tom moody

egregious e-book errors: Bloomsbury

The screenshot below is from page 289 of Daniel Albright's book Untwisting the Serpent: Modernism in Music, Literature and the Other Arts (U. of Chicago, 2000).
In the underlined passage he is discussing how music (which is not generally thought of as having a "surrealist" period) could be considered surreal. One of the questions he poses (on page 288) is "Why does surrealist music sound fairly normal, when surrealist painting seems to outrage the eye so flagrantly?" Albright suggests that the music could be normal to the ear but not normal in meaning, because the composer has "tilted its semantic planes," for example, in musical theatre, by having the music emanate from a place or context it's not normally associated with, or in the case of Poulenc, through "surrealizing misquotations" of other people's music:

albright_untwisting

Jonathan D. Kramer's Postmodern Music, Postmodern Listening (Bloomsbury, 2016), is generally sympathetic to Albright's ideas on musical surrealism, although Kramer would prefer the term "postmodernist" to describe the same works. Nevertheless, in explaining Albright, the book flubs that key phrase (screenshot from "Chapter 9.2. -- Music in the Time of Surrealism"):

kramer_albright

This same error may well be in the print version of Kramer's book -- I haven't checked. It may also be a problem of working with a posthumous text (editor Robert Carl rescued the project from Kramer's computer after he died). Regardless, it's a shame to have a book that is sympathetic to Albright's intriguing theories on music miss such a pivotal, well-turned phrase. Here's hoping it can still be corrected.

- tom moody

August 5th, 2017 at 5:53 pm