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MAKING MUSIC TOGETHER: A Study in Social Relationship

Author(s): ALFRED SCHTZ


Source: Social Research, Vol. 18, No. 1 (MARCH 1951), pp. 76-97
Published by: The New School
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40969255 .
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MAKING MUSIC TOGETHER


A Studyin Social Relationship

BY ALFRED SCHTZ
i

lVlusic is a meaningful
contextwhichis not bound to a conYet
this
contextcan be communischeme.
meaningful
ceptual
cated. The processof communication
betweencomposerand
an individualperlistenernormallyrequiresan intermediary:
former
or a groupofcoperformers.
Amongall theseparticipants
thereprevailsocialrelations
ofa highly
structure.
complicated
of thisstructure
is thepurposeof
To analyzecertainelements
thispaper. The discussion
is notaimedat problemscommonly
the
realm
of
to
the
so-called
ofmusic,although
relegated
sociology
itisbelievedthatan investigation
ofthesocialrelationships
among
theparticipants
in themusicalprocessis a prerequisite
forany
researchin thisfield;noris it concerned
witha phenomenology
of musicalexperience,althoughsome elementary
observations
of
the
structure
music
will
have
to
be
made.
The chief
regarding
of our analysisconsists
in theparticular
interest
character
of all
socialinteractions
connectedwiththemusicalprocess:theyare
to theactoras wellas to theaddressee,
doubtlessmeaningful
but
is notcapableof beingexpressed
thismeaningstructure
in conbut not
ceptualterms;theyare foundedupon communication,
a
semantic
used
the
communicator
as a
system by
primarily
upon
andbyhispartner
schemeofexpression
as a schemeofinterpretation.1 For thisveryreasonit can be hopedthata studyof the
connectedwiththemusicalprocessmaylead
socialrelationships
validformanyotherformsof socialintercourse,
to someinsights
i The systemof musicalnotation,as will be shown,has quite anotherfunction
and a merelysecondaryone.

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MAKING

MUSIC TOGETHER

77

perhapseven to illuminationof a certainaspect of the structure


of social interactionas such that has not so far attractedfrom
social scientiststhe attentionit deserves. This introductory
statementrequiressomeclarification.
When sociologistsspeak of social interactiontheyusually have
in mind a set of interdependent
actionsof severalhuman beings,
mutuallyrelated by the meaningwhich the actor bestowsupon
his actionand whichhe supposesto be understoodby his partner.
To use Max Weber'sterminology,
theseactionshave to be oriented
in theircourse with referenceto one another. In studyingthe
processof communicationas such,mostsociologistshave takenas
a model eitherthe interplayof significative
gesturesor language
in thebroadestsenseof thisterm. G. H. Mead, forexample,finds
thattwowrestlers
communicatewitheach otherbya ' 'conversation
of gestures"whichenables eitherof the participantsto anticipate
the other'sbehaviorand to orienthis own behaviorby means of
such anticipation.2 We may also say that two chess playerswho
bothknowthefunctionalsignificance
of each chessmanin general,
as well as withinthe unique concreteconstellationat any given
momentofa particulargame,communicatetheirthoughtsto each
otherin termsof the "vocabulary"and "syntax"of the schemeof
common to both of them,which
expressionand interpretation
is determinedby the body of the "rules of the game." In the
case of ordinaryspeech or the use of writtensymbols,it is
assumedthateach partnerinterpretshis own behavioras well as
thatof theotherin conceptualtermswhichcan be translatedand
conveyedto the other partnerby way of a common semantic
system.
In any of thesecases the existenceof a semanticsystem
- be it
the "conversationof significant
gestures,"the "rules of the game,"
or "languageproper"- is simplypresupposedas somethinggiven
fromtheoutsetand theproblemof "significance"
remainsunquestioned. The reason for this is quite clear: In the social world
into which we are born, language (in the broadest sense) is
2 G. H. Mead, Mind, Self, and
Society (Chicago 1937) pp. 14, 63, 253 ff.

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78

SOCIAL

RESEARCH

admittedlythe paramount vehicle of communication;its conmake it the outceptual structureand its power of typification
tool
for
the
of
standing
conveying meaning. There is even a
strongtendencyin contemporarythoughtto identifymeaning
with its semanticexpressionand to consider language, speech,
symbols,significantgestures,as the fundamentalcondition of
social intercourseas such. Even Mead's highlyoriginalendeavor
to explain the origin of language by an interplayof significant
- his famous example of the dogfight
- startsfrom the
gestures
suppositionthat a prelinguistic"conversation"of "attitudes"is
possible. It is not necessaryto accept Mead's basic position of
"social behaviorism"in order to admit that,as has so oftenhappened, he has seen a crucial problem more clearlythan others.
Nevertheless,the solution he offersonly seeminglyremovesthe
difficulties
connectedwith the basic issue, namely,whetherthe
communicativeprocess is really the foundationof all possible
social relationships,or whether,on the contrary,all communication presupposesthe existenceof some kind of social interaction
which, though it is an indispensablecondition of all possible
does not enterthe communicativeprocessand is
communication,
not capable of beinggraspedby it. It is currently
ratherfashionable to dismissproblemsof this kind with a haughtyreference
to the question of the priorityof the chickenor the egg. Such
an unfamiliarity
an attitudenotonlyreflects
withthephilosophical
issue discussedby the Schoolmenunder the heading of priority,
but also constitutesa self-madeobstacle to a serious analysisof
the various problems of foundation importantespecially for
the social sciences.
As faras the questionunderscrutinyis concerned,the concrete
researchesof many sociologistsand philosophershave aimed at
certainformsof social intercoursewhich necessarilyprecede all
communication.Wiese's "contact-situations,"
Scheler'sperceptual
a
alter
to
certain
the
extent
of
ego,
theory
Cooley'sconceptof the
face-to-face
Malinowski's
of speech as
relationship,
interpretation
within
the
situation
determined
social
interaction,
originating
by

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MAKING

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79

Sartre'sbasic conceptof "lookingat the otherand being looked at


by the other" (le regard),all these are just a few examples of
the endeavor to investigatewhat might be called the "mutual
tuning-inrelationship"upon which alone all communicationis
founded. It is preciselythis mutual tuning-inrelationshipby
whichthe "I" and the "Thou" are experiencedby both participantsas a "We" in vivid presence.
Instead of enteringhere into the complicated philosophical
analysisof thisproblem,3it maybe permissibleto referto a series
of well-knownphenomena in the social world in which this
social relationshipcomes to the foreground.
precommunicative
Mead's example of wrestlershas already been mentioned. It is
typical for a set of similar interrelatedactivitiessuch as the
relationshipbetweenpitcherand catcher,tennisplayers,fencers,
and so on; we findthe same featuresin marchingtogether,dancing together,making love together,or making music together,
and thislast-namedactivitywill serveas an example foranalysis
in thefollowingpages. It is hoped thatthisanalysiswill in some
measurecontributeto clarification
of the structureof the mutual
which
originatesin the possibilityof living
relationship,
tuning-in
togethersimultaneouslyin specificdimensionsof time. It is
also hoped thatthestudyoftheparticularcommunicativesituation
withinthe musical processwill shed some light on the nonconceptualaspectinvolvedin any kind of communication.
n

Certain elementsof the social structureof the musical process


were analyzedin one of the later writingsof the famousFrench
sociologist,Maurice Halbwachs.4 The paper in questiondeserves
special attentionbecause it was writtenas a kind of introduction
to a major studyon the natureof time,whichwas unfortunately
3 Mead's Philosophyof the Present (Chicago 1932) is just one exampleof how
of thiskind have to be carriedout and wheretheylead.
investigations
4 Maurice Halbwachs,"La mmoirecollectivechez les musiciens,"in Revue
philosophique(March-April1939) pp. 136-65.

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SOCIAL

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never completedowing to the author's tragicdeath in the concentrationcamp of Buchenwaldin July 1944.5
Halbwachs' basic position is well known. He assumed that
all kinds of memoryare determinedby a social frameworkand
that individual memorycannot be conceived of without the
assumptionof a collective memoryfrom which all individual
recollectionderives. This basic principle- which it is not our
concernto criticizehere- was applied to the problemof musical
communicationbecause the authorfeltthatthe verystructureof
music- its developmentwithin the flux of time, its detachment
- offersan
fromanythingthat lasts,its realizationby re-creation
excellentopportunityfor demonstratingthat there is no other
a set of recollectionswithall theirshades
possibilityof preserving
and details except by recourse to the collective memory. In
otherwords,Halbwachs was primarilyconcernedwith analyzing
the social structureof music. Curiouslyenough,he divided the
realm of music into two distinctparts: music as experiencedby
the educated musicianand music as experiencedby the layman.
With regard to the former,Halbwachs came to the conclusion
thatit is firstof all the possibilityof translatingmusic into visual
- that is, the systemof musical notation- which makes
symbols
transmission
of music possible. To be sure,the signsof musical
notationare not imagesof the sounds. They are, however,means
of expressingin a conventionallanguageall the commandswhich
the musicianmustobey if he wantsto reproducea piece of music
properly. The conventionalcharacterof the signs of musical
notation and their combinationconsistsin the fact that they
have meaningmerelyby continuousreferenceto the group which
inventedand adopted them. This group, the ' 'society'' of educated musicians,lives in a world exclusivelyfilled with sounds
and is interestedin nothingelse but creatingor listeningto a
combinationof sounds. Even the inventionof new combinations
5 Four chapters from the manuscript were published posthumously under the
title, "Mmoire et socit," in L'Anne sociologique, 3rd Series, Vol. I (Paris 1949)
pp. 11-197.

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MAKING MUSIC TOGETHER

81

of soundsis possibleonlywithinthe framework


of the socially
conditioned
musicallanguage(which,
forHalbwachs,
wasidentical
withthe systemof musicalnotation).The creativeact of the
in the same world of sounds
composeris merelya discovery
thatis accessibleexclusively
to the societyof musicians. It is
because
the
of this
precisely
composeracceptsthe conventions
moredeeplyinto themthan
societyand becausehe penetrates
othersthathe can makehis discoveries.The musicallanguage
is not an instrument
inventedafterward
in orderto put down
and to transmit
to othermusicianswhatone of themhas sponinvented.On thecontrary,
itis thisverylanguagewhich
taneously
createsmusic.
This is roughlyHalbwachs'main argumentfor the social
character
ofthemusician's
music. Yet thechildor themusically
uneducated
learns
anthems,
person
nursery
rhymes,
popularsongs,
dance or marchmelodiesby rote withoutany knowledgeof
musicalnotation.How is thispossibleand howcan thiskindof
be referredto the collective
memoryfor sound combinations
memory?Halbwachs'answeris thatthe layman'smemoryof
musicaleventsis also foundedupon the collectivememorybut
alwaysattachedto metamusical
experiences.6The melodyof a
- a social product
- are
is
remembered
because
the
words
song
remembered.As fordancesor marchesor otherpiecesof music
dissociated
fromwords,it is the rhythm
of marching,
dancing,
that
serves
as
the
carrier
of
the
musical
recollection.
speaking,
Yet rhythm
does not existin nature;it, too, is a resultof our
livingin society.The insulatedindividualcould not discover
forthisstatement
rhythm.No evidenceisoffered
(whichI believe
tobe wrong)exceptreference
to therhythmical
character
ofwork
are of social
songsand of our speech. Bothwordsand rhythms
are thelayman'smusicalexperiences.
originand so,consequently,
Buttheyrefertoa worldin whichotherthanexclusively
sonorous
eventsexistand to a societynotexclusively
interested
in musical
texture.So muchforHalbwachs.
This termis not used by Halbwachs,but probablyrenderswhat he meant.

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Interestingas Halbwachs' analysis is, it suffersfromvarious


shortcomings.In thefirstplace,it seemsto me thatthedistinction
betweena musician'smusicand musicaccessibleto the laymanis
withoutany foundationin fact. But postponingthe discussion
of this question and restrictingourselvesfor the time being to
the provinceof music allegedlyaccessible only to the educated
musician,the followingobjectionsto Halbwachs' theorymust be
themusicalthoughtwithitscommunicaraised: (1) He identifies
tion. (2) He identifiesmusical communicationwith musical
languagewhichto him is the systemof musicalnotation. (3) He
identifiesmusical notation with the social background of the
musical process.
In regardto the firstobjection,it is clear thatfromthe point of
view of thecomposera musicalthoughtmaybe conceivedwithout
any intentionof communication. This thoughtmay be a perfect
piece of music,having its specificmeaning structure;it may be
rememberedat will withoutbeing translatedinto actual sounds
or into the visible formof notation. This is, of course, not a
of themusicalprocess. It has been said thatRaphael
particularity
would have been one of the greatestpainterseven if he had
been bornwithoutarms. In general,all kindsof mentalactivities
meaningfuland capable of
performedin fantasymaybe perfectly
being mentallyreproducedwithinthe solitude of the individual
consciousness. All our unexpressedthoughts,our day dreamsas
well as projectsfor futureaction never carried out, show these
features. But any kind of communicationbetweenman and his
fellowman and therefore
the communicationof musical thoughts
presupposesan event or a series of events in the outer world
which functions,on the one hand, as a schemeof expressionof
the communicator'sthoughtand, on the otherhand, as a scheme
of interpretationof such thoughtby the addressee. Musical
to otherseitherby the mechanicsof
thoughtscan be transmitted
audible sound or by the symbolsof musical notation.
It is hard to understandwhy Halbwachs regarded only the
latteras the appropriateformof musical communication. Obvi-

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MAKING

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83

ously he took as a model of his analysisthe situationin which


the composerhas to communicatehis musical idea to the performerbywayofa systemofvisiblesignsbeforethe performer
can
translatethese ideas into sounds to be grasped by the listener.
But this procedurehas nothingto do with the particularitiesof
musical communicationas such; it is a more or less technical
question. We may perfectlywell understandan improvisation
executed by one or several instrumentalists.Or we may, with
Tovey,foreseea revolutionin the processof musical communication by means of the microscopicstudyof phonographicrecords.
"There is nothingto preventthe individual productionof music
directlyin termsof the phonographicneedle. That is to say,the
will precomposer,untrammeledby the techniqueof instruments,
scribeall producibletimbrein whateverpitchesand rhythmshe
pleases, and will have no more direct cooperation with the
craftsmanwho models the phonographicwave-lines,than the
violinistmaywithStradivarius."7
Musical notationis, therefore,
just one among severalvehicles
of communicatingmusical thought. But musical notationis by
no means identical with musical language. Its semanticsystem
is of quite anotherkind than thatof ideograms,letters,or mathematicalor chemicalsymbols. The ideogramrefersimmediatelyto
therepresentedconceptand so does the mathematicalor chemical
symbol. The writtenword in our alphabeticlanguagesrefersto
the sound of the spokenword and throughit as an intermediary
to the concept it conveys. As stated above, the meaning of a
musicalprocesscannotbe relatedto a conceptualscheme,and the
particularfunctionof musical notation today as well as in its
historicaldevelopmentreflectsthis situation. The musical sign
is nothingbut instructionto the performerto produce by means
of his voice or his instrumenta sound of a particular pitch
and duration,givingin addition,at certainhistoricalperiods,suggestionsas to tempo,dynamics,and expression,or directionsas to
the connectionwithothersounds (by such devices as ties,slurs,
7 Donald Francis Tovey, "Music," in British Encyclopaedia, 14th ed.

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and the like). All theseelementsof the tonal materialcan only


be approximatelyprescribedand the way to obtain the indicated
effectis leftto the performer. "The composer'sspecificindicationsare themselvesnot alwaysa partof his originalcreationbut
ratherone musician'smessageto anotherabout it, a hint about
how to secure in performancea convincingtransmissionof the
work's feeling content without destroyingits emotional and
intellectualcommunity,"saysa well-knowncomposerand critic.8
And the conductor,Furtwngler,
is certainlyrightin statingthat
the composer'stext "cannot give any indicationas to the really
intendedvolume of a forte,the reallyintendedspeed of a tempo,
since everyforteand everytempohas to be modifiedin practice
in accordancewith the place of the performanceand the setting
and the strengthof the performing
group" and that "the expresa merelysymbolicvalue withrespect
sion markshave intentionally
to the whole workand are not intendedto be valid forthe single
instrumentwhereforean 'ff'for the bassoon has quite another
9
meaning than for the trombone."
Thus, all musicalnotationremainsof necessityvague and open
and it is up to thereaderor performer
to manifoldinterpretations
in
and to definetheapproximations.
hints
the
score
the
to decipher
These limitsvarywidelyin the course of the historicaldevelopment of musical culture. The more closely we approach the
presentin the studyof the historyof music,the lowerthe level of
and of listeners,and
the general musical culture of performers
the strongerthe tendencyof the composerto make his systemof
notationas exact and preciseas possible,that is, to limit more
freedomof interpretation.To be sure,
and moretheperformer's
all signsof musical notationare conventional;but, as has been
shown,the systemof musical notationis more or less accidental
to the processof musical communication. A social theoryof
does not have to be foundedon the conventional
musictherefore
8 VirgilThompson,The Art of JudgingMusic (New York 1948) p. 296.
- eine musikalische
9 WilhelmFurtwngler,
in Das
Schicksalfrage,"
"Interpretation
der
Musik
Atlantisbuch
(Zurich 1934) pp. 609 ff.

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MAKING

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85

characterof the visual signsbut ratheron the sum total of what


we have just called musical culture against the backgroundof
which the reader's or performer'sinterpretationof these signs
takesplace.
m

To make this web of social relationshipscalled musical culture


clearer,let us imagine a lonely performerof a piece of music
sittingat his piano beforethe scoreof a sonataby a minormaster
of the nineteenthcenturywhich,we assume,is entirelyunknown
to him. Furthermore,
we assumethatour piano playeris equally
as
a
technician
and sightreaderand thatconsequently
proficient
no mechanicalor otherexternalobstacle will hinder the fluxof
his performance.
Yet, having hardlymade these two assumptions,we hesitate.
Are theyindeedcompatiblewitheach other? Can we reallymaintain thatthe sonata in question is entirelyunknownto our performer? He could not be an accomplishedtechnicianand sight
readerwithouthavingattaineda certainlevel of musical culture
enablinghim to read offhanda piece of musicof the typeof that
beforehim. Consequently,although this particularsonata and
perhapsall the otherworksof thisparticularcomposermightbe
unknownto him,he will nevertheless
have a well-foundedknowlof
the
of
musical
form
called ' 'sonata within the
edge
type
meaningofnineteenthcenturypiano music,"of thetypeof themes
and harmoniesused in such compositionsof that period, of the
expressionalcontentshe may expect to find in them- in sum,
of the typical' 'style"in which music of this kind is writtenand
in whichit has to be executed. Even beforestartingto play or
to read the firstchordour musicianis referredto a more or less
clearlyorganized,more or less coherent,more or less distinctset
of his previousexperiences,which constitutein their totalitya
kindof preknowledgeof the piece of musicat hand. To be sure,
thispreknowledge
refersmerelyto thetypeto whichthisindividual
of
music
belongs and not to its particular and unique
piece

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individuality. But the player's general preknowledgeof its


typicalitybecomesthe schemeof referenceforhis interpretation
of its particularity.This scheme of referencedetermines,in a
generalway,the player'santicipationsof whathe mayor maynot
findin thecompositionbeforehim. Such anticipationsare more
or less empty;theymay be fulfilledand justifiedby the musical
eventshe will experiencewhen he startsto play the sonata or
theymay "explode" and be annihilated.
In more general terms,the player approaching a so-called
- in one's own
unknownpiece of musicdoes so froma historically
- determinedsituation,determinedby his
case,autobiographically
stockof musicalexperiencesat hand in so faras theyare typically
relevantto the anticipatednovel experiencebeforehim.10 This
stockof experiencesrefersindirectlyto all his past and present
fellowmen whoseacts or thoughtshave contributedto the building up ofhis knowledge. This includeswhathe has learnedfrom
his teachers,and his teachersfromtheir teachers;what he has
taken in fromotherplayers'execution; and what he has approof the musical thoughtof the
priated fromthe manifestations
- as of knowlthe
bulk
of
musical knowledge
composer. Thus,
edge in general- is socially derived. And within this socially
derived knowledgethere stands out the knowledgetransmitted
and authority
fromthoseupon whomthe prestigeof authenticity
has been bestowed,thatis, fromthegreatmastersamongthecomof theirwork. Musical
posersand the acknowledgedinterpreters
transmitted
them
is
not
knowledge
by
only sociallyderived; it is
10All thisis by no meanslimitedto the situationunderscrutiny.Indeed,our
analysishas so farbeen merelyan applicationof Husserl'smasterful
investigations
of our experience.Accordingto him the factualworldis always
intothestructure
experiencedas a worldof preconstituted
types. To embarkupon the importance
of this discoveryby Husserl,especiallyfor the conceptof type,so fundamental for all social sciences,is not within the scope of the present paper.
This theoryhas been touchedupon in Husserl'sIdeas: GeneralIntroductionto
Pure Phenomenology,
translated
by W. R. BoyceGibson (London-NewYork 1931)
47 P- *49and nas been fuUydevelopedin his Erfahrungund Urteil(Prague
1939)PP- 35 ff-139-43394-4O3-

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MAKING

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87

also sociallyapproved,11being regardedas authenticand thereforemorequalifiedto becomea patternforothersthanknowledge


originatingelsewhere.
IV

- the actual perIn the situationwe have chosen to investigate


formanceof a piece of music the genesisof the stockof knowledge at hand withall its hidden social referencesis, so to speak,
prehistoric. The web of sociallyderived and sociallyapproved
knowledgeconstitutesmerely the setting for the main social
relationshipinto which our piano player (and also any listener
or mere readerof music) will enter: that with the composerof
thesonatabeforehim. It is thegraspingof thecomposer'smusical
thoughtand its interpretation
by re-creationwhich stand in the
centerof the player'sfieldof consciousnessor, to use a phenomenologicalterm,whichbecome "thematic"forhis ongoingactivity.
This thematickernelstandsout againstthehorizonof preacquired
knowledge,which knowledgefunctionsas a schemeof reference
for the graspingof the composer'sthought.
and interpretation
It is now necessaryto describethe structureof thissocial relationbut beforeenteringinto
ship betweencomposerand beholder,12
its analysisit mightbe well to forestalla possiblemisunderstanding. It is by no means our thesisthat a work of music (or of
art in general) cannot be understoodexcept by referenceto its
- biographicalor otherindividualauthoror to thecircumstances
in which he created this particularwork. It is certainlynot a
prerequisitefor the understandingof the musical contentof the
so-calledMoonlightSonatato takecognizanceof thesillyanecdotes
whichpopularbeliefattachesto thecreationof thiswork;it is not
even indispensableto know that the sonata was composed by a
man called Beethovenwho lived thenand thereand wentthrough
11With regard to the conceptsof socially derived and socially approved
see my paper,"The Well-informed
Citizen,"in Social Research,vol.
knowledge,
13, no. 4 (December1946) pp. 463-78,especially475 ff.
12The term"beholder"shall include the player,listener,and readerof music.

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such and such personal experiences. Any work of art, once


accomplished,existsas a meaningfulentityindependentof the
personal life of its creator.13 The social relationshipbetween
composerand beholder as it is understoodhere is established
exclusivelyby the factthata beholderof a piece of music participates in and to a certainextentre-createsthe experiencesof the
- let us suppose,anonymous
- fellowman who createdthiswork
not only as an expressionof his musical thoughtsbut with communicativeintent.
- very
For our purposes a piece of music may be defined14
indeed as a meaningfularrangementof
roughlyand tentatively,
tonesin innertime. It is the occurrencein innertime,Bergson's
dure,whichis the veryformof existenceof music. The fluxof
tones unrollingin inner time is an arrangementmeaningfulto
both the composerand the beholder,because and in so far as it
evokesin the streamof consciousnessparticipatingin it an interplay of recollections,retentions,protentions,and anticipations
which interrelatethe successive elements. To be sure, the
sequence of tones occurs in the irreversibledirectionof inner
time,in the direction,as it were, fromthe firstbar to the last.
But thisirreversiblefluxis not irretrievable.The composer,by
the specificmeans of his art,15has arrangedit in such a way that
13This problemhas been discussedforthe realmof poetryby E. M. W. Tillyard
book,The PersonalHeresy,a Controversy
and C. S. Lewisin theirwittyand profound
(London-NewYork 1939).
14An excellentsurveyof philosophicaltheoriesof musiccan be foundin Susanne
in
K. Langer,Philosophyin a New Key (Cambridge1942),Ch. 8, "On Significance
Music,"and Ch. 9, "The Genesisof ArtisticImport,"althoughthe author'sown
It may be summedup in the followingquotation:
positionseemsunsatisfactory.
"Music has all the earmarksof a truesymbolism,
exceptone: the existenceof an
idiom
like
an artificial
limited
It
is
a
...
connotation.
language,onlyeven
assigned
less successful; for music at its highest, though clearly a symbolic form, is an

not
is itslifebut notassertion;expressiveness,
unconsunvmated
symbol.Articulation
expression."
15borneor thesespecincmeansare essentialto any Kina or music,otnersDeiong
melody,tonalharmony,
technique
merelyto a particularmusicalculture. Rhythm,
of diminution,and the so-calledformsbased on what Tovey calls the larger
and so on, are certainlycharacteristic
such as Sonata,Rondo,Variations,
harmony,
of themusicalcultureof thenineteenth
century.It maybe hoped thatintensified

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MAKING

MUSIC TOGETHER

89

the consciousnessof the beholderis led to referwhat he actually


hears to what he anticipateswill followand also to what he has
just been hearingand what he has heard ever since this piece of
music began. The hearer,therefore,
listensto the ongoing flux
of music,so to speak,not only in the directionfromthe firstto
the last bar but simultaneouslyin a reversedirectionback to the
firstone.16
It is essentialforour problemto gain a clearerunderstanding
of thetimedimensionin whichmusicoccurs. It was statedabove
that the inner time,the dure, is the veryformof existenceof
music. Of course,playingan instrument,listeningto a record,
readinga page of music- all theseare eventsoccurringin outer
time,the time thatcan be measuredby metronomesand clocks,
that is, the time that the musician "counts" in order to assure
the correct"tempo." But to make clear why we considerinner
time the verymediumwithinwhich the musical flowoccurs,let
us imaginethat the slow and the fastmovementof a symphony
each filla twelve-inch
record. Our watchesshow thatthe playing
of eitherrecordtakesabout threeand a half minutes. This is a
fact which might possibly interest the program maker of a
broadcastingstation. To the beholder it means nothing. To
him it is not truethatthe timehe lived throughwhile listeningto
the slow movementwas of "equal length" with that which he
dedicatedto thefastone. While listeninghe lives in a dimension
of time incomparablewith that which can be subdivided into
homogeneousparts. The outer time is measurable; there are
piecesofequal length;thereare minutesand hoursand the length
of the grooveto be traversedby the needle of the recordplayer.
There is no such yardstickfor the dimensionof inner time the
listenerlives in; thereis no equalitybetweenits pieces, if pieces
researchin the phenomenology
of musicalexperiencewill shed some light upon
the difficult
of tones
problemwhichof thesemeans of meaningfularrangement
is essentialto musicin general,regardlessof what its particularhistoricalsetting
maybe.
io This insighthas been formulated
in an unsurpassable
wayby St. Augustinein
Book XI, Ch. 38, of his Confessions.

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SOCIAL RESEARCH
go
therewere at all.17 It may come as a completesurpriseto him
that the main theme of the second movementof Beethoven's
PianoforteSonata in d-minor,Op. 31, No. 2, takesas much time
in the mere clock sense- namely,one minute- as the last movementof the same sonataup to the end of the exposition.18
The precedingremarksserve to clarifythe particularsocial
relationshipbetweencomposerand beholder. Althoughseparated
by hundredsof years,the latter participateswith quasi simulwith
taneityin theformer'sstreamofconsciousnessby performing
him step by step the ongoingarticulationof his musical thought.
The beholder,thus,is unitedwiththecomposerby a timedimension commonto both,whichis nothingotherthana derivedform
ofthevividpresentsharedby thepartnersin a genuineface-to-face
relation19 such as prevailsbetween speaker and listener.
But is thisreconstruction
of a vivid present,thisestablishment
of a quasi simultaneity,
specificto the relationshipbetween the
streamof consciousnessof the composerand thatof the beholder?
Can it not also be foundin therelationshipbetweenthe readerof
a letterwith its writer,the studentof a scientificbook with its
of the
author,the high school boy who learns the demonstration
rule of the hypotenusewith Pythagoras? Certainly,in all these
cases the single phases of the author's articulatedthoughtare
- thatis, stepby step- coperformed
or reperformed
polythetically
and
thus
a
of
the
both
streamsof
by
quasi simultaneity
recipient,
book, forinstance,
thoughttakesplace. The readerof a scientific
builds up word by word the meaningof a sentence,sentenceby
sentencethat of a paragraph,paragraphby paragraphthat of a
17We do not need the reference
to the specificexperienceof listeningto music
of innerand outertime. The hand
theincommensurability
in orderto understand
of our watchmay run equally over half the dial, whetherwe wait beforethe
door of a surgeonoperatingon a persondear to us or whetherwe are havinga
facts.
good timein congenialcompany. All theseare well-known
is Donald FrancisTovey,Beethoven(London-NewYork 1945) p. 57.
19This term,hereand in the following
is not used in the sensethat
paragraphs,
CharlesHortonCooleyused it in Social Organization(New York 1937)^ns- 3~5*it
in such a relationsharetimeand space while
merelythattheparticipants
signifies
it lasts. An analysisof Cooley'sconceptcan be foundin my article,"The Homecomer,"in AmericanJournalof Sociology,vol. 50, no. 5 (March 1945) p. 37.

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MAKING MUSIC TOGETHER

91
thesepolythetic
chapter. But once havingcoperformed
stepsof
theconceptualmeaningof thissentence(paragraph,
constituting
the
chapter), readermaygraspthe outcomeof thisconstitutive
process,the resulting
conceptualmeaning,in a singleglance
20
as Husserlputsit thatis,independently
ofthe
monothetically,
in
which
and
which
this
has
by
polythetic
steps
meaning been
constituted.In the same way I maygraspmonothetically
the
of
the
theorem
without
restartmeaning
Pythagorean
a2-j-b2=:c2,
thesinglementaloperations
ofderivingit stepby
ingto perform
from
certain
assured
I
and
step
premises,
maydo so evenif I have
howto demonstrate
thetheorem.
forgotten
The meaningof a musicalwork,21
is essentially
of a
however,
structure.
It
cannot
be
It
polythetical
graspedmonothetically.
consistsin thearticulated
occurrence
in innertime,
step-by-step
in theverypolythetic
constitutional
itself.
I maygivea
process
nameto a specific
piece of music,callingit "MoonlightSonata"
or "NinthSymphony";
I mayevensay,"Thesewerevariations
with
a finalein theformof a passacaglia,"or characterize,
as certain
notesare proneto do, theparticular
moodor emotion
program
thispieceof musicis supposedto have evokedin me. But the
musicalcontent
itsverymeaning,
can be graspedmerelyby
itself,
oneself
in
the
thus
reimmersing
ongoingflux,by reproducing
thearticulated
musicaloccurrence
as it unfoldsin polythetic
steps
in innertime,a processitselfbelonging
to thedimension
ofinner
time. Anditwill"takeas muchtime"toreconstitute
theworkin
as to experience
recollection
it forthefirst
time. In bothcasesI
thequasi simultaneity
haveto re-establish
of mystreamof consciousnesswiththatof the composerdescribedhereinbefore.22
20Husserl,Ideas (citedabove) 118, 119,pp. 334 ff.
21Also of othertime-objects
such as dance or poetry(see footnote22).
22This thesisis simplya corollaryto the other
- that the meaningcontext
of musicis not relatedto a conceptualscheme. A poem, for instance,may also
have a conceptualcontent,and this,of course,may be graspedmonothetically.
I can tell in one or two sentencesthe storyof the ancientmariner,and in fact
thisis donein theauthor'sgloss.But in so faras thepoeticalmeaningof Coleridge's
- that is, in so far as it is
- I can
poem surpassesthe conceptualmeaning
poetry
onlybringit beforemymindby recitingor readingit frombeginningto end.

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SOCIAL RESEARCH
92
We have therefore
the followingsituation: two seriesof events
in innertime,one belongingto the streamof consciousnessof the
composer,theotherto thestreamof consciousnessof thebeholder,
are lived throughin simultaneity,
whichsimultaneity
is createdby
the ongoingfluxof the musical process. It is the thesisof the
presentpaper thatthissharingof theother'sfluxof experiencesin
innertime,thislivingthrougha vivid presentin common,constituteswhat we called in our introductory
paragraphsthe mutual
tuning-inrelationship,the experienceof the "We," which is at
thefoundationof all possiblecommunication. The peculiarityof
the musical processof communicationconsistsin the essentially
characterof thecommunicatedcontent,thatis to say,in
polythetic
the factthatboth the fluxof the musicaleventsand the activities
by which they are communicated,belong to the dimension of
inner time. This statementseems to hold good for any kind of
music. There is, however,one kind of music- the polyphonic
music of the westernworld- which has the magic power of
realizingby its specificmusical means the possibilityof living
simultaneouslyin two or more fluxesof events. In polyphonic
writingeach voice has its particularmeaning; each representsa
seriesof, so to speak, autarchicmusical events; but this flux is
designedto roll on in simultaneitywith other series of musical
events,not less autarchicin themselves,but coexistingwith the
into a
formerand combiningwiththemby thisverysimultaneity
new meaningfularrangement.23
So far we have investigatedthe social relationshipbetween
composerand beholder. What we have foundto be the outstand- that is, the sharing of
ing featureof musical communication
- holds good whetherthis
the ongoingfluxof the musicalcontent
or through
processoccursmerelyin the beholder'srecollection,24
23See, for instance, the Brahms song, "Wir wandelten wir zwei zusammen," in
the introductionof which the walking togetherof the two lovers is expressed by
the specific musical means of a canon, or the same device used in the Credo of
Bach's B-minor Mass for expressingthe mysteryof the Trinity ("Et in unum").
24In this connection, one recalls Brahm's dictum: "If I want to listen to a
fine performanceof 'Don Giovanni,' I light a good cigar and stretch out on my
sofa."

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MAKING

MUSIC TOGETHER

93

his reading the score,or with the help of audible sounds. To


believe that the visible signsof musical notationare essentialto
thisprocessis no more erroneousthan to assert,as even Husserl
does, that a symphonyexists merelyin its performanceby an
orchestra.To be sure,the participationin the processof musical
communicationby means other than audible sounds requires
eithera certainnaturalgiftor special trainingon the part of the
beholder. It is the eminentsocial functionof the performer
the singeror player of an instrument to be the intermediary
betweencomposerand listener. By his re-creationof the musical
processthe performer
partakesin the streamof consciousnessof
the composeras well as of the listener. He therebyenables the
latterto becomeimmersedin theparticulararticulationof theflux
of innertimewhichis the specificmeaningof the piece of music
in question. It is of no greatimportancewhetherperformer
and
listenershare togethera vivid presentin face-to-face
relation or
whetherthroughthe interpositionof mechanical devices, such
as records,only a quasi simultaneitybetween the streamof consciousnessof the mediatorand the listenerhas been established.
The lattercase alwaysrefersto theformer.The difference
between
thetwoshowsmerelythattherelationshipbetweenperformer
and
audience is subject to all variationsof intensity,intimacy,and
anonymity.This can be easily seen by imaginingthe audience
as consistingof one single person,a small group of personsin a
privateroom, a crowd fillinga big concerthall, or the entirely
unknownlistenersof a radio performanceor a commerciallydistributedrecord. In all thesecircumstances
and listener
performer
are "tuned-in"to one another,are living togetherthroughthe
same flux,are growingolder togetherwhile the musical process
lasts. This statementapplies not only to the fifteenor twenty
minutesof measurableouter time required for the performance
of this particularpiece of music, but primarilyto the coperformancein simultaneityof the polytheticsteps by which the
musicalcontentarticulatesitselfin inner time. Since, however,
as an act of communicationis based upon a series
all performance

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SOCIAL RESEARCH
94
ofeventsin theouterworld- in our case thefluxofaudible sounds
- it can be said thatthesocialrelationshipbetweenperformer
and
listeneris foundedupon the commonexperienceof living simultaneouslyin severaldimensionsof time.
v
The samesituation,thepluridimensionality
oftimesimultaneously
lived throughby man and fellowman, occursin the relationship
betweentwo or more individualsmakingmusic together,which
we are now preparedto investigate. If we accept Max Weber's
famous definition,according to which a social relationshipis
"the conduct of a pluralityof personswhich accordingto their
subjectivemeaningare mutuallyconcernedwith each otherand
orientedbyvirtueof thisfact,"thenboth therelationshipprevailand listenerand thatprevailingbetween
ingbetweenintermediary
fallunderthisdefinition.But thereis an important
coperformers
differencebetween them. The listener'scoperformingof the
polytheticsteps in which the musical contentunfoldsis merely
an internalactivity(althoughas an "action involvingthe action
of othersand being orientedby themin its course" undoubtedly
a social actionwithinWeber'sdefinition). The coperformers(let
us say a soloistaccompaniedby a keyboardinstrument)have to
executeactivitiesgearinginto the outerworldand thusoccurring
in spatializedoutertime. Consequently,each coperformer's
action
is orientednotonlyby thecomposer'sthoughtand his relationship
to the audience but also reciprocallyby the experiencesin inner
and outertimeofhis fellowperformer.Technically,each of them
findsin the music sheet before him only that portion of the
musical contentwhich the composerhas assigned to his instrumentfortranslationinto sound. Each of themhas, therefore,
to
take into account what the otherhas to execute in simultaneity.
He has not only to interprethis own part,whichas such remains
but he has also to anticipatethe other
necessarilyfragmentary,
- part and, even more,
of his- the other's
player'sinterpretation
the other'santicipationsof his own execution. Either'sfreedom

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MAKING

MUSIC TOGETHER

95

the composer'sthoughtis restrainedby the freeof interpreting


dom grantedto the other. Either has to foreseeby listeningto
the other,by protentionsand anticipations,any turn the other's
maytake and has to be preparedat any time to be
interpretation
leaderor follower. Both sharenot onlythe innerdure in which
the contentof the music played actualizes itself; each, simultaneously,sharesin vivid presentthe other'sstreamof consciousnessin immediacy.This is possiblebecausemakingmusictogether
- inasmuchas the particioccursin a trueface-to-face
relationship
pantsare sharingnot only a sectionof time but also a sectorof
space. The other'sfacialexpressions,his gesturesin handlinghis
in shortall the activitiesof performing,gear into
instrument,
the outerworldand can be graspedby the partnerin immediacy.
Even if performedwithoutcommunicativeintent,theseactivities
are interpretedby him as indicationsof what the otheris going
to do and therefore
as suggestionsor even commandsforhis own
behavior. Any chamber musician knows how disturbingan
arrangementthat preventsthe coperformersfrom seeing each
othercan be. Moreover,all the activitiesof performingoccur
in outer time,the time which can be measuredby countingor
the metronomeor the beat of the conductor'sbaton. The coperformers
mayhaverecourseto thesedeviceswhenforone reasonor
another the flux of inner time in which the musical content
unfoldshas been interrupted.
Such a close face-to-face
relationshipcan be established in
immediacyonlyamonga small numberof coperformers.Where
a largernumberof executantsis required,one of them- a song
leader, concertmaster,or continuo player- has to assume the
leadership,that is, to establishwith each of the performersthe
contact which they are unable to find with one another in
immediacy. Or a nonexecutant,theconductor,has to assumethis
function. He does so by action in the outer world, and his
evocativegesturesinto which he translatesthe musical events
the immediate
goingon in innertime,replace foreach performer
graspingof the expressiveactivitiesof all his coperformers.

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SOCIAL RESEARCH
g6
Our analysisof makingmusic togetherhas been restrictedto
what Halbwachs calls the musician's music. Yet there is in
principle no differencebetween the performanceof a modern
orchestraor chorus and people sittingaround a campfireand
singingto the strummingof a guitar or a congregationsinging
hymnsunder the leadership of the organ. And there is no
differencein principle between the performanceof a string
at a jam sessionof accomplished
quartetand the improvisations
jazz players. These examples simplygive additional supportto
our thesisthatthesystemofmusicalnotationis merelya technical
device and accidentalto the social relationshipprevailingamong
the performers.This social relationshipis founded upon the
dimensionsof time simultanepartakingin commonof different
ouslylived throughby the participants. On the one hand, there
is the innertimein which the fluxof the musicaleventsunfolds,
in polytheticsteps
re-creates
a dimensionin whicheach performer
the
of
themusicalthought
(eventuallyanonymous)composerand
by which he is also connectedwith the listener. On the other,
makingmusictogetheris an eventin outertime,presupposingalso
a face-to-face
relationship,that is, a communityof space, and it
is thisdimensionwhichunifiesthe fluxesof inner time and warinto a vivid present.
rantstheirsynchronization
VI

thatthe
of thispaper,thehope was expressed
At thebeginning
in
involved
makingmusic
analysisof the social relationship
relaof thetuning-in
to a clarification
mightcontribute
together
as
such.
It
appears
tionshipand theprocessof communication
a
mutual
thatall possiblecommunication
tuning-in
presupposes
and theaddresseeof the
betweenthecommunicator
relationship
is established
Thisrelationship
communication.
bythereciprocal
in innertime,byliving
oftheother'sfluxofexperiences
sharing
thistogetherness
vivid
a
byexperiencing
together,
present
through
doestheother'sconduct
as a "We." Onlywithinthisexperience
in on him- that is,
tuned
the
to
becomemeaningful
partner

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MAKING

MUSIC TOGETHER

97

the other'sbodyand its movementscan be and are interpretedas


a field of expressionof events within his inner life. Yet not
thatis interpretedby the partneras an expressionof
everything
an eventin theother'sinnerlifeis meantby theotherto express
that is, to communicateto the partner such an event. Facial
gait,posture,waysof handlingtoolsand instruments,
expressions,
withoutcommunicativeintent,are examplesof such a situation.
The processof communicationproperis bound to an occurrence
in the outer world,whichhas the structureof a seriesof events
built up in outer time. This series of events is
polythetically
intendedby the communicatoras a scheme of expressionopen
to adequate interpretation
by the addressee. Its verypolythetic
characterwarrantsthe simultanietyof the ongoing flux of the
communicator'sexperiencesin inner time with the occurrences
in the outerworld,as well as the simultaneity
of thesepolythetic
occurrencesin the outer world with the addressee'sinterpreting
experiencesin innertime. Communicatingwithone anotherprethe simultaneouspartakingof the partnersin
supposes,therefore,
variousdimensionsof outerand inner time- in shortin growing
oldertogether.This seemsto be valid forall kindsofcommunication, the essentiallypolytheticones as well as those conveying
- thatis, thosein whichtheresultof
meaningin conceptualterms
the communicativeprocesscan be graspedmonothetically.
It is hardly necessaryto point out that the remarksin the
precedingparagraphreferto communicationwithin the face-toface relationship. It can, however,be shown that all the other
formsofpossiblecommunicationcan be explainedas derivedfrom
thisparamountsituation. But this,as well as the elaborationof
the theoryof the tuning-inrelationship,must be reservedfor
anotheroccasion.

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