Dialectics of Music
Adorno, Benjamin, and Deleuze

by Joseph Weiss

Combining the philosophy and musicology of T.W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and Gilles Deleuze, Joe Weiss makes an original contribution to the field of aesthetics and critical theory. Highlighting previously hidden connections between these philosophers' work brings into focus a new perspective on the dynamic relationship between music, nature, history, and technology. Musical expression in this study is presented as one of the core ways in which human beings are able to escape their more base natures and instincts. The complex ways in which song is taken up across time and place is viewed through the prism of different technologies and histories. This historical process, which Weiss refers to as the 'instrumentalization of the voice', following Deleuze, is illuminated though a wide-ranging analysis encompassing lullaby, jazz, classical music, and the electroacoustic avant-garde.

Deepening the aesthetic analysis of music in relation to the conceptual problems of continental philosophy, Weiss reveals enlightening theoretical consequences. By engaging with an eclectic range of 20th century theorists, including Primo Levi, James Baldwin, Édouard Glissant, Fred Moten, and Angela Davis, Weiss makes the argument that advanced music remains a refuge for political hopes that are as yet blocked from realization. Speaking to contemporary debates on post-humanism, memory, and the threat of neo-fascist social relations, the author outlines a bold new aesthetics of music.

Bloomsbury Academic (June, 2021) 256 pages