Dissertation Index

Author: Morse, Michael William

Title: The Tune in Jazz as a Social Process--Prolegomena to a Sociology of Music

Institution: York University

Begun: April 1991

Completed: April 1996


If a there is a distinctive discipline of the sociology of music, then its focus and work proceed from conceptions of the relation between music and society. Existing approaches to this problem, however heterogeneous, have contended with the presupposition that music and society are distinct objects and opposed concepts--an assumption that makes the issues permanently incoherent. To see music and society in a truly conjunct light is to see the temporal procedures of music as particular instances of broader social process.

Historically, sociology has struggled with the relevance of its broad categorical abstractions to the details of experience. Thus the problem of the work is the Kantian question "How is consistent musical particularity possible?" Concrete musical experience cannot consist solely or primarily in isolated objects (called "compositions") and performances, but in semantic forms of life called musicalities. Musicalities represent socially specific developments of the universal fact of rhythm. Through detailed discussion of certain key ideas of Max Weber, Wilhelm Furtw=84ngler, Ferdinand de Saussure, Immanuel Kant, and Talcott Parsons, the social commonality of rhythm is manifest. Attention to the history of this concept, together with the exemplary case of the musicality called improvised jazz, shows the integrality of music with social life altogether.

Keywords: social theory, jazz studies, rhythm, time, meaning, logic


Part One: On the Relations of Music and Society
Chapter One: Conceptions
A. The Problem
B. Conversations
C. Cultural Difference and Rhythmic Space
Part Two: Rhythm as a Basis of Social Action
Chapter Two: Experience and Meaning
A. Saussure's Conception of History

B. Kant's Conception of Form and Possibility

Chapter Three: Social Theory

Chapter Four: The Nature of Rhythm
A. Pulse, Beat, Meter

B. Rhythm as the Shape of Experience

Part Three: The Tune in Jazz as a Social Process
Chapter Five: SONG, the Organization of Musical Experience


Dr. Michael Morse
76 Ellerbeck Street,
Toronto, Ontario, M4K 2V1
telephone: 416-465-2197
e-mail: MMORSE@YorkU.CA

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