In Defense of Close Reading and Close Listening

Blum, Stephen

Whatever we write about music is informed (in more ways than we can recognize) by our responses to works, genres, theories, performances, performers, and to many other factors, some of which we treat as "extramusical." As musicians and as writers, we enact our interpretations of prior interpretive acts. As scholars, we also reflect on the history of our modes
of interpretation and compare them with other ways of responding. Blum argument states that when we are willing to recognize points at which our own techniques of storytelling and dramatizing overlap significantly with those employed by "others," we can no longer relegate the so-called others to a "backward culture" or an "outmoded paradigm." Those who
learn to read well learn to listen well, and good listeners can also become
good readers.



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Columbia University
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January 29, 2015