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Jacques Attali's Concepts of the Political Economy of Music

The purpose of this research is to examine Noise: The Political Economy of Music by Jacques Attali. The plan of the research will be to set forth the principal focus of Attali's argument that the shape of culture in general and music in particular is a function of the distribution and organization of resources to satisfy human and social wants, and then to discuss how the relationship between political economy and music affects the shape that each phenomenon assumes in the modern period, especially in the nation-states of industrial capitalism.

The two concepts Attali uses to demonstrate the interpenetration of social structure, which entails a full range of social values and the economic facts of resource distribution, and the dominant musical forms are representation and repetition, the former referring to "the system of commerce . . . which arises from a singular act" and the latter to what is "mass-produced. . . . One provides a use-value tied to the human quality of the production; the other allows for stockpiling" (Attali, 1996, p. 41). By no means does Attali's distinction amount to a dialectic, with one modality somehow "good" and the other somehow "bad." Nor does the dyad constitute the whole of Attali's argument on the social and economic role of music. Rather, repetition (also called reproduction from time to time) and representation in music implicate a complex and fluid reality in the organization of social and economic relationships, even though in general terms musical representation and musical repetition are illustrative of principles of social organization.

Attali cites Weber's principle of rationalization as the mark of social structure, with social structure connected to generally shared concepts of the legitimacy of prevailing social relationships, including the legitimacy of culture and state organization. Now the shape of society and the legitimacy of its leadership, which Weber (1978) characterizes from ti...

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Jacques Attali's Concepts of the Political Economy of Music. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 12:05, May 29, 2020, from