Sounding Off: Theorizing Disability in Music: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Sounding Off: Theorizing Disability in Music

1st Edition

Edited by Neil Lerner, Joseph Straus


312 pages

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Disability, understood as culturally stigmatized bodily difference (including physical and mental impairments of all kinds), is a pervasive and permanent aspect of the human condition. While the biology of bodily difference is the proper study for science and medicine, the meaning that we attach to bodily difference is the proper study of humanists. The interdisciplinary field of Disability Studies has recently emerged to theorize social and cultural constructions of the meaning of disability.

Although there has been an astonishing outpouring of humanistic work in Disability Studies in the past ten years, there has been virtually no echo in musicology or music theory. Sounding Off: Theorizing Disability in Music is the first book-length work to focus on the historical and theoretical issues of music as it relates to disability. It shows that music, like literature and the other arts, simultaneously reflects and constructs cultural attitudes toward disability.

Sounding Off: Theorizing Disability in Music promises to be a landmark study for scholars and students of music, disability, and culture.

Table of Contents

Foreword Rosemarie Garland-Thomson 1. Introduction Neil Lerner and Joseph N. Straus Part I: Narrating Disability Musically 2. Fever / Fragile / Fatigue: Music, AIDS, Present, and … Paul G. Attinello 3. Of Bodies and Narratives: Musical Representations of Pain and Illness in HBO’s W;t Maria Cizmic 4. Female Subjectivity, Disability, and Musical Authorship in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Blue Kelly Gross 5. Dancing out of the Dark: How Music Refutes Disability Stereotypes in Dancer in the Dark Jennifer Iverson 6. The Horrors of One-Handed Pianism: Music and Disability in The Beast with Five Fingers Neil Lerner Part II: Performing Disability Musically 7. Stuttering in American Popular Song, 1890-1930 Daniel Goldmark 8. Learning to Hear Autistically Dave Headlam 9. Glenn Gould, Autistic Savant S. Timothy Maloney 10. Using a Music-Theoretical Approach to Explore the Impact of Disability on Musical Development: A Case Study Adam Ockelford 11. Melisma as Malady: Cavalli’s Il Giasone (1649) and Opera’s Earliest Stuttering Role Andrew Oster 12. The Organ of the Soul: Voice, Damage and Affect Laurie Stras Part III: Composing Disability Musically 13. Les Chansons des fous: On the Edge of Madness with Alkan Poundie Burstein 14. Finding Autism in the Compositions of a Nineteenth-Century Prodigy: Reconsidering "Blind Tom" Wiggins Stephanie Jensen-Moulton 15. Beyond Abnormality—Dis/ability and Music’s Metamorphic Subjectivities Marianne Kielian-Gilbert 16. Mental Illness and Musical Metaphor in the First Movement of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique Stephen Rodgers 17. Inversional Balance and the "Normal" Body in the Music of Schoenberg and Webern Joseph N. Straus

About the Editors

Neil Lerner is Associate Professor of Music at Davidson College. A specialist in film music, he has published studies of film scores by composers including Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, John Williams, and Dimitri Tiomkin.

Joseph N. Straus is Presidential Professor of Music at the Graduate Center, City University of New York and former President of the Society for Music Theory. He has written widely on topics in twentieth-century music and music theory.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
MUSIC / Instruction & Study / Theory