Author : Raymond Monelle
Description: The Musical Topic is an invaluable study that discusses three topics prominently featured in Western European music: the hunt, the military, and the pastoral. Monelle provides an in-depth cultural and historical study for each musical topic. He carefully considers each musical topic's origin, thematization, manifestation, and meaning and how each topic is in itself its own expressive figure. Musical topics -- short melodic figures, harmonic, or rhythmic formulae -- sometimes reflect whole social and cultural worlds, and may be related to social history and to the other arts, especially literature. After a general introduction in which the theory of topics is formalized and rationalized, three of these are studied in depth. The topic of the hunt is shown to be only obliquely related to the hunting of the 17th to 19th centuries, but connected to older ideas of hunting. The military topic, similarly, is ambiguously related to the military life of the period, though indicative of a heroic myth of soldiering. The pastoral topic is described in relation to the long cultural tradition of the pastoral. Each topic is illustrated from the music of all periods.