Return to Riemann: Tonal Function and Chromatic Music

Publication details

London: Routledge, forthcoming 2021 (in the series: RMA Monographs)

Book description

This book is a music-theoretical and critical-theoretical study of late tonal music, and in particular of the music of Wagner (Parsifal and Götterdämmerung) and Strauss (Die Frau ohne Schatten). First, in terms of music theory, it proposes a new theory of tonal function, which returns to the theories of Hugo Riemann to rediscover a development of his thought that has been covered over by the recent project of neo-Riemannian theory. Second, in terms of its philosophical approach, it reawakens the critical-theoretical examination of the relation between music and the late capitalist society which is sedimented in the musical materials themselves, and which the music in turn subjects to aesthetically embodied critique. The music, the theory, and the listeners and critics who respond to them, are all as a consequence radically reimagined.

About the author

J. P. E. Harper-Scott is Professor of Music History and Theory at Royal Holloway, University of London, and General Editor of the Cambridge University Press series, ‘Music in Context’. His work focuses on an examination of music’s cultural, personal, and interpersonal significance since around 1800. It draws extensively on philosophical, cultural, and social theory and the explanatory resources of music theory, and espouses an explicitly Leftist perspective. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Event of Music History (forthcoming), Ideology in Britten’s Operas (2018), The Quilting Points of Musical Modernism (2012), and Edward Elgar, Modernist (2006). He has edited essay collections with Julian Rushton (Elgar Studies, 2007) and Jim Samson (An Introduction to Music Studies, 2009), and a volume of Wagner Studies, edited with Steven Vande Moortele, is under contract to Cambridge University Press.