Ideal performance

British Journal of Aesthetics 42 (3):223-242 (2002)
Abstract
Based on a conception that a musical composition is constituted by normative properties, it is argued that every such composition has one ideal performance—a performance that fulfils all the aesthetic-normative properties that the composition determines. A performance is conceived of (and evaluated) as inherently and essentially ‘intentionalistic’—being, by its very nature, a performance of a certain composition. This conception allows for various different performances, none of which is preferable over the others. The properties concerned are conceived of broadly as comprising not only the tones themselves and various ‘theoretical’ features such as thematic relations, harmonic progressions, rhythmical structures, but also descriptive, emotive, and ‘rhetorical’ properties, which are ‘objective’ properties of the composition. It is further claimed that these are indicated in the score when properly understood in the light, inter alia, of pertinent conventions, which are the business of theoreticians and musicologists to determine. The main significance of the result lies both in highlighting some important implications of the intentionalistic character of a performance, and in the style of conceptual connection it indicates between a musical composition, its aesthetic-normative properties, and features of performance or ways of fulfilling them
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