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A groundbreaking collection of essays in feminist music criticism, this book addresses problems of gender and sexuality in repertoires ranging from the early seventeenth century to rock and performance art. “. . . this is a major book . . . [McClary’s] achievement borders on the miraculous.” The Village Voice“No one will read these essays without thinking about and hearing A groundbreaking collection of essays in feminist music criticism, this book addresses problems of gender and sexuality in repertoires ranging from the early seventeenth century to rock and performance art. “. . . this is a major book . . . [McClary’s] achievement borders on the miraculous.” The Village Voice“No one will read these essays without thinking about and hearing music in new and interesting ways. Exciting reading for adventurous students and staid professionals.” Choice“Feminine Endings, a provocative ‘sexual politics’ of Western classical or art music, rocks conservative musicology at its core. No review can do justice to the wealth of ideas and possibilities [McClary’s] book presents. All music-lovers should read it, and cheer.” The Women’s Review of Books"McClary writes with a racy, vigorous, and consistently entertaining style. . . . What she has to say specifically about the music and the text is sharp, accurate, and telling; she hears what takes place musically with unusual sensitivity."-The New York Review of Books


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A groundbreaking collection of essays in feminist music criticism, this book addresses problems of gender and sexuality in repertoires ranging from the early seventeenth century to rock and performance art. “. . . this is a major book . . . [McClary’s] achievement borders on the miraculous.” The Village Voice“No one will read these essays without thinking about and hearing A groundbreaking collection of essays in feminist music criticism, this book addresses problems of gender and sexuality in repertoires ranging from the early seventeenth century to rock and performance art. “. . . this is a major book . . . [McClary’s] achievement borders on the miraculous.” The Village Voice“No one will read these essays without thinking about and hearing music in new and interesting ways. Exciting reading for adventurous students and staid professionals.” Choice“Feminine Endings, a provocative ‘sexual politics’ of Western classical or art music, rocks conservative musicology at its core. No review can do justice to the wealth of ideas and possibilities [McClary’s] book presents. All music-lovers should read it, and cheer.” The Women’s Review of Books"McClary writes with a racy, vigorous, and consistently entertaining style. . . . What she has to say specifically about the music and the text is sharp, accurate, and telling; she hears what takes place musically with unusual sensitivity."-The New York Review of Books

30 review for Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Although I was an English major in college, and my primary mode of artistic connection has always been literature, I somehow ended up with a surprising number of musicologist friends. Well, four of them anyway, which seems like a lot to me. One of the four is currently finishing up her musicology doctorate at UCLA, and I remember that when she started her program she was intimidated by the presence, on faculty, of controversial music critic Susan McClary. McClary's work is divisive among musicol Although I was an English major in college, and my primary mode of artistic connection has always been literature, I somehow ended up with a surprising number of musicologist friends. Well, four of them anyway, which seems like a lot to me. One of the four is currently finishing up her musicology doctorate at UCLA, and I remember that when she started her program she was intimidated by the presence, on faculty, of controversial music critic Susan McClary. McClary's work is divisive among musicologists because she has dared to take methods of criticism developed in literary and sociology circles - feminist, post-colonialist, queer studies and other criticisms that interrogate social contexts of art - and to apply them to Western art music, which has traditionally considered itself immune from such interrogations of "meaning" (many musicologists believe that music doesn't "mean" anything, but simply exists). My friend was a little wowed by McClary's rock-star status, but also conflicted because she found some of the critic's stances to be over the top. I remember her specifically citing an essay in which McClary claims that it's possible to tell that Tchaikovsky was homosexual just by listening to his Fourth Symphony. Eyebrows raised all around. So I was amused and intrigued when, a few years later, another of the four, knowing that I enjoy critical literary theory, gave me a copy of McClary's seminal Feminine Endings as a birthday present. Now, maybe I'm just hardened by years of reading criticism in the more liberal field of literary studies. I have read some serious crackpot critics in my time, and McClary? Does not strike me as a crackpot. She doesn't even strike me as over-the-top. In fact, her points seem to me eminently well-argued and reasonable. Let's take that essay on Tchaikovsky, for example. She does not actually argue that a listener can tell he's gay by listening to his music. In fact, she explicitly rejects any line of reasoning that would attempt to claim any such thing. What she actually writes is that certain patterns in the Fourth Symphony - patterns traditionally derided by music critics for failing to conform with accepted symphonic practice - are not actually failures after all, but conscious attempts to diverge from the standard symphonic narrative and tell a different kind of story. McClary carefully outlines the traditional symphonic narrative structure, which bears a strong resemblance to the traditional Hero's Quest narrative in literature: a hero starts at "home base" (a given key and/or theme), but must leave it and venture into uncharted territory. He meets with the often-feminine Other (the second theme, often referred to in early musicology as the "feminine" theme), which represents either a threat he must overcome or a victim he must save; a struggle ensues. In either case, the second, "feminine" theme is assimilated, by the end of the symphony, into the key in which the hero began, and he returns home triumphant, having proved himself. In Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony all this is problematized: critics have complained that the first ("masculine") theme is overly passive, insufficiently virile (yes! music critics complain about such things!), and that the first movement never satisfactorily resolves. McClary argues that Tchaikovsky is merely trying to tell a different story than the one usually communicated symphonically, one involving a protagonist trapped between two antagonists, unable to realize his full potential. This seems totally reasonable to me, and McClary backs it up with careful technical attention to the score. Given the careful groundwork she has laid regarding the long history of thinking about "masculine" and "feminine" symphonic themes, her next point seems reasonable as well (the bracketed text is mine): For what we have is a narrative in which the protagonist seems victimized both by patriarchal expectations [represented by the military background music that threatens to overwhelm the primary theme:] and by sensual feminine entrapment [the sinuous, interrupting second theme:]: both forces actively block the possibility of his self-development. Such a narrative resonates strongly with Tchaikovsky's biography. As a homosexual in a world of patriarchally enforced heterosexuality, his behavior was always being judged against cultural models of "real men." In fact, 1877 (the year of this symphony) was a crisis year in Tchaikovsky's psychosexual development: he finally yielded to social and paternal pressures to get married, with disastrous consequences for all concerned, and then attempted suicide because of his distress over the marriage and his clandestine sexuality. The extent to which these events colored his perceptions is revealed in his letters, and a strong sense of struggle and alienation likewise marks his programmatic description of the symphony. This is a far cry from the claim that gay people write different music from straight people. All McClary is really saying here is that one's state of mind while making art can be reflected in the final product, and be read back into it later on - a claim that seems to me not only reasonable but inescapably obvious. How could the dramatic events of Tchaikovsky's personal life during this period fail to have an effect on his compositional output? Can you imagine claiming such a thing about any other form of art? We accept as indisputable that, for example, TS Eliot's traumatic experience of World War I helped shape his worldview and can be read back into The Waste Land. It is widely accepted that Bernini's Counter-Reformational political patronage influenced his presentation of the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. So why should instrumental music be any different? That is the question McClary asks repeatedly throughout the essays in Feminine Endings, and she answers in lively, readable prose that it is not, in fact, different at all. There was only one essay in which I thought her claims veered into the strident or tenuous, and, interestingly, I found that same essay to be the most thought-provoking of the bunch. In it, she takes modern composer Janika Vandervelde's piece Genesis II as a jumping-off point to talk about whether there can (or should) be a repertory of "women's music": in other words, music made by women which has a specifically female sound, distinguishable from that made by men. She details the widespread negative response to such an idea on the part of female composers who have accepted the idea of the universality and a-gendered quality of Western instrumental music, and want to be recognized as composers, not female composers. While McClary is sympathetic with this position, she questions whether those elements of Western instrumental music so often granted "universal" status are really universal at all. In the most fascinating section of the essay (to me, at least), she points out that the current widely-accepted musical model of striving after the desired tonal resolution, of the individualistic, hero's-quest symphony (not just applicable to symphonies, but also to rock songs and many other forms) only gained its current place of unquestioned dominance after the seventeenth century. Prior to this time, she says, there were other musical forms that stressed pleasure over desire, that were about existing voluptuously in the moment, rather than striving after change. In the age of imperialism, conquest, and the rise of capitalism, though, the current quest-based narrative became so dominant that many of us just accept it as "the way music works." This singleness of structure is obviously detrimental: if there is no musical model for pleasure, but only for desire, then attaining the desired goal is a kind of musical death, since the piece is over as soon as the goal is reached. McClary goes on to make the claim that, when she presents her graduate students with examples of this earlier musical mode, the male students tend to find it confusing and boring (complaining that "nothing happens), whereas the female students tend to delight in it, recognizing something they knew to be true but which they had never heard articulated musically before. Now let me say, a whole spate of warning bells go off in my head when people start talking about a "female music." I am extremely reluctant to accept essentializing notions that equate the feminine with unchanging, cyclical Nature and the male with striving individualism. And I definitely think there are points in this essay where McClary crosses the line into Dworkin-esque condemnation of all tonal music as essentially violent and imperialist. That said, when I think about my all-time favorite narratives, I have to admit that they all stress exactly the sense of voluptuous being-in-time that McClary describes. Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse (particularly the "Time Passes" section), Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, the novels and short stories of Eudora Welty: while all these works have narrative arcs, it is the beauty of the prose and the gorgeously vivid evocation of specific, subjective moments in time that really distinguishes the experience of reading them. None of them feature absolutist conclusions; the emotional ends tend not to be wrapped up neatly, and the reader must accept ambiguity and compromise. And, predictably, critics of these novels tend to complain that they are "boring" and that "nothing happens" in them, EXACTLY like the male students McClary describes in her classes. Now, of course there are male fans of Woolf, Robinson, and Welty: in fact, the most ardent Woolf fan I've ever met was a man. But it does give me food for thought, and a new critical tool for thinking about different kinds of narrative structures.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    This book originally came out just before I went to college, and I remember a bit about the controversy it stirred up in musical circles at the time. Looking at music through the lens of gender and sexuality had not really been done before, and was clearly not something people were comfortable with. McClary definitely Went There in this book, exploring how the tonal and thematic plan of a sonata-allegro movement can be interpreted as an enactment of 18th and 19th century ideas about masculinity This book originally came out just before I went to college, and I remember a bit about the controversy it stirred up in musical circles at the time. Looking at music through the lens of gender and sexuality had not really been done before, and was clearly not something people were comfortable with. McClary definitely Went There in this book, exploring how the tonal and thematic plan of a sonata-allegro movement can be interpreted as an enactment of 18th and 19th century ideas about masculinity and femininity, what the musical depictions of female characters in vocal music say about attitudes towards men and women, and how desire and its construction permeate so much musical structure. Feminine Endings is divided into six chapters, each dealing with a specific piece, set of pieces, or artist. McClary examines such disparate examples as the nymph character in a Monteverdi madrigal, Carmen, Laurie Anderson's "O Superman", and Madonna. I especially enjoyed the chapters on Carmen and "O Superman". I didn't necessarily always buy everything McClary was selling, but she certainly gave me lots and lots to think about regarding how Western art music works. Most of all, I really appreciated McClary's argument that we should subject music to criticism that connects it to things like gender and sexuality and views it through the lens of different aspects of society, history, sociology, etc. Music does not always have to be viewed as a abstract, pure object that transcends its milieu.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn

    Susan McClary, along with the many scholars whom she credits throughout this groundbreaking book, is a pioneer. Twenty-five years later, I am happy to say that it does not seem radical, but based on my experience in university classrooms, there's still a long way to go. The problems she identifies in the fierce, and frankly courageous, introduction to the book are still present in music scholarship. There are too many things that I can praise about Feminine Endings, so I will simply say that it w Susan McClary, along with the many scholars whom she credits throughout this groundbreaking book, is a pioneer. Twenty-five years later, I am happy to say that it does not seem radical, but based on my experience in university classrooms, there's still a long way to go. The problems she identifies in the fierce, and frankly courageous, introduction to the book are still present in music scholarship. There are too many things that I can praise about Feminine Endings, so I will simply say that it was formative when I was new to musicology and is just as fundamental to my thinking having reread it now. I think I could read the introduction a hundred times and it would still make me feel empowered. I plan to read it as necessary when I feel discouraged in the future.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    This is a re-read, since I read this way back in undergrad for the first time. Mostly the Madonna essay this time, as part of comps studying. One of the things I appreciate with McClary is how readable and engaging she is compared to lots of other academic writing. She's the sort of writer I can assign to non-music-majors and undergrads without too much explanation, despite her essays' once-controversial status in the discipline -- and her work does an excellent job still of stimulating discussi This is a re-read, since I read this way back in undergrad for the first time. Mostly the Madonna essay this time, as part of comps studying. One of the things I appreciate with McClary is how readable and engaging she is compared to lots of other academic writing. She's the sort of writer I can assign to non-music-majors and undergrads without too much explanation, despite her essays' once-controversial status in the discipline -- and her work does an excellent job still of stimulating discussion and broadening their ideas of what musicology can be. I aspire to make my own academic writing as fun to read, yet still serious and thoughtful, as hers is.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Beaudoin

    McClary looks at several classical compositions through the eye of a musicologist, filtered through feminist ideas. She does in-depth readings of many great composers, but also Madonna and Laurie Anderson. I appreciate what she is doing and realize that she is laying groundwork that many other scholars are able to refine but I do think that some of what she is doing is just conjecture, and often she seems to leap to the obvious social explanations without much more than anecdotal evidence.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    I won't follow Susan McClary off a (literal or intellectual) cliff, but I'd sure follow her around the world a few times. I won't follow Susan McClary off a (literal or intellectual) cliff, but I'd sure follow her around the world a few times.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michal Lipták

    Through examples ranging from Monteverdi to Madonna, McClary's core argument seems always the same: tonal music, originating in patriarchal societies which excluded women often literally from the active public life - including composition of music -, sometimes intentionally but more often unwittingly formed a structures which can be understood as male approach to storytelling. The story - best depicted on the structure of the sonata-allegro form - involves a hero ("male" first theme) conquering/ Through examples ranging from Monteverdi to Madonna, McClary's core argument seems always the same: tonal music, originating in patriarchal societies which excluded women often literally from the active public life - including composition of music -, sometimes intentionally but more often unwittingly formed a structures which can be understood as male approach to storytelling. The story - best depicted on the structure of the sonata-allegro form - involves a hero ("male" first theme) conquering/assimilating the Other ("feminine" second theme). The apotheosis of this storytelling is cadence, for the story to make sense a resolution of all tonal tensions in the predetermined key is a must. Of course, the story is not always this straightforward, and sometimes too much tonal tension, incorrect resolution and so on can be interpreted or perceived as the suppressed Other rearing its head (in case e.g. of Tchaikovsky's Fourth directly aligned with his homosexuality within oppressive homophobic societies; elsewhere McClary makes similar case for Schubert with regard to Eighth). The dams are finally broken with the ascent of avantgarde, in certain works of Debussy of Satie, but crucially in atonal music no longer requiring tonal resolutions (Schoenberg's Erwartung is important in this case for McClary, although she's less impressed by later efforts by Schoenberg to fix his atonalism in form of serialism - she doesn't mention Webern, but I guess she's not impressed by him either), or in minimalist music (Janika Vandervelde, but with her McClary mentions Reich and Glass) which got away with resolutions at all. McClary's book is very enjoyable and especially inspiring in how one can look at the music and its ability to signify in a new way (one wishes to revisit Langer's Philosophy in a New Key on an issue of semiotic signification in absolute music). But I'm not sold on alternative story McClary is trying to tell. As for McClary, for me, too, Adorno's Philosophy of New Music was very important for the way I think about music - trying to perceive ultimately ethical and political meanings in particular structural solutions, experiments, particular way composer's formulate a problem. In fact, this is what I've noted down for me elsewhere (thinking triggered, in particular, by Czernowin's 2017 cello concerto "Guardian" - wonderful piece of art from one of the most interesting contemporary composers, btw): It's never only about music. Each challenge to tonality used to present philosophical, and ultimately ethical and political, problems. Serialism of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern: each presented different outlook on life and political turmoil that the West was experiencing at time. Darmstadt's claim to absolute and completely rational music was at the same time solipsistic retreat from the world ravaged by world war. Xenakis challenged these guys from the side and his challenge was once again mostly ethical - that you can't force cobweb of sounds this impenetrable on poor common listener - while the faith in laws of nature with which Xenakis came equipped to that challenge bordered on religious. Many stories like these can be told, or imagined if one wishes. But at certain point the things settle down and there's no longer this tension - for example, the transition from Integral Serialism to New Complexity seems already merely technical, a question of method without novel political or ethical implications. Atonality becomes common beast in academia, avantgarde becomes idiom. But somehow I'm led back to criticism which McClary does anticipate in the introduction, and which her essays are meant to be arguments against: that McClary's emphasis on sexual/gender politics is a bit reductive view of these stories that can be told. I am, however, aware that this may be at the same time another proof of how much I myself am conditioned to view male as default; that at the end of the day I'm still seduced by the supposedly grand issues of politics and freedom that I'm overlooking the way they're conditioned on the more basic political issue - that of gender. All this basically means that a) either McClary's arguments, while they make for interesting read, ultimately fail, or b) my own feminism is still too theoretical and I can't, so to say, put it into practice in my ears. So, if you find McClary's arguments convincing on paper, can you also hear them in music?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Cox

    This book was definitely a little academic for me to read sometimes. It took me a long time to finish and it was a bit frustrating to sometimes only feel up for reading a few pages a day. In spite of rarely feeling "in the mood" to work through this, I did enjoy it and I am glad to have read it. I think that the message is very unique and important. The author does a really amazing job of talking about the ways that gender and sexuality affect our perception of music - from Monteverdi to Madonna This book was definitely a little academic for me to read sometimes. It took me a long time to finish and it was a bit frustrating to sometimes only feel up for reading a few pages a day. In spite of rarely feeling "in the mood" to work through this, I did enjoy it and I am glad to have read it. I think that the message is very unique and important. The author does a really amazing job of talking about the ways that gender and sexuality affect our perception of music - from Monteverdi to Madonna. I wish that I had stopped and listened to more of the songs & pieces the author dissected along the way, instead of listening after I finished a chapter. I want to say that I have a favorite chapter/essay, but I think it is important to read them all as a whole, even though each is valuable on its own. The basic discussion of how we have been conditioned to associate even basic structures like chord progressions and sonata form with desire, sexuality, and gender (first discussed in the chapter on Monteverdi) reoccurs throughout the book, and structure even the chapter on Madonna's music. I really can't believe that this is from 1991 - the author really does not miss anything. Would recommend for anyone who loves music and is up for a pretty academic read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    So, this is the book that might have kept me in graduate school way back when. But alas, it hadn't been written yet. Maybe it's just as well, because these ideas can be applied way beyond musicology. And as a female person, I'm destined to live/confront/struggle with them anyhow - why do it in the narrow confines of academia? Rather than be bitter, I will consider that I was spared. But, beyond my personal reaction, I would just say that, given the hateful reactions of so many readers to McClary's So, this is the book that might have kept me in graduate school way back when. But alas, it hadn't been written yet. Maybe it's just as well, because these ideas can be applied way beyond musicology. And as a female person, I'm destined to live/confront/struggle with them anyhow - why do it in the narrow confines of academia? Rather than be bitter, I will consider that I was spared. But, beyond my personal reaction, I would just say that, given the hateful reactions of so many readers to McClary's views as stated in this book (I'm speaking of Amazon reviewers, not Goodreads reviewers, who have taken a much more thoughtful approach), it appears she has struck a nerve or two. There must be something to it. I recommend you read it, think about it, and decide for yourself.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katie Bunney

    Ground-breaking when it first came out, Feminine Endings is still relevant 30 years on. It was one of the first musicological books I delved into before coming to university and it completely changed the way in which I thought about music and gender (probably making me think about them together for the first time). Having read more literature on musicology and feminist theory since, I am aware of certain problematic elements of McClary's arguments - namely, a reliance on binaries that go against Ground-breaking when it first came out, Feminine Endings is still relevant 30 years on. It was one of the first musicological books I delved into before coming to university and it completely changed the way in which I thought about music and gender (probably making me think about them together for the first time). Having read more literature on musicology and feminist theory since, I am aware of certain problematic elements of McClary's arguments - namely, a reliance on binaries that go against Butler's notions of gender's performativity. However, simply dismissing this book as 'essentialist' detracts from the salient points McClary raises and it is important to me that she draws on the experiences of real women in her critique.

  11. 5 out of 5

    R Leia Devadason

    The extent to which gender and sexuality operate in Classical music is so great that metaphors of tension and release, masculine and feminine, that we use 'rationally' to talk about it go unquestioned. Objectivity is always someone's subjectivity! Thank u McClary for opening the floodgates for the emergence of feminist musicology. The extent to which gender and sexuality operate in Classical music is so great that metaphors of tension and release, masculine and feminine, that we use 'rationally' to talk about it go unquestioned. Objectivity is always someone's subjectivity! Thank u McClary for opening the floodgates for the emergence of feminist musicology.

  12. 5 out of 5

    George

    I encountered 4 of the 7 essays in this collection in different undergraduate music subjects, each on quite different topics. In a class on music history from 1600-1750 we read the chapter 2 essay on Monteverdi, memorable for its reference to Stephen Greenblatt and the history of science's attitudes to female sexuality, and the resulting aesthetic of equal two-part sexual friction in Monteverdi's vocal lines; in a musicology capstone we read chapter 3, thinking about whether there is such a thin I encountered 4 of the 7 essays in this collection in different undergraduate music subjects, each on quite different topics. In a class on music history from 1600-1750 we read the chapter 2 essay on Monteverdi, memorable for its reference to Stephen Greenblatt and the history of science's attitudes to female sexuality, and the resulting aesthetic of equal two-part sexual friction in Monteverdi's vocal lines; in a musicology capstone we read chapter 3, thinking about whether there is such a thing as a Woman's Music or a Gay Man's Music; in a class on nineteenth-century music we read chapter 5 and learn about the violent sexuality of the symphony; and in a class on twentieth-century music we read chapter 6 and learn about Laurie Anderson and the differences between mind, body, and technology. All this is to say that it's a diverse collection, not planned as a unity, as McClary says in her introduction, and I think encountering her work in this somewhat fragmented manner can actually be a positive. One possible weakness I would offer on this point is the fact that, since her essays seem to cater to a wide range of interdisciplinary readers, they inevitably only begin to open up a particular problem, and more than a few of them end by conceding that they risk going down an oversimplifying route. Reading each essay in a row can reveal a certain repetitiveness of structure and argumentative movement. For example, McClary is quite conscious that hypostatising or essentialising a Woman's Music might not be a philosophically or tactically sound thing to do, even if it seems to follow from the plausible and thoroughly-argued claim that tonal desire is effectively a patriarchally-organised kind of desire. This concession repeats itself in the conclusion to several of the essays in different ways. Beethoven, for example, in his extreme symphonic violence, could be subverting or staging that violence; it's hard for McClary to issue a definitive verdict. However, this is also the flip-side of a great strength of this book, its accessibility and provocativeness. I might also say that, even though she comments on her unusual writing style, and hypes it up a little bit as an attempt "to enact within language the musical processes I seek to describe" (xiii), she could probably be quite a bit more experimental than she actually is. This is the risk of offering an interdisciplinary work that is also interdisciplinarily stylistic: McClary's discipline, musicology, is, or was, notorious for a particularly dull writing style, while so much of literary criticism and continental philosophy has taken a willfully difficult or conceptually performative style as a norm. The only thing that I actually don't like about this volume are the instances where she disparages Freud and Freudian theory. It's a familiar story: McClary will offer a throwaway comment, such as "The surveillance and control that had always characterised the psychiatric profession became focused on the "problem" of Woman, and so it has remained with substantial help from Darwin and Freud" (84). Then, on the next page, she will indicate that she substantially agrees with Freud, seemingly without realising it: "One of the conventions governing representations of madwomen in most media is that they are silent. They are seen but are rarely given the power of language, are almost never given the opportunity to speak their own experiences" (85). Freud's innovation lay precisely in asking his patients to speak, in believing that the cure required listening to the patient, learning, rather than imposing, a discourse. It is clear that McClary is familiar with psychoanalysis because so much of her most famous work is explicitly psychoanalytical - her reading of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is nothing if not Freudian - so my complaint here is mostly just registering my displeasure at a facile history of psychiatric thought. Somewhat along these lines, one of the most interesting things I got out of reading this book all the way through is the way McClary is actually able to incorporate big names in music, big theoretical positions, into her own paradigm in a revealing way. For example, it turns out that McClary has a certain theoretical valorisation of Arnold Schoenberg, because both his atonal music and his writings, at least for a period, indicated an awareness of the images and structures of the sexual binary that dominated the history of music and a willingness to step outside of that binary, to write music with an asexual desire, so to speak. Likewise, McClary thinks that Heinrich Schenker's extensive graphic analytical system effectively bears out her claim that tonality is a sexually structured language, because each of Schenker's graphs reduces to one of a handful of Ursatzen, or underlying structures of tension and inevitable resolution. McClary's project is thus one of revaluation and revision, but also one of incorporation and suggestion. It's very productive and I think she's delivered, in her later and contemporary work, on many of the opening remarks that characterise this volume's conclusions.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Helen Pinch

    I like the Carmen chapter and the Laurie Anderson chapter!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I'm definitely inspired to continue to seek out feminist analyses of music. I'm definitely inspired to continue to seek out feminist analyses of music.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    I read this book a long, long, time ago. I originally picked it up because it was about two of my favorite things to read about: music theory and gender. Sadly, while Susan McClary appears to possess a great deal of knowledge concerning the former, her understanding of the elements involved in thoughtful conversations concerning the latter is a bit disappointing. Still, this book was interesting, depressing and an overall engaging read, if you're into this sort of thing, which, I mean, I am. Obv I read this book a long, long, time ago. I originally picked it up because it was about two of my favorite things to read about: music theory and gender. Sadly, while Susan McClary appears to possess a great deal of knowledge concerning the former, her understanding of the elements involved in thoughtful conversations concerning the latter is a bit disappointing. Still, this book was interesting, depressing and an overall engaging read, if you're into this sort of thing, which, I mean, I am. Obviously. K. Great talk.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Alford

    Traditional musicologists have been slow to approach their discipline with anything other than a sterile look at harmonic, melodic and structural form. This book was the forerunner in introducing feminist criticism to music, challenging the traditional ways of analysis. McCrary, as an insider, challenges the status quo at a personal cost. This is an important book for those seeking to deconstruct traditional musical analysis and look at music in a deeper way.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Susan McClary continues to impress me with her well-thought-out explanations and in-depth musical analysis.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elias B

    Accessible, clear, full of wit and examination - McClary's exploration of an often neglected aspect of musicology is daring and perfectly executed. Accessible, clear, full of wit and examination - McClary's exploration of an often neglected aspect of musicology is daring and perfectly executed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gertie The Duck

  20. 4 out of 5

    Frynne

  21. 4 out of 5

    Logan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anais

  23. 4 out of 5

    Drunken_orangetree

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elisha Rose

  25. 5 out of 5

    Yoga Wardoyo

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aldita

  27. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Adams

  28. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary McCray

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

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