Music Theory and the Exploration of the Past
In nineteen essays dealing with musical theories from the twelfth to the twentieth century, two recurring themes emerge. One is the need to understand the historical circumstances of the writing and reception of theory, a humanistic approach that gives theory a place within social and intellectual history. The other is the advantages of applying contemporaneous theory to the music of a given period, thus linking theory to the history of musical styles and structures. The periods given principal attention in these essays are the Renaissance, the years around 1800, and the twentieth century.
Abundantly illustrated with musical examples, Music Theory and the Exploration of the Past offers models of new practical applications of theory to the analysis of music. At the same time, it raises the broader question of how historical knowledge can deepen the understanding of an art and of systematic writings about that art.