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date: 30 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter recasts the terms “Pitch,” “Tone,” and “Note” as far-reaching historical-materialist categories, with a view to expounding and defending the following ideas: (1) there is an immanent developmental logic to the way that Pitch, Tone, and Note have changed over time; (2) this trajectory of development is open to empirical investigation and to explanation anchored in the concrete features of human practices and institutions and their environing natural and social contexts; and (3) this developmental dynamic has had, and continues to have, appreciable consequences for many aspects and types of “musicking.” After setting up a Marxian framework, we then put these categories to explanatory work in a series of three case studies concerning the development of music’s “forces of production.” The origins of music printing, the evolution of piano manufacture, and the birth of sound synthesis are used to reveal causal linkages between changes in musical practice and trends in capitalist development.

Keywords: pitch, note, tone, instrument, organology, Karl Marx, historical materialism, musical printing, equal temperament, sound synthesis

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