
ISBN (Print)9780190233273
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2015


  • music modernity sensibility history temporality technology language sound philosophy

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