Cantology names an approach to the songish impulses that are a ubiquitous aspect of human cultures. It aims to divert our attention from the more restricted objects of musicological and ethnomusicological scrutiny by discerning song formations, conditions of possibility that define experiences of society and history along songish lines. These formations, local phenomena in cantology’s broad purview, emerge from the interactions of levels of cultural production including the performative, the discursive, the metadiscursive, and the archaeological. We outline a cantological theory, then briefly characterize four successive song formations in the West, reaching from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first.
Gary Tomlinson is John Hay Whitney Professor of Music and Humanities at Yale University. His most recent books are A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity and Culture and the Course of Human Evolution.
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Michael Denning, Gary Tomlinson; Cantologies. Representations 1 May 2021; 154 (1): 113–128. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2021.154.9.113
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