Through Thick and Thin: The Ontology of Tape Music

My recent paper “Through Thick and Thin: The Ontology of Tape Music” has been published by the Journal of Music and Meaning (… here is the abstract:

The ontology of music is a lively and much debated branch of metaphysical philosophy. Most of the available literature focuses upon works of the Western classical tradition, however; as a result, the various challenges posed by tape compositions are either marginalised or ignored. Coupled with this is the familiar claim by some musicologists and philosophers that such works cannot be described as being music; one such philosopher, Linda Ferguson, claimed that tape compositions are ontologically distinct from scored musical works and, as a result, are “in search of their metaphysics” (Ferguson 1983). This paper will address such claims through an investigation of the ontology of tape music. It will be argued that such works share their metaphysical status with scored compositions and that the various differences can be ascribed to the “extent, depth, and saturation of their work-determinative properties” (Davies 2004: 26-27). Ultimately, it will be noted that there are some significant differences between these two art forms. Tape music is not “in search of its metaphysics”, however; it is merely lacking an accurate philosophical assessment.

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