Klett-Cotta-Verlag Psychology

Das hedonistische Ohr

Präliminarien zur Ästhetik musikalischer Subkulturen

März 1997, 1. Jahrgang, Heft 1, pp 75-92

The hedonistic ear. Preliminaries to the aesthetics of musical subcultures

An aesthetics of so-called pop music is a desideratum. Pop music holds little aesthetic interest for traditional music philosophy – the distinction between serious music and light music is still valid even though for serious music it has long been declared obsolete. According to Adorno music classified as ›light‹ remains ›bad without exception‹. The theorization of pop music may have succeeded in enhancing its status but aesthetic aspects have been left out of consideration and there is too much focus on the sociocultural context. Here the concept of musical subcultures helps us first in a descriptive way to find our bearings. Within the musical subcultures – which are not automatically compatible with the kind of music spread through the media as pop – a separate developmental logic even a form of subhistory has in the meantime developed together with criteria for a specialist opinion. But this is only just beginning to formulate aesthetic questions; answers can only be outlined. In this respect the contribution discusses some of Adorno´s reflections on the function or dysfunction of music and eventually also the problem of musical invariants. Might perhaps »every pleasure that emancipates itself from its exchange value« and as Adorno says »takes on subversive traits« have its specific place in musical subcultures?

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