The Musician as Interpreter
By (author) Paul Thom
Publication date:15 May 2009
Length of book:128 pages
PublisherPenn State University Press
Among the many practices in which musicians engage are several that may be viewed as modes of interpretation, a kind of interpretation that Paul Thom calls “performative” to contrast it with another kind he calls “critical.” The difference is that the latter discusses a musical work; the former presents or enacts it. This book aims at making the case for understanding these activities of transcribing, varying, and realizing music as all forms of interpretation and, indeed, for seeing performative interpretation overall as a paradigm of what interpretation is. Thom devotes a chapter to each of the three types and, to make his philosophical points musically concrete, provides a wealth of illustrations ranging from classical music to jazz and involving performers as diverse as Toscanini and Billie Holiday.
—Jerrold Levinson, University of Maryland